Weiss is nice: Commack QB wins first ever Long Island Quarterback Challenge

Weiss is nice: Commack QB wins first ever Long Island Quarterback Challenge

By Steven Zaitz

On most days, it is hard to wipe the smile off the face of Commack junior Jeremy Weiss.

After his dazzling performance against the best quarterbacks on Long Island this past Sunday, it now might well be pretty darn impossible.

Commack quarterback Jeremy Weiss wins the 2022 National Football Federation Long Island QB Challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Weiss bested 11 of the finest high school signal callers in both Nassau and Suffolk to win the inaugural National Football Foundation’s Long Island Quarterback Challenge — slinging and smiling his way to the top of the leaderboard in the first-ever event of its kind. As an added kicker, the straight A student also outsmarted the rest of the pack to take the award for highest Football IQ. 

It was quite a haul for Weiss, who is just weeks away from taking his first snap as QB1 for the Cougars when they open the season at home against Sachem North on Sept. 10.

“When I’m out there, in any type of competition, I give it everything I have and leave everything on that field,” said the wispy gunslinger Weiss. “I prepared for this competition to the best of my ability, and I feel that I made the most of this unique opportunity.”

On a perfect summer morning with a few puffy, cumulus clouds occasionally floating past the sun, the event kicked off at 10 a.m. sharp at Kings Park High School. Former NFL QB Matt Simms was the only judge, and he was generous with advice to all the players throughout the day. Long Island University quarterback coach Jonathan Gill ran the players through their drills, and the whole thing was organized by Suffolk County National Football Foundation Chapter president Len Genova.

“We have great high school football here on Long Island,” Genova said. “Events like this go a long way in honoring scholar athletes and promoting these great players and this great game of football.”

Weiss was not the only quarterback from northwestern Suffolk to impress Judge Simms. Senior Dante Torres from St. Anthony’s High School, one of the highest rated players at any position on Long Island, won the award for Best QB Anticipation. Junior Brayden Stahl of Smithtown West was crowned the Most Accurate Passer. 

“It’s all in the fundamentals,” Stahl said. “Consistent work with the same form for five years will make every throw the same and accuracy more attainable.”

Northport’s quarterback Owen Johansen compete in the challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Northport’s Owen Johansen threw the longest ball of the afternoon — a 64-yard missile, despite participating with an injured thumb on his throwing hand. Tommy Azzara of Smithtown East also acquitted himself well, showing good agility and a nice touch on many of his corner route throws. The other quarterbacks in the competition were Devin Page from Kellenberg Memorial in Uniondale, Michael Wheat from St. John’s the Baptist in West Islip, Matt Metzger of Carey High School in Franklin Square, Brady Clark of Bayport-Blue Point High School, Matt Cargiulo of Manhasset High School, Zion Woodhull Trippett of Holy Trinity in Hicksville, and Peter Liotta of North Shore High School in Glen Head.

But this day belonged to Weiss, who in a few short weeks, will be given the keys to the Commack offense, replacing graduated star QB Matthew McGurk, who led the Cougars to a 6-2 record in 2021. 

Weiss performed well in the grueling battery of quarterback drills which included tests of accuracy, touch, agility, arm strength, x’s and o’s, mobility, and pocket presence. The boys were always on the move, sprinting from drill to drill, only breaking for water while receiving instructions from Gill on the rules of each exercise. 

It was an exhausting day, but well worth it for Weiss, as he looks to use this performance as a springboard to success for not only himself, but for all his guys back in Commack.

Brayden Stahl of Smithtown West competes in the challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

“Winning this award and competing with these great players definitely gives me confidence going into the season,” Weiss said. “Not necessarily in the form of personal confidence, but rather in the way that having a great quarterback makes the team and everyone around him better. One of my main goals this year is to create a ‘community’ on our team in which we all help one another.”

In that spirit of helping, legendary Long Island Quarterback Coach James Brady has worked with Weiss and many of the other contestants who participated in Sunday’s event.  He was not surprised by how well the Cougar quarterback performed.

“Jeremy embodies a beautiful recipe for the making of a great quarterback,” said Brady, who starred at St. Anthony’s a decade and a half ago and has coached hundreds of young quarterbacks at his Suffolk-based Elite QB Academy. “He has a load of natural talent, is incredibly smart and a sponge for knowledge. Every time we hit the field together, I can see that he is working to master his craft. That kid’s work ethic is off the charts and my heart is so full seeing him receive those trophies with that great smile on his face. I hope he remembers this day forever.”

Ah yes, that smile.  On or off the field, running, throwing, or evading giant defenders, it never disappears.  Is it simply because Mr. Weiss is such a happy guy?

“I call it my focus face,” he joked. “I’ve been smiling on the playing field ever since I can remember.”

Walking out of Kings Park stadium after a full day of focus face, Weiss, as well as his parents, were ear-to-ear as they struggled to cart out all the new additions to the Weiss family trophy case.

“It was an amazing experience to be here and to compete with this group of outstanding players,” he said. “I learned a ton from this competition, and I think it will help me become a better player and thus make us a better team.”

That would, for the next four months, certainly make him, and all of Cougar Nation, all smiles.