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Wide Receiver

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First Royal Division IV MVP break school records this season

Port Jefferson outgoing quarterback is officially royalty.

Jack Collins is the school’s first 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’s quiet, reserved, 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.

In his senior season, Collins broke school records for touchdowns (18), completions (143) and yards in a season (2,261). Being the first MVP, 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. 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.”

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 lunges for extra yards . File photo by Bill Landon

The Newfield football team continues to make history.

The Wolverines were named Suffolk County’s top team last Monday, earning the Rutgers Trophy at the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge. But that wasn’t the only award the team walked away with.

SNewfield senior defensive lineman Dylyn 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
SNewfield senior defensive lineman Dylyn 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

To continue a season of firsts, as the school recorded a 12-0 record, including three shutouts, for the greatest season in Newfield’s 58-year history, senior halfback Elijah Riley became the first Newfield player to garner the 54th Carl A. Hansen Award, presented to Suffolk’s top player.

The 6-foot, 200-pound star rushed for 1,012 yards and scored a school-record 31 touchdowns. He finished with 1,934 all-purpose yards.

Riley also earned the school’s first Tom Cassese Award, presented to the top defensive back, after allowing only three pass receptions and recording three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 66 tackles, 45 of which were solo.

Defensive end Dylan Ferrari earned the fifth annual Rob Burnett Award, given to Suffolk’s top defensive player. Despite suffering a broken left thumb when he fell midway through the fourth quarter of a 31-7 win over North Babylon in the Suffolk County Division II semifinal, Ferrari played through the pain in the final two games of his high school career with a soft protective glove around his hand.

Ferrari finished the season with 71 tackles, including 32 solo tackles, and 18 for a loss of yards. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 236-point, two-way starter forced many botched throws and turnovers as a result. He also recorded a team-high 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Jelani Greene makes a diving catch. File photo by Bill Landon
Jelani Greene makes a diving catch for Newfield football. File photo by Bill Landon

Senior Jelani Greene recorded another first, winning the National Football Foundation Award, given to Suffolk’s top wide receiver.

Steven Hoynacky, a standout on special teams, was awarded the Tom Cutinella Memorial Scholarship Award, named in honor of the former Shoreham-Wading River player who died after an on-field collision in 2014.

Like Cutinella, the tight end and defensive end was not only a quality player on the team, but excelled in leadership, character and academics. He is treasurer of the school’s National Honor Society and maintains a 92 GPA.

Although not winning an award, Newfield’s record-breaking senior quarterback Ryan Klemm passed for 31 touchdowns this season.

The Wolverines set a Suffolk record for points scored in a season with 518. The team beat Half Hollow Hills West 58-34 to capture the Suffolk Division II title. A week later, the Wolverines earned the school’s second Long Island Class II championship with a 41-33 win over MacArthur. Newfield earned 27 first-place votes to earn the Rutgers Trophy, and totaled 120 points to edge runner-up Sayville, which had 19 first-place votes and 108 points. Shoreham-Wading River was third with 46 points.

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Elijah Riley scores three touchdowns on 10 carries for 210 yards

Newfield wide receiver Elijah Riley rushes with the ball behind blocker Justin Ottenwalder in the Wolverines' 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Elijah Riley stole the show Saturday.

The Newfield football team continued its winning ways when the Wolverines defeated North Babylon, 32-6, in the semifinal round of the Division II playoffs Saturday.

Newfield wide receiver Elijah Riley lunges for extra yards in the Wolverines' 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield wide receiver Elijah Riley lunges for extra yards in the Wolverines’ 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon

And the Wolverines wasted no time hitting the scoreboard.

Riley, a senior wide receiver, scored his first of three touchdowns on the afternoon on a hand-off, where he broke to the right sideline and took off for the end zone, covering 60 yards along the way. Through swirling wind, senior kicker Jacob VanEssendelft split the uprights and Newfield took an early 7-0 lead.

North Babylon was unable to answer, and the team’s defense couldn’t stop senior quarterback Ryan Klemm next, who went to the air, finding senior tight end Austin Gubelman over the middle. On a second effort, Gubelman found the end zone for the score, and with the extra-point attempt wide left, helped put his team out in front 13-0 with 6:20 left in the opening quarter.

“We expected a very tough opponent — our defensive line started off with a big push on every play, it’s all on the defensive line,” Gubelman said. “[But] we didn’t play up to our best ability. Wer’e going to have to step it up with a good week of practice and we’re going to have to focus to get ready for Friday.”

The scoreboard went quiet until the opening play from scrimmage in the second half, where Riley struck again when he took off down the left sideline, outrunning any defender as he covered 63 yards for the score. With a failed two-point conversion attempt, the Wolverines settled for a 19-0 advantage.

New field quarterback Ryan Klemm throws the ball deep for a touchdown in the Wolverines' 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon
New field quarterback Ryan Klemm throws the ball deep for a touchdown in the Wolverines’ 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon

Riley said North Babylon was a more potent opponent this week than they were when the Wolverines faced the Bulldogs earlier in the regular season, because the team had fewer injured players.

“They were a better team this week with their three returning starters — we had to prepare like we did last time, but just harder,” said Riley, who finished the game with 210 yards on 10 carries. “Our defense and our offense finished it out and our special teams did a great job.”

On their ensuing possession, North Babylon mounted its first sustained offensive drive. On a third-and-8 from Newfield’s 40-yard line, North Babylon’s ball carrier, Nick Grassa, took a hit from Gubelman that knocked the ball loose. Newfield junior Justin Ottenwalder recovered it at the 33-yard line with 8:38 left in the third quarter, arresting the scoring threat.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game and we prepared for them,” said Ottenwalder, who rushed for 49 yards on two carries. “But I knew it was going to be a tough game because they’re a good team.”

Newfield wasted no time cashing in on the Bulldogs’ mistake, and Klemm, despite the gusty wind, went to the air again. The quarterback found Riley in stride on a post-pattern play, and the wide receiver rushed across the field 39 yards for his final touchdown of the game. The stirring wind pushed the extra-point attempt wide left, and Newfield surged ahead 25-0 in the closing minutes of the third quarter.

The Wolverines weren’t done yet though, and on the second play from scrimmage to open the final stanza, Ottenwalder got the call. On a hand-off up the middle, the junior made something out of nothing when he broke to the outside, eluding two would-be tacklers for a 36-yard touchdown run. With VanEssendelft’s kick, the two helped the team to a 32-0 lead.

New field's Jelani Greene plunges up the middle for extra yards in the Wolverines' 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon
New field’s Jelani Greene plunges up the middle for extra yards in the Wolverines’ 32-6 win over North Babylon in the Division II semifinals on Nov. 14. Photo by Bill Landon

The Bulldogs would not go down without a fight, and with just over four minutes remaining Jajuan Winters, on a handoff from quarterback Jared Ziegler, punched his way into the end zone from eight yards out to put North Babylon on the scoreboard. The point-after attempt failed.

Newfield senior Steven Hoynacky took over under center the rest of the way as head coach Joe Piccininni flushed his bench — ensuring everyone saw playoff action.

“North Babylon’s a great football team — they’re a ground and pound attack and they come at you and if you make a mistake against them, they’ll make you pay for it,” Piccininni said. “I’m so proud of our kids stepping up today. They maintained their composure and they just got it done.”

With the win, Newfield advances to the Suffolk County championship at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, where the Wolverines will take on Half Hollow Hills West Friday at 7 p.m.

“We’ll take it one day at a time — prepare each day,” Piccininni said. “But our preparation will be the same.”

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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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