Fresh off their second Long Island Championship Class IV during Thanksgiving weekend, the Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms varsity football team made another historic, first-time win for the district at the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association All-County Dinner on Monday, Dec. 4, when they were awarded the prestigious Rutgers Cup and head coach, Michael Zafonte, was honored as Coach of the Year.
The Rutgers Cup and Coach of the Year are both decided by fellow football coaches who vote for their pick.
Zafonte said the Rutgers trophy was a “special” award because it is voted on by the coaches “to recognize the best team is Suffolk County.”
“Our players and coaches have put an exceptional amount of effort and time in, so it is nice to see our season end on such a high note. 23-0 back-to-back LICS; now it’s time to prepare for next season,” said Zafonte.
Running back Danny Aiello, who made some of the biggest, integral plays both last season and this season, said he was “beyond honored” and incredibly appreciative of the other coaches recognizing “how hard it is in any division to go undefeated and win an LIC, and then recognizing that we did that two years in a row.”
Aiello said the accolades were due to the “belief” coaches and players for BBP had in each other, characterizing it as “the true definition of family.”
The day after winning the Rutgers Cup, the entire team and staff were honored by the Suffolk County Legislature in a proclamation that was a join effort of Legis. Anthony Piccirillo (R-8th District) and Legis. Dominick Thorne (R-7th District), who represent Bayport and Blue Point, respectively.
“We are so immensely proud at the hard work and determination of these fine people of our community,” said Thorne.
“So proud of the hard work and determination by the BPBP football team. Winning back-to-back LICs. And the first-ever Rutgers Cup. The 8th Legislative District salutes you,” said Piccirillo.
Athletic director for BBP, Tim Mullins, said he was “elated” at the team winning the “elusive” Rutgers Cup and that “this achievement is a direct testament to the hard work of Coach Zafonte, his staff, our student athletes, and youth program. Any individual who ever strapped a BBP helmet on takes an abundance of pride in this historical accomplishment.”
Mullins further went on to congratulate Zafonte, remarking, “There is no better honor than to be recognized by your peers for excellence at your craft.”
Superintendent Tim Hearney said, “The players, coaches, and families truly represent the school mantra of ‘Belong, Believe, Possible’…Their dedication to the game, themselves, and each other is what makes this team so amazing.
Hearney also commended the BBP cheerleaders for “coming out in all types of weather and keeping the school community involved and the energy high at every game. Their dedication reminds us that a win for one team is a win for all of BBP.”