Garden City’s football team has a habit of repeating itself. It’s a habit the Trojans don’t want to break.
They continued to make the Long Island Championships their own personal playground, becoming the first school to win a seventh title in their record 15th appearance in an event that began in 1992.
It’s also worth repeating that they went back-to-back with another 12-0 season and extended their Long Island-best current winning streak to 24 straight when they beat North Babylon, 24-6, at Hofstra on Nov. 24.
“North Babylon was the toughest team we faced all year,” GC coach Dave Ettinger said. “We’re never bigger than anybody and they were very physical. But we took their physicality and dealt with it and made athletic plays when we had to.”
Senior Andrew DeSantis, a dominant defensive end/linebacker who scored two long touchdowns in the LIC, was a big part of that athleticism. “It was unbelievable to help my team win. It’s just so amazing to go back-to-back,” said DeSantis, whose own odyssey was pretty amazing, too. A returning All-Long Island linebacker, he was expected to be a starting running back. But he suffered an injury in Week 2, and when he returned in Week 5, he was mostly limited to playing defense.
That wasn’t so bad because DeSantis again was dynamic on “D.” Along with players such as ends Cole Dutton and James Buckley, tackle Mike Liberopoulos, linebackers Matt Flanagan and Matt DeSimpliciis and defensive back Matt Granville, he led a unit that surrendered only six points a game.
“He’d been playing a couple of weeks as a blocker and we saw something, hoping we could get him down the middle, and it worked,” Ettinger said of the 60-yard touchdown pass from Colin Hart to DeSantis with nine seconds left in the third quarter to give the Trojans a 17-6 lead. “We were expecting big things from him offensively until he got hurt, and he chose the right time to get back involved.”
DeSantis also contributed a 38-yard run that produced a 7-0 lead, his first score since Week 1. Trevor Yeboah-Kodie repeated his season-long role of big-play performer with a 67-yard run that set up a field goal and the ultimate exclamation point — a breathtaking, tackle-breaking, sideline-shaking 92-yard interception return for the final touchdown. It was the longest interception return in LIC history.
Yeboah-Kodie finished with 1,264 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns. He was especially hot in the playoffs with back-to-back 200-yard games before running for 97 yards in the LIC. He and Justin Coppola (528 yards, eight TDs) benefited most from DeSantis’ reduced offensive role.
“He’s got all the tools. He’s a full-package player,” Ettinger said of Yeboah-Kodie. “He’s fast, he’s strong and he has good vision.”
Which is why Garden City Nation can envision a dynamic backfield in 2018. “We have an unbelievable senior class. We have an amazing junior class with Hart and Coppolla and Yeboah-Kodie,” DeSantis said. “I hope they go far next year, too.”
It would be yet another repeat performance.
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Nassau II playoffs
Bellmore JFK, 31-0
Long Island Championships
North Babylon, 24-6