Top-seeded Freeport removed all the drama from last Saturday’s Nassau Conference I football title game in the early stages, scoring on the second snap against defending champion Oceanside on the way to a convincing 42-0 victory before a crowd of 2,000 at Hofstra.
Junior quarterback Terrance Edmond was the catalyst for the Red Devils (11-0), who captured their second county championship in three years and will face William Floyd (11-0) for the Long Island Class I crown this Saturday at Hofstra at 12 p.m.
Edmond had a hand in all six touchdowns, rushing for four and connecting with junior wideout Angel Cruz on the other two. Edmond’s first of four touchdown runs, a 55-yarder, came 40 seconds into the game and proved to be all the points Freeport would need. Its first-team defense held the Sailors (8-3) and freshman quarterback sensation Charlie McKee (12-for-30) to 77 total yards before the starters on both sides were pulled midway through the third quarter.
“We’ve got such an unselfish group of kids and this has been one of the goals since the season started,” Red Devils head coach Russ Cellan said. “Oceanside’s a quality team and their quarterback will give a lot of people problems for years to come, believe me. Our defense has been tremendous all year. It’s hard to single out one or two guys. It’s all 11.”
The Red Devils outscored the Sailors by a combined 80-0 in two matchups this season. Oceanside defeated Freeport 17-0 in last year’s final for its first county crown in 40 years.
“It feels really good,” said Edmond, who rushed for 206 yards on 10 carries. “We’ve worked really hard during the offseason,” he added. “Everyone who came back, we remember crying on the bus after last year’s game and we didn’t want to have that feeling again.”
Oceanside averaged 32 points in nine games it didn’t face Freeport. Just a week earlier, in the Sailors’ 62-33 semifinal victory over Farmingdale, McKee and senior receiver Jake Lazzaro rewrote the Nassau playoff record books. McKee had 530 yards and eight touchdowns, while Lazzaro had 309 yards receiving and five scores.
“Freeport did a great job,” Oceanside head coach Rob Blount said. “It didn’t start well for us and we didn’t have an answer. All the credit goes to them, but I’m proud of the season we had. Not a lot of people picked us to be in the finals after all the guys we lost from last year. But we fought through some tough games to get back here.”
Senior Joseph Tafuri provided an early spark for the Sailors when he recovered a Freeport fumble at the 10, ending a scoring threat, but the Red Devils were back in business quickly following three incomplete passes. Cruz’s 17-yard touchdown grab and senior Giovanni Martini’s second of seven successful extra-point kicks made it 14-0.
It was 21-0 after Edmond’s 57-yard touchdown dash with 4:04 remaining in the first quarter, and things didn’t improve for Oceanside. The Sailors’ best drive of the day stalled at the Freeport 21 late in the second quarter and the Red Devils responded with a 10-play touchdown drive capped by a 3-yard run by Edmond.
“He’s a dual threat and difficult to stop,” Blount said of Edmond, who iced the title with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Cruz just before halftime and a 40-yard touchdown run five minutes into the third quarter.
Freeport will try to complete an unbeaten season against Floyd in what’s a 2016 LIC rematch. The Red Devils defeated the Colonials in that one, 28-14.
“We have total confidence in every single kid who’s out there,” Cellan said.