Ithaca and Cortland have been duking it out annually since 1959 in a matchup called the Cortaca Jug. This year it was held at East 161st and River Avenue at Yankee Stadium, the home of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees. A total of 48 native Long Islanders participated in the game.
Cortland has three former Sayville teammates from the undefeated 2021 Rutgers Trophy champs: Ty Kolar, CJ Messina, and Max Llewellyn. The Bellport alumni are running back DJ Trent and offensive lineman Johnnie Booker III. defensive back Eddie Negron hails from Bayport-Blue Point. Connetquot grad linebacker Brett Harvey is an Oakdale native, and on the other side of the field on Ithaca is offensive lineman Connor Mushorn, from West Islip.
Both teams came in undefeated at 9-0 and on Saturday, Nov. 12, in the Bronx, the weather could not have been more picturesque. Kickoff was at noon, and it was pleasantly unseasonably warm. The white facade that is cocooned around the interior of the apex of “The House That George Built” beckoned in the glamorous daylight. The benevolent sun gleamed onto the green field as if it were an autumn valley.
The Cortland end zone was about 10 feet from the interlocking NY, traditionally synonymous for being directly behind home plate, while the Ithaca end zone bordered both bullpens and Monument Park. The white facade was garnished with flags of red and blue, representing both schools. Instead of the Bronx Bombers on the diamond, it was the Ithaca Bombers and Red Dragons on the gridiron, and a crowd of over 42,000 devoted fans made their way to River Avenue to cheer their team on.
The three-headed monster from Sayville and current Red Dragons all started in the game. Defensive back Ty Kolar, wide receiver CJ Messina, and defensive end Max Llewellyn were all in the same graduating class in 2021 and members of the Suffolk County Championship teams in 2021 and 2019, all three sophomores are physical education majors. Ty Kolar’s senior year was awarded No. 9, which is worn every season by one player who embodies great character and work ethic in honor of Mitch Cangelosi.
Kolar was also an All-Division lacrosse player and a track sprinter. Ascribed 45 tackles this autumn, he is second on Cortland and leads team with 26 solo, and snagged one interception for 16 yards. CJ Messina was voted the Best Receiver in Suffolk County, named All Long Island, All State, varsity baseball outfielder, named team MVP, 2019 Baseball Long Island Champion. In the 1-0 LIC game win, he made a crucial sacrifice bunt that eluded the game’s only run. He played in every Red Dragons game in 2021, made two receptions for 30 yards, returned 11 punts averaging 5.6 yards per punt, and returned 14 kickoffs averaging 20.5 yards, including a season-high 38.
This year, Messina has 392 receiving yards, reeling in 31 receptions, and tied for second on the team. His longest catch was 53 yards; he scored three touchdowns, averaged 12 yards per catch and 39 yards per game. He made one rushing attempt for 3 yards, resulting in a TD; returned one punt for 15 yards and returned one kickoff for 49.
Pass rusher Max Llewellyn was a team captain at Sayville, received Blue Collar Ethic Award, Zellner Award, and Burnett Award, named All County on three occasions, All Long Island twice, and selected All State. Last season, he made 16 total tackles: six solo, 10 assisted. He recorded one sack, registered 3.5 tackles for a loss, and tallied four quarterback hurries. In 2021, in a home victory vs. Ithaca, he rang up eight tackles. This fall, he enumerated 21 tackles, nine solo, 12 assisted, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Tied for second in sacks and tackles for a loss summating 4.5 and 6, and second with 15 QB hurries is Cortland freshman OL Johnnie Booker III, who was a 2021 Suffolk County Champion and team captain his senior year. He made Bellport Honor Roll and on the track and field team. He allocated many meritorious awards senior year, such as SUNY Cortland C.U.R.E. Scholarship, Troy Conquest Rich in Heart Award, Most Improved Athlete Award, Most Outstanding Lineman Award, All-Division Honors, and was part of an elite selection for the Dream All-American Bowl Game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Bellport alumnus running back DJ Trent made All County four times, All State once, and was named Long Island’s top 100 players. In 2022, Trent accumulated 136 rushing yards on 14 carries scoring a TD. His longest run was 27 yards averaging 9.7 yards per attempt. Last year, he returned 11 kickoffs for 220 yards. His longest return was 33 yards, averaging 20 yards per return. This year, he had three kickoff returns for 51 yards averaging 17 per return; his longest was 25. At Connetquot, Brett Harvey received the honors of First Team All Division, All County, Team Defensive Player, team MVP, wrestled and played baseball. This fall, he made five tackles vs. Hartwick, an interception vs. Buffalo State that he ran for 19 yards, two tackles for a loss, hurried the quarterback twice, and deflected two passes.
Ithaca defeated Cortland, 34-17. Bomber Matt DeSimpliciis from Garden City attained 10 tackles, made an interception, and recovered a fumble. Red Dragon Jaden Alfanostjohn from Westhampton Beach rushed for 85 yards on 22 carries and scored a TD. CJ Messina made one catch for 18 yards. Ty Kolar recorded five tackles, three solo and two assisted. Max Llewellyn made three tackles, two solo and one assisted while recovering a fumble with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter.
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