John Giller was moving on up to college football at Western Connecticut State after leading Massapequa to the Nassau Conference I championship in the spring. So after two seasons as an understudy, Ryan Heidrich was moving on up to QB1.
"I was nervous, but I was confident in myself," the senior said. "I worked hard in the offseason."
Heidrich held up his end rather well, one of the big reasons Massapequa had a chance to repeat last Friday night at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. He had to go against an Oceanside team featuring a QB1 with the most career passing yards in Nassau history.
Charlie McKee didn’t disappoint, either. The Oceanside senior threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 141 yards and two TDs against Massapequa. But he also didn’t win. Heidrich did, just as he did against Oceanside in October, when he threw for 224 yards and three scores and ran for 45 and a touchdown — the deciding touchdown.
Heidrich’s numbers were more modest this time: 78 yards passing, 56 rushing. But he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 and ran 6 yards for the deciding TD, taking Massapequa from 21 points to 27 in a 35-26 victory. That gave his 10-1 team a ticket to the Long Island Class I championship game against 11-0 Whitman at noon on Friday at Hofstra.
McKee’s supreme talent had cast an extra-large shadow, but Heidrich had the supreme satisfaction of winning, advancing and again showing that he’s pretty good at this, too.
"I was on varsity since 10th grade, but I only played my senior year," he said. "So yes, [being overshadowed] can happen. He’s a hell of a player. He’s committed to Stony Brook for a reason. But I think I proved myself [in the final]. I think I proved what I can do."
Heidrich has proved that repeatedly. He has completed nearly 64% of his passes, good for 2,050 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has thrown for more than 200 yards six times and once for more than 300.
"Ryan has just been tremendous," coach Kevin Shippos said. " . . . He had a chance to learn from a great quarterback like John Giller. Ryan is a very cerebral quarterback, very, very smart. He makes great decisions, as we saw [last Friday]. He’s got a great arm. He can run well. And I know he’s very, very confident in himself, as are we."
Luke Ciolino isn’t surprised that his 6-3, 205-pound teammate has excelled.
"Ryan Heidrich working behind John Giller last year, no one knew that he was working so hard while [Giller] was starting," the senior running back/ defensive back said. "The fact that he worked so hard in the offseason really pays off in the big-time moments."
Heidrich worked to improve on running the football. He has carried for 689 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"My 10th- and 11th-grade years, I couldn’t really run the ball," he said. " . . . I thought I proved myself as a runner this year."
Now he plans on taking his quarterbacking talents to a college campus.
"I’ve been talking to a couple of Division Is, IIs, a lot of IIIs," Heidrich said. "So you’ll definitely see me play somewhere."
Massapequa football fans are about to see him play for their team one last time — throwing and running in the direction of a Long Island title, he hopes.
"Definitely, the job’s not done," Heidrich said. "We haven’t won it in  years. So we could really make history this year, going back-to-back [in Nassau] and winning [a Long Island title].’’