Bloodied and black and blue over the left eye, Andrew DeSantis played undaunted. The Garden City defensive end was a constant reminder in the Half Hollow Hills West backfield that the Trojans’ defense was for real.
DeSantis and a swarm of teammates held Hills West scoreless for three quarters on the way to a 13-6 win in the Long Island Class II championship game Sunday at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium.
Sophomore Trevor Yeboah-Kodie intercepted a long pass intended for wide receiver Jeff Terry at the Trojans’ 25 with 1:15 left to seal the win.
Garden City earned its sixth championship in its LIC-record 15th appearance and finished 12-0 for the second time in school history.
“I told them if they played as 11 in all three phases of the game, we’d come out on top,” said second-year coach Dave Ettinger, who celebrated his first title. “Our defense was in the right spots and we were well- prepared. Our defensive coordinator, Steve Finnell, did a fantastic job putting us in a position to win against a team loaded with great athletes.”
DeSantis made plays from everywhere on the field. He came up the middle to block an extra-point kick, came off the edge to make four tackles for a loss, recovered a first-quarter fumble and infiltrated the backfield to destroy the timing of numerous plays. “It’s all about emotion and playing as one,” he said. “We had a bunch of guys make big plays.”
Chris Mixon, Matt Granville, Tyler Wuchte and Yeboah-Kodie held Hills West sophomore Gerald Filardi to one completion in eight attempts for 16 yards in the first half as Garden City shut down the Hills West vertical game through three quarters.
DeSantis and the front seven were just as efficient, holding the Colts to 18 yards on 13 carries in the first half. “We didn’t give up any big plays, and that’s their strength,” Mixon said.
The first big stop came on Hills West’s first possession. The Colts drove to the Garden City 34 and were stopped on downs when Wuchte came up hard and drilled Filardi short of the first down.
Garden City then opened the scoring with a 58-yard drive in nine plays. Billy Rousakis kicked a 25-yard field goal with 3:56 left in the first quarter.
The Trojans took advantage of a fumble to add to the lead. The exchange between quarterback and halfback was muffed and DeSantis recovered at the 14 to set up a 26-yard field goal by Rousakis for a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Garden City’s opening drive of the second half went 59 yards in eight plays, with Mixon scoring on a 2-yard run. Rousakis’ kick made it 13-0 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
Hills West blew a scoring chance after Terry returned an interception 42 yards to the Trojans’ 16 with 5:18 left in the third quarter. The Colts turned the ball over on downs when Filardi found Cam Jordan for only four yards on fourth-and-goal from the 9. DeSantis had two tackles for a loss in the sequence.
Filardi hit Alexander Filacouris for 15 yards and Jordan for 53 to set up an 11-yard touchdown toss to Jordan that made it 13-6 with 6:55 left in the game.
Hills West had averaged 358 yards and 37 points per game this year, but the Trojans’ defense spoke yesterday. Hills West had four yards rushing on 27 carries and was 1-for-9 on third-down conversions. “We play very good defense,” Ettinger said. “And we win.”