The North Shore High School football team has forgotten what it’s like to lose.
It’s been 15 months since the Vikings have seen the losing end of a game, and all that winning has bred so much confidence.
That’s why when its last two games have gotten tight, either tied or being a one-score game, there’s been no panic on the sidelines.
“These kids just stay calm and nobody worries we’re not going to win,” head coach Dan Agovino said. “Everybody is battle tested.”
The winning kept going for North Shore on Friday night, as it won its second consecutive Nassau title in Conference IV, beating West Hempstead, 20-6 Friday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Behind the powerful running of Nick La Rosa (117 yards and 2 touchdowns) and a stingy defense, the Vikings improved to 11-0 and advanced to the Long Island Championship game for the second straight year.
North Shore will take on Bayport-Blue Point Friday, Nov. 25 at noon at Shuart Stadium.
After the Vikings were greeted by raucous fans and a fire truck celebration back at the school in Glen Cove Friday night, La Rosa talked about what the win meant.
“It feels a bit different than last year, because last year we were striving for our first (championship) and we didn’t know how it would go,” La Rosa said. “This year we treated it like a business trip: We got there and played how we practiced, celebrated a little after, but we know we’ve got one more game left.”
The Vikings (11-0) were back in the county championship game for the second straight year, and Friday night they were playing a familiar opponent in West Hempstead.
The two squads met earlier this season with North Shore claiming a close 14-7 win.
In defeating the Rams for the second time this season, North Shore had to shake off a difficult first half on offense. The Vikings gained only 29 yards in the first two quarters West Hempstead, making its first appearance in a Nassau final since 1986, held North Shore to 32 yards of offense in the first two quarters, but a special teams disaster allowed the Vikings to grab the first points.
A blocked punt in the end zone by North Shore’s Mike Granelli was recovered by teammate Pat Godfrey for a touchdown with 2:58 left in the opening quarter.
“We had seen something while watching film on them that we thought we could exploit, and Mike made a great play,” Agovino said. “We thought offensively we were close to making some big plays.”
In the second half, North Shore began to wear down the Rams (9-2). La Rosa, who has rushed for 1,188 yards this season, smashed his way through the line and into the end zone for a 22-yard run halfway through the third quarter, giving the Vikings a 13-0 lead.
“That play was perfect, my guard Andrew pulled and the hole was there and I just had to hit it,” La Rosa said.
After West Hempstead sliced into the lead with a touchdown late in the third to cut its deficit to 13-7, La Rosa and the Vikings struck again in the fourth.
La Rosa powered into the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown run, and the extra point from Michael Fleming gave the Vikings a 20-6 lead, icing the game and sending them to the L.I. Championship game for the second straight year.
“We wear teams down, we have real good stamina and depth, and that showed,” Agovino added. “I’m so proud of these kids, they deserve all the success they’re getting. We’ve built on the success we had the last few years, and backing up what we did last year was very important to us.”
Bayport-Blue Point defeated John Glenn, 35-6 in the Suffolk title game.