In the scheme of Carey's season, this game was as big as it gets. So despite his limping and visible pain, there was nothing you could say to pry quarterback Mike Catanese from this one.
"I was going to do whatever it takes to help us win," said Catanese, who rushed for three touchdowns and completed 16-of-24 passes for 182 yards in Carey's 28-21 win over MacArthur Saturday that sent ripples throughout Nassau II.
After two straight immaculate seasons without a loss, 2015 has been different for the Seahawks (4-2). They had their win streak snapped at 25 in a Week 2 trouncing at Garden City, and fell by a wide margin to Wantagh two weeks later.
"It's definitely been very different this season," Catanese said. "We never lost before this year, and have already lost twice. But I think it's made us grow as a team."
On two occasions Saturday, Catanese was forced to sit out a play after big hits.
"I got beat up so much," he said, "I had to take a couple of plays off, but I knew my team needed me."
Added wide receiver Anthony Millan: "It's toughness. For a leader to be able to fight through injuries and fight through pain, and to go out and perform the way he did, it's a huge uplift for our team."
Each of the teams' first two possessions resulted in touchdowns.
For MacArthur (4-2), quarterback Jimmy Kelleher had a two-yard rushing touchdown, and later hit Jared Wolfe on a fade for a 29-yard touchdown. Catanese had rushing touchdowns of 5 and 3 yards for Carey. The Seahawks shifted right tackle Anthony Catapano to the backfield when they neared the goal line, making him a de facto fullback to help clear paths for Catanese.
"Me and him have great chemistry," Catapano said. "[Coach Mike] Stanley just put it in this morning. He said, 'If it works, we'll stay with it.' "
With the score tied at 14 out of halftime, Carey's Angelo Cona intercepted a pass, and Catanese completed a 21-yard pass to Millan for a touchdown to give Carey a 20-14 lead.
MacArthur retook the lead after Wolfe intercepted a tipped pass, and then was on the receiving end of Kelleher's nine-yard touchdown throw that made it 21-20 with eight minutes left.
Catanese third rushing touchdown came in a huge spot -- 4th and goal from the 2. Millan pulled down a one-handed grab for the two-point conversation to put Carey up 28-21.
Carey forced turnovers on downs on MacArthur's last two possessions to clinch it. "They grew up today," Stanley said of a defense led by Joseph Amalfitano (seven tackles, one fumble recovery).
"Even if it's going to hurt for the next three or four days," Catanese said, "today was worth it."