Say this about Oceanside’s Andres Duran and Syosset’s Luca Cutolo: they never let anything get away.
In the long layoff between his junior and senior seasons Duran dropped 15 pounds to improve his quickness. The senior linebacker returned as what Oceanside coach Rob Blount described as "a sideline-to-sideline player," capable of running down backs on a sweep. He capped this year by earning the Piner Award as Nassau County’s top linebacker.
"When you stop someone on a sweep there is this level of excitement," Duran said. "When you say ‘you’re not going anywhere,’ it’s a great feeling."
Cutolo had some of the best hands in the county at wide receiver. Syosset coach Paul Rorke said "if there was anything thrown in his vicinity, he was going to catch it. And once he did, he had an extra gear he got into so that no one could catch him."
He is this year’s winner of the Pizzarelli Award, which goes to Nassau’s top receiver.
Duran had 45 tackles this season — five for a loss — as the Sailors (7-1) reached the Conference I title game. He also rushed for 519 yards and five touchdowns on 75 carries.
Cutolo snared 35 passes for 813 yards and nine touchdowns as Syosset reached the Conference I semifinals. The junior was equally adept at going on deep routes and catch-and-run plays. He had four touchdowns on plays of more than 70 yards. He also played outside linebacker.
"I got moved to receiver [from running back] when I moved up to varsity and I fell in love with it," Cutolo said. "I like being able to make big catches and use my speed."
Duran transferred form Lawrence when his family moved before his junior season and there was a period of adjustment. He said that during the course of his first season at Oceanside, he "began to form the bonds" that would ultimately make him what Blount called "the soul of the defense" this season.
"I had prepared to be on the field for every play this season," Duran said. "I’m proud I got to be part of a fearless team."
He is the second Oceanside player to win the Piner and, like 2017 winner Bryan Aguilar, he will attend Hobart and William Smith College next fall.