RUTGERS CUP

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The journey began in the steamy afternoon practices of

August. But the seed was planted about nine months earlier when Roosevelt's

football team suffered a crushing end to what had been a perfect season.

The sting of last year's loss to Babylon in the Class IV Long Island final

drove the Rough Riders to achieve greatness this season. Not only did Roosevelt

cap its second straight perfect regular season with another Nassau Conference

IV championship, it earned redemption with a berth in the Long Island finale.

The Nassau County Football Coaches Association recognized Roosevelt's

achievement at the annual Gridiron Banquet last night at Crest Hollow Country

Club in Woodbury. Nine days after Roosevelt beat previously undefeated

Amityville, 7-0, to claim the program's third Class IV Long Island title,

Nassau coaches awarded the Rough Riders the coveted Rutgers Cup as Nassau's

most outstanding team.

"When you play in Conference IV, you don't expect this. Winning the Rutgers

Cup is not a goal," said Roosevelt coach Joe Vito, whose program won its first

Rutgers Cup in 1999.

In 2003 a young Rough Riders team rolled into the Long Island final against

Babylon with a 10-0 record but was dealt a 22-15 defeat. That loss fueled

Roosevelt, which outscored its opponents 389-55 in 11 games this season.

Roosevelt, the lone Long Island champion from Nassau this season, received

133 points, including 40 of 50 first-place votes. Conference III winner Wantagh

(10-1) was second with 64 points. Conference I champ Farmingdale (9-2)

finished third with 50 and Conference II winner Garden City (9-1-1) was fourth

with 37.

Roosevelt needed a 98-yard drive to record the first 11-0 season in school

history. Senior quarterback Marquise Herron was the definition of cool as he

marched the Rough Riders downfield in 17 plays, capped by his 5-yard keeper

into the end zone for the lone TD against Amityville.

"We wanted to be remembered," Herron said. "This is the way to go

out."

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