For Commack quarterback Jeremy Weiss, it may not have been the accustomed gameday atmosphere, but this sort of environment still brought about plenty of nerves.
And in the end, they helped turn Weiss into the overall champion at the inaugural Long Island QB Challenge at Kings Park High School on Sunday.
“I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous,” Weiss said. “I think being nervous is a good thing. It means you’re prepared and excited. But I definitely did my preparation and made sure that I was ready for this moment when it came about.”
The event, hosted by the National Football Foundation, featured skills competitions between 13 of the top returning quarterbacks throughout the Island: Weiss, Dante Torres (St. Anthony’s), Brayden Stahl (Smithtown West), Peter Liotta (North Shore), Brady Clark (Bayport-Blue Point), Owen Johansen (Northport), Zion Woodhull-Trippett (Holy Trinity), DJ Gordon (Freeport), Tommy Azzara (Smithtown East), Matt Cargiulo (Manhasset), Matt Metzger (Carey), Michael Wheat (St. John the Baptist) and Devin Page (Kellenberg).
Competitors participated in seven drills — accuracy, anticipation, touch, arm strength, mobility, release quickness and pocket presence. Former NFL quarterback Matt Simms served as the competition’s judge, and LIU quarterback coach Jonathan Gill coordinated the activities.
Additional awards were also given in three of the categories — football IQ for work done in the classroom prior to the drills, accuracy and anticipation. Weiss earned the football IQ honor, while Stahl won for accuracy and Torres for anticipation.
Weiss said his performance, worthy of multiple awards, came down to one key aspect.
“I just had to make sure that I was ready,” Weiss said. “I think adrenaline was pumping the entire time. And I was just super excited about everything we were doing today.”
St. Anthony’s coach Joe Minucci commended Torres for “doing a great job of showing his abilities.”
Simms said the day provided the players with a unique opportunity to better understand the immense talent of their peers.
“I think everyone did extremely well,” Simms said. “I think Coach Gill did a fantastic job of getting everybody on the same page. I know early on everyone was a little uneasy just because it’s a new environment and there were a lot of other good players around.
“But it was good for the guys to see other really good quarterbacks outside of the little bubble they’re in, and realize that the pool of quarterbacks is actually an ocean. There are a lot of really good football players out there, a lot of great performers today who did a fantastic job of competing.”
Steve Fasciani, president of the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association, gave the event’s debut a glowing review.
“I think this is such a great event,” Fasciani said. “[James C. Metzger Suffolk County Chapter President] Len Genova and the National Football Foundation has been a great partner for Long Island football for a number of years. Just how organized it is and how great an opportunity it is for all these quarterbacks to show their stuff. It’s just a greatly run event; I really love it.”