It was with a great flourish in their final three homes games that the GN North footballers salvaged what appeared to be a repeat of last year's lackluster 1-7 Conference III record plus a nonleague defeat by the local South Rebels. Following three overwhelming losses to Lynbrook (28-7), Plainedge (33-21) and Glen Cove 42-6) after their first win at Bellmore JFK (14-0), our boys had reached their low point at 1-5, uncertain whether a turnaround was in the works.
Instead of looking back at the remembrance of three shutout defeats to close the 1997 season, the team rallied to hold off Sewanhaka 21-13 and rolled over Roslyn by 34-13 to close out their current Conference III record at 305, finishing 11th in the standings with an 89.2 Power Point rating and three slots higher than last year's last place showing. As an added touch, they capped their great finish with a convincing 21-0 whitewash in their annual North-South clash, evening the longtime series at 16-16.
In coach Jeff Jablonowski's words: "We came together as a team at a time when adversity stared us in the face. Such players as Doug Gould (knee injury), DJ Dashti (shoulder separation), Oren Bonen, Gabe Gohari and Robert Monge were unavailable for the late games, creating shifting of player units and positions but inspiring our boys to put forth extra effort. The improvement of such up and coming players as Greg Hayim, Chris Fellini, Shuto Okiawa, Dan Hakakian and Travis Brennan will bode well as returnees for next year. In addition, seniors Bryon Hakimi, Josh Golbert, Parsa Kiai, Steve and Doug Gould and Sam Nassi exuded qualities of inspiration among our squad as leaders on the field. In short, we have come a long way on the road to football respectability at North."
The 14-0 victory at Bellmore Kennedy on Oct. 3 was one of contrasting play each half with the locals rolling up 150 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes, scoring on a Hakimi-Goldbert 16-yard pass play and a short yardage TD run from Steve Gould. Though yielding the same second half yardage and more possession time to the homestanding Cougars, the Blazers maintained their shutout as Hakimi had a 9 for 10 passing afternoon for 92 yards, hitting Doug Gould five times for completions and causing three turnovers on two pass interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Though humbled in overwhelming fashion in their next three games Hakimi continued to put up great passing numbers, completing 17 of 32 for 250 yards while Hakimi rushed for 130 yards in 31 carries in the loss to Plainedge and scoring three TDs in the three losses. Golbert caught nine passes for nearly 200 yards against Plainedge and Glen Cove combined.
In the 21-13 Sewanhaka victory North piled up its greatest ground offense of the season, rolling up 310 yards in 55 carries, including 127 by Hakakian and 106 by Nayim, featuring a spectacular 49 yard run by Greg to set up the final one-yard QB sneak by Hakimi for the deciding score. Golbert added to his mounting collection of pass receptions, picking up six, including a 4-yarder to break a fourth quarter 7-7 tie.
The Roslyn victory by 34-13 in the regular season closer was the biggest scoring fest since a 43-14 victory in 1989 in an undefeated season. Hakimi threw three first half touchdown passes totaling 106 yards to Golbert (2) and Mike Schwarts for a 21-0 lead at the break. Hakakian and Steve Gould added two more rushing TDs next period for a 34-7 lead as many of the bench players gained quality playing time experience to close out the game. In all, the Blazers rolled up 350 yards on offense, over 60 percent of it ground plays.
As earlier reported, the Blazers ended their 45 season shutting out the crosstown South Rebels 21-0 with Hakimi adding three more TD passes (six in the last two outings).
This season brought forth a bevy of high offensive numbers, standing as tops during the '90s, if not best won-lost record of the decade. Their total of 150 points scored (22 TDs, 12 extra point kicks, three 2-point conversions) was highest since the 1989 team piled up 201 points in seven games. Their total of 2,202 yards on offense (244 per game) was also tops in the last nine years.
Josh Golbert set a new school record (kept only since 1980) with 31 catches for 453 yards while Bryon Hakimi completed 54 of 95 passes (58.6 percent) for 796 yards and 11 TDs, second only to Michael Gross' 1992 mark of 72-151 for 846 yards. Dan Hakakian rushed for a team leading 538 yards, approaching 1,000 for his first two seasons. Players who dominated on defense included Parsa Kiai, Arash Rahbar, Steve and Doug Gould and Sam Nassi, all of whom picked up most of the tackles, sacks and turnovers.
Players accorded county awards of recognition for their outstanding play as selected by the Nassau coaches are listed as follows:
Josh Golbert - All-conference, academic all-conference and honorable mention all-county.
Bryon Hakimi - All-conference
Sam Nassi LIAFO unsung hero
Doug Gould - Downtown National Football Foundation Award
In addition, Golbert will appear in the Senior Exceptional game at Hofstra on Nov. 26 and is a candidate for the Boomer Esiason All Star game (LI vs. NYC) to be played on July 3, 1999.
Team awards are presented as follows;
Most Valuable Player - Bryon Hakimi
John Yetski Lineman Award - Steve Gould and Arash Rahbar
Best Offensive Player - Josh Golbert
Best Defensive Player - Parsa Kiai