When the book was closed on the 2019 high school football season, Jack Winey went back to work. Lindenhurst’s senior linebacker had had an incredible season, leading his team to the Long Island Class II championship and earning Newsday’s Burnett Award as the top defensive player in Suffolk. But he sought to improve.
"During the offseason I worked trying to get my speed up, improve my footwork and just being able to make some tackles that I might not have been able to make in previous years," the 5-11, 220-pound Winey said. "I worked to be faster physically and faster and quicker with my mind, too."
Mission accomplished. Though the Bulldogs were only able to play four games in this coronavirus pandemic-altered season, Winey might even have been a better player. After averaging 12.5 tackles per game in 2019, he averaged 13.5 this past season.
"If we’d played a dozen games, who knows where those numbers might be," Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said. "This was a season where everyone got short-changed because of COVID. We really felt it getting to play only four games."
Winey nevertheless was the pick for this season’s Bob Collotta Award, given annually to the top linebacker in Suffolk.
Along with his 54 tackles, he had three sacks and a pair of interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown.
"I like any play that turns the ball over the most," Winey said. "An interception is great and a ‘pick-six’ even better. . . . But I also enjoy being in on the stop in a third-and-1 or a fourth-and-1. Those stops get you the ball back and they can be game-changers and turning points."
"He goes sideline to sideline legit and he plays downhill from the linebacker position like no one I’ve seen," Lombardo said. "He’s also a very sure tackler. When he gets a hold of you . . . with his strength you’re not getting away. The way he plays linebacker — with toughness and physicality — is really remarkable."
The other Collotta Award finalists were Ty Kolar of Sayville and Anthony Canales of Northport.
Winey, a four year starter who finished with 264 career tackles, is committed to play at Nassau CCC.