Chris Piropato of West Islip receives the Collotta Award at...

Chris Piropato of West Islip receives the Collotta Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Monday in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

It’s not always easy being a leader.

But West Islip senior Chris Piropato embraced his field general role on the Lions’ defense over the past three seasons.

The two-year captain earned the Bob Collotta Award, given annually to Suffolk County’s most outstanding linebacker, at the Suffolk Football Coaches Association dinner Monday night at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge.

“When you’re truly a great leader, you help those alongside you first,” West Islip coach Steve Mileti said. “And that’s the difference. That’s where Chris Piropato stands apart.”

Piropato made 101 tackles this season, including nine for a loss. The 6-foot, 195-pound linebacker also had five sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

West Islip went 9-2 and reached the Suffolk Division II championship game. The Lions held opponents to 14 or fewer points in six games this fall.

“He’s got that ‘it’ factor,” Mileti said. “He’ll see that something’s up, he’ll fill that empty space that the running back is looking for, and he makes many plays behind the line of scrimmage.”

Jack Melore of Smithtown West receives the Longo Award at...

Jack Melore of Smithtown West receives the Longo Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Monday in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Along with Piropato’s elite skill set on the field, Mileti said he put his teammates before himself. He said Piropato believed in West Islip’s traditions and passed them on to his teammates.

“To be quite honest, it doesn’t happen without kids like that,” Mileti said. “If you don’t have a general like that on your football field, it can go sour real quick.”

Piropato wore the No. 44 jersey, which is passed down among leaders on the team. Mileti said Piropato interviewed his teammates to find who should wear the No. 44 next.

“He’s serious about it, it means that much,” Mileti said. “And that’s why our culture is what it is, because of kids like that.”

Danny Aiello of Bayport-Blue Point receives the Cipp Award at...

Danny Aiello of Bayport-Blue Point receives the Cipp Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Monday in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Melore top WR in Suffolk

Smithtown West senior Jack Melore won the National Football Foundation Suffolk’s most outstanding wide receiver award Monday night. Melore caught 78 passes for 1,258 yards and 17 touchdowns in nine games this season.

He had 17 receptions for 241 yards, a Long Island single-game record, against Half Hollow Hills West in the Suffolk Division III quarterfinals.

“He’s an elite receiver,” Smithtown West coach Craig Perrino said. “Jack was such a great route-runner and understood the concepts in our pass game.”

Melore consistently beat double coverage as the county’s top receiver. Perrino said Melore’s route-running paired with his ability to track the ball made it hard for defenses to stop the 6-1 target.

Melore holds an offer to Division I (FCS) Marist, and Perrino said his star wideout is talking to other Division I schools. He added that Melore prioritized the Bulls and his teammates over everything.

Hayden Lovinsky of Deer Park receives the Cassese Award at...

Hayden Lovinsky of Deer Park receives the Cassese Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Monday in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

“He’s got an outstanding work ethic,” Perrino said. “To the point where this past summer, he was taking boxing lessons to work on his hands and his releases off the line.”

Melore opened his senior season with two touchdowns and 263 receiving yards against Comsewogue.

He leaves Smithtown West as Long Island’s all-time leader in receptions (158) and receiving yards (2,689). His total of 30 receiving touchdowns ranks second all-time on Long Island. He did it all in 23 games over four seasons.

Aiello a running machine

Bayport-Blue Point senior Dan Aiello won the Joe Cipp Award as Suffolk’s most outstanding running back. Aiello rushed for 1,783 yards and 26 touchdowns in 12 games this fall.

He ran for 245 yards and three touchdowns as the Phantoms earned a 42-20 win over Seaford to claim their second consecutive Long Island Class IV title and a perfect 12-0 season.

Ben Ross of Glenn receives the LaBue Award at the...

Ben Ross of Glenn receives the LaBue Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Monday in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

He had more than 100 rushing yards in 10 games and ran for multiple scores in nine games.

More of Suffolk’s best

Deer Park senior Hayden Lovinsky won the Tom Cassese Award as Suffolk’s most outstanding defensive back.

Lovinsky allowed only two passes to be completed to his assigned receivers this season. He had three interceptions, broke up 11 passes, made 41 tackles and forced two fumbles.

Floyd’s Caden Lesiewicz won the placekicker of the year award for the second consecutive season.

Glenn’s Ben Ross won the LaBue Award as Suffolk football’s top scholar-athlete.

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