The Garden City football team doesn’t have one clear defensive standout, but add the pieces together, and it has the makings of a championship puzzle.
“Our defense is always looking at it as 11 guys on the same page at the same time,” Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said on Wednesday.
“Our preparation by our defensive staff is unbelievable. We spend a lot of time breaking down film and getting our kids able to try to adjust to what they’re going to see on Saturday during the week.”
The 11-0 Trojans have won 35 straight games — a Nassau football record — and have allowed just over a touchdown per game this fall. They’ll meet Suffolk champion Lindenhurst in the Long Island Division II Championship at noon Friday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
Garden City’s yet to play a close game this season, though that stands to change against a Lindenhurst team that moved down to Division II after winning the Long Island Division I Championship last season.
“It’s a huge challenge for us going up against a bigger school, a team that just moved down and is the defending Long Island champion in the biggest conference in Long Island football,” Ettinger said. “They’re physical, athletic, well-coached and disciplined.”
Having pitched three shutouts and outscored opponents 425-83, it’s clear that Garden City is much, much more than a prolific offense.
Several offensive players take part in the defensive gameplan, though, a byproduct of Nassau football’s generally smaller rosters.
Take star playmaker Trevor Yeboah-Kodie, for example. He’s accounted for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns this season but also acts as a leader in the secondary.
Joe Scattareggia (two receiving touchdowns) and Justin Coppola (11 total touchdowns) play key roles in the secondary, too.
Defensive linemen Steven Moscatiello, Steven Haass, Christian Sullivan, Angelo Demiris and Danny Boccasola get pressure on the quarterback, while linebackers Billy Kephart and Liam Griffith round out the middle of the defense.
“We pride ourselves on trying to line up properly, and we feel like it all starts with that,” Ettinger said of his team’s defensive success.
Lindenhurst (9-2) boasts an offense unlike anything the Trojans have seen this fall. Big playmakers have led Lindenhurst to just over 24 points per game, and Ettinger said he thinks the outcome will be decided by the defense that makes its tackles and prevents the home-run plays.
“I think that it’s the team that can give up less big plays,” Ettinger said. “They have big-play capability with their athletes, and watching film on them, they don’t give up many big plays.”
Quarterback Colin Hart will put that to the test. The senior signal-caller has thrown for 16 touchdowns and run for eight more, amassing over 1,500 total yards. Hart, Yeboah-Kodie and Coppola are a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
They’re hoping to assert themselves early.
“It’s always nice to be able to start fast,” Ettinger said. “But with an unfamiliar opponent, there’s definitely going to be a feeling-out process.”
With several three-year starters looking to finish a three-season winning streak, Garden City’s hoping its defense can continue to shoulder the responsibility of keeping teams off the board.
“It really is just a bunch of guys doing their jobs,” Ettinger said.
Each athlete a small piece of a larger — potentially championship-winning — puzzle.
Road jto the championship
Nassau II playoffs
Valley Stream Central, 35-14