Senior Brendan Staub was eloquent in his assessment of a Garden City football season.
"There is a last game to the season," said the Trojans defensive end. "It’s the one you want to win the most. And every game before that final game, helps you build the momentum to win the last one. We play every opponent as if they’re a threat to our chances of winning a championship."
Staub led a stifling defense that held previously unbeaten MacArthur to minus-16 yards rushing in the first half. On the Generals' opening possession, Staub set the tone when he sacked quarterback Ryan Muller for an 8-yard loss to force a punt.
Garden City went on to score on its first five possessions and led 35-0 at the half on its way to a 49-6 win over MacArthur in a Nassau Conference II football game. Long Island’s top-ranked Trojans moved to 7-0 and the Generals (6-1) suffered their first loss.
Garden City is the only Nassau program to win six consecutive Conference II titles. They dominated from 1990-1995 and are on the verge of duplicating that feat this year, having won five in a row from 2016 to the spring season of 2021.
"There’s tradition and pride in everything we do," said Trojans halfback Jack Cascadden, who scored all five first-half touchdowns. "We expect to win. And the challenge is to remain focused and locked in on our ultimate goal of winning the last game."
Garden City was 8-0 in the spring and beat MacArthur 14-7 in the Nassau II final. But there was no Long Island Class II championship game, leaving a void for the team.
Staub and Cascadden lead a defense that yielded only two touchdowns through the first six games of the season.
"We elect to defend first all the time at the coin toss," Staub said. "We stop the opponent and create a short field for the offense."
The Trojans scored on their first possession when Cascadden capped a four-play, 40-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown run. Cascadden broke around left end and found a lane to the end zone. Dennis Fargione added the extra-point kick for a 7-0 lead with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
"I went through the A gap and then bumped it down the line until I got outside and then it was easy to the end zone," said Cascadden, who gained 122 yards on 21 carries. "The offensive line gets that push down and I make my reads. They were phenomenal."
Cascadden added scoring runs of 3, 3, 5, and 4 yards in the second quarter for the 35-0 lead. The Garden City drives were 70, 39, 20 and 46 yards.
"We’re big and athletic on the line," Cascadden said. "And when we’re big and athletic, we’re unstoppable."
Tackles Sawyer Olson and Staub, center TJ Krieg, and guards Rowan Stenson and Andrew Cresciullo cleared the way as the Trojans scored on every first half drive.
"It all starts up front," Staub said.
Garden City quarterback Luke Schmitt took advantage of the time the protection afforded him. He completed 8 of 9 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a 30-yard TD strike to a leaping Jackson Perisa in the third quarter and found Robert Votruba in stride for an 85-yard score in the fourth quarter.
MacArthur never found its running game, totaling 16 yards on the ground, but Muller did hit Matt Papach with a beautiful 37-yard scoring pass in the third quarter to make it 42-6.
"We were coming hard off the edge," Staub said. "We know MacArthur is a real good team. But we never let them get it going."
Business as usual for Garden City, which is 68-3 under coach Dave Ettinger in six years.