The sobering news of Tyler Ammirato’s broken left thumb filtered through the Miller Place football team and the cold reality set in.
The speedy senior halfback, who had rushed for 1,394 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior, was injured in a four-way scrimmage in late August and potentially lost for the season.
“It’s every coach’s nightmare to lose an impact player in a scrimmage,” Miller Place coach Greg Murphy said. “How do you replace a guy who’s not just a great halfback but also a team leader? We had contributions from different people and we had to run the ball by committee.”
Murphy had to look no further than junior Sebastian Cannon, a lockdown cornerback on the defensive side of the ball and a key player on the Panthers’ special- teams unit. Now he was an offensive catalyst, too.
“Sebastian helped us hold it together until Tyler came back from the injury,” Murphy said. “He single-handedly won at least two games against Amityville and Shoreham-Wading River.”
Cannon scored two touchdowns in wins over Amityville and Shoreham-Wading River and continued his contributions on defense. He finished the regular season with six TDs and three interceptions, including one he returned for a score.
“He had 561 return yards and was a threat on punts and kickoffs,” Murphy said. “When players get injured, the team looks for a leader. Sebastian became a vocal leader.” And Miller Place is 10-1 after a 33-25 win over Babylon in the Suffolk IV final Thursday night at Stony Brook University.
Ammirato returned in Week 7 and resumed starting at halfback. Cannon went back to his role on defense and special teams. He made the tackle on the opening kickoff Thursday night. Just as Justin Vega tried to turn the corner and head upfield, the speedy Cannon came from the back side and dragged him down from behind at the 30-yard line. The play was typical of his season; he made an impact.