For the better part of the 21st century, Garden City has unquestionably been the premier football program on Long Island.
The only question is: will the Trojans’ dominance ever end?
Garden City bulldozed through Nassau Conference II for its eighth straight county title and 13th since 2003. The Trojans finished the season with a 38-7 win over North Babylon on Nov. 25 at Stony Brook University to claim their third straight Long Island title, sixth in the past seven seasons and record 11th overall.
The Trojans have won 42 consecutive games dating back to Mar. 13, 2021, tying the longest winning streaks in Long Island football history. Who was the last team to win 42 straight games? Garden City from 2016-19. Floyd first accomplished the feat from 2005-08.
“My brother was on the team that won the first county championship of this eight-year run in 2016 and he was doing the same things Monday through Friday that we were doing all year,” said senior safety Matthew Liberopoulos, who also had a touchdown catch in the LI final. “It’s that consistency with coach [Dave] Ettinger that makes the difference. It’s hard to keep everyone humble because this is a town and a program that has won a lot in the past but it’s all about respecting your opponent because you only get one chance to make your first impression on each team.”
North Babylon entered the Class II title game averaging 404 yards and 39.5 points per game. Garden City held the Bulldogs to three first downs and 58 yards in the first half and limited star running back Jawara Keahey, who led Long Island in rushing yards and touchdowns, to 49 yards on 15 carries.
“One of our sayings this year was, ‘Tradition never dies. Hold the standard,’ ” senior linebacker Matt Kephart said.
It’s a very high standard, but the Trojans held it all year. On average, the defense allowed 3.4 points per game and never allowed more than seven points in a game. Garden City (12-0) averaged 37.9 points per game and its closest game was its season opener, a 28-7 win over New Hyde Park.
“Football always seems like a physical sport, but throughout each week this year, we were very focused on the mental side of it so we could just play freely,” Kephart said.
“Everyone can say they prepare, but we prepared at a different level,” Liberopoulos said.
Even when junior running back Michael Berkery was ruled out for the Long Island championship game after suffering a broken ankle in the county title game, Garden City was prepared.
Blake Cascadden and Aidan Considine stepped up against North Babylon. Cascadden ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns in his first game playing running back all season. Considine added 60 yards and a score. Garden City totaled 333 yards on the ground behind tackles Jack O’Neill and Justin Gisolfi, guards Zach Olson, Matt Reilly and Owen Holtzman and center Brendan Bohn.
“I’m the biggest on our team and North Babylon, for example, had three or four kids bigger than me,” Holtzman said. “We’re not bigger than most teams and we’re not going to out-strength anybody. We have to win up front with speed and stay on our double-team blocks.”
“Coach [Tom] Flatley did an amazing job with this program,” said Ettinger, who became the coach in 2015. “Most of us on the staff coached with him and some played for him. He had a system that worked and we’ve stuck with it.”
Road to the Long Island Championship
Nassau II quarterfinal: Beat Mepham, 42-0
Nassau II semifinal: Beat New Hyde Park, 35-0
Nassau II final: Beat Carey, 35-7
Long Island Class II final: Beat North Babylon, 38-7