Both Lawrence and Hewlett have boasted storied football traditions in the recent years, and on Saturday the two rivals will clash in the first round of the Nassau III playoffs.
The two schools, separated not even three miles from each other, are set to play at at 2 p.m. this weekend.
The No. 7 Bulldogs come in with a 4-4 record, compared to the 7-1 record for the No. 2 Golden Tornadoes, only behind top-ranked Bethpage at 8-0. Since Lawrence lost to Bethpage in the second week of the season, the team has rallied off six consecutive wins, including a against Lynbrook on Oct. 22 and a 54-35 win on the road on Sept. 24 against their upcoming playoff opponent.
“They (Hewlett) scored on all big plays that game,” said Lawrence head coach Joe Martilotti. “In the second half, we settled down and caused a couple of turnovers and shut them down. I am hoping we see more of what we showed in the second half against them defensively.”
Hewlett came out strong in early September with consecutive wins, but experienced its first loss against the Golden Tornadoes. The Bulldogs led by a single point at halftime, but a strong running game on the other side was the ultimate difference. The two teams combined for 69 first half points, with 55 in the second quarter alone.
The Bulldogs went 2-3 the rest of the way under the guidance of senior quarterback Zach Richman, who replaced injured Mark Rizzo, as well as senior running back Sam Martorella, who has eight total touchdowns this season, including two kickoffs returns for scores.
“We feel like we can move the ball. They (Lawrence) are a really good offensive team,” said Hewlett head coach Jay Iaquinta. “We are going to try and control the tempo of the game a little bit and stay with them a little bit closer.”
The Golden Tornadoes were led all season on offense by senior Ryan Fredericks and his brother, junior Tyler, as well as sophomore quarterback Joey Capobianco, who has ran the offense in a quiet yet influential way. The elder Fredericks brother has racked up 1,600 total yards and 21 touchdowns, just two more yards than Tyler at 1,598 total yards and 17 touchdowns. Both are amongst the leaders in Nassau County.
“We are more of a power run team out of a spread offense, which is something you don’t see a lot. The majority of our yards come in between the tackles,” Martilotti said of his offense, which has scored 314 points in just eight games, a 39.3 average. “The offensive line is pushing and the skill guys are that good at hitting the hole."
There is no question Hewlett has its hands full against rival Lawrence, who boasts the dominant offense as well as a revamped defense, led by Kenny Perez and Matt Leone. However, the seventh-ranked Bulldogs boast a strong defense of their own, led by Jared Brent and Jeremy Leguillo.
“I think there aren’t many people outside of our locker room that are giving us much of a chance,” Iaquinta said. “For us, we are going in there and we're going to play to win. We feel like we have nothing to lose so we are going to let it all hang out.”
The matchup is sure to be filled with nerves, tension, big play potential and hard hitting tackles, and there is no denying both teams will be ready to play.