Confetti and ice covered the field at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium last Sunday evening, and Newfield linebacker Joe Muller stood in the middle of it all and soaked in the moment. The Wolverines had just beaten MacArthur, 41-33, on Long Island’s biggest stage and captured the school’s second Class II football title.
Now, here was Muller — a two-way starter — enjoying every long embrace with his teammates.
“Wow, I was in the eighth grade and we all came here to watch the 2011 team win it,” said Muller, who had 70 tackles this year. “And we so badly wanted to be just like them. And here we are, we’re champions. It’s awesome.”
Newfield’s trek to this Long Island championship was different than the first one. The Wolverines of 2011 stormed into the Class II race and willed a title with a ferocious defense and an opportunistic offense to win the final eight games.
“Our championship teams took totally different paths,” said Newfield’s Joe Piccininni, Newsday’s Coach of the Year. “The first team was a true underdog and the march to the title grew with intensity every week. That group had a ruthless, aggressive style and their own personality. This year we were a finesse team when we had to be and physical when we had to be. We really came together.”
It was a record-setting season for Newfield. The Wolverines set a school mark for wins with 12, including three by shutout, in their first undefeated season. They set the Suffolk scoring record with 518 points, averaging 43 per game, and were dominant winning every regular season game by at least 27 points.
“We had gifted athletes everywhere,” Piccininni said. “And we had multiple playmakers behind very strong lines. It was a total team effort.”
Senior quarterback Ryan Klemm broke every school passing record, setting the bar high for future Wolverines. He threw for 31 touchdowns, with at least one in every game, and 2,441 yards with only one interception.
“He was making good decisions all season and made some big throws,” said halfback Elijah Riley, who had 1,934 all-purpose yards and 31 touchdowns. “And when we needed him most, he was a leader and delivered.”
The addition of playmaker Jelani Greene, a transfer student from Longwood, completed the offense. Greene, a speedy wideout with great hands, was the perfect complement to the versatile Elijah Riley. He had 38 receptions, 14 touchdowns and 1,308 all-purpose yards.
“It was very tough for defensive coordinators to figure out which player to take away,” said Hills West coach Kyle Madden. “Newfield had so much firepower.”
Klemm, Riley and Greene all recognized the guys up front as the key to success. The offensive line — with guards Joe Saladino and Ryan Dunbar, tackles James Fitzsimmons and Dylan Ferrari, center Nick Favaloro and tight ends Austin Gubelman and Steven Hoynacky — made it possible for them to run into the Newfield history books.
“Couldn’t win without them,” Klemm said. “It starts up front.” And ends with an LIC!
WOLVERINES’ road to the championship
Deer Park, 54-6
North Babylon, 32-6
Half Hollow Hills West, 58-34
Long Island championship