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First Royal Division IV MVP break school records this season

The Port Jefferson Royals’ outgoing quarterback is officially royalty.

Jack Collins is the first Port Jefferson football player to be named MVP of Division IV. But if he had his way when he was young, the Royals senior wouldn’t even be a quarterback.

“I was a wide receiver,” he said, explaining how he played the position for almost two years before being told the middle school team was in need of a field general. “We had a little contest, and I ended up getting the job.”

Port Jefferson quarterback Jack Collins broke three school records this year and became the first Royals football player to be named the most valuable player in Division IV, an honor bestowed by the results of a vote by the division coaches. File photo by Bill Landon

Collins didn’t want to be a quarterback because being the center of attention seemed like too much for him. He said he was quiet and reserved by nature, qualities not normally associated with successful quarterbacks. But as the years passed he grew to love it, and others respected the way he played the position, too.

In his senior season, Collins broke school records for touchdowns (18), completions (143) and yards in a season (2,261). Being the first Division IV MVP from the Royals squad, which is voted on by division coaches, also qualifies him for the Hansen Award, which goes to the most outstanding high school football player in Suffolk County, and the Boomer Award, which is awarded to the top quarterback in the county. The winners will be announced at a Section XI dinner Dec. 4 at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge.

“We knew Jack had all the capabilities to handle the physical part of the position,” Port Jefferson head coach Andrew Cosci said. “What stood out even more was his maturity mentally. We knew he could handle anything we threw at him, and his work ethic early on was just one of those un-coachable things.”

Collins was called up to the varsity team his sophomore year and played in a handful of games toward the end of the season before being named the starter as a junior. He said the honor was unexpected, but felt encouraged after being recognized.

“I worked hard in the offseason — put my heart and soul into it — and getting called up made me feel more comfortable and prepared to be the leader of a team,” he said. “I think my coach made the right decision. It was a good learning experience.”

Cosci said the coaches immediately began tailoring routines and strategies so that the offense revolved around Collins. The quarterback had worked with an outside coach to enhance his accuracy, power and consistency, but also learned about leadership. The changes were noticed immediately.

As a result of the MVP nod, Jack Collins is automatically in the running for the Hansen Award and the Boomer Award, which will be given out at the Section XI football dinner Dec. 4. File photo by Bill Landon

“Jack is like no other quarterback I’ve played with,” senior wide receiver Marquis Feldman said. “He knows everything that’s happening on the field before it happens. It’s honestly like playing with a college quarterback.”

The senior’s head coach went one step further in his praise of Collins.

“He watches tons of film, tries to understand things better and fully, he never rests on his laurels — he thinks about what he has to do to get better and he continues to get better because of that,” Cosci said. “As a true leader and a true great player does, he made everyone around him better.”

Marquis said he saw his teammate develop on the field firsthand.

“Everyone on my team gave 110 percent every snap of every game — we were relentless,” he said, adding that he only just moved to the district in August. “To see Jack get recognized for his efforts is phenomenal, because we all knew he was an MVP. I couldn’t be more proud to call him my quarterback and already a very close friend on and off the field.”

To Collins, success is not about him, but more a reflection on his coaches and teammates, he said.

“At first, I didn’t see the good in it as much as I was afraid of the bad,” he said of taking on the quarterback role. “My teammates made me see it’s not that bad. It’s awesome to see the other coaches respected what we were doing, but honestly, we’re all putting in the work together and our coaches are putting game plans out that work. I’m the one that gets a lot of the credit for it, but it was definitely a team effort.”

Collins’ successes have also served to shine a light on the program.

Jack Collins broke school records for touchdowns (18), completions (143) and yards in a season (2,261). File photo by Bill Landon

“You can always look at the bigger schools and shake your finger and say ‘We’re too small, we’re never going to win anything,’” Collins said. “But we’re proving everyone wrong. We played with the big boys and it was a really good time. I just really hope this helps the program grow.”

While the extra attention could add pressure for any high school student, Port Jefferson athletic director Danielle Turner said nothing ever seemed to phase Collins.

“I’ve watched Jack from afar for two years now — on the field, in the hallways — and for as great of a football player he is, he’s an even better person,” Turner said. “He doesn’t say much, but his work ethic and the way he carries himself speaks volumes as to the type of person Jack is.”

Another important aspect of being a varsity football player is having young kids on the sidelines at games, according to Collins. They reminded him of himself when he first watched the Royals, wishing to one day emulate what he saw.

“I wanted to be like them in every single way,” he said. “I hope when the kids look at me they think that and that I set a good example.”

It’s a mentality he has already instilled in all facets of the program, according to Cosci.

“Jack has been the cornerstone for us in taking the next step,” he said. “He’s definitely more of a lead by example, but when Jack opens his mouth everyone listens. He never really talks about himself, he’s grounded, and it’s refreshing. The first thing out of other coaches’ mouths was ‘What a quarterback you have.’”

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Elijah Riley scores three times, Denzel Williams scores twice in the Wolverines' 54-6 victory

Newfield senior quarterback Ryan Klemm cuts up the middle following blocker Isaiah Israel, a junior linebacker, in the Wolverines' 54-6 Division II qualifying round win over Deer Park on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Earning the No. 1 seed in Division II after finishing the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record, the Newfield football team hosted No. 8 Deer Park in the qualifying round of playoffs Friday, where the Wolverines ended the Falcons’ season with a 54-6 blowout to advance to the next round.

