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Freeport's Makhai Jinks takes Piner Award

Piner Award Winner, Makhai Jinks of Freeport High

Piner Award Winner, Makhai Jinks of Freeport High School, poses with his trophies as the most outstanding linebacker at the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association Gridiron Banquet at Crest Hollow Country Club on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Makhai Jinks knows about the history of Freeport football — the wins, the championships, and the award winners.

“A lot of really great Freeport players have won the [Piner] award,” Jinks said. “Jerry Mackey [in 2001], my friend, Gerald [Smikle], did last year.”

Jinks could have also included other Freeport winners like Stanley Gutierrez in 2003, Eddie Gordon in 2000, and Clifton Smith in both 1997 & 1998. The prestigious Piner Award is given annually to Nassau’s top linebacker.

The 6-1, 225-pounder can add his name among other Freeport greats. Jinks garnered the Piner Award at the 54th Annual Gridiron Banquet presented by the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association in Woodbury on Wednesday night. MacArthur’s Hugh Kelleher and Garden City’s Christian Sullivan were the other finalists.

While Jinks’ statistics aren’t overwhelming, there’s a catch: the Red Devils were so dominant this season the middle linebacker only played three full games (two against rival Farmingdale and Floyd in the LIC). Jinks, who had 48 1/2 tackles, 6 1/2 tackles for a loss, 3 pass-breakups, 2 interceptions, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery, was usually on the sideline at the start of the third quarter.

“He has a very high football IQ,” Freeport coach Russ Cellan said. “You put that together with the film work he does and his work ethic, and you have a real good player.”

Bruno earns Kessenich Award

Not only is Cold Spring Harbor’s Jacob Bruno a real good football player, he’s also a great wrestler and lacrosse player. Plus, the Seahawks senior has a 4.0 (unweighted) GPA and is involved in numerous extracurricular activities in his community.

For his efforts, Bruno earned the Kessenich Award, which highlights three-sport athletes who excel academically and within the community. Mepham’s Matt Hegi, MacArthur’s Kelleher, East Meadow’s Brandon Love, and Lynbrook’s Kyle Serro were finalists for the award.

“I just love to give back to the people who have helped me so much,” Bruno said. “For me to be recognized at the banquet is a special moment for me.”

Platia takes Pizzarelli / New York Jets Receiver Award

Finally, Oceanside’s Nicky Platia won the Pizzarelli / New York Jets Receiver Award. The 6-foot senior wide receiver led Nassau in receptions (66), yards (983) and touchdowns (13). Floral Park’s Taliek Nelson, Massapequa’s Alex Rende and Cold Spring Harbor’s Casey Reynolds were finalists for the honor.

Platia, a two-time All-County player, said he tore a labrum in his left shoulder in Week 4, and then tore his other labrum in Week 6. Yet, he didn’t miss a game according to coach Rob Blount.

“I couldn’t,” Platia said. “I didn’t want to stop playing. I went on YouTube and watched videos on rehab, and then did my own physical therapy so I wouldn’t have to miss out on a game or practice.”

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