A ubiquitous smash, like someone who's stressed banging their head into a table or a crash test dummy slamming into a steering wheel, is what Stephen Jahelka delivered to the Wantagh defense.
Jahelka rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns, his 10th and 11th of the season, on 18 carries in Garden City's 31-14 homecoming win over Conference II rival Wantagh yesterday.
The dash to Jahelka's smash, Brian Fischer (that's the backfield duo's nickname), was out with an injured right thumb. So while the recipe for Garden City's offense had plenty of beef, it needed a little spice in the marinade - consider Patric Berkery the A-1 sauce.
Jahelka ran six times on Garden City's second scoring drive, earning him the title of the "Ubiquitous Mr. Jahelka" from the public address announcer. But Berkery capped the drive with a 9-yard end round on his first carry of the day to give the Trojans (6-1) a 14-0 lead with 5:03 left in the first half.
"He was filling big shoes," Jahelka said of Berkery. "You really couldn't tell Fischer was out."
With Jahelka, generally the starting fullback, moving one spot back in the I-formation, and Berkery, generally a wide receiver, providing a change of pace, Jahelka's backup Conor McDonnell was called on to clear the paths. He and the Garden City line were awfully effective, as the Trojans amassed 226 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
"We dominated the trenches," Jahelka said, "so it's easy for us to look good."
All Jahelka's smashing in the first half (12 carries) took its toll on the Warriors' defense.
"They're aggressive guys," said Wantagh linebacker Jake Gambitsky. "When you don't match their intensity, that's when you see their tenaciousness."
Quarterback Tom Gordon's 1-yard TD sneak pushed the lead to 21-0 24 seconds before halftime. Ryan Norton, who is a perfect 31-of-31 on extra points this season, added a 27-yard field goal (his fourth of the year) in the third quarter to make it 24-0.
And Jahelka stamped the Trojans' seal on Wantagh's helmets when he bulldozed a tackler at the goal line en route to a 4-yard touchdown that gave Garden City a 31-0 lead.
The Trojans nearly had their third straight shutout and fourth of the season, but John Reicherter returned an interception of Garden City's backup 36 yards for a score to put Wantagh (5-2) on the board. Matt Balzano took a toss left 86 yards to paydirt with 1:41 on the clock against the second-stringers.
"We could have shut them out if we didn't pull the troops," said Garden City coach Tom Flatley.
Regardless, the defensive effort was still solid. Not including Balzano's run and a 40-yard reception by Ryan Sliwak late in the fourth, Garden City held Wantagh to 90 total yards.
The Trojans also had three interceptions (by Liam Kennedy, Devin Dwyer and Matt Confort) and a sack from Scott McElroy. And of course, Jahelka, a middle linebacker, smashed his way to nine tackles, including six solos.
"They think they got one on us," Jahelka said of Wantagh's touchdowns, "but that just fuels our fire. We stuffed them all day."
One hard smash after another.