Gridiron bragging rights will be on the line when New York City takes on Long Island in the 17th annual Empire Challenge at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The highly anticipated charity all-star football game will be live on MSG Varsity and streamed live on MSGVarsity.com, starting at 7 p.m.
Long Island has an 8-6 edge in the series, including a 17-14 victory in last year’s contest played in front of a record crowd of 11,992. The first two games pitted Nassau vs. Suffolk.
Coached by Lincoln’s Shawn O’Connor, New York City is led by the Syracuse-bound duo of Tottenville wide receiver and cornerback Wayne Morgan of Erasmus Hall. Six players from undefeated PSAL champion Lincoln, including MSG Varsity’s New York City Player of the Year Kareem Folkes, a C.W. Post-bound running back, also highlight the roster.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game since I came to high school,” Morgan said. “I used to watch the older guys when I was younger play in this game and it’s been one of my goals to play in this game.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Cornelius, who said he’s heard too often how New York City isn’t a football town.
“This is my last high school game ever so I’m trying to leave with a win and plus it’s for New York City,” Cornelius said. “People don’t really look at the city for football, but we do have some talent and on Tuesday night we’re going to show everybody that New York City has talent.”
The Long Island squad is looking for its second straight victory at the annual gridiron meeting following last year’s 17-14 win over New York City.
This year’s group is led by a plethora of Long Island and Catholic League champions – 15 to be exact – highlighted by Sayville quarterback Steven Ferreira and William Floyd running back, UMass-bound Stacey Bedell.
Ferreira caps off his stellar high school career in which he broke 30-year-old Long Island records for passing yards and touchdowns, while Bedell dazzled fans across the Island with his speed and explosiveness. The Hansen Award co-winner’s spotlight shined the brightest this past November when the future Minuteman obliterated a Long Island Championship record by rushing for 412 yards in Floyd’s 54-47 title win over East Meadow.
For others, like Huntington’s Trayon Toney, it’s a chance to redeem himself after a senior year plagued by injuries. "This game is a chance to redeem myself," Toney told Newsday/MSG Varsity’s Bob Herzog. "I can get one of my senior games back that I missed because of injuries. It's different than high school. Everyone here is a star."
Kenny Albert, Marty Lyons and Mike Quick will have the call live on MSG Varsity, iO Channel 14, as well as on MSGVarsity.com starting with the pre-game show at 7:00 p.m. Also be sure to join to join MSGVarsity.com’s Tom Liodice and Dylan Butler as they will be hosting a live chat to discuss the game and the past year in high school football.