It was a Monday, two days after the Westhampton football team had felt the sting of defeat for the first time in two years. The Hurricanes had fallen in the Suffolk III championship game, and the finality of it all was setting in.
The defending Long Island Class III champions had been beaten by Half Hollow Hills West on a cold Friday night at Stony Brook, and the Hurricanes’ school-record 22-game winning streak was over.
Middle linebacker/fullback Liam McIntyre handed in his gear that Monday afternoon. One of Long Island’s toughest players turned in his helmet and stood there, refusing to leave.
“He was the last one to leave,” coach Bryan Schaumloffel said. “He was still trying to come to terms with the loss, and it came hard for him. He was looking for answers. It was heartbreaking. But when you know the player and what he stands for, you know why. He was our ironman, an intense player, who didn’t want it to end.”
Schaumloffel said that’s what separated McIntyre from the ordinary high school player.
“McIntyre is a cut above,” he said. “He was the captain, the leader, of the best senior class in more than 100 years of Westhampton football.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound McIntyre, a three-year starter, led Westhampton to two undefeated regular-season titles and ended his career with a 30-3 record. This year he made 107 tackles, including 42 solos, six sacks and 13 for a loss. The two-way throwback was a punishing blocker, and he ran between the tackles for 913 yards and 15 touchdowns.
For his accomplishments, McIntyre was named the 59th recipient of the prestigious Carl A. Hansen Award — presented to Suffolk’s best player — at the Suffolk County High School Football Coaches Association banquet Monday night at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge.
The other finalists were senior wide receiver JJ Laap of Ward Melville, senior halfback Nick Silva of Floyd and senior quarterback Greg Campisi of St. Anthony’s.
It was quite the distinction for the hard-hitting McIntyre, who was the thunder to halfback Dylan Laube’s lightning during the Hurricanes’ run to the Long Island Class III title in 2017. Laube, who won the Hansen Award in 2017, credited McIntyre’s resolve and toughness as the key to the playoff run.
McIntyre, who suffered a broken hand on the first play from scrimmage in 2017, came back to lead the Hurricanes to the LI title. He returned six weeks ahead of schedule, his hand wrapped in a protective club, and basically played with one arm through the playoffs.
“Liam was the heart and soul of our program for the past three years,” Schaumloffel said. “Dylan wasn’t a rah-rah type of guy. It was always Liam.”
In his final performance, McIntyre led the charge from sideline to sideline to shut out the vaunted Hills West offense and take a 10-0 halftime lead.
“He rolled his ankle late in the first half,” Schaumloffel said. “It was like someone flipped a switch. The injury limited his pursuit and took away our interior run game.”
Hills West had three long touchdown runs in the second half to earn a 21-10 win.
“I just didn’t want it to end,” McIntyre said. “You think it’s never going to end. You’re going to ride that wave. You’re going to line up with all your best friends and play forever. And then it ends. When you play all-out physical on every play, injuries happen. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”
He fell to his knees and buried his head in his hands as time expired. His career was over. He’d left everything on the field.
“He’s a warrior,” Schaumloffel said. “What we saw at the end of the Hills game was pure emotion from a guy who will never look back and wonder if he played hard for every second of every game. He gave us everything.”
A heart-wrenching photo appeared on social media with McIntyre all alone after the final whistle. “If that’s what people remember, that’s fine,’’ he said. “That’s who I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I was crushed that we lost. It was not the way I expected to end my career.”
Instead, it closed Monday on top of the podium, honored as the best player in Suffolk County.
The kid who cherished his small town and the excitement of Friday Night Lights left an indelible impression on Westhampton’s program.
Said McIntyre, “There’s nothing like a Friday night high school football game at home.”
Past Hansen Award winners
2017 – Dylan Laube, Westhampton and Jeremy Ruckert, Lindenhurst
2016 – Jack Coan, Sayville
2015 – Elijah Riley, Newfield
2014 – Isaiah White, Longwood
2013 – Jordan Gowins, St. Anthony’s
2012 – Steven Casali, Sachem East
2011 - Stacey Bedell, Floyd and Dalton Crossan, Sachem North
2010 - Mike Pellegrino, Connetquot
2009 - JeVahn Cruz, Half Hollow Hills West and Malcolm Cater. Riverhead
2008 - Miguel Maysonet, Riverhead
2007 - Brock Jackolski, Floyd
2006 - Ed Gowins, Bellport
2005 - Chris Eanuzel, St. Anthony’s
2004 - Jason Gwaltney, North Babylon
2003 - Jason Gwaltney, North Babylon
2002 - Trevon Rodney, Babylon
2001 - Josh Johnston, Harborfields
2000 - Eugene Nottingham, Amityville
1999 - Omar Palmer, North Babylon
1998 - Barry Baker, North Babylon
1997 - Derric Rossy, Patchogue-Medford
1996 - Marc Riley, Longwood
1995 - James O’Neal, Sachem
1994 - Joe Parmentier, Lindenhurst
1993 - Jason Schuster, Longwood
1992 - Jamie Lynch, Islip
1991 - David Sumner, Northport
1990 - Antonio O’Ferral, Bellport
1989 - John Paci, Huntington
1988 - Adam Mariano, Comsewogue
1987 - Darren Ward, Huntington
1986 - Tom Gilmartin, St. Anthony’s
1985 - Mark Wojciechowski, Sachem
1984 - Randy Beverly, Central Islip
1983 - Craig Biggio, Kings Park
1982 - Tom Watson, Bellport
1981 - Joe Gagliardi, St. John the Baptist
1980 - Rodney Cooke, Bellport
1979 - Kevin Baugh, Deer Park
1978 - Kevin Riccio, West Islip
1977 - Brian Dehler, Sachem
1976 - Mike Tice, Central Islip
1975 - Chris Dieterich, Ward Melville
1974 - Tom Donovan, Holy Family
1973 - Rich Scudellari, Holy Family
1972 - Chad Smith, Sayville
1971 - Curtis Smith, Brentwood
1970 - Jamie Franklin, Brentwood
1969 - Dan Scott, Amityville
1968 - Tom Tarazevits, Southampton
1967 - Frank Ahrenhold, Northport
1966 - Kevin O’Connor, Commack
1965 - Gary Steele, Commack
1964 - Bob Lavinia, Smithtown
1963 - Hal Becker, Port Jefferson
1962 - Bob Schroeder, Lindenhurst
1961 - Jim Smith, Harborfields
1960 - Len Sears, West Babylon