Inspired by some gutsy decisions made by Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell in the NFL opener, Oceanside head coach Rob Blount reached into his bag of tricks early in Friday night’s Nassau Conference I matchup with rival Freeport.
On 4th-and-8 from their own 30-yard line, the Sailors faked a punt and sophomore quarterback Shane Harmon scampered 10 yards to move the chains. The game-opening possession culminated with a 24-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Luke Villela to sophomore Dylan Bender, and youthful Oceanside never trailed on the way to a 31-20 victory before a packed house at Freeport.
“We wanted to come out and throw the first punch and be as physical as we could,” Blount said. “We were fortunate to catch them with the fake punt and that set the tone. They’ve got a Thorp Award candidate over there in D’Angelo Gordon and they’re usually more athletic than us, but our entire defense did an incredible job all night.”
In addition to the fake punt, Oceanside kicked onside following its opening score and a recovery by Jack Regan, another sophomore, set up the offense just shy of midfield and it was quickly 14-0 thanks to senior Brian Kraemer’s 49-yard touchdown run.
“We wanted to try everything we could to limit their possession time because they’re capable of scoring fast,” Blount said. “Our offensive line played great. A lot of the things we tried tonight worked. Whether those work again next week or the week after, we’ll see. But this is a huge win out of the gate.”
Gordon, a senior and two-time All-County selection, led the Red Devils with a pair of touchdown runs in the first half. Villela, who along with Kreamer and junior Isaiah Spivey did plenty of damage out of the Wildcat formation, had a second-quarter touchdown run from 4 yards out to help the Sailors hold a 21-13 lead at halftime.
“We really didn’t play well and they did,” Freeport head coach Russ Cellan said. “They did some things we weren’t ready for. You have to give them credit and we have to get ready for [Valley Stream] Central next.”
The Red Devils, who beat Oceanside in a 54-52 overtime thriller in last year’s regular-season finale, fumbled away the first snap of the second half and the Sailors capitalized on sophomore Ryan Pender’s 33-yard field goal to increase their lead to 11. Senior Jake Kenney had the takeaway.
Freeport responded and cut the margin to 24-20 late in the third quarter when sophomore Kelvin Abreu hit junior Jaylen Gordon for a 3-yard touchdown.
The Sailors answered with a 65-yard scoring drive in the fourth, capped by Spivey’s 13-yard touchdown run with 7:50 remaining. He had 109 yards on 19 carries. “We played a strong game and stayed aggressive,” he said. “All the preseason work we put in was worth it. It’s just a great feeling.”