Newfield's defense led Wolverines to victory
Put your hands together for the Newfield defense.
No, really. Put them together.
Because the first time Terrell Perryman tried to block a field-goal attempt by Garden City kicker Ryan Norton, the ball sailed through his open hands. Norton, under pressure, still (just) missed the uprights, but with Newfield clinging to a seven-point lead, Perryman was determined to do better.
Take two, this time with the score tied and 3:55 left in the third quarter. Norton attempted a 43-yard field goal and this time Perryman, hands together, was able to swat it away.
"I can't even explain it. This right hand? I'm not going to wash it. I'm going to shower with it like this," he said, sticking his hand out after Newfield's 14-7 win in the Long Island Class II championship game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
Not that he was too preoccupied; he used that same hand to high-five the throngs of Newfield faithful in the stands. And really, who could blame him? His team had just managed the first Long Island football championship in school history and the defense, led by James Manginelli and Thomas Diubaldo, held Garden City to a season-low seven points.
"The strategy on defense was not to let them score," said Manginelli, who had two sacks and was christened "the sack master" by Diubaldo.
"We didn't do that, but we [were using] the straight rush, then a middle linebacker blitz . . . They're a good team and facing them was a challenge, a good challenge for us."
And not one many thought Newfield could handle. The team, which went into the county tournament seeded fifth, was the underdog against 2009 champion Garden City. Diubaldo was keenly aware of that.
"Halfway through the season, not even I expected it," said the linebacker, who added a sack and helped spearhead a bruising attack that impeded Trojans quarterback Mike Comiskey, who finished 12-for-20 for 101 yards. "But the seniors looked around and said, this is our last chance. Everyone called us out, but we did the unthinkable."
It came down, he said, to preparation. "We knew they were fast because most of them play lacrosse,'' Diubaldo said, "but we knew we could out-physical them."
Newfield also managed to contain Garden City leading rusher Mark Ellis, who finished with 25 yards on 10 carries, leaving him just three yards short of 1,000 for the year. Ron Denig had six tackles, two for a loss, and Manginelli added 4 1/2 tackles, 3 1/2 for a loss.
Even with the dominant display, it took a few moments for the win to sink in. Beaming and breathless, Perryman said few feelings could trump this one -- going back on the bus as history-makers and unlikely champions.
"Nobody thought we could go this far," he said. "But we were destined for this."