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Long Island Romps In Empire Challenge

31-7 blowout for local stars

Every year, the crowds keep getting larger at the Empire Challenge High School All-Star game, one that pits the best football players from Long Island against those from New York City. This year, on Tuesday, June 19, 12,418 people packed into Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium to witness one of the most lopsided wins in the game’s history as a talented Long Island squad defeated the city team, 31-7.

The game benefits an array of charities, including the Boomer Esiason Foundation for cystic fibrosis research, the Gunnar H. Esiason (Boomer’s son) Scholarship Fund and various youth football programs. Esiason is an East Islip native who starred at both the University of Maryland and in the National Football League for the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets. Esiason also hosts the popular morning sports talk show, “Boomer and Carton In The Morning” on WFAN and that, too, has contributed to the game’s increasing popularity.

But this year, Boomer’s fellow Long Islanders stole the show, jumping out to a big lead and never being challenged by the New York City squad, which scored their only touchdown late in the game.

The Long Islanders were led on the ground by Stacey Bedell of Floyd High School, who scored three touchdowns and Steven Ferreira of Sayville, who tossed two touchdown passes. Bedell finished the game with 137 yards rushing. For his career, he compiled 2,532 rushing yards, the third highest in Suffolk County history. Ferreira finished the game going 8 for 11 in passing for 132 yards. He ends his four years at Sayville as Long Island’s all time leader in both career yards and touchdowns.

On defense, Long Island was boosted by big plays from Evan Kappatos of Syosset, Trayvon Toney of Huntington and Tom Diubaldo of Newfield.

The win was Long Island’s second straight in this, the 17th year of competition in what is turning out to be the top high school football event in the New York area. This year’s crowd set a record, topping last year’s turnout of 11,992.

The following are the Long Island players and the high schools they represented:

Kareen Are, Sewanhaka; Isaiah Barnes, Freeport; Stacey Bedell, William Floyd; Ken Berryhill, Freeport; Matt Biscardi, St. Anthony’s; Jere Brown, Freeport; Ralph Caccavale, Plainedge; Todd Collins, East Islip; Dalton Crossan, Sachem North; Rich Czeczotka, John Glenn; Ron Denig, Newfield; Tom Diubaldo, Newfield; Mark Ellis, Garden City; Ryan Fredericks, Lawrence; Steven Ferreira, Sayville; Mike Gilbert, Garden City; Darius Greene, Longwood; Thomas Hannan, Sayville; Robbie Healy, East Meadow; Chris Hercules, Lawrence; Evan Kappatos, Syosset; Chris Makulik, Patchogue-Medford; Matt McDaniels, Kellenberg Memorial; Devante McFarlane, Hills West; Pat McHugh, St. Anthony’s; Dom Morales, East Meadow; Matt Morganelli, Smithtown West; Ryan Norton, Garden City; Omari Palmer, Longwood; Erin Parker, Roosevelt; Vincent Provenzano, Sachem North; Alex Rawa, Locust Valley; Mike Richardson, West Babylon; Tyler Rigo, East Islip; Griffin Rock, Bayshore; James Rupp, Sayville; Julian Santiago, Newfield; Kenny Scotland, Comsewogue; Brian Sheng, Syosset; Mike Silva, Newfield; Mike Sollenne, Massapequa; Luke Spitzer, Lynbrook; Tim Stackpole, St. Anthony’s; Aaron Thompson, Deer Park: Trayvon Toney, Huntington: Anthony Turano, Massapequa; Brian VonBargen, Wantagh: Nick Wagner, John Glenn; Mike White, East Islip and Brandon Winters, William Floyd.