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Empire Challenge provides last chance for Ward Melville trio to bond

Long Island football players shared their experiences playing in the 22nd annual Empire Challenge at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / Kenny DeJohn)

John Corpac, Dom Pryor and Eddie Munoz have been at the forefront of much of Ward Melville’s athletic success this season.

And Wednesday night they provided Long Island with some early success. Corpac returned a 98-yard touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the game to give Long Island a one-point lead in the 22nd annual Empire Challenge at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium, but New York City went on to win, 37-35.

“I saw a hole on the left side and I just took it and exploded,” Corpac said. “My adrenaline is through the roof. I couldn’t be happier.”

And Corpac is no stranger to the big play.

In the Suffolk I football semifinals, it was Pryor’s block that catapulted Corpac to a 90-yard return touchdown in an upset victory over previously undefeated Lindenhurst. A few months later, it was Munoz’s three goals in less than 35 seconds that helped the Patriots’ historic comeback to win the Class A lacrosse state championship. He and Pryor, a two-way midfielder, were both All-Long Island selections and will play lacrosse at college. Corpac will play football at Stony Brook.

“I’m just trying to make the best of it,” Pryor said. “It’s just a fun game, a fun atmosphere and we’re just trying to make plays and make it memorable.”

Memorable it was. In Pryor’s final high school game and playing on the same field he’ll be playing lacrosse at next year, he had five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns through three quarters for Long Island.

“It’s an awesome experience,” Pryor said. “I’m so honored to be playing in this game, especially with John and Eddie. There’s really nothing like it.”

It wasn’t only Pryor putting on a show, however. Corpac scored Long Island’s first touchdown on a 28-yard pass from Aaron Ruthman. After catching the pass at the 5-yardline, Corpac lowered his shoulder, determined to find the end zone.

“Right when I caught it I knew he was there, but I didn’t know how fast he was coming I guess,” Corpac said. “He just threw me the ball and I knew it was coming so I just had to do something with it.”

For both Corpac and Pryor to score touchdowns in their final football game like they have so many times throughout high school was even better than even they imagined.

“We couldn’t have drawn up playing in the game,” Pryor said. “We couldn’t have drawn up how good we’re doing right now but it’s all the teammates and coaches. Have to give credit to them, of course.”

Munoz, playing defensive back had a great time watching his teammates catch big plays on the field, something he’s plenty used to seeing.

“I’m so happy for both guys,” Munoz said. “I’m proud to be their teammate. I’m really excited for them. They completely deserve it.”

Whether it’s been playing flag football, varsity football, lacrosse or the Empire Challenge, the three just enjoy being on the field together.

“I’ve played with Dom and Eddie since flag football almost,” Corpac said. “It stinks that it’s our last game but got to make the best of it.”

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