Senior Michael Loughran hadn’t played a defensive snap since he was a freshman.
But this season, the Longwood star added defensive end to his left tackle duties and it resulted in him being recognized as the premier lineman in Suffolk on Monday night.
Loughran was honored with the Zellner Award, given to the county’s top lineman, at the Suffolk High School Football Coaches Association banquet at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge.
“I appreciate it very much,” said Loughran, who recorded 74 tackles (23 for loss), eight sacks and a fumble recovery, and played a key role in Longwood’s 8-3 campaign that ended with an appearance in the Suffolk Division I final. “I’ve been working hard forever…It means a lot to finally get noticed.”
“He just has an edge about him,” Longwood coach Jeff Cipp said. “He made a whole bunch of pancake blocks this season and he is a very aggressive blocker. We put him at tackle because of his quickness and speed. He really shined for us both offensively and defensively.”
Loughran, who said he has hopes to continue playing defensive end at the collegiate level, said improving his conditioning was the key to his play both sides of the ball.
“I was always aggressive,” Loughran said. “It was just hard keeping up with everyone else as far as pace. Playing on both sides is very tiring. But I got through it thanks to my conditioning.”
Loughran’s talent was on full display in Longwood’s 20-17 victory over Whitman on Oct. 26, when he recorded four sacks and continuously worked his way into the backfield to produce negative plays.
“Once we started playing him on defense, we realized how good he was,” Cipp said. “At 6-2, 245 [pounds], he’s the prototypical body type for a high school defensive end.”
“Most times when teams tried to run outside he would make a play where he fights off a tackle and he just hustles and makes plays for a loss,” Cipp said.
On offense, Loughran said he made his greatest strides in pass-blocking. But Cipp also credited Loughran for his dominance in opening up holes for Longwood’s rushing attack, which centered around running back Anele Nwayanwu, who rushed for 1,371 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“Our running game was the main thing,” Cipp said, “and we ran behind him the whole way.”