Half Hollow Hills West was the only Suffolk team to earn a Long Island football championship this year. That distinction was enough for the coaches to award the Colts the 2018 Rutgers Trophy on Monday as Suffolk County’s most outstanding football team.
Hills West’s impressive 34-6 win over Plainedge earned them the Long Island Class III title on Nov. 24 at Hofstra University. The Colts (11-1) received 27 first-place votes and 100 total points at the Suffolk County High School Football Coaches Association awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge.
Floyd (11-1), the Suffolk I champion, earned 13 first-place votes and 88 points. Lindenhurst, the Suffolk II champion, garnered 33 points.
It was the second Rutgers Trophy for the Hills West football program. The Colts also earned the award in 2009.
“It’s a statement about the entire program and an extremely great honor,” coach Kyle Madden said. “Our coaches and players put in the time to beat some very good teams. And we rose to the challenge and avenged our only loss of the season against a great Westhampton team [with a 21-10 win in the Suffolk III final].”
Halftime adjustments were the difference in the game. Long touchdown runs by Justin Brown, Deyvon Wright and Dakim Griffin enabled the Colts to come back.
“Our coaching staff was just outstanding and empowered our athletes to reach their potential,” Madden said. “They had a positive influence in their lives, and that was game-changing.”
Madden, whose father, Larry, died unexpectedly earlier this year, said his father played a small but important role in bringing players together. And that closeness contributed to bringing home a championship.
“Our players learned that it’s OK to tell each other how much they love each other,” Madden said. “It was an important life lesson to let people know how you feel.”