Film sessions have never lasted so long in Garden City. The Trojans have spent hours preparing for the Long Island Class II football championship game and meeting the three-headed monster that has become the Half Hollow Hills West offense.
“We’ve watched so much film and broken it down and we’re prepared,” Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said. “They have three very talented quarterbacks. It’s a pick-your-poison situation. They run three different systems with three different quarterbacks. It’s a lot to prepare for.”
Garden City (11-0) will meet Hills West (9-2) for the Long Island Class II title at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium at noon Sunday.
The Trojans enter the game with one of Nassau’s stingiest defensive units, having allowed only 81 points. They’ve shut out four opponents behind the play of defensive back Chris Mixon, linebacker Matt DeSimpliciis and end Andrew DeSantis.
“We’ll play a disciplined defense and play our brand of football and be in the right spots,” Ettinger said. “We came through our playoffs in Nassau, which were very tough. But Hills West has a very talented and very big front, which will be a challenge.”
Garden City’s challenge will be to stop the running game behind senior quarterback Alexander Filacouris and sophomore quarterback/running back Deyvon Wright, who average more than 100 yards each per game. And when the Colts put the ball in the air, Filacouris will hand the offense over to sophomore Gerald Filardi, who’s thrown eight touchdown passes in the past two playoff wins.
“We have the luxury of playing three different guys who are all dynamic in their own way at the quarterback position,” Hills West coach Kyle Madden said. “Each one has their own skill set. And they’re all team guys, playing in an unselfish manner, to contribute and help the team win. It’s team first, like it should be.”
It is a contrast in offensive philosophy. The Garden City offense will rely on the hard running of Mixon, who has 22 touchdowns. The Trojans employ a two-quarterback system with junior Jack Bill, who had two touchdown runs in last week’s 42-14 Nassau II championship win over Carey. When Bill isn’t in the lineup, Ettinger turns to sophomore Colin Hart.
“Our guys are very similar,” Ettinger said. “They’re both very good players.”
Hills West beat West Islip, 38-20, to win the Suffolk II crown last week. Filardi completed five passes for 200 yards, including touchdown passes of 30, 59 and 88 yards. Wright rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and Filacouris gained 92 yards on 13 carries.
After four snaps, all three had lined up at quarterback.
“They’re pretty scary on film,” Ettinger said. “You have to look at who they beat to get here. They’re athletic and young. We’re telling our guys they have an incredible opportunity to win but it won’t be easy.”
Garden City has been to the LIC 14 times, more than any other school. The Trojans won their last crown in 2012. Hills West is making its second trip to the LIC, having won the Class III title in 2009.
GARDEN CITY roster
Coach Dave Ettinger
HALF HOLLOW HILLS WEST roster
Coach Kyle Madden