How did Freeport wideout Ashanti Foster-Felder get so open last night?
"Speed, I guess," he said.
The 6-foot, 175-pound senior captain, also a key member of the Freeport boys track team, was targeted early by quarterback Kevin Allen and also was thrown to late in the Red Devils' 38-14 victory over Floyd in the Long Island Class I championship game at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium.
The big wideout took advantage of single coverage to haul in two huge receiving touchdowns, the Red Devils' first and second-to-last scores, including a toe-tapping catch along the sideline in the end zone in the fourth quarter that made it 32-14.
Foster-Felder also opened the scoring on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Allen midway through the first quarter that put Freeport up 6-0. It was a slant play toward the sideline and was one of the first passes from Allen. The speedy Foster-Felder broke a tackle near the goal line to make it to the end zone.
And in between, he caught a 22-yard pass from Allen, also on a slant to the sideline, that set up Allen's 5-yard touchdown run that put Freeport up 12-6 in the second quarter.
"You dream about stuff like this," a smiling Foster-Felder said amid the celebration after the game. "In middle school, me and Paul [Ketchens], who played quarterback for us but got hurt, we dreamed about this. I thought about game-winning catches."
He finished with 77 yards on three catches and was targeted more times but occasionally was overthrown. After one misfire in the first half, Allen and Foster-Felder fist-bumped before the next huddle as if to say, "It's OK."
It was, and was great when Foster-Felder scored the second touchdown. It came on fourth-and-4 from the Floyd 13 early in the fourth quarter. Foster-Felder sprinted from his split end position out left and ran an out route toward the sideline in the end zone. Allen threw it high from the pocket and Foster-Felder raised both arms to snag it with two hands, simultaneously dragging his feet along the turf.
"I was surprised I was inbounds," Foster-Felder said.
Said Allen: "I couldn't believe it, either. I knew I overthrew him a little bit, but he caught it and kept his foot inbounds."
For Foster-Felder, it was a sweet ending that he envisioned when he started playing football in middle school. He started off mainly as a defensive back, which he also played in the LIC, but he became a starting wideout as a sophomore and has been there ever since. He started at the position the last two seasons, and had 11 touchdowns last season.
He had only two this season entering the LIC as Freeport sometimes struggled throwing, but he matched that total in the final game.
"It's been a frustrating season for him," Freeport coach Russ Cellan said. "He only had two touchdowns coming into today, and it wasn't because of him, it was because we had trouble throwing, for whatever reason. To see him, in the last game of his career, do the things he did with that catch in the end zone is unbelievable."
Foster-Felder said he plans to play football in college, though he also is a stellar track athlete. He was part of Freeport's county championship- winning relays in winter track last year. He said his fastest 200-meter time is 22.4 seconds.
Throughout the season, "he never complained about not getting the ball," Cellan said. "He run-blocked more than he caught passes, but he never complained."
It's as if he knew he eventually would be open.