This past winter marked one of the most successful football seasons in local history. Seaford High School finished the year with an 11-1 record, a Nassau Conference Class IV title and a 21-game winning streak that was only snapped when the Vikings lost to Babylon is the Long Island Class IV title game.
Massapequa High School and Plainedge High School also enjoyed stellar years. The Chiefs finished the year with a 7-4 record and advanced to the Conference I Nassau County title game. That bid fell short, but the Chiefs made their way to that big game by winning exciting contests over Douglas MacArthur, 13-12 and Hempstead, 30-22.
Plainedge ended the year with an 8-3 record. The Red Devils, too, lost in a county championship game. In the Nassau Conference III title game, Bethpage prevailed over Plainedge by a 22-20 margin. Plainedge made it to the title game by defeating Great Neck North, 35-12, and Lawrence, 27-14.
For their outstanding efforts all year long, three local athletes---Rob Von Bargen of Massapequa, Nick Barbuto of Seaford, and Rob Bellairs of Plainedge---were named to Newsday's All-Long Island Football squad. Dan Ebbecke of Massapequa and Mike Rossi of Plainedge were named to the second team. And to top it all off, Rob Perpall, Seaford's head coach, was named Nassau County Coach of the Year.
Newsday cited Von Bargen, Massapequa's 6'8 senior quarterback, for his prowess through the air. In two seasons as a starter, Von Bargen passed for 39 touchdowns and 3,600 total yards. In his final season, Von Bargen totaled 20 touchdown passes and 2,201 yards. He also completed 163 of 247 passes in his star-studded senior year.
In the playoffs, Von Bargen keyed a fourth quarter drive in the win over MacArthur, connecting on 8 of 10 passes, as Dan Ebbecke scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard plunge. In the win over Hempstead, Von Bargen had a terrific game, completing 17 of 26 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns, all to Mike Mauri.
Nick Barbuto, a 5'7, 165 lb. senior was the anchor of Seaford's pounding running game. Barbuto made the most of his final season by rushing for 24 touchdowns and 1,749 yards, the latter averaging out to 7.3 yards per carry.
During the Vikings winning playoff run, Barbuto ran for 175 yards and one touchdown in the quarterfinal win over Mineola. He had a key six-yard touchdown run in the victory over Malverne. In the title game against Roosevelt, Barbuto rose to the occasion, scoring two touchdowns on 34 carries and 103 yards.
Rob Bellairs starred on both sides of the ball for Plainedge High School. He scored 16 touchdowns overall, including two on punt returns and one on a 75-yard kickoff return. Bellairs caught 37 passes for 692 yards and 13 touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Bellairs knocked down 52 tackles, plus one interception and four forced fumbles.
In the playoffs, Bellairs and Mike Rossi put in superb performances. In the win over Great Neck, Rossi threw for three touchdowns, one of them to Bellairs. Rossi also ran for 110 yards and a touchdown. In the semifinal win over Lawrence, Rossi completed 7 of 11 tosses for 98 yards. Finally, in the heartbreaking loss to Bethpage, Rossi connected with Bellairs on two second-quarter touchdown passes, the final one putting the Red Devils within two points of a tie. The two-point conversion failed, but both men had terrific games. Rossi threw for 151 yards and Bellairs caught eight passes for 119 yards.
In his ninth season at Seaford, Rob Perpall guided the Vikings to an amazing 21-game winning streak.
A tough defense and an entirely unpredictable offense, one that featured fourth-down conversion attempts and numerous onside kicks characterized Perpall's championship squad. The Nassau Conference IV title game, in which Plainedge topped Roosevelt, 21-14, was representative of the riverboat gambler style. With a 21-7 lead, Seaford opted for an onside kick, one that failed and gave Roosevelt an opening to close the gap to 21-14. Later in the game, with a fourth-and-two on its own 28-yard line, Seaford attempted a pass that failed, giving Roosevelt an opportunity to tie the score. The Seaford defense held the line and the Vikings won the game and the county title.