Trevor Yeboah-Kodie is the epitome of cool jazz when he smoothly darts between tacklers, cuts back against the grain or explodes outside and leaves defenders with a good view of the No. 24 on the back of his jersey.
But when he was told he would be taking a handoff and throwing a pass, the Garden City junior had a case of jangled nerves.
“Coach told me in practice we’d run that play. I was nervous,” Yeboah-Kodie said of the two halfback option passes he attempted Friday night. “I haven’t thrown that pass so well in practice. The guys made fun of me.”
That won’t be the case this week.
Yeboah-Kodie completed both passes, one for 14 yards and a first down and another for 31 yards and a touchdown, in No. 1 Garden City’s 33-0 win over No. 2 Mepham in the Nassau II championship game before a crowd of more than 1,200 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
The Trojans (11-0), who have won 23 straight games, will face North Babylon for the Long Island Class II championship at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Hofstra. Mepham finished 8-3.
By the way, Yeboah-Kodie was a virtuoso in his primary role as the featured running back. He rushed for 203 yards on 14 carries, including touchdowns of 37, 30 and a show-stopping 91 yards.
“When I get into the open field, I just run for my life,” Yeboah-Kodie said. “I want to get into the end zone as quickly as I can.”
No problem there, as Yeboah-Kodie has pure speed to go along with uncanny vision and quick, ankle-breaking moves that are no secret to opponents. Which is why Garden City coach Dave Ettinger thought this was a good time to reach deep into the playbook.
“First time we’ve used it this year, but we put it in during summer camp,” Ettinger said. “We knew they would key on him so we wanted a wrinkle.”
It was a wrinkle that put a crease in the Pirates’ defense. “I was shocked when Coach called it the first time,” Yeboah-Kodie said of his third-and-10 connection with quarterback Colin Hart for 14 yards in the first quarter. “When he called it again, I was really shocked.”
That came in the second quarter on a second-and-12 when Yeboah-Kodie hit Tyler Wuchte for a 31-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead. “The second one was kind of a duck,’’ Yeboah-Kodie said, “but it worked.”
It worked because defenses have to respect the strength of Garden City’s outside runs. Yeboah-Kodie swept right end for a 30-yard TD and a 20-0 lead with 6:32 left in the second quarter. That came on the first play after linebacker Andrew DeSantis stopped Mepham on fourth-and-2.
DeSantis might have been Garden City’s featured back if he hadn’t been injured in Week 2, according to Ettinger. He’s been limited to defense and has excelled. “I’m happy for Trevor the way he and Justin [Coppola] stepped up,” Ettinger said.
Both stepped up, up and away. Yeboah-Kodie gashed the middle for 91 yards midway through the third quarter and two minutes later, Coppola (118 yards) took a toss right 86 yards.
“That was the big play,” Yeboah-Kodie said of his breakaway. “They loaded up to the outside and I had to make a couple of cuts to the inside. It was wide open.”