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Northport’s Sam Gozelski earns LaBue Award

James LaBue Award winner Sam Gozelski of Northport

James LaBue Award winner Sam Gozelski of Northport poses for a photo during the Suffolk football awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency Windwatch in Hauppauge on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Credit: Daniel De Mato

The commitment Sam Gozelski has shown on the football field and in the classroom paid off, as the senior earned top scholar-athlete honors.

Gozelski, a lineman at Northport, was awarded the LaBue Award at the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association dinner Monday evening in Hauppauge. The LaBue Award has been awarded since 1985 to the top scholar-athlete among Suffolk football players.

“I’m really proud to be nominated for this. I think it’s important to be well-rounded,” said Gozelski, who said he has a 101.3 GPA and is thinking about playing football and studying engineering in college.

“Athletically, he’s one of the best football players we’ve ever had and he’s just an incredible student,” Northport coach Kip Lukralle said. “At Northport, we have a motto we try to live by: ‘Class, character, commitment.’ For some people, those are just words. For Sam Gozelski, he lives them.”


Center Moriches’ Jack Donohue and Islip’s Teddy McLoughlin shared the award, which is given to the athlete who overcomes adversity to play football.

Donohue displayed tremendous perseverance and commitment to his team, even as his father was battling cancer. His father died Oct. 16 and was buried Oct. 20, but Donohue did not miss a day of practice. He also played in the team’s game on the day of his father’s funeral, and Center Moriches coach Joseph Reggio said Donohue played his best game of the season that day.

McLoughlin was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December and underwent chemotherapy early this year. He returned to the field in the spring to play lacrosse and captained the Islip football team this fall.


Connetquot safety George Wichelns won the Tom Cas sese Award as the most outstanding defensive back. He said it is special to be honored for his defensive play because offense came first to him as a young player. “I used to never be able to play defense, so when they let me play, I loved it,” he said. When he made the transition from quarterback to receiver and safety on JV, the physical element of playing safety was the hardest to get used to. Fast-forward to this season, and he has become as adept in run defense as pass coverage. He intercepted six passes.

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