After opening the season with a loss at Long Island champion Lindenhurst, the Huntington High School football team badly wanted to win at Deer Park last Friday night and the Blue Devils got their wish.
Tied at 7-7 in the first quarter, Huntington blew the game wide open, scoring 34 unanswered points behind impressive performances by the offensive and defensive units.
Huntington hosts North Babylon on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the first home game of the season. A big crowd is expected at Blue Devil Stadium. It could see history being made.
Quarterback JP Paci played one of the best games of his career, carrying the ball for several long gains, including a 17 yard touchdown sprint that opened Huntington’s scoring. Paci’s passing was also sharp with one spiral being hauled in by Jordan McCoy for a 20 yard touchdown.
The running attack was led by Nasir Youngblood, who rushed eight times for 102 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore scored on runs of two, six and 45 yards, thrilling the crowd of Huntington fans that was sitting on bleachers set-up on the running track behind the Blue Devils’ bench. Sebastian Abreu also scored in the game, powering his way into the end zone from the two-yard line. Lex Colato notched five-of-six extra point kick attempts.
“We did a lot of things right in the game,” said head coach Steve Muller, who tied Joe Lucey as Huntington’s winningest football coach with 125 victories. “But there’s always plenty of room for improvement. In high school football, a team has to get better every week or you will be left in the dust.”
After trading touchdowns early in the first quarter, Huntington scored two more times in the opening minutes and took a 21-7 lead into halftime. The Blue Devils then outscored their hosts in the second half, 20-0.
Huntington’s defense was splendid. Tazadon Smith tallied 13 solo tackles, a blocked punt and a quarterback sack. Jaylen Bush and Jordan McCoy both intercepted passes. The Blue Devils repeatedly came up big in third down situations.
With a 1-1 record entering the third week of the season, Huntington faces perennial Long Island powerhouse North Babylon. Coached for three decades by Terry Manning, the Blue Devils are expecting a tough game.
Huntington hasn’t defeated North Babylon since 1993, when it toppled the Bulldogs, 19-8. “North Babylon is always well coached and always plays hard,” Muller said. “We need to play a mistake-free game. That’s what we always strive for.”
Muller needs one win to become Huntington’s winningest gridiron coach. Now in their 95th season, the Blue Devils have had nine head coaches in their long history. Now in his 23rd season, Muller (125-83-0) is currently tied with Joe Lucey, who compiled a 125-95-9 record in 27 seasons from 1961 to 1987.
After dropping a 19-9 verdict at Centereach to open its season, North Babylon cruised past Newfield last Saturday, 60-21. The Bulldogs only threw one pass and rushed 43 times for 623 yards.
“It should be a great game,” Muller said.