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MacArthur stands proud in loss to Garden City in Conference II championship

Garden City's Bill Kephart tackles MacArthur's Hugh Kelleher

Garden City's Bill Kephart tackles MacArthur's Hugh Kelleher during the Nassau Conference II football championship game at Shuart Stadium on Nov. 23, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Where there was jubilation, there also was despair.

In a season filled with great accomplishments and performances, the MacArthur football team hoped for one more magical moment.

The Generals needed one more defensive stop. But in that moment, Garden City proved why it's been one of the premier programs in recent memory. The Trojans put together a 14-play, 43-yard drive, capped off by a Chase Gardi 28-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining for the final score as Garden City defeated MacArthur, 16-14, in the Nassau Conference II championship game Saturday afternoon at Hofstra.

“This game was the greatest game I’ve ever played in,” said MacArthur senior running back/linebacker Hugh Kelleher. “Both teams on this stage, it’s probably one of the best high school football games of all time. Obviously it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it, but you win some you lose some.”

Kelleher and his teammates embraced each other in the moments following the final whistle. Although the Generals wanted to keep their season going for a chance to play for the Long Island Class II championship, the loss didn’t change how they view themselves as a team. 

“This is a great team and I wouldn’t want to change anything,” Kelleher said. “I love all these guys.”

In October, the Generals snapped Garden City’s 42-game winning streak, which was tied for a Long Island record. MacArthur won its first 10 games of the season for the first time in program history.

“We had a lot of kids return with experience from last year and that’s why we had the year we did,” coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ending we wanted but this shouldn’t take away what we accomplished the entire year.”

Kelleher also reminded everyone why he is one of the best two-way players on Long Island. He had 11 tackles (10 solo), including two for a loss, and rushed for 143 yards on 18 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown run to give MacArthur a 14-13 lead with four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

“This is probably going to be the greatest time in my life,” Kelleher said. “I wouldn’t take back anything. I will always appreciate what our coaches and team did for us.”

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