After three years as varsity teammates for Carey football, basketball and baseball, Michael Catanese and Anthony Catapano’s athletics run together ended at the 21st Empire Challenge Tuesday night at Hofstra.
Long Island fell to New York, 39-34, after Sharif Harris-Legree connected with Jordan Hannah for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left.
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But Catapano and Catanese went out with a bang.
Catapano, a Stony Brook commit who started on the first team, had the sidelines buzzing with his blocking on the offensive line. Catanese, the second-team quarterback, completed 10 of 19 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown and rushed seven times for 33 yards and a touchdown. He was named Long Island’s Player of the Game.
“It’s amazing,” said Catanese, who will go to college at Cornell. “I don’t really realize it right now, but it’s the last time we’ll ever play together. It’s been an incredible run.”
Jets’ Colon honorary captain
Fifteen years after playing in the Empire Challenge, Jets offensive guard and former Hofstra star Willie Colon returned as an honorary captain for New York City.
“I felt privileged to be here, to be in this game, to play with the best in the City,” said Colon, who went to Cardinal Hayes. “To be considered one of the best in the City at the time, it was special.”
Five other future NFL players, including Roosevelt’s James Wyche and Islip’s Darrell Adams, played in the 2001 game with Colon. New York City won, 17-10.
“Everybody came out, and we were fired up,” Colon said. “There was a lot of big name guys that played. It was a good game.”
Helmets are works of art
Focal points of the on-field spectacle were the helmets for both teams. Truly pieces of art, each of the 125 helmets was airbrushed by artist Pete Frechette.
Long Island’s helmets featured an anchor, lighthouse and American flag on a light blue base meant to represent the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. The New York City helmets had the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the city skyline on a red background.
“I was very surprised when we got them to find out that they’re hand-painted,” said Hewlett defensive tackle Mike Curiel. “That’s very impressive. All the guys like them.”
Participants were able to keep their helmets by selling 35 game tickets at $10 each. Curiel said 37 Long Island players sold the necessary number.
Curiel also revealed his favorite design — which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Ours are better,” he said. “Because we’re L.I. strong.”