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Luke Schmitt throws two touchdown passes as Garden City captures Long Island Class II title

Garden City QB Luke Schmitt gets the pass

Garden City QB Luke Schmitt gets the pass off under pressure from Bellport DE Jason Hunt in the Long Island Class II championship, Saturday, November 27, 2021 at LaValle Stadium. Credit: George A Faella

Luke Schmitt, so accustomed to leading a wrecking ball of a Garden City offense that no opponent in Nassau was capable of slowing down this season, was called upon for a largely unfamiliar task in the first quarter of Saturday’s Long Island Class II championship game:

To punt.

A few minutes later, the senior quarterback punted again. And after Schmitt’s third punt of the first half, it was abundantly clear that this game would be much different from any of the Trojans’ previous contests.

"Bellport was just bigger, more physical and faster than what we were used to," Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said after his team ground out a 14-6 win at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

The win gave Garden City (12-0) its first Long Island title since 2018 and its fourth in the last five years that the Long Island Championships have been held (because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no championship games in the 2021 spring season).

The Trojans entered averaging 31.6 points in the first half of games this season. Halftime was generally a cue for Ettinger to sub out his starters.

At halftime Saturday, though, Garden City was locked in a 0-0 tie with Bellport.

Senior tackle Brendan Staub described a "good, quiet calm" in the locker room after his team’s unusually quiet first half.

"No finger-pointing. We weren’t victimizing ourselves," he said. "I think we were just trying to stick to our game plan."

After mustering only 47 yards through the first two quarters, Garden City got 74 yards on its second play from scrimmage of the second half. Schmitt lined up with four wide receivers, read the deep safety and hit a wide-open Aidan Considine. The sophomore slot receiver took the pass 74 yards for the game’s first score.

Not a bad time for the first touchdown of Considine’s varsity career.

"The whole season, I didn’t care about scoring. I was just happy to be a part of the team," he said. "So to score like that and help out the team, it’s just a special feeling."

Bellport (10-2) answered on its next possession with a 14-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jack Halpin to senior wide receiver Riley Murphy that brought the Clippers within 7-6.

Early in the fourth quarter, Garden City gashed Bellport with another big offensive play. Schmitt led Robert Votruba down the right sideline, where the junior running back leaped high for a heavily contested catch before scampering in for a 45-yard touchdown.

"I can’t believe he made that catch," Schmitt said.

Votruba said with a smile: "It had nothing to do with me. Schmitt put it in the perfect spot. It was on my outside shoulder. He couldn’t have put a better ball."

Schmitt completed 7 of 10 passes for 148 yards. Votruba had 12 carries for 56 yards as he filled in for senior Jack Cascadden, who played only on defense, for the most part, as he dealt with a knee injury. Schmitt filled in for Cascadden as the punter and two of his four kicks pinned Bellport at the 1-yard line.

Junior running back Donte Phillips paced Bellport with 83 yards on 22 carries.

But the game’s biggest statistic, according to those on the Garden City side? The Trojans now are 1-4 against Bellport in the Long Island Championships. Ettinger said he brought that up with his team during the week leading up to the game.

It resonated.

"[Long-time Garden City coach Tom] Flatley passed away a year and a half ago, and we talked about doing it for him this week because he went 0-4 against these guys and wishes he could have gotten one," Staub said. "It’s so great that we were able to do it in remembrance of him and I think that it’s super-special that we could be the first ones to do it."

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