There have been some legendary dynasties in Long Island high school football. Some have dominated for a few years and others for more than a decade.
Garden City unequivocally has been the most successful football program on Long Island during the past 20 years. The Trojans are in constant reload function rather than rebuild. They’ve captured 13 Nassau Conference II championships since 2003, including eight straight, and have won five of the past six Long Island Class II titles.
Boasting a 41-game winning streak, Garden City (11-0) will face North Babylon (10-1) for the Long Island Class II title at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium at noon on Saturday.
The Trojans earned a 35-7 win over Carey in the Conference II final to get to the L.I. championship game. They’ve allowed only 34 points in 11 games and have held opponents to seven or fewer in each of them.
That seemingly impenetrable Garden City defense will face its stiffest test when the high-scoring, ground-and-pound offense of North Babylon (38 points per game) lines up against the Trojans.
“They’re the premier football program on Long Island,” North Babylon coach John Rowland said. “You have to play a clean game against them to have a chance. When you make mistakes, they capitalize. We can’t have penalties and definitely no turnovers.”
A win over North Babylon would allow Garden City to match the Long Island record for consecutive wins at 42, set by Floyd from 2005-08 and duplicated by Garden City from 2016-19.
Garden City is attempting to become the first team in Long Island history to go unbeaten in four straight seasons.
“We have tons of respect for the Garden City program,” Rowland said. “But with our kids, and this is a real good thing, it doesn’t make a difference to them if we’re playing in the LIC or a preseason scrimmage. We’re going to play our game, stick together and give it everything we can.”
Garden City got unfortunate news midweek when it learned that Michael Berkery, the team’s leader in rushing yards (857) and touchdowns (19), had season-ending surgery on his right foot.
“The injury is devastating to our team,” Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said. “Our senior leadership has been great, but Michael has been right there as one of the key leaders this season. He’s a tough player to replace and we’ll need someone to step in and fill the void.”
Berkery was part of a running back tandem with senior Aidan Considine in an offense that also averaged 38 points per game.
“It’s too bad they lost such a good player,” Rowland said, “but they’re Garden City and they’ll plug someone in that’ll run just as hard and give the same kind of effort. It’s why they are who they are.”
The North Babylon defense is anchored by defensive ends Jake Miele and Alexander Griffith. They’ll need a big effort to slow the Garden City offense led by quarterback Carson Kraus.
But it’s the offense that put North Babylon in the school’s 10th Long Island championship game. The Bulldogs last played for the LI title in 2017 and haven’t captured the crown since 2004.
North Babylon’s Jawara Keahey leads Long Island in rushing and scoring with 2,562 yards and 37 touchdowns, but he hasn’t faced a defense quite like Garden City’s.
“They’re physical and we’ll have our hands full with North Babylon,” Ettinger said. “This is the big test.”
North Babylon is making its 10th Long Island championship game appearance and is seeking its first L.I. title since 2004.
“We’ve been peaking at the right time,” Rowland said. “I just hope we’ve saved our best for last.”
It’ll be the impenetrable defense against the unstoppable force. Something’s got to give.