Garden City and MacArthur split last season, with MacArthur ruining Garden City’s 42-game winning streak and the Trojans getting payback by edging the Generals for a fourth-straight Nassau II title.
Nothing is guaranteed, but the teams played an intriguing game Saturday at Garden City that suggested a rematch in another championship clash is definitely possible.
The Trojans, seeded first in the preseason, went up by 20 in the third quarter, then withstood a furious charge by second-seeded MacArthur to hold on for a 35-29 win.
"They’re a good team," said Garden City standout Luke Schmitt after the quarterback rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns to go with 54 yards passing and one TD. "Anything can happen right now, though, with what’s going on. But, yes, I could see us playing them in the finals . . . I think we have a good enough team where we can win [another title]."
Asked if he could see playing Garden City in the title round again, MacArthur running back Ryan Isom said, "One-hundred percent. We’ll be back. I know we’re going to give it our all and we’re going to come out on top."
Isom was a force, rushing for 214 yards and three TDs. But the Trojans (2-0) came out on top thanks to a late, clutch drive.
The lead went from 28-8 in the third to 28-22 with 5:56 left after Isom ran right for a 3-yard score and Alyssa Accordino kicked the PAT. But Garden City went on a 10-play, 67-yard TD drive, with Pierce Archer taking it in from 12 yards with 1:29 remaining.
Ryan Muller, who came on at quarterback for the Generals (2-1) after Jack Butler suffered a lower right leg injury late in the second quarter, responded by hitting three passes for 43 yards to get them to Garden City's 27-yard line. Isom ran it in on the next play with 28.6 seconds on the clock.
But the Trojans’ Jack Greene recovered the onside kick attempt, and that was it.
"Any time you get a ‘W,’ you’re pleased," Garden City coach Dave Ettinger said. "We have a lot of work to do, obviously."
In the first quarter, Schmitt threw to Jack Cascadden for a 1-yard TD and converted a keeper from the 1. Isom countered with a 74-yard scoring run.
Schmitt came back with a 72-yard scoring run and the score was 21-8 at halftime. When Cole Webber tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Kyle Carney, Garden City's spread was 20. MacArthur didn't give up, though, the Generals played harder.
"The kids don’t quit," MacArthur coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. "They never do. We just kind of stuck to our plan."