Jack Cascadden held up the prize, a plaque shaped like Long Island. He couldn’t have worked any harder to be out on the turf Saturday to help Garden City earn it.
Just about two weeks ago, he suffered a sprained PCL in his right knee during the Nassau Conference II semifinals against Carey. It knocked the standout senior running back/defensive end/punter/captain out of the county title game against MacArthur, but he made it back for his first appearance in the Long Island Championships.
On offense, Cascadden served only as a blocker on occasion in the second half, but he played at defensive end all game, making six tackles and recovering a fumble although his knee was encased in a brace. His Trojans emerged with a 14-6 win over Bellport in the Long Island Class II championship game at Stony Brook University.
"All the hard work that we put in throughout the season, going to camp, all the passion and all the sitting and watching film, it all paid off," Cascadden said. "These boys are my brothers, and I love them to death. I was more than honored to lead them into victory. Being a captain of this team is no small task."
Just getting back so fast was no small task, either. But physical therapist Bill Peters, the father of fellow captain Will Peters, lent a hand.
"He’s an amazing guy," Cascadden said. "He got me back on the field. He made my knee feel better. He got me the brace . . . I owe it all to him."
Cascadden’s teammates appreciated that he was back out there with them.
"What he went through for the past two weeks to get out on this field, it was super-impressive, what he had to do, physical therapy, getting cleared, all that stuff," senior two-way lineman Brendan Staub said.
"On defense, he was the best player out there," senior quarterback Luke Schmitt said. "In my opinion, he’s the best player on Long Island."
Coach Dave Ettinger said he was "devastated" for Cascadden when he got hurt. And now?
"Just ecstatic for him," Ettinger said. "Obviously, he’s been the face of our program for the last two years."
Cascadden said the brace was "a little bit" limiting. "With the brace on, it certainly makes things tight," he said. "But my knee felt good. Once I started to heat up, it was natural to me."