When Massapequa won the Long Island Class I championship in 2021, Jason Kovaluskie was sidelined with an injury.
The four-year varsity starter has led Massapequa back to the Long Island Championships in 2023, and this time he’ll take the field for his final game.
“It means the world to me going out to get another [Long Island championship], especially not playing that first year,” Kovaluskie said. “Just everything I’ve been working for has [been] to get that [championship] and get back to where we are.
“And here we are. I’ve been getting my boys ready, and we’re definitely ready to go tomorrow.”
Massapequa (11-0) will play Floyd (10-1) in the Long Island Class I championship game at noon on Friday at Hofstra. The teams have never met.
Kovaluskie, a senior offensive and defensive tackle, plays a crucial role in Massapequa’s stellar defense. Massapequa hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season and is one of three undefeated schools on Long Island.
Massapequa’s veteran defense will face its toughest test against Floyd.
“They play with an edge, more so than I’ve seen,” coach Kevin Shippos said of his defense. “They play with a toughness that is required to play a defensive side of football. To be a defensive player, you got to have a different attitude. It’s a different breed of player, and we got quite a few of them on that side of the ball.”
Kovaluskie and the Massapequa defense will be tasked with slowing down Floyd’s speedy backfield trio. Seniors Jaden Montalvo and Jason Pratt lead the group and sophomore Ja’Quan Thomas joined as a third option after being called up from the junior varsity.
Pratt has racked up 970 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and Montalvo has 666 yards and seven touchdowns despite playing only five games. Montalvo played the first four games and returned from injury to play in the Suffolk Division I championship game.
The senior is doing his all to prepare Floyd to win its first Long Island title since 2012.
“We always work together during practice and make sure everyone’s on their game,” Montalvo said. “And [that] everyone’s paying attention and working hard.”
Floyd last appeared in a Long Island championship game in 2019, so nobody on the current roster has experienced this before.
“I think it’s something they’ll remember [for] the rest of their life is what I tell them,” Floyd coach Paul Longo said. “How they play in the game, they’ll always remember because it is such a big game on a big stage.”
Floyd’s defense has allowed 135 points compared to Massapequa’s 100. The Colonials will face two excellent backs in Tyler Villalta (1,340 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns) and Mike DeLuca (945 yards and 10 TDs).
Additionally, Massapequa boasts a strong duo with Joe Diesso at quarterback and Rob Nugent at wide receiver. Diesso has passed for 990 yards and 17 touchdowns, with Nugent grabbing 20 passes for 335 yards and seven touchdowns.
“That’s the beauty of the spread offense,” Shippos said. “You’re spreading the ball around.”
Montalvo and Kovaluskie hope to end their high school careers with a title, but only one group of seniors will walk away victorious.
“It’s a big game, but it’s just another game,” Kovaluskie said he told his younger teammates. “Go out and play your heart out. It’s the last time you’re ever going to play on this field, possibly. And it’s the last time you may ever get to step on this field. So just play every snap like it’s your last one.”