‘Tis the season . . . for trickery.
At a key juncture late in the third quarter, just after Mepham had made it a one-score game, Garden City faced a fourth-and-13 from its own 17.
Trojans coach Dave Ettinger sent in punter Danny Boccafola — for just the fourth time this season. The play call was deliberately vague. “We call it a rugby kick,” Ettinger said. “He can roll out and either kick it on the run or keep it. It’s not strictly a fake punt.”
Boccafola liked what he saw, and the 6-0, 185-pound junior rolled right, tucked the football under his arm and then darted upfield 23 yards for a key first down. The Trojans concluded that 80-yard, 12-play drive with a game-breaking touchdown and went to defeat host Mepham, 34-12, Saturday for their 20th consecutive victory.
In the process, defending Long Island champion Garden City (8-0) clinched the Nassau II title and No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs. “I take the ball from the center and I run right. Then I make the read,” Boccafola said. “If the middle linebacker is there, I kick it; if not, I’ll run. He wasn’t there. I saw an opening, got a key block and just took off. We haven’t punted much this year so when coach made the call, I was excited. It was a huge momentum swing.”
Mepham (6-2) had crept to within 20-12 on a 2-yard rollout pass from Mike Proios to Anthony Novello with 4:44 left in the third quarter, capping a drive highlighted by Marco Baez’s 34-yard run. But instead of getting the ball back with a chance to tie, the Pirates were jolted by Boccafola.
Nine plays after the fake punt, Justin Coppola scored on 12-yard run for a 27-12 lead. Garden City iced it on Trevor Yeboah-Kodie’s 69-yard burst, his fourth touchdown of the game and 22nd of the season. Late in the first half, he had scored on an electrifying 81-yard dash.
Both of those long runs, as well as most of his 16 carries (for 230 yards), came on a toss play with a wrinkle. Instead of quarterback Colin Hart lateraling to his left or right, he took the snap under center, turned and tossed the ball directly behind him to Yeboah-Kodie, allowing the 5-11, 175-pound junior speedster to cut to either side or dart up the middle.
“We put that play in just this week,” Ettinger said. “Trevor has got the ability to score every time he touches the ball. He’s got good vision, great balance and he’s strong. This is a different type of toss, with a different blocking scheme.”
Ettinger’s schemes worked well on Saturday. “People have been cheating outside all year on us,” Yeboah-Kodie said. “I have to be patient, find a seam and bust through it. Then I can cut from the inside to the outside.”
Yeboah-Kodie, who also scored on runs of seven and 10 yards, took his toss up the middle and then cut left on both of his long TD runs, using his speed once he got outside to pull away from the secondary. “Coach Mac [assistant Don Makofske] teaches us to climb the ladder,” Yeboah-Kodie said. “Find an opening inside and then keep going outside.”
Before and after the trick, Yeboah-Kodie was the treat.