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Garden City's football season was redefined after winning streak ended

Garden City quarterback Luke Schmitt looks for running

Garden City quarterback Luke Schmitt looks for running room against MacArthur during the Nassau Conference II football championship game at Shuart Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Garden City football team had a chance to make history. But the players and coaches also realized even if they fell short in October, they could still make some history in November.

The Trojans took the field on Oct. 26 having won every football game since Nov. 13, 2015. The days leading up had been filled with seemingly unavoidable outside distractions as Garden City tied the Long Island record for consecutive wins (42) after defeating Mepham, 24-6, the week before.

As much as the players tried to treat Week 7 of the season as just another game, it wasn’t that simple. 

“It’s not something that we talked about, but everybody around the program that’s not inside the program was talking about it,” Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said. “Kids in school, teachers in school, I’m sure their parents and relatives. So it was definitely talked about and I’m sure it was on their minds, but it’s nothing that we’ve ever really talked about.”

Despite trying to avoid discussing the streak, the streak found the Trojans. Garden City lost to MacArthur, 27-7, ending the streak at 42.

Rather than lamenting the loss in the locker room, the Trojans focused on creating a new streak. When Floyd had its 42-game winning streak snapped in 2008, it not only ended a historic run, but also a season. Garden City was more fortunate.

“Everything was about getting back and getting another chance to redeem ourselves,” said Billy Kephart, a senior offensive lineman and linebacker. “We heard [Floyd coach Paul Longo] say the worst part about when their streak was broken was that it was in the playoffs and they didn’t get another shot at that team. But we were fortunate enough to have the loss in the regular season and another shot at them.”

That shot came in the Nassau Conference II championship last Saturday in a much-anticipated matchup between No. 2 Garden City and top-seeded and undefeated MacArthur. In a defensive battle, a late Garden City drive along with special teams help delivered the Trojans a 16-14 victory. It was capped by Chase Gardi’s 28-yard field goal with 34.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. 

“We knew [the Oct. 26 lost] was only a regular-season game, so we kind of took it as that and just used it as motivation instead of being sorry for ourselves,” said Holden Overbeck, a senior who moved from quarterback to tight end and cornerback to defensive end in the title game. “We had to use it as a little fire.”

“I’d say the loss definitely pushed us to do more and pushed us closer together,” Kephart said. “It really made us step back and look at ourselves and how we wanted the season to go.”

Who will win the Class II Long Island Championship?

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But after failing to make history in October, Garden City can do something no other team has done on the grandest stage of Long Island football — win four straight Long Island championships. Garden City (10-1) plays Lindenhurst (11-0) in a rematch of last year’s final Saturday at Hofstra at noon.

“It would be unbelievable,” said Christian Sullivan, a senior offensive lineman and linebacker. “In the beginning of the season, people were saying we’re never going to be here … but it would be unbelievable if we could take this home.”

Garden City LIC Results

Year, Opponent, Result, Score

1992: Bellport, lost, 8-6

1993: West Islip, won, 14-9

1994: West Islip, lost, 7-0, OTs

1995: Bellport, lost, 26-19

1998: North Babylon, lost, 34-0

1999: Amityville, lost, 18-16

2000: North Babylon, won, 20-13

2003: Riverhead, won, 20-0

2004: North Babylon, lost, 43-14

2005: Bellport, lost, 8-0

2009: North Babylon, won, 9-6

2010: Bellport, lost, 26-21

2011: Newfield, lost, 14-7

2012: Riverhead, won, 29-16

2016: Half Hollow Hills West, won, 13-6

2017: North Babylon, won, 24-6

2018: Lindenhurst, won, 19-0

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