After a 25 year drought, Manhasset football has reclaimed the Nassau County Championship to complete a perfect season.
The Indians defeated the reigning Long Island champions, Plainedge, who Manhasset narrowly beat 13-7 earlier in the season. The rematch against Plainedge was as much of a battle as the first, but the band of brothers tackled it with grit and composure.
“We just stayed the course,” commented head coach Jay Iaquinta on the resilient Manhasset attitude. “We think that we are better than them and will end up showing it at the end, so just keep plugging away and don’t get discouraged.”
That was certainly the case from early on. Manhasset had forced Plainedge to punt, though a penalty kept the ball in their possession. Plainedge ended up scoring the first touchdown of the day on this nearly 10-minute opening drive, but like the rest of the game, there was no waning of faith.
Manhasset found themselves at fourth and seven in the second quarter. In a gutsy move, Ahmad Crowell received a pitchout and got the first down. Blaze Conlan followed up with a 30-yard touchdown run to tie the score.
After Plainedge failed to convert on downs, the Indians added a touchdown on a 47-yard run by quarterback Rory Connor. With just 15 seconds left in the half, Plainedge managed a touchdown but a failed extra-point attempt left the Indians with a one-point lead.
The score remained 14-13 going into the fourth, and Manhasset fought hard to keep their lead.
Connor pushed the ball into the endzone for an early 8-point advantage. Then with less than 5 minutes left, Plainedge scored a touchdown and was a field goal away from the lead.
The Red Devils regained possession with a minute and 36 seconds left, trailing 21-19. The county championship was within reach for both teams, but Manhasset did what they did best.
“Not everything was perfect but we stuck together,” Connor said. “We’re just truly brothers and at the end of the day we got the job done.”
The defense dominated, pushing Plainedge to 4th and 16, then Will Cargiulo had a 60-yard pick-6.
“It felt great,” Cargiulo said of his clutch interception. “I just went out there and tried to get the offense the ball back.”
“[This] means everything,” Connor said of the 28-19 victory that will finally add a year to the championship banner in the gym. “Every day I see that 1996 was the last time Manhasset won the county championship for football. We needed to change that and we’re glad we even had the opportunity to play. We stuck together, we have the best coaches in the county, and in the end, we won the county championship.”
It took a special team to bring back glory to Manhasset football and Iaquinta, who has led Manhasset to three straight playoff appearances since taking over, is quick to point out why—great character.
“Character trumps ability. They are good athletes but even better people.”