The narrative took a sharp left turn. In senior quarterback Mike Catanese’s words, “It was exactly how it was not supposed to go.”
This was the Carey football team, the juggernaut that had won 25 consecutive games dating to 2013, including back-to-back Long Island championships. And now, at 2-2 to begin the season, the Seahawks were sputtering.
The situation called for more than a two-dimensional quarterback who could burn you just as well with his precision passing as he could with his elusive running ability. It called for a leader.
“I think the things that he did and the toughness that he showed,” coach Mike Stanley said of Catanese, “that’s something that was easy for the guys to get behind.”
Catanese, this year’s recipient of the Don Snyder Award for Nassau’s top quarterback, suffered a torn meniscus in Week 2, an injury that doctors told him he could play with and wait to have surgery on until after the season. But there would be discomfort.
“We were smart about it through practice and minimized his reps with certain things,” Stanley said. “But he played at an incredibly high level despite the injury.”
Catanese completed 115 of 190 passes for 1,741 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. After Carey started 2-2, Catanese led the Seahawks to five straight wins before they fell to county champ MacArthur in a Nassau II semifinal.
In Week 6 against MacArthur, there were two instances in which Catanese took huge hits. Each time, he hobbled to the sideline, sat out for one play and then returned to the field. Each time, it sent a message to his teammates.
“I knew it was going to hurt for that entire day and the day after,” said Catanese, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in Carey’s 28-21 win, “but fighting and playing with your best friends makes it worth it.”
Spoken like a true leader.