Garden City's Tim McDonagh fights for yards in the fourth...

Garden City's Tim McDonagh fights for yards in the fourth quarter of the Nassau II semifinals against Carey at Hofstra University. (Nov. 17, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Ray Catapano? Present!

Andrew Ris? Present!

Matt Robison? Present!

Carey's trio of superstars is back.

Garden City: Proven big-play receiver? Workhorse running back? Defensive signal-caller?

Preseason projections so often become a roster roll call -- who's still front and center and whose talents will be absent from their teams. And it's no secret Garden City, the defending Long Island Class II champs, will be without several familiar faces this season. Carey, in contrast, has almost its entire honor roll cast intact and represents a real threat to the throne. The Seahawks nearly toppled Garden City in the Nassau semifinals last year and now clearly have the might and mind-set to accomplish what it couldn't then.

But . . .

"Nobody gets better from start to finish than Garden City," Carey coach Mike Stanley said. "Year in, year out, they know how to win in November and do it better than maybe any team on Long Island."

He's right. A team doesn't capture 20 county titles, including the last four, without being able to retool quickly and overcome rising rivals. But . . .

"Honestly, Carey is great," Trojans quarterback Brett Stewart said. "We have the utmost respect for them and that offense is loaded. It can be frightening."

He's right. Garden City was down 12-0 at halftime to Carey in the semifinals, before rallying to win, 22-18. Stewart also watched his counterpart Catapano rack up 361 passing yards in that game.

And Catapano will only be more dangerous in his second year as a starter, with a complement of weapons including receivers Robison and Ris, tight end John Heyer and running back Mike DeLeo. Trojans coach Tom Flatley called Carey's cadre "the best collection of skill players I've seen in a long time."

Stewart, who totaled 32 touchdowns last year, lost his top two receivers to graduation. Still, he and Flatley insist James Sullivan, Tom Wright and 6-3 Brian Colamussi will rise to the occasion. And the defense, led by Tim McDonagh and Jack Reina, must prove again it can contain Carey.

"We thought we had a chance to get farther last year and we let one get away," Stanley said. "That motivates us."

But . . . the Trojans are driven by the same memory. "We haven't forgotten and we know they'll want revenge," Stewart said. "They have a chance to be the top team. But we won't let it happen."


2012 record: 11-1

Coach: Tom Flatley, 29th season

KEY PLAYERS: Brett Stewart, QB, 6-0/190, Sr.; Tim McDonagh, LB/RB, 6-0/200, Sr.; James Sullivan, CB/RB/WR, 5-11/185, Jr.; Ryan Blair, C, 5-10/185, Sr.

ABOUT THE TROJANS: They graduated a slew of stars and team leaders . . . and that sounds a lot like what was said about Garden City last year, before they went on to win a fourth consecutive Class II Nassau title and the L.I. championship. GC remains a force -- and a favorite -- with Stewart in the spread offense and McDonagh leading the defense.


recommendedLong Island's high school football champions

2012 record: 7-3

Coach: Mike Stanley, 7th season

KEY PLAYERS: Matt Robison, WR/RB/DB, 5-11/170, Sr.; Ray Catapano, QB, 6-2/175, Sr.; Andrew Ris, WR/QB/DB, 6-1/195, Sr.; Joseph Lucito, OL/LB, 5-9/185, Sr.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS: It took a late Garden City rally to edge Carey in last year's semifinals and the Seahawks are again equipped for a championship run. With all of its skill-position players returning to a multi-faceted offense that averaged 28.7 points last season, a few rival coaches have described Carey as "scary."


recommendedLong Island high school football record book

2012 record: 8-3

Coach: Keith Sachs, 21st season

KEY PLAYERS: Nick English, DT/OG, 5-9/225, Sr.; Peter Brasile, FB/MLB, 5-11/200, Sr.; Mike Ferraro, RB, 5-10/185, Sr.; Steve Killard, QB, 5-9/175, Sr.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: A longtime elite and the county runner-up last season, Wantagh will again contend. Ferraro, an elusive runner, missed a chunk of last season but should blossom into a feature back and Killard, a first-year starter, has a strong arm and can thrive in this high-octane offense. The defense is also incorporating new 4-3 looks.


2012 record: 8-2

Coach: Bob Fehrenbach, 15th season

KEY PLAYERS: Nick Cuciti, RT/DL, 6-4/225, Sr.; Paul Giuliano, FB/DT, 5-10/210, Jr.; Kevin Carboy, C/DL, 6-4/305, Jr.; Tommy McAndrew, WR/FS, 5-9/155, Sr.

ABOUT THE GENERALS: Reached the semifinals but graduated all their skill-position players. Still, they have a dominant O-line that returns four starters, including left guard Nick Tangredi. Ryan Cunningham and Jimmy Kelleher are competing to start at QB, and McAndrew and James Knoebel are solid receivers.


2012 record: 4-5

Coach: Jay Hegi, 12th season

KEY PLAYERS: Matt Brutus, LB/WR, 6-2/180, Sr.; James Bailey, LB/WR, 6-1/175, Sr.; Kevon Chambers, WR/LB, 6-3/205, Sr.; Isaah Flaherty, MLB/C, 5-10/160, Sr.

