William Floyd High School senior Deontae Sykes was recently named the winner of the Rob Burnett Award, presented to the top defensive player in Suffolk County. after each season. Sykes, the first Colonial to ever win the award, terrorized opposing offenses last season as he finished with 59 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Sykes also earned a list of impressive accolades for his historic season including being named New York State Sportswriters Association All-State (First Team), Newsday All-Long Island (First Team), All-County (First Team) and All-Division (First Team).
Sykes originally attended Riverhead High School during his junior year, however, after their football program disbanded, he decided that moving into the community, attending William Floyd High School and playing for head coach Paul Longo, was the best choice for his academic and athletic future.
Despite playing as a Colonial for only one season, it was an opportunity that he will never forget.
“My experience playing as a Colonial was tremendous,” said Sykes. “But it was a lot of pressure playing on a team that has won 13 Suffolk County Championships. With the help of the amazing coaching staff and my teammates it became a lot easier to play the game.”
Sykes expressed how it was an honor to learn from Coach Longo, the all-time winningest public school coach in Suffolk County history and a newly minted member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame. “When I first talked to him, it seemed like I knew him for years and that’s rare to find in someone. He’s more than just a coach. Once you get to know him you realize that he is an amazing individual on the field as well as off it.”
Coach Longo shared a similar sentiment regarding his star defensive player. “Deontae was a dominant defensive end. He was an excellent team player that would play any position asked of him. The great thing about Deontae is he is as good a young man as he is a football player. He is a big reason we were Big Four Champions and went to the county championship game this past season.”
Sykes was shocked to learn that he became the first William Floyd student-athlete ever to win the Rob Burnett Award. “When Coach Perino told me that I was the first Colonial to ever win, I didn’t believe him. I said ‘Come on, coach, there is no way that I’m the first Colonial to win, there have been so many great players that have come before me.’ It still has not hit me that I won this outstanding award and that I made history.” Sykes added that one day he looks forward to telling his grandchildren about this honor.
As for what comes next, Sykes plans on studying marketing or information technology in college while suiting up on the gridiron. The future is bright as he and his family are currently weighing multiple athletic scholarship offers.
Six of Deontae’s teammates also joined him on the All-State team: Dylan Harris and Jayson Thomas (Second Team); Brian Benson, Ryan Amato and Sonny Mayo (Fourth Team); and Mike Turner (Sixth Team).
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