Joe Valente asked for the ball.
Fourth-and-inches and the game – the entire season, really – hung in the balance.
Buddy Krumenacker is as expressive as granite and just as unyielding. The longtime Farmingdale football coach rarely gets caught up in the moment.
But with 1:19 left and the Dalers clinging to a one-touchdown edge, Krumenacker barked at the offense huddled around him.
“I just put it in their hands. I said, ‘Listen, you want to end the football game?’” Krumenacker said. “‘End it right here. Get the first down.’”
Valente, Farmingdale’s senior quarterback, took the snap and lurched forward. His relentless linemen, starting with center Denis Donovan and guard Mike Sinatro, cleared a path. First down!
Farmingdale ran out the clock from there on a thrilling 21-14 win over rival Massapequa Saturday in the regular-season finale. The win also gave the Dalers (7-1) the top seed in the Nassau Conference I playoffs. They host No. 8 Plainview JFK Friday night.
“We win, we beat Massapequa and we’re the first seed. We lose, we lose to Massapequa and we’re the fifth seed playing East Meadow,” Valente said. “We got that into everyone’s head and everyone showed up to play today.”
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The Dalers won five titles from 1999-2007. But it’s been five long seasons since Farmingdale football last won the county championship and the team didn't even make the playoffs a year ago. Seeded sixth in the preseason, this Dalers team came together quickly and never looked back.
“We can be the champion,” said Krumenacker, who won his 207th game – fourth-most in Nassau history. “There are a bunch of other people who can be the champion. But we’re capable, absolutely. We’re old, a lot of seniors who have invested in Farmingdale football. And we have that intangible: We like each other. ”
That experience showed just before halftime as the Dalers drove 73 yards in 2:43, capped by an 18-yard catch and run by wideout Tom Kennedy. He was tackled into the end zone with 29 seconds left, sending the teams into intermission tied at 7.
“We got momentum going into the second half,” said Valente, who rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries.
Farmingdale took control up front, turning loose the Dalers’ talented backfield of Curtis Jenkins and Kevin Petit-Frere. The Dalers rushed for 283 yards.
The Dalers took a 14-7 lead when Petit-Frere found the right edge and sprinted away from the Massapequa defense for a 20-yard touchdown with 11:52 left in the game.
When Massapequa (5-3) tried to answer – driving to the Daler 12-yard-line – it had three shots to make it happen. But quarterback Paul Bentz was stuffed on second down, threw incomplete on third and was sacked by Matt Dittmeier and Drew Marlow to end the threat.
“They got the pressure on the quarterback and it resulted in bad plays,” Massapequa second-year coach Kevin Shippos said.
Farmingdale took over at its own 20 with 7:44 left. The cagy Jenkins put the game away with a 74-yard scoring run just three plays later.
Yes, the Chiefs marched back down the field and scored. Then Farmingdale’s Xavier Sanabria recovered the squib kick and Valente did the rest.
“We had the potential. We just had to put the work in,” Valente said. “We did. And it all paid off now. We’re going into the playoffs No. 1.”
Nassau Conference I FootballTeams 1 2 3 4 F Massapequa 7 0 0 7 14 Farmingdale 0 0 7 14 21
M – Korber 26 pass from Bentz (Berge kick)
F – Kennedy 18 pass from Valente (Kolodny kick)
F – Petit-Frere 20 run (Kolodny kick)
F – Jenkins 74 run (Kolodny kick)
M – Berge 12 pass from Bentz (Berge kick)