A little less than one month after winning PSAL lacrosse titles at Aviator Sports Complex, Tottenville’s Kenny Coughlin and David White from Lehman were back on the gridiron at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium Friday afternoon, preparing to compete in Tuesday night’s Empire Challenge.
It’s a transition that hasn’t been easy.
“It’s definitely not the same,” Coughlin said. “You’re not in the same shape. You have stamina, but football is different.”
Both players are hoping to lead the New York City squad to a win against Long Island in the 17th annual charity all-star game.
“This is a game I’ve waited for four years,” White said. “I’m going to come out here and I’m going to do my best, not because I want my name to get out there. It doesn’t really matter to me. If this is the best of the best, me personally, I want to feel like I can play amongst the best of the best.”
Coughlin has played both football and lacrosse throughout his career at Tottenville. This year, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound senior helped lead the Pirates to the PSAL football semifinals, earning all-city second team defensive honors by MSG Varsity. He had 53 tackles and six sacks.
Coughlin transitioned to lacrosse, where he had a brilliant spring. Coughlin had 34 goals and 23 assists, guiding the Pirates to their first PSAL Class A boys lacrosse title since 2004 and earning All-American honors.
Coughlin will try to play both sports at Hobart and William Smith Colleges next year.
“I want to call myself a lacrosse player first, but I’m a scholarship football player in college, a football recruit,” Coughlin said. “Football is my first sport, trying to get back into the football mentality.”
And Coughlin said that transition after four months of lacrosse isn’t just about plays on the field.
“It’s more demanding, more getting yelled at,” he said with a smile. “There’s no yelling in lacrosse, no Coach [Jim] Munson yelling at you.”
While Long Island has 12 players coming off the lacrosse season, Coughlin and White were the only two on the New York City squad. White helped the Lions win the PSAL Class B title in his first season of lacrosse.
“The only problem I had was early, I started pretty slow and it took me a couple of weeks to get the movements with the stickhandling,” White said. “It was a little different, but after a while it started to feel like I was carrying a football.”
White, though, is a football player at heart, and led the PSAL in rushing with 1,874 yards despite being on a team that finished 2-7 in the PSAL’s Championship Division.
“I grew up studying Walter Payton and how he runs, how he doesn’t go down from one guy,” White said. “I idolized him growing up. The great power backs always come out fast and they just go north and south from there. They don’t do much dancing.”
While White loves playing football – he’ll continue to do so at Nassau Community College in the fall – he’s proud to be called a city champion.
“I think about it all the time because that’s a championship. It’s not the sport I wished I would’ve won it for, but it’s a championship nonetheless,” White said. “That was my first championship game ever. To go out and win it was a great feeling. I’m never going to forget that game ever.”
The 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back said playing in the Empire Challenge Tuesday night should also be an experience he’ll remember for a lifetime.
“This is probably our last time being together,” White said. “We could see each other 20, 30 years from now and be like remember the Empire Challenge when we won?”
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