Jack Winey slashed between the guard and tackle and put the hammer to the halfback. This sequence played out over and over this season as Winey led a ferocious Lindenhurst defense to the Long Island Class II championship.
The Bulldogs were the least scored upon defense on Long Island, allowing seven points per game. And it all started with Winey, the powerful junior middle linebacker, who averaged 13 tackles per game.
“He’s always at the bottom of the pile,” Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said. “He’s just flat-out nasty. An old-school hitter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve winced when he’s had an open field hit on an opposing player. He’s incredibly strong and punishes people.”
Winey finished the season with 152 tackles, including 63 solos, 21 tackles for a loss and six sacks. He also forced five fumbles and recovered two. For his accomplishments, Winey was the ninth recipient of Newsday’s Rob Burnett Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year Award presented to Suffolk’s top player at the Suffolk High School Football Coaches Association banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge.
He is the first Lindenhurst player to earn the distinction.
“Our coaches put us in position to make plays,” Winey said. “And when the guys on the defensive line follow their assignments it opens the door for big plays. And there are times where I get a lane or an alley to the backfield and they have no chance. I’m taking people out before they can turn upfield. It’s really a team concept.”
The finalists included senior defensive end Nick Capazzola of Eastport-South Manor and senior middle linebacker Kyle Haff of West Islip.
“Football is a team sport,” Winey said. “I’ve been on varsity now three years and you’re only as good as the guys around you. I’m honored to win any award but it’s not about individual awards. Will Ruckert, Jaden Barber, Jack Hogan, Jeff Perez, they’re all responsible for our great defense.”
And therein lies the reason why Winey is so good. He respects the nature of the game and that the degree of success comes from a solid game plan and guys working together.
“Jack has a sideline to sideline motor,” Lombardo said. “If a back is looking for a cutback run and doesn’t see him – I just close my eyes. He’s the punisher. He gets the sideline pumped up all the time.”
Lindenhurst finished 12-0 for the second time in three years. The Bulldogs beat Garden City, the three-time defending Long Island Class II champions, 14-13, after erasing a 13-0 third quarter deficit.
Lombardo calls the 5-11, 205-pound Winey an instinctive player.
“We brought him to varsity as a ninth grader,” Lombardo said. “He was a tenacious player. And he’s committed to football and wants to play at the next level.”
Winey decided to pass on the wrestling season to continue his workout regimen in the weight room.
“We have a Long Island title to defend,” he said. “We wanted our shot at Garden City. And they were so tough. I want people to think of Lindenhurst the same way that when you leave our field, you felt like it was a battle, it was physical.”