Leonard Genova saluted Long Island's scholar-athletes Sunday at the National Football Foundation's annual awards ceremonies.
"It's a morning that is representative of all is right about scholastic sports, and it makes me feel that the future of our country is in really good hands,'' said Genova, president of the Nassau and Suffolk County chapters of the NFF.
Commack's Paul Maline was named Suffolk County's 2012 top scholar-athlete for his work ethic on and off the field.
"I'm excited to be recognized for all my hard work,'' said Maline, an All-Long Island wide receiver and safety who carried a weighted GPA of 101.7. He is the first winner with perfect SAT scores in math and verbal, according to Genova.
"I don't think student-athletes get enough credit,'' Maline said. "In the grand scheme of things, academics are the most important.''
The National Football Foundation had each Suffolk coach submit selections for the "Golden Eleven,'' an elite group recognized with a plaque, before singling out Maline.
The Golden 11 included Daniel Nemirov (Ward Melville), William Noke (Smithtown East), Matt Iovino (Sayville), Jake Cherkes (Hauppauge), Steven Giacalone (Kings Park), Matthew Amoscato (Rocky Point), Andrew Walsh (Harborfields), T.J. Burns (Mount Sinai), Kenneth Massa (Glenn) and Alec Zamet (Babylon).
"What I learned in class is, if you do poorly on one test, or one challenge, never give up,'' said Maline, who plans to major in engineering at Duke. "You're going to fail in life and in school. It's about perseverance. Come back harder the next test, come back 150 times harder the next play.''
Coach Joe Reggio praised Maline, the Cougars' leader in receptions (51), touchdowns (11) and receiving yards (1,000-plus).
"It couldn't happen to a nicer kid,'' Reggio said. "I brought him up as a freshman and it's one of the smartest moves I ever made. He's so bright that you teach him something once, he has it down.''
The 2012 Catholic High School Football League's co-top scholar-athletes were Christopher D'Ambrosio (Chaminade) and Rory Walsh (Kellenberg). Joseph Gotti (Holy Trinity), Daniel Carlone (St. Anthony's) and Christian Turri (St. John the Baptist) also were honored.
"It was virtually impossible to separate them,'' Genova said of D'Ambrosio and Walsh, noting that they were the first NFF honorees from the Catholic League to have perfect 100 GPAs.
During the previous Sunday's Nassau awards ceremony, Oceanside quarterback Thomas Capone was named the 2012 Jay Fiedler top scholar-athlete. He was joined by the Golden 11 class of Giancarlo Carvalho (East Meadow), Tyler Desire (Uniondale), Matthew Lucito (Carey), Scott D'Antonio (Garden City), Gerard Cunningham (MacArthur), Kevin Overlander (Manhasset), Christopher Infantino (Valley Stream South), Zachary Richman (Hewlett), Kevin Rieger (Locust Valley), John Fogarty (Clarke), Anthony Martelli (Valley Stream North) and Mario Serrano (Glen Cove).
"It was a great experience,'' said Capone, who had a weighted GPA of 100.48 and scored a 2110 on the SAT as an academic all-conference team captain. "It took a lot of hard work and effort . . . and a lot of support from family, coaches and teachers.''
Capone was the New York State Class AA top scholar-athlete of the year, according to Genova. Said Oceanside's Rob Blount: "It's one of the best feelings as a coach to see one of your players win a major award.''
St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert and former Bellport coach Joe Cipp Jr. were inducted into the Hall of Fame.