More than a championship at stake for Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln is again flirting with perfection — just one win away from a second undefeated Public School Athletic League City conference football title in the last three years.

More that just a trophy is on the line when the top-seeded Railspitters face No. 3 Tottenville at Yankee Stadium at 5 pm on Dec. 10. A victory will earn Lincoln bragging rights as the city’s top football program.

Consider the fact that Lincoln has made three trips to the final in the last four years. Prior to that it hadn’t won since 1993.

“Getting to three championships in four years is a tremendous statement about everybody involved with this program,” Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor said.

The Coney Island program has produced two recent All-Americans — Ishaq Williams and Thomas Holley — and has dominated this season, outscoring opponents 474–125, averaging almost 40 points per game.

A victory over Tottenville is not a forgone conclusion. Sure, the Railsplitters beat Tottenville 26–7 in the regular season, but that was back in September. The Pirates squad is a different team. Tottenville quarterback Joshua Rainey is much improved, scoring nine touchdowns in the last two games.

They will also have to buck history. The loser of the previous year’s final has won the last three titles, starting with the Railsplitters in 2011. Tottenville lost to Erasmus in last season’s final.

If any team can handle the pressure it is this Lincoln team. It has been on a mission since practices started in August. All of the players wear the number 13 on their practice jerseys to symbolize the title game.

“We try to treat every game like it is a 13th game,” O’Connor said.

Quarterback Javon Moore and running back Antoine Holloman, Jr., lead a dynamic offense, combining for 55 touchdowns this season. The running game’s development will allow Lincoln to do more passing to receivers Malik Andrews and Carlos Stewart.

“We are more balanced,” O’Connor said.

Lincoln’s defense will have plenty to contend with. Holley, who was cleared to play after a semifinal ejection, will need to put pressure on Rainey and help keep running back Andrew Russo from breaking free. Corner back Khendell Puryear will have to slow down Tottenville receiver Devin Martin, who scored three times against Erasmus.

If Lincoln performs like it has all season, it will be celebrating in the Bronx next week, havingwon not just a championship, but recognition as the city’s top program.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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