The Babylon Panthers can say they have one thing no other team in Suffolk County has. And no, it's not a star quarterback, blazing fast runningback or iron-clad defense, although those answer would be right on the mark.
It's the only perfect 12-0 record from west to east within the county's borders.
The Panthers put on one of the best football seasons in Babylon history and were one of only two teams to go the full season, postseason and all, without a loss – Nassau County's Division III Champion Lawrence Golden Tornadoes being the other Long Island team to do so.
But to trace how Babylon got this far – and with this much success – you have to go back to the very first game of the season. Babylon opened the 2012 year with a 44-7 win in Game One over East Hampton. It was there Coach Rick Punzone switched from the traditional Babylon offense, which entailed mostly running the ball, to a spread offense, allowing both a strong running and passing game to develop.
New quarterback Nick Santorelli, a junior, showed off a cannon for an arm, then, throwing 7 of 11. Santorelli, almost immediately, became the permanent cog in the Babylon offensive machine with the ability to toss, run and pass almost seamlessly.
Santorelli passed for over 1,150 yards in just his first season as starting quarterback and completed 58.5% of his tosses. His 15.2 yards per completion as well as 8.9 yards per attempt allowed Babylon's wide receiving core of Eric Schweitzer and Jake Carlock to thrive, both raking in over 20 receptions this season.
Carlock alone had nearly 600 yards receiving to go along with his 4 touchdown completions. On defense, Carlock shut other teams out by returning 3 interceptions for touchdowns as well.
Schweitzer turned out to be one of the biggest weapons on the Panthers. He led the team this year with 24 touchdowns, 17 of which he hustled into the end zone himself. Like Carlock, he was a menace on defense for the team, also taking two interceptions back for touchdowns.
And, as the saying goes, a team is only as a good as its defense – and Babylon had the football equivalent of an Iron Curtain.
The Babylon defense was rock solid all season long – in fact, the 18 points given up to the Roosevelt Rough Riders were the most any team were able to score on Babylon all year. The Panthers also had three shutouts on the year and only gave up an average of 9.42 points per game.
By comparison, the Panthers averaged an unwiedly 38.75 points per game.
It was a defense whose main goal was to break the offensive line of any team and interfere with any passes or keep any rushers from getting the first down. The team, as a unit, had 20 sacks for the season.
Brian LosKamp was a noted threat – he led the team this season with 7.5 sacks on opposing quarterbacks. Carlock, on the other hand, stopped 9 passes by taking them in himself.
And, of course, what would a perfect season be without a perfect statistic? Kicker Alex Malhas went a perfect 47-for-47 this season in extra-point attempts.
Mr. Automatic, in fact, missed only one kick during the entire season – a three-point goal attempt in his first game. Santorelli, who filled in for Malhas during Game One, also knocked across 4 extra points.
The team Babylonians saw take the field in 2012 is one that will be remembered for a long time. While we highlight names and stats, it was truly a selfless team out on the field that gave everything they had and were rewarded for it.
For a community that was hit as hard as Babylon was during Hurricane Sandy, a Long Island Championship team was more than well-deserved and provided the hope necessary to get our village through a tough, tough time.