Coached By: Ken Budd
Seemingly like many winners of the Enners Award, Larry Cerasi's hometown didn't have a youth lacrosse league when he was growing up. Forced to play with Sachem's SYAG organization as early as 6th grade, Cerasi got his start in the next district over before playing at Dawnwood Junior High in the Middle Country School District.
Middle Country is a bit different than other school districts because it combines kids from Centereach High School and Newfield High School onto one team. Kids that were rivals in junior high, became teammates and friends shortly after. Some remained rivals in other sports, since lacrosse is one of the few that remains combined.
"We played football against each other in the fall wearing different jerseys, and were competitive during lacrosse practice," he says, "but when it came time for that football season again [the following school year], we were enemies. We were best friends, too."
Cerasi broke his leg playing football in 8th grade, so he didn't come into his own physicality on the lacrosse field until his freshman year, when he was on varsity. From a team standpoint, Middle Country was weak. They went winless in Cerasi's freshman season.
"It was a wakeup call for us and made us better," he says.
Things didn't improve much, but having won only one game his sophomore season and a couple more his junior year.
In year four, Cerasi and his senior teammates led Middle Country to a playoff birth and a first round victory over Lindenhurst in 2003. They lost to West Islip in the next round.
Cerasi gave credit to head coach Tony Quintoni and assistant Ken Budd, who has since taken over the program. Quintoni used the old-school militaristic style of coaching, screaming when necessary and it worked for Cerasi.
"Without them never giving up on me and always pushing all of us to be the best, we would have never been as good that year," he says. "When you start at the bottom it's hard to motivate the team. We were always motivated. Middle Country is not a West Islip or Ward Melville, but they've improved significantly."
Cerasi tore his PCL during his senior season and panicked that colleges would be scared to offer a scholarship. He thought, "no one is going to want a kid with a bum knee."
Hoping things would change after an outing at a senior showcase, Cerasi played in front of some local schools. Stony Brook offered shortly after.
"I was forever grateful," he says.
He was named to the America East All-Rookie Team as a freshman and recorded his best numbers during his junior season when he netted 14 goals and dished out seven assists.
In high school, Cerasi was a two-time All-County selection, scored 63 goals and 64 assists and ranks fourth all-time with 127 points and second all-time in assists.
Cerasi, whose father Larry passed away when he was nine, used his father's memory as inspiration for his athletic career. His dad was an All-American soccer player at Levittown High School. Cerasi also played soccer, ice hockey, football and ran track.
Today, he teaches at Northport High School and East Northport Middle School and is the head boy's soccer and girl's lacrosse coach at the middle school.