A week after Long Beach’s defense made three goal-line stands in a Nassau Conference II victory at MacArthur to open the football season, the unit smothered visiting Herricks last Friday night as the Marines won their eighth straight September game dating back to 2011, 48-0.
Senior quarterback Liam Rafferty threw touchdown passes to four different receivers and opened the scoring in front of a large Homecoming crowd with a 14-yard run midway through the first quarter. Rafferty went 9 of 12 for 173 yards. Junior tailback Chris Parler, who totaled 253 yards in Week 1 and scored twice, got in the end zone two more times. Junior Nick Nigro led the defense with eight tackles.
“We always feel we have an edge coming out of preseason because of how hard the kids and coaches work,” Marines head coach Scott Martin said. “We’ve done a lot of good things in the first two games.”
Throughout camp, Martin and his staff spent a lot of time trying to decide which player would lead the offense. They settled on Rafferty, who spent most of last season as a receiver and caught a couple of touchdown passes. Now, he’s thrown five in two games. “Liam came into camp really wanting the spot,” Martin said. “He’s a bright kid and we threw a lot at him. He’s showing leadership ability, and he’s making smart decisions with the ball.”
Leading Herricks 7-0 early in the second quarter, Rafferty threw his first touchdown pass of the evening — 54 yards to senior Marke Sutton on a fly pattern. Sutton and senior Shane Cobb have stepped up to fill a void at the receiver position with the moves of Rafferty and Parler, Martin said. “A month ago we weren’t sure how everything was going to come together,” he said. “It’s been good with how things fell into place.”
Parler, who was being considered for the quarterback job, gave Long Beach a 21-0 halftime cushion with a 12-yard touchdown run. “We’re still going to use Chris all over the place,” Martin said. “He’s one of the most dynamic kids in the conference. Only good things happen when the ball is in his hands.”
The Marines broke the game open in the third quarter with three touchdowns—all through the air. Rafferty hooked up with Parler from 17 yards, then with junior tight end Eric Zeppa from 15 yards, and junior Rahmeloh Hodge from 36 yards.
Rafferty connected with Cobb for a 24-yard score in the season-opening 25-16 win at MacArthur on Sept. 12. Parler had 216 yards rushing and two scores, and Sutton led the defense with eight tackles and three pass break-ups including a game-saver late in the fourth quarter.
Next up is a trip to Carey, the site of three playoff defeats for Long Beach in the past five years. “We know we haven’t won there,” Martin said. “Carey has a lot of weapons, but we have Parler and Tariq [Cole] on both lines so that’s got to give us an edge somewhere.”