- Posted: 2:23 AM, June 19, 2012
This wasn’t a big year for New York City football. The best team – Lincoln – was a team full of role players, without a single BCS-level recruit. Signing Day was fairly quiet, relative speaking, loaded with tough-minded College Football Subdivision and Division II signees rather than skilled prospects.
That doesn’t mean Tuesday’s showdown has been decided yet, that Long Island will beat NYC for the second straight year. The city has Alvin Cornelius and Wayne Morgan, future roommates at Syracuse, sublime talents who could make an impact under the lights at Hofstra University.
Call them the city’s great hope in this game, difference makers on each side of the ball capable of singlehandedly changing the course of this annual all-star game.
Long Island has most of the star power, at least on offense, led by Rutgers-bound quarterback Rich Czeczotka of John Glenn and Sayville signal-caller Steven Ferreira, who is headed to Stony Brook and set Long Island career records of 6,407 passing yards and 73 touchdown passes.
William Floyd running back Stacey Bedell ran for a Long Island Championship game-record 412 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 54-47 win over East Meadow. The 2011 Hansen Award winner, given to the most outstanding player in Suffolk County, had a mind-bobblging 2,532 rushing yards as a senior, the third-highest total in Suffolk history.
The defense is just as loaded, particularly at linebacker with Sayville’s Evan Kappatos, a three-time winner of the Piner Award, given to Nassau County's top linebacker, and Princeton recruit. He's joined by Syracuse-bound cornerback Devante McFarland of Half Hollows Hills West.
New York City has talents to match in Cornelius and Morgan, former rivals who are becoming fast friends, each capable of finding pay dirt whenever they touch the ball.
The 6-foot-2 Cornelius, a speedy and skilled wide receiver, has put on a show in practice this week, catching everything thrown his way like he has Velcro attached to his hands. His senior year wasn’t what he hoped, spent mostly under center running the “Alcat,” as coach Jim Munson called it when quarterback Brandon Barnes tore his ACL.
He’ll have his chance to go out on a high note on Tuesday, make play after play on the big stage, like he has for most of his career. The same goes for Morgan, the hard-hitting defensive back with speed to burn.
New York City is small up front, neither quarterback – Lincoln’s Jessel Jones or Poly Prep’s Kevin Gebon – is going to keep Long Island’s defense up at night. The backfield is a group of workmanlike types capable of churning out yardage but unlikely to break any big runs.
If New York City is going to find a way to steal the game, beat a seemingly more talented outfit, it will likely be about the two big prospects, Cornelius and Morgan, coming up big, Cornelius moving the chains and breaking off a few big plays, Morgan separating a few receivers from would-be completions, possibly turning an errant throw into six the other way.
Syracuse has invested into the city since head coach Doug Marrone took over; they went hard after both Cornelius and Morgan, got both of them, and are doing the same with the 2013 class, trying for Jefferson’s Ebenezer Ogundeko, Xaverian’s Laray Smith and Tottenville’s Augustus Edwards.
Over the course of their careers, the two have proven to be elite talents, leading their respective programs to everything but city championships, getting agonizingly close. Tuesday, big stage, big competition, they get to see how they stack up against supposedly superior Lond Island.
Unlike some other big schools, Syracuse encourages its kids to play in this game. The Orange thinks it’s good for recruiting. Good thing for that.
The city needs Morgan and Cornelius to play like the big-time recruits they are projected to be, the big dogs on a blue-collar team.