By Desirée Keegan
Dylan Winwood couldn’t ask for a better way to end his football career.
Kings Park’s senior tailback/slot receiver hybrid and safety battled on the gridiron one last time Sept. 23, before getting season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum. Winwood’s injury occurred in a scrimmage Sept. 1, and he asked his doctor to clear him to play in one final game. Upon getting approval, he decided his last performance would be at homecoming.
“Any win is sweet for our coaches and our team, but having a great crowd to play in front of for homecoming made the atmosphere electric,” he said. “I can’t thank our fan base enough, truly one of the best groups on the Island.”
Although the team could credit running back Vince D’Alto for its 7-2 win over Hauppauge (0-2), Winwood also credited the Kingsmen’s fans and new surroundings for helping the team seal the deal.
“I felt great out on the field and the lights were fantastic,” he said of the stadium’s new ambiance. “I felt like homecoming made it that much sweeter — with the crowd and the team going crazy after every play.”
The junior running back scored the only touchdown of the day — on a 32-yard run in the first quarter. D’Alto said he was looking to ride a routine push play, but happened to stumble across a hole in the defensive line and carried the ball into the end zone. Senior Mike Trupiano’s point-after attempt was good to put the Kingsmen (2-2) up 7-0.
“I was just trying to get some yards to get out of our own end zone, but there was a hole and I took it,” said D’Alto, who finished with 155 yards on 15 carries. “It was a great team effort and there were a lot of ups and downs, but a win is a win.”
Despite the offense not playing up to its preferred tempo, the Kingsmen’s defensive unit was willing and able to pick up the slack, especially co-captain Winwood.
“I feel as if [the win] was due to our stout defensive effort,” he said. “The whole team rallied around a stellar defensive performance.”
The senior said he thought D’Alto was strong on both sides of the ball to help propel the team to victory.
“He was running extremely aggressive and was making plays on the defensive end that helped seal the game for us,” Winwood said. “This year’s team is definitely one of the fastest teams in our division. We have a bunch of athletes just waiting to make plays, and I’m looking forward to the Kingsmen capturing more wins in the future.”
D’Alto said he was inspired by Winwood’s willingness to put his career on the line to play football one last time, especially since he already has a lacrosse scholarship to Florida Southern College.
“Dylan had a lot of courage playing in his last game with a lacrosse scholarship on the line,” he said. “Dylan always plays great — one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen, and he played his heart out for his last game. It was great seeing him on that field risking it all for just one more game, telling us as a team how much this really means to him.”
The senior reflected on his final high school game.
“I felt awesome on the field; all I wanted was to finish my career on a win and it happened,” Winwood said. “I couldn’t ask for a better end note.”