Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK won the Long Island Flag Football Class A...

Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK won the Long Island Flag Football Class A Championship against Half Hollow Hills on May 23, 2024. Credit: Derrick Dingle

Over the last two years, Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK has established itself as flag football’s apex predator.

And the Hawks have the hardware to prove it.

The Hawks capped a second straight undefeated season with a 19-7 win over Scarsdale to claim the inaugural Division I state title on June 2. 

Plainview went 20-0 this season and has won 38 straight games, a streak that began at the start of last season and includes winning the 2023 regional title. 

“It’s an amazing feeling to be the first state champions,” quarterback Jen Canarutto said. “To play a part in growing the sport and showing that girls can do it too is the best feeling.”

“It’s an awesome dynamic,” coach Alec Abramowitz said. “It’s really about multi-sport athletes being great athletes. Everyone has other sports they play, but they still want to do this and put the time in to a second or third sport.”

Emma Heaney made three interceptions and returned two for touchdowns in the title game. With Scarsdale trailing by five points and in Plainview territory with about 20 seconds remaining, Heaney tipped a pass to herself at the line of scrimmage and caught it for an interception before dashing 53 yards for a TD to seal the win.

“You never know. In the LIC, we scored at the very end,” Heaney said after the championship game. “We were on our toes that whole drive and we knew we had to play until the final whistle.”

The Hawks trailed Half Hollow Hills by six in the Long Island championship game and had the ball on their own 1-yard line with 1:54 left. It was nothing Canarutto couldn’t handle. The junior orchestrated a four-play, 52-second, 79-yard drive culminating in a 35-yard TD pass to Rachel Ganz to tie the score.

Two plays into overtime, Canarutto found Heaney for a 20-yard touchdown and hit Ganz for the one-point conversion. Half Hollow Hills answered with a touchdown, but its PAT was unsuccessful and the Hawks escaped with a 20-19 win for their second straight Long Island title.

Canarutto’s favorite target all year was Lara Glasser, who caught seven passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns as the Hawks captured the Nassau title with a 22-8 win over Syosset. Glasser caught 12 passes for 174 yards and two scores from Canarutto in the state semifinal – a 14-0 win over Columbia.

“We’re really good at communicating,” Glasser said. “We’ve learned how to help each other. If she’s scrambling, I learned how to adjust my route. She’s learned to help me with the way she’s been moving around and getting around the rushers and reading the other players on the field.”

Plainview’s air-tight defense allowed just 80 points all season. The Hawks are as disciplined as anyone and rarely miss flag pulls. Heaney led the team with 76, Gabi Weinstein had 74, Julia Kesselman had 73, Emily Brake had 59 and Glasser had 57. Ganz totaled 14 interceptions and the Hawks pitched 12 shutouts.

“When you want something and you make that your mindset and have tunnel vision on what you want, you tend to go and get your goal,” Weinstein said. “Because all of us had that same mindset, we were able to pull ourselves out of those holes and pick each other up.”

Weinstein was joined by Melanie Sebel and Samantha Graf as the only seniors on the team. With a large junior class returning, the Hawks will be back on the hunt next year.

“It’s been an amazing run for everybody,” Canarutto said. “We’re going to miss the seniors, but we’re just going to have other girls fill those spots and keep this going.”

 

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