At the midway point of the season, Lynbook football is positioned for a return to the playoffs.
A 21-6 home win against Glen Cove last Thursday moved the Owls to 2-2 heading into its next game at defending Conference III champion Wantagh. The first half of the 2017 campaign had mixed results, but head coach Steve LoCicero has seen progression he hopes pay dividends down the stretch and bring Lynbrook back into the postseason after its 11-year streak ended last year.
“We’re in a good position to reach the postseason,” said LoCicero, whose team entered the season seeded sixth in Conference III. “We’re still trying to find ourselves and our identity.”
After a scoreless first half, Lynbrook broke through in the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run from James Gillespie followed by a 45-yard touchdown pass hauled in by Zach Mercedes from senior quarterback Joey Castillo. A 19-yard touchdown run from junior running back Jonathan Cabral-Martin on the first play of the fourth quarter extended Lynbrook’s lead to 15 after Glen Cove had cut into the lead with a 50-yard interception return on a deflected pass.
“We were moving the ball well in the first half and just couldn’t get in the end zone,” LoCicero said. “The kids really responded well.”
The win featured a dominant defensive effort where the Owls held Glen Cove to only two first downs and no points led by 18 tackles from senior linebacker Tommy Urena. Lynbrook also received strong defensive contributions from Steven Hendrickson, Gerard D’Agostino, Tyler Heaney, Jordan Camilo, Perry Minotakis, Jonathan Cabral-Martin and Daniel Schneider.
After opening with a 16-7 season loss to Bethpage, Lynbrook responded with a dominant 33-14 win against neighborhood rival Hewlett paced by two touchdowns from Gillespie. Senior wide receiver Thomas O’Brien also bad a big day with five catches including a 40-yard touchdown to open the scoring. An 8-yard touchdown run from Castillo gave Lynbrook a commanding 26-0 lead in the second quarter.
Lynbrook boasts multiple offensive weapons aided by a strong offensive line. Senior center Matt Renz has keyed the trenches with his ability to block down field after snapping.
“Not many teams can pull their center,” said LoCicero of Renz’s versatility.
Lynbrook faces a stiff challenge in its next game at Wantagh this Saturday at 3 p.m. before traveling to Valley Stream North on Oct. 14. The Owls close the regular season with home games against Lawrence and Roslyn.
If Lynbrook is to reach the playoffs, LoCicero said a collective effort from his roster of more than 60 players is vital. The coach was pleased when all his reserves received playing time in the Owls’ 33-16 homecoming win against Hewlett as a reward for their hard work in practice.
“If we can continue to play as a team, all 60 of us together, that is going to be the key,” he said. “Everybody that takes the field is a major part of our success.”