Brothers and Sachem North football teammates Dalton (r) and Trent...

Brothers and Sachem North football teammates Dalton (r) and Trent Crossan. (Oct. 8, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

As Dalton Crossan sat in a college marketing class at Sachem North High School, the text message he eagerly had waited for all morning finally came. The news, although not unexpected, nevertheless was heartbreaking. His younger brother Trent's football season was over.

"I just slumped in my chair a bit and felt really bad for him," Dalton said. "I know how upset he's been and I was hoping for good news. But the MRI confirmed what we suspected -- that it was a bad injury."

Trent, Sachem North's starting quarterback, tore an anterior cruciate ligament on an option right play in the third quarter against Longwood on Oct. 1. The freak injury occurred when he made one of his signature cutback runs and felt his knee pop.

"No one even hit me," said Trent, a sophomore sensation who averaged 108 yards rushing as Sachem North rolled to four straight wins. "It was awful."

As Trent sat on a stretcher with his knee immobilized, Dalton put Sachem North on his back for the remainder of the Longwood game, a 35-27 win. He finished with four touchdowns, including a 51-yard run to seal the win.

After the late scoring run, Dalton went over and embraced Trent, who stood with the aid of crutches on the home sideline. The two shared a poignant moment. It was brotherly love at its finest.

"It's the last time they'll play together in high school," said the boys' father, Mike Crossan. "It was very emotional for them. They've played together since peewee football. It's still very emotional and it still stings. Dalton looks like he's playing for both of them now -- he looks possessed."

Dalton Crossan, a 5-11, 185-pounder, scorched the Connetquot defense for 237 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns in a 32-19 win Thursday as Sachem North improved to 5-0. He has 18 touchdowns and 949 yards rushing on 80 carries. That's an average of 11.9 yards per carry and a touchdown every 4.4 touches, which is absolutely incredible.

"It really hit me that Trent wasn't playing when we went to practice this week," Dalton said. "And I went in for a kick return and Malik Pierre was back there with me. And I realized it was done -- that Trent wasn't coming back this year. It was so tough, but I understand injuries happen in sports and I've accepted it. My goal is to help him get through it and come back stronger and do everything I possibly can to lead Sachem to a title."

It's not just about football for the Crossans. This is a lifestyle change for them. Even though they are two years apart at 17 and 15, the two are inseparable. They're side by side all the time.

"That started when my wife [Susann] signed them up for peewee football," Mike said with a laugh. "She went to sign up Dalton for 6-year-old football and came home to say, 'Oh, I signed up Trent, also.' He was 31/2."

The relationship evolved at a young age as the two played baseball, basketball, lacrosse and football together. And the bond continued to get stronger through the years.

"We push each other in our workouts," Trent said. "We run and lift together. We're competitive with each other in everything we do. But it's a healthy competitiveness. It's fun."

During the summer, Dalton would drive Trent to the 6:30 a.m. workouts at Sachem. If they weren't at the school, they were with personal trainer Rob Malichio at the 21st Century Sports Wellness Academy.

"I had a meniscus tear and surgery and Rob helped me get back on the field with confidence," Dalton said. "I was stronger, more explosive, and the injury was a thing of the past. I had no worries. And that's what Trent will do."

It will not be a lonely road traveled for Dalton as he chooses a college for football or lacrosse and tries to lift Sachem North to the Long Island Class I title. And Trent promises to be right there for his brother and Sachem teammates.

"The greatest thing about Sachem is how they accepted us and treated us so well when we first transferred into the community from Shoreham," said Trent, who is 5-8, 175 pounds of lean muscle. "I'm going to work so hard to get back to 100 percent for the next two years of football. There's no rush. I'm going to have surgery next month and then rehab for at least six months. I will follow my brother's path to come back better than ever. I saw how hard Dalton worked to get back from knee surgery and I know what lies ahead."

For Dalton, the lost chance to play with his little brother still shakes him to his soul. But he's moved away from those thoughts now and focuses more on the immediate future.

"His injury is what will drive me to do whatever it takes to win for this team and for him," Dalton said. "His situation serves as a whole other level of motivation for me. I can't believe we won't play together again, but I can play for both of us."


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