Mike Stanley likes to say that football is a sport that lends itself to a lot of second-guessing.
Yet it was hard to criticize Stanley, the coach of the Carey football team, for anything this season.
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He guided the Seahawks to a 12-0 record, the Long Island Class II championship and the Rutgers Cup, awarded to the most outstanding team in Nassau. For his efforts, Stanley was selected Friday by the Giants as the Lou Rettino high school football coach of the year.
"It's a great honor but any head coach knows that it's a result of great players and great assistant coaches," said the often understated and always humble Stanley, who also was named Newsday's Nassau coach of the year for 2013.
"We do our best to communicate with players, so communication is key, as well as our preparation," said Stanley, 36.
He'll receive a certificate of recognition signed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Carey's football program will receive a $2,000 check. Stanley will be acknowledged by a stadium announcement when the Giants host the Redskins Dec. 29.
The Seahawks are 53-19 in seven seasons under Stanley. Previously, Carey reached a county semifinal in 2007, '08, '09, '11 and '12, and made it to the county final in 2010.
For Stanley and the Seahawks, the goal in 2013 was to learn how to win in late November.
"Without question, we felt we needed to break through in November," Stanley said. "The fact that we got close last year, and that that was a tough loss, there was motivation. We felt we had a young team that year and that guys would be more experienced this season and give us a chance every week."
Carey didn't just win; it dominated. The Seahawks scored 38 points per game, led by Thorp Award-winning quarterback Ray Catapano, and a defense, led by Conor Colasurdo and Andrew Ris, which allowed only 5.3 points a game.
Stanley attributed much of the success to his players, whom he said learned humility. Despite winning by large margins, Stanley said his players were always "humble and hungry."
"The most rewarding aspect of coaching is to see how these players have grown and to observe how close these guys were with one another," Stanley said. "We knew that winning late in November would define our season."