Mike Gilbert had to hit the rewind button to make sure he heard things right.
While watching a recording of the Long Island championship game, broadcasters called the Garden City senior lineman a major run stopper on Long Island's best defense.
"As soon as I heard that on TV," Gilbert said, "I had to replay it a couple of times to make sure they were actually talking about me."
If there were any doubts about who they were referring to, they were settled last night during the Nassau Gridiron Banquet at Crest Hollow Country Club. Gilbert was named the winner of the Martone Award, recognizing Nassau's most outstanding lineman. Also nominated were Andrew Borruso of Oceanside, Dom Morales of East Meadow and Anthony Turano of Massapequa.
"All of my hard work paid off," Gilbert said. "All the preparation I did over the summer just trying to get to this point. Trying to be the best I possibly can be."
That preparation included an intense two-a-day offseason conditioning regimen that readied Gilbert to become a two-way player in his second season on the team.
"He came in this year in great shape and that helped him take off as a player," Garden City assistant coach Steve Finnell said. "He knew he had to be in the best shape of his high school career to play both sides of the ball. He did it at a very high level."
Gilbert had 42 tackles, 10 for a loss, 21 assists and two sacks to lead a defense that allowed the fewest points on Long Island at 5.3 per game. Offensively, he helped the Garden City running game amass nearly 2,500 yards en route to a county championship.
"We knew coming into this season that he would be a force," Finnell said. "He's a very good athlete for a lineman. He's got great feet and runs well. His athleticism is what sets him apart from other lineman."