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Many players shine in an awesome Long Island Championship victory.

Posted Monday, December 08, 2008 by Michael Konsevitch
The Thunderbirds used an awesome defense to hold the high-scoring Freeport offense to only 13 points, the last 6 coming with 50 seconds left. The defense held Freeport to only 155 total yards leading up to their last drive and sacked the quarterback six times.

Jeremy Leggiero led the team with 19 tackles, 4 for a loss, and 2 quarterback sacks. He capped off a tremendous year with an outstanding game. Leggiero finished the season with a team-high, and probably a school-record, 153 tackles. Kurt Johnson had another excellent game, recording 13 tackles, 1 for a loss. Kurt was fantastic all season and finished third on the team with 99 tackles. John Smith was all over the field and really played a great game. He finished the season second on the team with 102 tackles after his 12 tackles, 2 for a loss, and 1.5 quarterback sack performance. Cody Elsis was named Defensive MVP for his unbelievable play making 9 tackles and breaking up five passes, two of those five prevented touchdowns. Elsis had a phenomenal year shutting down receivers in every game.

Other players who played great games defensively were Dylan Clifford, Jon Sternbach, Mike Pellegrino, Alex Lorenzo, Joe Pellegrino, Matt Nason, Brandon Carnevale, Brian McIlvain, and Chris Dale. The defense had an unbelievable year! They really stepped it up in the three last playoff games holding three great offenses to a total of 23 points, less than 8 per game.

The Thunderbirds offense was brilliant on 4th down, converting 6/7 4th down conversions. Amazingly all three touchdowns were scored on 4th down. The T-Birds rushed for 177 yards and used a ball-control offense to eat up some clock and keep Freeport's offense off the field.

Joe Zuco led the way with 150 yards rushing on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns. He was very difficult to take down and really wore down the defense. Zuco finished the year with 1300 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. One of the best years ever for a Connetquot running back. He followed the great blocking up front from Jeremy Leggiero, Kevin McHale, John Smith, Ryan Lanigan, Mike Compitello, DJ Pamlanye, Kurt Johnson, Andrew Grogan, Alex Lorenzo, Jon Sternbach, and Matt Nason. These individuals have blocked extremely well all year and this game was no different.

Ryan Andersen led the team on some great drives, displayed strong leadership, and only needed to throw the ball five times, but they all counted. He completed four of his throws, one a beautiful pass and catch for a ten-yard touchdown strike to Sternbach for the first score of the game. It was Sternbach's 6th receiving touchdown and his 11th overall. Zuco caught two passes for 29 yards.

The special teams were excellent. Justin Bertone kicked all three of his PAT attempts and had a touchback. Jon Sternbach had an opening kick return for 35 yards and Mike Pellegrino had 33 yards on two returns. Cody Elsis and Mike Caiozzo did a great job on kick coverage, while Gregg Sarra did a terrific job busting up the wedge on kickoff. Kurt Johnson did a great job with the snaps and Nate Alessandro did well with his punts.

The Thunderbirds had an extraordinary year going 10-2 and winning the Long Island Championship. Some of the huge accomplishments were making the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Winning the 4th Suffolk County Championship in school-history, the first since 1994. Winning the 2nd Long Island Championship in school-history, the first since 1992. Lastly, they became only the 2nd football team in school-history to win 10 games, joining the 1992 team.

What an unbelievable year. There were so many great memories from a phenomenal group of individuals-players, coaches, parents, fans. The 2008 Connetquot Thunderbirds-Simply the Best!

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