Santiago gives Newfield its first LIC title
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Newfield's Michael Silva sat with his teammates in the end zone at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium, fresh off a 14-7 win over Garden City in the Long Island Class II championship game, tears of joy and relief in his eyes and clutching a Super Bowl ring. The tears were partly because the school had never won an LIC game in its history, 53 long years. The ring belonged to Newfield alum Rob Burnett, an All-L.I. linebacker who graduated in 1985 and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV.
Before his alma mater made history, Burnett gave a pregame speech to the team, imploring them to do what his teams were never able to.
"He said that since we're here, we have to seize the moment," Silva said. "He said, 'Don't be losers in the LIC. You have to win it all. For the seniors, this is going to be your last football game. So go out there and play like it.' "
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Julian Santiago (65 yards, 17 carries) had the go-ahead score on a 1-yard run with 11:25 left to make good on Burnett's plea and change the Wolverines' luck.
Garden City's explosive running back, Mark Ellis, was held to 25 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, and the Trojans (11-1) generated most of their offense from Mike Comiskey, who was 12-for-20 for 101 yards. This was the first time all season that Garden City was held to fewer than 16 points in a game.
Newfield (9-3) contained Garden City's offense and cracked the Trojans' tough defense.
Silva scored on a 1-yard plunge with 5:21 left in the second quarter to give Newfield a 7-0 lead. Ron Denig appeared to score from 6 yards the play before, and an official initially signaled touchdown. But after the officials conferred, Denig was ruled down just inside the 1, setting up Silva's score. "I took credit for Denig's touchdown there," Silva said, laughing.
The Trojans hadn't been held scoreless in the first half this season. But aided by pass-interference and horse-collar penalties against Newfield, the Garden City offense began to come alive on its first possession of the second half. Ellis snaked 6 yards through the middle for a touchdown with 5:54 left in the third to tie it at 7.
Denig fumbled on the first play of Newfield's ensuing possession and the ball was recovered by Ellis. But Ryan Norton's 43-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Terrell Perryman.
Facemask and roughing-the- punter penalties brought the Wolverines deep into Trojans territory. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, the team that hadn't been able to take that final step went for it.
It might have ended up being a couple of steps, but Santiago ran it in.
"I knew my line would have a great surge right off the ball, and Denig made a great block," Santiago said. "The hole was right there, I lowered my shoulder and got it."
Garden City got the ball back with 5:11 left, and on third-and-22, Comiskey hit Ed Blatz for 43 yards. But Comiskey's pass on fourth-and-13 from the 40 fell incomplete with 1:42 left.
"We've been working so hard for the past four years for this," Santiago said. "To finally get it is amazing. We all deserve it. The community deserves it. It's a great feeling."