Huntington Falls In LI Championship
It’s all about winning for Levar Butts, so even though the Huntington High School senior played one of the best games of his career, he walked off the field dejected after the Lawrence football team upended the Blue Devils, 41-32 to win the Long Island Class III championship before a crowd of more than 4,000 at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Saturday.
Butts was spectacular, rushing 14 times for 133 yards and three touchdowns and notching 10 solo tackles, 5 assists and 2 quarterback sacks on defense. Teammate Troy Greene had 19 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Despite scoring 5 touchdowns and rumbling for 270 yards on the ground, Huntington (8-4) couldn’t overcome the performance of Golden Tornadoes’ quarterback Joe Capobianco, who completed 14-of-20 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns, including an 82-yard first quarter bomb to wide receiver Elijah Jones.
The Blue Devils walked off the field drenched in sweat and covered with bruises, devastated despite a magical ride through the playoffs that culminated when Huntington topped three-time defending Suffolk champion Sayville in the county finals.
“I am so proud of this team,” Blue Devil head coach Steve Muller said about Huntington. “We won eight games and the county championship. We lost to a great team today, but we scored 32 points. All of us will always remember this season.”
Huntington got off to a rocky start in the LI finals, spotting Lawrence (11-1) 14 points after a series of miscues and some prolific passing by Capobianco, who threw his 100th varsity career touchdown pass during the game.
Trailing 14-0, the Blue Devils quickly rallied behind the punishing ground attack of Greene and Butts. Greene capped a three-play, 62-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run for Huntington’s first points of the day. Butts found the end zone a short while later to culminate a six-play, 49-yard drive that took just 1:49.
Nursing a 2-point lead, Lawrence responded with back-to-back touchdown passes by Capobianco, the only quarterback to start three Long Island championship games. The two scores put the Golden Tornadoes in front, 27-12 early in the second quarter.
Huntington battled back again just 11 seconds later with Butts sprinting 42 yards through a crowd for his second touchdown of the day. But, the Blue Devils failed to convert the extra point attempt for the third straight time and found themselves trailing, 27-18.
A 30-yard touchdown run by Lawrence’s Jordan Fredericks (23 carries for 118 yards) culminated a quick 47-second, four play, 60-yard drive to give the Golden Tornadoes a 34-18 halftime lead. Huntington again responded, with Butts scooting 44-yards for his third touchdown of the game. Greene notched a 2-point conversion by going around the left end to bring the Blue Devils to within eight points at 34-26. That’s as close as Big Blue could get.
When Huntington fumbled on its own 3-yard-line with 6:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, the ball rolled into the end zone and Sean Moran fell on it for Lawrence’s last touchdown of the game, extending the Golden Tornadoes’ lead to 41-26.
The Blue Devils went down fighting. Quarterback Ben Kocis (8-for-19, 87 yards) capped a 69-yard drive by hitting Infinite Tucker with an eight-yard scoring strike with just 48 seconds remaining on the clock to pull Huntington to within nine. But, it was too late. Lawrence ran out the clock on the final two plays to claim its second consecutive LI title.
“No one expected us to ever get to the Long Island championship game this season,” Kocis said. “We were always picked to lose and never got the credit we deserved. I am extremely proud of each and every one of my teammates. We brought a Suffolk County title back to Huntington, which I think is pretty remarkable.”
Kocis has been named this year’s recipient of the Boomer Award, recognizing him as Suffolk’s best quarterback.
Like Kocis, Christian Jamison, who had a key interception for Huntington on the 8-yard-line and who caught a pass for a 23-yard gain, refused to dwell on Saturday’s outcome.
“I’m proud of the team for our effort against Lawrence,” Jamison said. “Although we lost, we showed a lot of heart and never quit.”
The Huntington High School senior was presented with the LaBue Award by the Suffolk County Football Coaches Assn. as this year’s top scholar football player. He has compiled an academic grade average of 102-plus with a combined SAT math/verbal score of 1,530. Among the colleges that Jamison is currently considering are Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT.