The pain was still raw - not even 24 hours old. The

combination of shock, emptiness and sadness was so strong it drove Edwin Gowins

to be sick to his stomach. But as much hurt as he felt, he knew he wasn't

alone. From Day One when you become a Bellport football player, you become part

of an extended family.

Gowins thought about the patriarch - what his emotions must be, how hard he

must be taking the shocking one-point loss to Lawrence in the Long Island

Class II championship game. So at 11 a.m. on Nov. 26, he made an unannounced


Gowins knocked on the door. The man who had worked with him for countless

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hours heard the noise and got up from his office where he was studying film.

The man who taught Gowins and the rest of his teammates lessons far beyond how

to break a tackle - lessons of discipline, commitment and loyalty - came to the

door. He saw the player who had given his all to Bellport football, never more

evident in a day they'd sooner forget.

Gowins and Bellport coach Joe Cipp Jr. took a look at each other on Cipp's

porch. Neither was exactly sure what to say. So they hugged. And cried.

"It was like the son checking in on the wounded father," Cipp said.

Though Gowins' final game ended in the greatest disappointment of his

athletic life, it was his most impressive showing. Playing through a sprained

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knee, Gowins rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries in the

28-27 loss. It was the final chapter of a phenomenal season, one that earned

him Newsday's 47th annual Carl A. Hansen Award last night as Suffolk's top high

school football player.

Gowins, who received his award at the Suffolk County Football Coaches

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Association dinner at the Wind Watch in Hauppauge, edged Floyd's Brock

Jackolski, West Islip's Justin Turri and Glenn's Trevor Coston.

"[Gowins] played like an absolute warrior in that game," Cipp said.

The records that Gowins set at Bellport are many. But here's a short

sampling: he rushed for the most yards in a season (1,776), most yards in a

career (2,529) and had the most touchdowns (45) of any player in school

history. And he was at his best when Bellport needed him the most.

In the 2005 Long Island Championship, Gowins' 74-yard run and two-point

conversion run gave Bellport an 8-0 win over Garden City to finish off an 11-0

season. A year later in the 2006 Long Island Championship, his performance on

one good leg was courageous and remarkable.

"I will do whatever I can to give my team a chance to win," he said.

Gowins credited much of his on-field success and mental toughness to his

work in the weight room. At 5-10, 219 pounds, he is an absolute specimen. After

a sophomore year playoff loss to North Babylon, he dedicated himself to

remaking his body. Working out became a passion. As a senior, he benched 390


With his high school career over, Gowins is considering many options for

where to continue his football career. University of Colorado has expressed

interest, but Gowins might be inclined to stay closer to home, and Stony Brook

is a possibility. Neither school, however, is his first choice.

"I wish I could just stay in Bellport and play another year," Gowins said.

"I love it here."

There's a coach who wishes he didn't have to leave too.

Hansen Award

The Hansen Award, which goes to the outstanding high school football player

in Suffolk County, is presented annually by Newsday in memory of Carl A.

Hansen of Westhampton. Hansen served as coach and athletic director at

Westhampton, was an organizer of the Nassau-Suffolk Advisory Board and was

president of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. He

died in 1960. The list of winners since 2000:

2006 Edwin Gowins, *

Bellport, RB/LB

2005 Chris Eanuzel, St. Anthony's, QB

2004 Jason Gwaltney, North Babylon,


2003 Jason Gwaltney, North Babylon,


2002 Trevon Rodney, Babylon, HB

2001 Josh Johnston, Harborfields,


2000 Eugene Nottingham, Amityville,


For a complete list, visit

*[Gowins] rushed for the most yards (1,776, season), (2,529, career) and most

TDs (45) of any player in [Bellport] history.