ABOUT THE SPARTANS: Lost in the first round last year and now has "underclassmen filling a lot of spots," Hegi said. Elmont does have speed on offense and should be strong defensively with athletic, playmaking linebackers Brutus and Bailey in their 3-5 alignment. The Spartans are relying on QB Simon Kalu and WR Kendall St. Louis to emerge.


2012 record: 5-4

Coach: Scott Martin, 5th season

KEY PLAYERS: Tariq Cole, LT, 6-8/360, Sr.; Chris Parler, WR/RB/QB, 5-9/180, Jr.; Matt Michelman, C/DL, 5-11/235, Sr.; Liam Rafferty, WR/QB, 6-0/160, Sr.

ABOUT THE MARINES: Overcame the destruction and disruption of superstorm Sandy and reached the quarterfinals for a third straight year, but the Marines aren't satisfied. A strong O-line will open holes for whoever is in the backfield, but a QB competition is underway. Candidates include Parler, the star RB, along with Rafferty and Matt Varian.


2012 record: 4-5

Coach: Anthony Cracco, 6th season

KEY PLAYERS: Tyler Davis, QB, 6-4/200, Jr.; Chris Durkin, RB/LB, 5-9/180, Sr.; Yianni Hilas, WR/DB, 6-1/190, Jr.; Chris Gabriel, RB/DB, 5-8/160, Sr.

ABOUT THE PIRATES: Depth at the skill positions makes them dangerous in the spread offense. Davis is poised for a breakout season in this system and receivers Hilas and Danny Kapps and backs Durkin and Gabriel lead a potentially powerful offense. Durkin, who had six sacks at linebacker, leads their 4-3 defense.


2012 record: 4-4

Coach: Phil Onesto, 3rd season

KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Rafferty, RB/LB, 5-10/200, Sr.; Ken Shanley, OL/DL, 6-7/325, Sr.; Steven DiMare, WR/DB, 5-8/155, Jr.; Alex Weiss, OL/DL, 5-11/195, Sr.

ABOUT THE CYCLONES: Went 4-4 last year and are aiming for their first winning season since 2008, but that will be a challenge after moving up from Conference III and graduating 22 players. Rafferty will shoulder the load, running behind a solid line anchored by Shanley and Weiss. DiMare and Paul and Matt Pandolfi are talented receivers.


2012 record: 1-7

Coach: Mike Buck, 1st season

KEY PLAYERS: Zach Mastrangelo, CB/WR, 6-0/170, Sr.; Anthony Fitzsimmons, RB/LB, 5-8, 180, Jr.; Kevin Dolan, QB, 6-0/200, Jr.; Jon McLeod, OT/DL, 5-10/220, Sr.

ABOUT THE COLTS: Following a one-win season, the team’s goal is simply "to compete at a higher level," Buck said. Mastrangelo is a catalyst on both sides of the ball and his speed is a threat to just about any secondary. Dolan could do well in the spread offense and Fitzsimmons’ power running provides balance.


2012 record: 2-6

Coach: Mike Yoo, 5th season

KEY PLAYERS: Jack Scaldaferri, RB/LB, 5-7/185, Sr.; Sam Carleton, OG/DT, 5-11/210, Sr.; Mark Holuka, RB/SS, 5-7/160, Sr.; Gavin Dowd, C/DT, 6-3/230, Jr.

ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: Scaldaferri is a quick runner with deceptive strength, and his versatility will key the offense. Carleton, Dowd and offensive guard Andrew Lee, all stout run blockers, should open holes up the middle and help give Herricks a viable running game. Ryan Hobday, a 6-2 wideout, can prove a difficult matchup outside.


2012 record: 3-6

Coach: Tim Dolan, 1st season

KEY PLAYERS: Tom Ferner, FB/LB, 5-10/205, Sr.; John-Austin Emory, RB/OLB, 5-8/170, Sr.; Logan Zoppel, OL/DT, 6-3/215, Jr.; Austin Miller, C/NG, 6-0/225, Sr.

ABOUT THE COUGARS: Sparkplugs Ferner and Emory both have added muscle in the offseason, Dolan said, and athletic QB Michael Kaplan can be dangerous in the zone-read offense. Emory, in moving from cornerback to linebacker, adds speed to their 5-0 defensive front. Depth, however, is a major issue as the Cougars have only 27 players.


2012 record: 2-6

Coach: Savalis Charles, 2nd season

KEY PLAYERS: David Demesyeux, DE/TE, 6-2/210, Sr.; Shalike Merchant, RB/CB, 5-9/145, So.; Herfy Jodesty, DT/OL, 6-2/240, Jr.; Shyquan Sanders, CB/RB, 5-8/140, Sr.

ABOUT THE GREEN DRAGONS: Graduated almost its entire roster. Demesyeux is a good pass-catcher and pass-rusher and Merchant is slippery in the open field. With a group comprised mostly of players recently promoted from junior varsity, Charles said, "We just want to build and make progress."

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