FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Standing on the New York Jets training field as you prepare to play your first flag football championship game might rattle some, but not Jennifer Canarutto.
The sophomore quarterback threw four touchdowns passes and three conversions as Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK defeated Section IX’s Warwick Valley, 27-7, in Saturday’s regional flag football championship.
“We haven’t looked back all season,” Canarutto said. “We weren’t going to let today’s pressure hold us down. We prepared for this, and I told everyone that we were going to go all the way.”
POB JFK capped a 19-0 season with a dominant performance against Warwick (9-7-2) from the opening drive.
Emma Heaney, also a sophomore basketball star for the Hawks, batted down a pass in the end zone on third down to force a punt before leaping behind her own goal line to snare a 14-yard touchdown pass from Canarutto. The 6-foot Heaney was the perfect target for Canarutto as the two connected again on a slant pass for the extra-point conversion.
“My height can be a burden sometimes, but it definitely helped today,” Heaney said.
Flag pulls from Ashley Cassano and Lara Glasser helped turn the ball over quickly for the Hawks, who scored again on the next possession when Rachel Ganz dove and caught a 21-yard toss from Canarutto.
“It’s easy to catch the ball when she’s throwing it to you,” Ganz said. “She’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen.”
Canarutto, who completed 9 of 15 passes, added 64 yards on the ground including a 17-yard run with 8:08 remaining in the half to bring up fourth-and-3. Cassano sealed the possession when she leapt sideways to give the Hawks a 20-point lead.
Warwick quarterback Ashley Sarlo threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Briana Brookins just before halftime for the Wildcats’ only score.
Warwick picked off Canarutto in the second half but couldn’t capitalize thanks to Cassano, who led the Hawks with nine flag pulls. The final score came off a flawlessly executed halfback pass by Cassano to Ganz.
POB JFK celebrated with a ring-fitting ceremony following the win.
“I think being here under the Jets’ signs and standing on this field really motivated and pushed us [Saturday],” Cassano said. “We played the hardest we have this year, and I think it really showed what we were capable of.”