Newfield senior defensive lineman Dylan Ferrari sacks the Deer Park quarterback in the Wolverines' 54-6 Division II qualifying round win over Deer Park on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield senior defensive lineman Dylan Ferrari sacks the Deer Park quarterback in the Wolverines’ 54-6 Division II qualifying round win over Deer Park on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield edged closer to a score when junior linebacker Isaiah Israel recovered a Deer Park fumble, putting the Wolverines deep into Falcons territory. On the next play from scrimmage, Newfield senior quarterback Ryan Klemm tossed the ball to classmate Elijah Riley, a wide receiver, who cut up the field and flew into the end zone. On a bad snap, the point-after attempt failed and the Wolverines settled for a 6-0 lead.

The Falcons struggled to move the chains and went for the down on fourth-and-15, but didn’t come close, as the Wolverines took over on downs. On the next play, Klemm dropped back and threw deep down the left sideline to senior wide receiver Jelani Greene, who caught the ball in stride and strolled into the end zone untouched. With a successful two-point conversion, Newfield extended its lead, 14-0.

Greene said his team prepared for the playoff game like any other.

“We came out and did what we usually do — what we had to do,” Greene said. ”In practice, just like all season, we have the same mindset that we come out and put points on the board, and at the same time prevent them from putting points on the board.”

Unable to mount much of an offensive effort, Deer Park handed the ball back to Newfield and the team got back to work. This time, Klemm took matters into his own hands as he followed his blockers up the middle of the field, broke free from the crowd and found the end zone for six more points. With the point after, the Wolverines surged ahead, 21-0, with a minute left in the first quarter.

“We went about [tonight’s game] like we did for the first eight games,” Klemm said. “It was the next game up so we did the same thing we do every other week.”

Newfield senior tailback Denzel Williams runs down the sideline for the score in the Wolverines' 54-6 Division II qualifying round win over Deer Park on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield senior tailback Denzel Williams runs down the sideline for the score in the Wolverines’ 54-6 Division II qualifying round win over Deer Park on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Deer Park threatened on the opening drive of the second quarter, choosing to go for it on fourth down, but Newfield’s swarming defense stood tall with a big stop and again the offensive unit got down to business. With just over six minutes left in the half, senior tailback Denzel Williams got the call on a pitchout from Klemm. Williams, a sprinter for the Middle Country track team, took off like it was the 100-yard dash and no defender came close. With the point after successful, the Wolverines jumped out in front 28-0.

Williams said he knew his team was up for the task heading into the game.

“We gave it our all, but we know that any team can beat us, so we stay humble,” Williams said. “We just do what we do from here on out and our goal is the championship.”

Deer Park halted the Newfield scoring fest on the ensuing kickoff, where the team narrowly escaped a diving defender and stumbled into the end zone to break the ice.

“They’re an aggressive team and they come after you,” Newfield head coach Joe Piccininni said. “They’re tough kids, and they don’t stop.”

Deer Park lined up for the two-point conversion, but again the Wolverines’ defensive unit said “no,” and the Falcons trailed 28-6.

Klemm and Riley hooked up again for the next score, but this time, Riley cut to the outside on a pass play, where he went the distance for his second touchdown of the night.

“Everybody did a fantastic job,” Riley said. “The defensive line did a great job of getting [Deer Park’s] quarterback and our linebackers did an even better job filling [the holes]. We had good secondary pressure coming from the outside.”

The point-after attempt missed, and Newfield pressed ahead 34-6.

Newfield senior wide receiver Elijah Riley goes the distance for the touchdown, one of his three in the game, to help the Wolverines outscoer Deer Park 54-6 in the qualifying round of the Division II playoffs on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield senior wide receiver Elijah Riley goes the distance for the touchdown, one of his three in the game, to help the Wolverines outscore Deer Park 54-6 in the qualifying round of the Division II playoffs on Nov. 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Deer Park was unable to find the scoreboard again, and before Newfield flushed its bench, Williams looked for a hole up the middle, and finding nothing, broke to the outside and again did what he does best, sprinting ahead to leave would-be tacklers in his dust as he made his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. With the extra point good, the Wolverines took a 41-6 advantage into the halftime break.

On the first play from scrimmage, Riley helped put the game out of reach when he bolted down the left sideline, leaving Deer Park defenders behind as he broke into the end zone for his third touchdown of the contest. The Newfield avalanche was on, and after Piccininni swapped in his bench players, junior quarterback Joe Reyes took over under center, and pitched the ball to the junior running back Maximillion Mastroianni, who stayed half a step ahead of three would-be Deer Park defenders, and outran the pack to find the end zone to add salt to the Falcons’ wounds. Newfield lined up for what looked like a two-point conversion, but took a knee to arrest the scoring fest ahead 54-6.

With the win, Newfield advances to the next round where the team will host No. 4 North Babylon on Saturday at 1 p.m., in their quest for the Suffolk County championship.

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