Garden City Trojans Football
Garden City coach Tom Flatley, in his 26th year at the helm of one of Long Island’s most successful high school football programs, is typically low key when it comes to predictions about his team. You certainly won’t hear any Rex Ryan-like proclamations from Flatley; rather you will get low-key responses such as, “We just want them to be the best they can be.”
In 2009, the best they can be was 12-0 and Long Island Class II champions. It was a magical year for Garden City, which outscored its opponents 356-28 and did not allow a touchdown until the postseason. They capped their perfect season with a 9-6 victory over North Babylon in the title game.
The 2010 Trojans opened the season with a 28-0 victory over Mepham, a game in which Garden City converted four Mepham turnovers into touchdowns. There is almost chance the Trojans will be as dominant as last year. After all, they lost a quality group of defensive players to graduation, including Connor Horl, Nassau County’s top lineman.
But this year’s team is still solid and the odds-on favorite to win the Nassau crown. Senior Tom Gordon replaces Matt Montgomery at quarterback. He won’t be required to pass the ball a lot, not with an offensive backfield that features fullback Stephen Jahelka, one of only two HYPERLINK "" \t "_blank"returning first-team All Long Island selections. Last year, Jahelka rushed for 666 yards (6.3 yards a carry) and 13 touchdowns. He was stellar on defense as well, where he made 42 solo tackles with 33 assists and was a finalist for the Piner Award, given to the county’s best linebacker.
Joining Jahelka and Gordon in the backfield is returning starter Brian Fischer, who rushed for 1,083 yards (8.3 yards a carry) and 11 touchdowns. They are the top players returning and the ones others look up to for guidance. “These kids were in leadership roles as juniors even though they weren’t captains because they accepted it,” Flatley said of the two Harvard-bound lacrosse stars.
Jahelka and Fischer run behind an offensive line featuring Billy Allen (6-3, 260), John Bock (6-2, 215) and James Wright (6-3, 235). “You make one hole and they’re gone,” Bock said.
Most of the defense that recorded nine shutouts last year – and one this year – is back. Allen, Bock, Wright, Jahelka, Fischer and Gordon all contribute on defense. So does junior defensive back Mark Ellis, who is a dangerous punt returner as well. Ellis made a jarring hit on a Mepham receiver in the season opener, forcing a turnover that led to a Garden City touchdown.
Garden City’s special teams are always good and well coached. In addition to Ellis, the punt returner, junior Ryan Norton is a double threat as a punter and place kicker. It was Norton’s field goal that clinched the Long Island championship for the Trojans last year, and his steady leg could be a difference maker in a close contest this year.
Garden City is looking to become the first Nassau team to win back-to-back LIC’s since Bethpage in 2002-03 and the first to defend its Rutgers Cup since Hempstead from 1984-86. It will face stiff challenges from No. 2 seed Wantagh, which is hosts for homecoming Oct. 23; and Carey. It was Carey that nearly upset Garden City in last year’s playoffs, losing a 21-19 nail-biter.
Garden City
Coach Tom Flatley (26th season)
Top players
Stephen Jahelka, 6-0, 205, Sr. FB/LB
Brian Fisher, 6-1, 185, Sr. RB/DB
Tom Gordon, 6-3, 200, Sr. QB/DB
Billy Allen, 6-3, 260, Sr. OL/DL
John Bock, 6-0, 215, Sr. OL/DL

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