Jack Cascadden spent this football season being the complete package for Garden City. But it wasn’t until the final day of Long Island’s high school football season that the senior actually felt complete.
The running back and defensive end became a varsity starter as a sophomore in what ultimately became an unfulfilling season; an injury cost him the postseason when the Trojans won their fourth straight Nassau Conference II title but lost the Long Island Class II title to Lindenhurst by a point. He was a Newsday all-Long Island first-team selection as a junior when Garden City won its fifth straight county crown but never got to play in an LIC because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This season ended with everything he sought: an undefeated season, a record-tying sixth straight Nassau title, another Newsday all-Long Island first-team selection and, at long last, the Long Island Class II championship after Garden City downed Bellport, 14-6.
"Even though I didn’t play in it, I was heartbroken when we lost the LIC in 2019 because I loved the guys in the program," Cascadden said. "We’ve had so much success in this program over the years . . . but I’d never even played in an LIC because I was hurt and then there wasn’t one. Hoisting that trophy was definitely a feeling for me. It was awesome. It filled all the gaps in football for me very nicely."
On Wednesday night, Cascadden capped a scintillating senior season by being named the 80th recipient of the prestigious Thorp Award, at the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association banquet at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Newsday annually presents the Thorp to Nassau’s most outstanding player.
He was chosen ahead of three other finalists: Oceanside senior Charlie McKee, who won the Thorp last season; senior quarterback Ryan Heidrich of Long Island Class I champion Massapequa; and Wantagh senior running back/linebacker Tyler Martini.
Cascadden is the second Garden City player to win the Thorp Award, joining 2004 recipient Terence Hartigan.
Cascadden, a 6-3, 215-pounder, played ferociously at defensive end and amassed 73 tackles, including 13 behind the line of scrimmage, in 10 games for Garden City (12-0). He was an equally devastating weapon when the Trojans had the ball, rushing for 1,368 yards and 27 touchdowns on 11.4 yards per carry. He also was an exceptional punter.
He described playing for Garden City as requiring a "commitment to greatness," and nothing underscored Cascadden’s more than the contributions he sought to make in the Nassau II title game against MacArthur. In the semifinal he suffered a knee injury that ruled him out for the game. He instead donned a coaches’ headset in the contest, trying to relay what he called "observations and trends" to his teammates.
"Just because I was hurt, [it] didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to try and do everything I could to lead," Cascadden said. "It was a chance to prove that my presence isn’t as much as on the field as it can be off the field. I could try to make an impact off the field [despite] the injury."
Cascadden returned for the Long Island championship game wearing a knee brace. He played defensive end in the contest and had six tackles and recovered a fumble. He played offense for some downs as a blocker in the second half of the victory.
There is a heft that comes with playing for Garden City because of its long and illustrious history of producing football championships. Cascadden also had the heavy lift of living up to the bloodlines of being the son of former Jet Chad Cascadden. "I was going to chart my own path though," he said. "The knowledge I [gleaned] from my dad was [invaluable]. It helped make me the player I am."
As coach Dave Ettinger explained, "He has one of the highest football IQs I’ve seen in a player. He is a natural."
"For a coach, he is a once-in-a-lifetime player," Ettinger added. "If there was anything the team needed — a yard or a big play — he would make it. He’s what every coach wants."
Cascadden also is a standout in lacrosse, where he plays faceoff/midfielder, and an academic standout. In the fall he will attend Cornell, where he will play lacrosse.
"To me, that was the perfect place to end up," Cascadden said. "I fell for the place as soon as I visited. I know good things are to come there."
PAST NEWSDAY THORP AWARD WINNERS
2021 – Jack Cascadden, Garden City
2021 Spring – Charlie McKee, Oceanside
2019 – Dan Villari, Plainedge
2018 – Kevon Hall, Roosevelt
2017 – Tommy Heuer, Oceanside
2016 – Jordan McLune, Farmingdale
2015 – Davien Kuinlan, Plainedge
2014 – Jordan Fredericks, Lawrence
2013 – Ray Catapano, Carey
2012 - Billy Andrle, East Meadow
2011 - Robbie Healy, East Meadow
2010 - Tom Joyce, MacArthur
2009 - Anthony Brunetti, Holy Trinity
2008 - Terrell Williams, Hempstead
2007 - Alex Rivas, East Meadow
2006 - Chris Edmond, Freeport
2005 - Ricky Manigat, Baldwin
2004 - Terence Hartigan, Garden City
2003 - Rich Ohrnberger, East Meadow
2002 - Gian Villante, MacArthurOK
1996 - Eric Wedin, Division
1995 - Vaughn Sanders, Lawrence
1994 - Amos Zereoue, Mepham
1993 - Amos Zereoue, Mepham
1992 - Dan Penengo, Syosset
1991 - Eugene Culbreath, Baldwin
1990 - Louis D’Agostino, Lawrence
1989 - Stephen Boyd, V.S. Central
1988 - Lamont Hough, Hempstead
1987 - Elvin Brown, Sewanhaka
1986 - Denis Goodwin, Lynbrook
1985 - Robert Lee, Roosevelt
1984 - Ken Randolph, Sewanhaka
1983 - Anthony Cappellino, New Hyde Park
1982 - Don McPherson, West Hempstead
1981 - Larry Galizia, Lynbrook
1980 - John Rodney, Hicksville
1979 - Ron Heller, Farmingdale
1978 - Herbert Butzke, New Hyde Park
1977 - John Rogan, Chaminade
1976 - Henry Feil, Berner
1975 - Tony Capozzoli, St. Dominic
1974 - Matt Kupec, Syosset
1973 - Joe Diange, Farmingdale
1972 - Larry Esposito, Clarke
1971 - Mike Duffy, Massapequa
1970 - Mark Coady, Carle Place
1969 - Phil LaPorta, V.S. Central
1968 - Dennis Macholz, Bethpage
1967 - Phil Barbaccia, East Meadow
1966 - Warren Koegel, Seaford
1965 - Charles Drimal, V.S. South
1964 - Ed Kane, Levittown
1963 - Guy Riccardi, Freeport
1962 - Jim Litterelle, Mineola
1961 - Sal Ciampi, Lawrence
1960 - Rollie Stichweh, Mineola
1959 - Matt Snell, Carle Place
1958 - John Mackey, Hempstead
1957 - Dave Hayes, Mepham
1956 - Don Kornrumpf, Hempstead
1955 - Paul Rochester, Sewanhaka
1954 - Bob Reifsnyder, Baldwin
1953 - Bill Sandie, Mepham
1952 - Jim Brown, Manhasset
1951 - Dick Martin, Hempstead
1950 - Ed Nickla, Mepham
1949 - Lou Britt, Glen Cove
1948 - Al Kohanowich, Hempstead
1947 - Mike Kinney, V.S. Central
1946 - John Fasano, Port Washington
1945 - Ray Mrozack, Mineola
1944 - Bob Casey, Baldwin
1943 - Billy Wilson, Lawrence
1942 - Fred Miller, Chaminade