Jeremy Leggiero comes off as a quiet guy. He doesn't offer lengthy responses and it seems as if he is searching for just the right words.
Opposing offenses wish the Connetquot senior linebacker was as reserved on the football field. Leggiero is the antithesis of quiet on the gridiron.
It doesn't take long to figure out where he is. Look for the ball and he is likely in the vicinity issuing a big hit.
Leggiero was the linchpin behind a Connetquot defense that allowed only 23 points in its last three playoff games en route to winning the Long Island Class I championship. His play earned him the Collotta Award for the most outstanding linebacker in Suffolk.
"He's quiet," Connetquot defensive tackle Kurt Johnson said, "but on the football field he's crazy. He keeps to himself and is more open around close friends. He shows his personality on the field."
In 11 games, he had 153 tackles, 22 for losses, five sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
"I always thought it was possible," said the 6-foot, 215-pound Leggiero of winning the award. "Then once I got hurt I thought I lost my shot."
Leggiero was injured late in the first quarter against Sachem North on Oct. 11. He had nine tackles in the quarter before dislocating his patella and spraining his MCL. He missed the rest of the game and the next game against Ward Melville before returning the following week against Floyd.
"He didn't play like himself," Connetquot coach Mike Hansen said. "He was basically playing on one leg. A lot of players would get down. He came back the next week against Northport and had one of his best games. He's intense and it rubs off on the other players. He takes on the lead blocker and he's quick to the ball. We knew coming in he was a major part of our team. He actually exceeded what we expected."
Leggiero was skinny as a sophomore before putting on a lot of weight between his sophomore and junior seasons.
"I figured I wouldn't get the call to varsity in my sophomore year, so I concentrated on getting bigger," Leggiero said. "I just stayed in the weight room all the time and ate more."
Even Johnson, his best friend since eighth grade, was surprised.
"He was a small kid," he said. "He put in so much work to become great."
Said Leggiero: "It means a lot to win this award. I couldn't ask for a better senior season."