They had shed the albatross of Garden City dominance in a convincing 28-0 Week 4 victory, but Carey's players had not yet eradicated the ghosts.
The Trojans have haunted the Seahawks for years, and entering the Nassau II final, owned a 21-4 advantage in the series that began in 1982. More importantly, Garden City had won all six of their playoff meetings and eliminated Carey in the county finals in both 2005 and 2008.
Time to call on quarterback Ray Catapano and his ghost-busting seniors. With the county championship on the line in the fourth quarter, Catapano bought time with an artful dodge in the pocket and threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Dylan DeMeo with 5:16 left to give Carey a 20-16 victory over Garden City and move the Franklin Square school into the Long Island Championships for the first time.
No wonder the Carey side of Hofstra's Shuart Stadium was overflowing a week later for the Class II title game against Riverhead. "It's like they closed Franklin Square and everyone is here," one press box observer said. Forget the malls; Seahawks fans celebrated Black Friday by watching their football team top Riverhead, 20-6, to complete the first 12-0 season in school history.
"Because of our history with Garden City, I felt that if we won that one we would have a lot of confidence," said Catapano, who threw for three touchdowns against the Trojans. Against the Blue Waves, he contributed a touchdown pass and scintillating scramble for touchdown run. In his final season, Catapano threw for 2,141 yards and 36 touchdowns -- with only three interceptions.
Teammate Andrew Ris, a big-time receiver this year who was the starting quarterback in 2012 before an injury opened the job for Catapano, had cautioned everyone who would listen before the LIC, "We couldn't get fat and happy just because we beat Garden City."
Ris did his part, beating the Riverhead secondary to catch a TD pass from Catapano and then providing the play of the game . . . and maybe the play of the century for Franklin Square's populace. He took a pitch from Catapano then called on his QB roots to hit Nick Spillane with a touchdown pass that insured that Carey would make history.
"We got this one for all the seniors and for everyone in the community," said hard-hitting linebacker Conor Colasurdo, who made 8.5 tackles against Riverhead.
"This game will be in my memory for a very long time," Ris said.
The Garden City ghosts were dead.