The high school football season got underway on Saturday with a battle between neighboring Garden City and New Hyde Park Memorial.
The game featured a Trojan team that is in a rebuilding year against a Gladiator team that has a roster filled with seniors who were looking to avenge last year’s big loss.
With a lineup that features many inexperienced varsity players, Garden City head coach Tom Flatley and offensive coordinator Bob Defliese worked on shortening the playbook and attacking with a spread offense. The hope was that QB Brett Stewart could keep the chains moving on the ground or through the air with the talented skill players for GC. What they didn’t count on were the strong winds that were whipping around that prevented either team from going to the air too often and virtually negating the spread offense.
Stewart, the junior quarterback starting his first varsity game, did lead the Trojan offense carrying the ball a workman-like 21 times for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He also was able to complete four passes for 50 yards and a score. The touchdown coming on a 17 yard touch pass that standout wide receiver Ed Blatz used all of his 6’5” frame to out leap the defensive back in the corner of the end zone.
Although not happy about taking a loss on opening day, New Hyde Park head coach Kevin Dolan was pleased with the performance of his team for the most part. He said after the game that “all you can expect is for your team to put in the effort when you play against a team like Garden City. I just thought we may have come out too emotionally high and needed to play more within ourselves.”
He went on to say that the boys know their responsibility in staying away from penalties, yet the numerous penalties hurt them throughout the game. NHP had eight in total, with none more damaging than the one that kept the opening drive alive for GC that led to Stewart’s 35-yard burst through the middle of the line.
With Garden City leading 14-0 and driving for another score late in the first quarter, NHP senior Christian Trasolino jumped a route to Blatz and returned the interception 89 yards before being taken down inside the 10 yard line. And when Franchesco Terrero punched it in from the 3 yard line the game took a 14 point swing and the Gladiators were in the game, trailing only 14-6.
Late in the second quarter Stewart was able to drive the Trojan’s down the field and capped it off with bootleg around the left end for a 20 yard score. Garden City’s defense held the Gladiators the rest of the half and they went into the locker room with a 21-6 lead.
A scary moment came late in the first quarter as senior Brian Badgett took a nasty hit as he went up for a pass over the middle. Badgett laid motionless for several seconds until the medical staff could attend to him. He was taken to the hospital and the early news was that he had a possible concussion.
After receiving the second half kickoff, the Gladiators drove the ball down the field on the GC defense with some hard running both to the left and to the right. The drive was capped off as Trasolino dove at the pylon in the corner of the end zone after a 10-yard sweep around the right end.