Led by Luis Rodriguez, Lincoln wins back-to-back city titles
Luis Rodriguez will forever go down as a high school football legend in Coney Island after leading the Lincoln Railsplitters to back-to-back championships.
“He was a guy who played a big role for us late in the year last season, but nobody wrote about him or talked about him,” head coach Shawn O’Connor said. “This year he has been asked to play a bigger role, and he’s stepped up, and he scored every touchdown for us in the playoffs.”
Rodriguez finished with nine touchdowns in the playoffs this year, which tied a Public School Athletic League (PSAL) record set in 1993. His last two helped lead the Railsplitters (11-2) to a 13-6 victory over Erasmus Hall (11-2) at Yankee Stadium on a snowy Wednesday night and won Lincoln its second PSAL title in two years.
“He came up to me after the game and told me that I’m the greatest Coney Island legend,” Rodriguez said. “That’s great. That’s probably the greatest thing a coach can tell you — that you are the greatest player that was ever a part of Lincoln football.”
The Lincoln Railsplitters came into this season without a real identity after it lost so many star players from last year’s championship squad. Early on, O’Connor challenged them to introduce themselves on the football field. By the end of this season, they were all about Rodriguez, who became their best and most consistent player.
“I figured they would key on him, but I knew that they still had to stop him and that wasn’t going to be easy,” O’Connor said. “He came up big again for us today.”
With the snow falling so steadily, it made offense hard to come by. Erasmus Hall managed to score first on a 55-yard run by Shavar Brathwaite to go up 6-0 early in the second quarter. Lincoln immediately answered back when Rodriguez scored on a 53-yard run just 37 seconds later and an extra point by Axel Pembele gave it a 7-6 lead.
Alejandro Oregon came up with a big sack on Erasmus Hall’s next drive as Lincoln’s defense looked strong. The next touchdown eventually won the game. Naturally, Lincoln turned to Rodriguez again, and he scored on a six-yard run to go up 13-6 just before the half.
“We knew they would be going to [Rodriguez],” said Erasmus Hall linebacker and Rutgers University commit Deonte Roberts. “We planned all around him, we knew we had to watch out for him, but I guess he just had his day.”
It was an interesting season for the Railsplitters. Coming off of last season’s domination, many players came into the season a bit cocky, and when they suffered two midseason losses (Erasmus Hall and Fort Hamilton), they were devastated. By the end of the year, they used that as motivation for another championship run.
“People thought that we were just going to pack it in, just go away, but we didn’t,” said linebacker Dionte Fleming, who made the final defensive stop two years in a row. “Grand Street thought that they would throw us out of the stadium, E-Hall thought they could run us out of the stadium, but they didn’t.”
Lincoln has now won championships in back-to-back years and four in the school’s history — the most among any Brooklyn high schools. The team is fourth in New York City history, behind Wagner (6) and Curtis (5) high schools in Staten Island and JFK (5) in the Bronx. Rodriguez’s nine playoff touchdowns is tied for the most all-time with Frankie Sinclair, who scored that many in 1993.
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