Clarke head football coach Tim O'Malley before the game against East...

Clarke head football coach Tim O'Malley before the game against East Rockaway at WT Clarke High School on Sept. 14, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The first score of the season for the Clarke football team was worth the wait.

The wait was long. There was the wait of starting the season in March as opposed to September. The wait of whether state officials would allow high school football on Long Island. And then the wait during the game itself.

But when Nick Giardino broke off a 95-yard touchdown run with 6:55 left in the second quarter, the wait was over.

"To be on the field was exciting in itself," coach Tim O’Malley said. "And then for our first touchdown to be a 95-yard run, it was a great thing for the entire school community."

Giardino, a quarterback, kept the ball on the option, cut back to the middle, avoided two defenders and broke free for the score in host Clarke’s 22-7 win over Locust Valley in a Nassau Conference IV football opener Saturday afternoon. The Rams made it 8-0 on a two-point conversion run by Joe Dieppa.

Giardino finished with 176 yards and two TDs on seven carries.

John Kern scored on a 3-yard touchdown run and Giardino’s two-point conversion run gave Clarke a 16-0 lead with 4:44 left in the third quarter. Giardino added a 22-yard scoring run to make it 22-0 with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter.

The high school football season has finally kicked off — not in the fall, but mid-March — but players and coaches are just happy to be back in the game. Newsday's Steve Langford has the story. Credit: James Carbone

Christian Garcia had a 49-yard touchdown run on the final drive of the game for Locust Valley. Ben Ferrara had 185 yards on 33 carries for the Falcons.

Kern, whom O’Malley called a "hardnosed, throwback player," gained 40 yards on 10 carries to go with 14 tackles.

The Clarke defense held Locust Valley to 2-for-7 on fourth-down conversion attempts.

"Our defense played outstanding," O’Malley said. "We really swarmed the ball, kept everything in front of us, just played great fundamentally sound defense."

The coach said he stressed to the team how grateful everyone should be to have a season after months of unknowns. But he also believes the team can have a strong year.

"It’s a great win in terms of confidence," O’Malley said. "The kids believed they have the ability to compete with the teams in our league. They’ve worked really hard the last few weeks and they got a nice reward for it today."