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Kings Parks' quarterback Paul Cooper has all right moves in win

Kings Park quarterback Paul Cooper (13) estures for

Kings Park quarterback Paul Cooper (13) estures for a blocker during his run for a gain to the right side in the first half of the Division III football game at Kings Park High School on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Kings Park quarterback Paul Cooper wore cleats Saturday, not sneakers. This was a grass field, not a hardwood court. Cooper eyed the end zone, not a basketball hoop.

But the way the 5-10, 160-pound junior weaved through the line of scrimmage, made sharp cuts up the field and stutter-stepped to evade defenders was reminiscent of last winter, when he averaged 11 points a game as the Kingsmen's starting point guard.

"The moves carry over," Cooper said.

There's just one big difference.

"On a football field," Cooper said with a smile, "you have a lot more room to work with."

In Kings Park's 28-0 trouncing of Eastport-South Manor in Suffolk III, Cooper used every inch of his home field to his advantage.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Cooper looked to pass on first and 10 from the ESM 21. But as he stood in the pocket, a linebacker quickly zeroed in on him.

"I just had to beat him to the sideline and make a play," Cooper said.

Cooper beat the defender, tiptoed the sideline and crossed the plane just inside the pylon for a 21-yard touchdown run to put Kings Park (6-2) up 14-0.

"You can't teach certain things," coach Mark O'Brien said. "Paul understands that when things break down, he can use his athletic ability to make things happen."

Cooper hit Matt Cebulski on a six-yard pass for the Kingsmen's first touchdown. They went up 21-0 on Matt Meyer's five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Eastport-South Manor (7-1) came into its final game of the regular season riding a freight train of momentum. The Sharks had won their first seven games, a school record. They stood on the doorstep of the program's first perfect season.

But getting to this point was anything but smooth. In six of their seven victories, the Sharks had to erase a deficit. The Kingsmen were well aware of this.

"It's been a discussion since last Sunday," O'Brien said. "We needed to make sure that we played all 48 minutes. Talked about it all week. ESM's always going to play till the end."

So even with Kings Park leading big at halftime -- and having forced ESM to punt on all five of its first-half possessions -- there was a nagging feeling that this one wasn't over. The Sharks had averaged 35 points in its last three games. A packed crowd at Kings Park High braced for their comeback attempt.

But the Kingsmen made sure it never happened.

"They've capitalized on other teams' mistakes," said Meyers, who ran for 141 yards. "So we knew if we minimized the mistakes on offense, they couldn't capitalize, and we take them right out of the game. And our defense was just incredible, from start to finish."

Cooper completed a seven-yard touchdown to Matt Estherson in the third quarter and Michael Trupiano's fourth extra point put Kings Park up 28-0.

Cebulski forced a fumble and recovered it for Kings Park late in the fourth quarter to seal it.

"When you're versing an undefeated team," Cooper said, "you want to give them their first loss. We wanted to be the ones to do it."

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