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Plainedge wins Rutgers Cup in vote by a single point over Freeport

Plainedge football players and coaches pose with their

Plainedge football players and coaches pose with their Rutgers Cup at the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association Gridiron Banquet at Crest Hollow Country Club on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

A perfect record. Domination of every opponent. A Long Island championship.

Two Nassau County football programs had those same bullet points on their resume — Class I champion Freeport and Class III champion Plainedge — and the voting by county coaches to pick the 83rd Rutgers Cup was among the closest in history.

Plainedge barely outpolled Freeport to capture the Rutgers Cup for the first time. Plainedge received 26 first-place votes among the 49 that were cast on Wednesday night at the Nassau County High School Football Coaches Association banquet at Crest Hollow Country Club and finished with 122 points. Freeport received the other 23 first-place votes and finished with 121 points.

Garden City finished with 43 points and Seaford had eight points.

It could be considered apropos that Plainedge earned this first cup at the conclusion of the program’s finest season. Plainedge had been to the Long Island championship three other times, but never had been able to win a title. This season they broke through with a 56-20 win over formidable Sayville.

Plainedge last season reached the LIC and lost 34-6 to Half Hollow Hills West after starting quarterback Dan Villari suffered a broken arm in the early going when the Red Devils trailed 6-0. This season Plainedge averaged 44.9 points and had a 35.3-point average margin of victory.

“It was really satisfying to win the last game,” Shaver said. “To win [at] the LIC is tough. You have to be a great team and . . . things have to go right.”

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