Justin Guterding catches three touchdowns in Garden City win
For a change, there is a little whipped cream and some chocolate syrup on top of Garden City's traditionally vanilla offense.
"It's electric. We're fun to watch," senior wide receiver Justin Guterding said Saturday after tying the school record with three touchdown receptions in the Trojans' 28-7 victory over host Elmont in Nassau II.
With junior quarterback Brett Stewart flashing speed and daring out of the spread -- an offense employed for the first time by coach Tom Flatley, now in his 49th season -- the Trojans capitalized on three Elmont turnovers to build a 28-0 lead after three quarters and improve to 2-0. Elmont is 1-1.
"When the defense gets us the ball in good field position, we feel like we have to score," Stewart said. "They did their part, so we have to do ours."
That's one part of the Garden City blueprint that hasn't changed -- a stingy and opportunistic defense.
After Elmont botched a punt snap on the game's first possession, the Trojans took over on the Elmont 17. Four plays later, Guterding scored on a 7-yard pass from Stewart (81 yards passing, 66 yards rushing).
Tim McDonagh recovered a fumble later in the first quarter on the Elmont 16 and three plays later Stewart ran over a Spartan defensive back and barreled into the end zone for a 13-yard scoring run.
The backbreaker came when Ed Blatz made a leaping interception at the Elmont 47 with 1:09 left before halftime. Three players later, Guterding out-jumped a defensive back in the end zone to complete a 20-yard scoring play and provide a 21-0 lead.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't even know if that ball was intended for me," said Guterding. "I just went up for it."
Stewart, in his first season as a starter, acknowledged that Guterding and Kyle Skramko were in the same area. "I just threw it up," he said. "Those guys are so athletic I knew someone would come down with it."
Guterding was most definitely the target on the Trojans' final touchdown, a 37-yard play on the first drive of the second half. "It was a 5-yard out and they bit on the fake, so I just turned upfield. We've got a great quarterback this year. Wherever you are on the field, he can put it right in your hands."
Stewart is growing into the job. "I got in a few games last year, but I was nervous," he said. "This year I'm much more comfortable. Our offense is based on passing. But if I have to run, I'll try to get as much yardage as I can. I'm not afraid to lower my shoulder."
That's a good thing at a school where the bar has been raised so high. Under Flatley, the Trojans have won 17 Nassau County championships, including the last three. This year there's the intriguing twist of a more wide-open offense.
"We've got a lot of trick plays," Guterding said. "We got some plays we haven't even used yet."
Those would be the cherries on top of the traditionally vanilla sundae.