Stewart Rallies Trojans To 4th Straight County Title
The 2012 Garden City Trojans football team has been battling all year for respect. The words kept being repeated: small, inexperienced, over-rated. Well, file those comments away. There is one word which describes this team-CHAMPIONS. A second straight come-from-behind victory, this time a 21-17 triumph over Wantagh last Sunday at Hofstra, clinched the Nassau County Conference II Championship. It is Garden City’s fourth straight title and 20th all-time. The Trojans (10-1) now advance to the Long Island Class II final against Suffolk champ Riverhead (9-2) this Saturday at noon at Stony Brook University.
The incredible winning tradition can be both a blessing and a curse. The pressure to live up to past teams can be a burden, but it also provides motivation. “That’s the reason we’re here,” said quarterback Brett Stewart. “People didn’t think that we could do it, but I knew we could win the county championship. People doubted us, but here we are again.”
Right at the top of the reasons why the Trojans are champions is the play of Stewart. The junior signal caller has set school season records for attempts, completions, total yardage (1,476) and touchdowns (21). In addition, he has led the team in rushing with 781 yards and seventouchdowns. “Brettisaafineathlete,” said Coach Tom Flatley. “He’s tough. Probably the strongest kid on the team. He can throw and he can run. He’s just an excellent competitor.” Against Wantagh, he passed for 120 yards and rushed for111, accounting for 231 of the team’s 285 total yards.
Offensive Coordinator Bob Defliese echoed those thoughts. “Brett plays very hard. Did you see him running over defenders? We’ve had excellent passers and some good running quarterbacks , but Brett can do it all.”
Wantagh (8-3), which has now lost 15 straight games to the Trojans, was determined to change the script. The Warriors jumped to a 10-0 lead before Stewart culminated a 64 yard, 14 play drive with a one yard touchdown run to close to 10-7 at halftime. But Wantagh began the third quarter with an interception that led to a 28-yard touchdown pass from QB Gerard Roche to Brandon Watson that put Wantagh ahead 17-7. From that point, Garden City took over the game.
With seconds left in the period, Stewart completed a perfect screen pass play to Scott D’Antonio who raced untouched to the endzone for a 46-yard score to make the score 17-14. Then Dale Stasco executed a perfect pooch kick that was recovered by Brian Colamussi at Wantagh’s 31-yard line. After a holding penalty, Stewart completed a 25-yard pass to Spencer Bais and a nine yard toss to Kyle Skramko at the 11. From there, Justin Guterding gave the Trojans their first lead with a brilliant run around right end that required several dodges and broken tackles. Gerard Smith’s extra point made it 21-17.
The drama wasn’t over. After a quick three-and-out by the defense, the Trojans drove again trying for the points that would put the game out of reach. They marched from their own 41 to the Warriors’ 12, but Stewart’s pass was picked off and returned to the Wantagh 24. There was time for a last drive and Roche and Watson got Wantagh moving. Six plays later they were on Garden City’s 39. Then, for the third time this season a GC pass interception saved the game. This time is was Spencer Bais who picked off the pass at his own 28.
“Bais has really come through for us,” said Flatley. “He has been very important in these big games.” Bais, a senior has exceptional speed and has shown it since replacing the injured Brian Badgett.
Garden City now takes on Rivehead, a very fast team with a fine quarterback, Ryan Bitzer, and an exceptional receiver, Quinn Funn. The Golden Waves defeated North Babylon, 52-20, in the Suffolk final. If they are to win, the Trojans must mount a pass rush-a continuing problem- and they must score. This one doesn’t figure to be a defensive struggle.
EXTRA POINTS: GC and Riverhead played once before in the 2003 Long Island Championship won by Garden City, 20-0....Gerard Smith continued his fine placekicking. The sophomore is 33 for 36 on extra points (92%) and is 4 for 6 on field goals....Tim McDonagh and Scott D’Antonio have played exceptionally well on both side of the ball....Justin Guterding (44 catches for 584 yards) and Ed Blatz (37 for 486) are the most prolific receiver tandem in GC history....Mike Gluck had held the season passing yardage record of 1,458 in 1991.