The Downstate team, featuring 16 Long Island senior football players, dominated the first annual Upstate-Downstate Football Classic played on June 6 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Coached by Joe Vito of Roosevelt, the Downstate team broke open a close game with a 24-point fourth quarter on its way to a 36-7 victory. Stony Brook-bound linebacker Jawara Dudley of Roosevelt returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown in the final quarter. He made five tackles and was voted defensive MVP.
“To a man, every coach and every player had an incredible experience,” Vito said. “We lived in the dorms [on the Syracuse campus] and most of us had never been in the Carrier Dome before. The morning of the game, I went for a run and it was pouring. I was glad we were playing inside.”
Many of the Long Island players who did well in the Upstate-Downstate will be playing in Tuesday night’s 15th Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. They include Dudley, Lawrence quarterback John Kinder, Brentwood receiver Chris Jean-Pierre, St. Anthony’s defensive tackle Rob Welsh and Sachem North’s Davon Lawrence. Lawrence played outside linebacker in the Upstate-Downstate game but will be a running back for the Long Island team Tuesday against the New York City all-stars. Game time at Hofstra is 7:30 p.m.