It just took one incredible season in Colonial green for Deontae Sykes to make an indelible mark on William Floyd football history.
The senior student-athlete is the first Floyd player to win Suffolk’s Rob Burnett Award, presented to the county’s top defensive player. He also earned All-State, First Team, honors.
And he did it in his one and only season playing for one of Suffolk’s most storied football programs. Sykes, a defensive end who recorded 59 tackles and a whopping 14 sacks this fall, originally attended Riverhead High School.
But district budget cuts forced Riverhead to cancel its 2020 fall football season (which was played by the rest of Suffolk’s high schools last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic), so Sykes did not play his junior year.
Riverhead returned to action this fall, but Sykes and his family decided that moving into the Floyd community and playing for legendary head coach Paul Longo was the best choice for his academic and athletic future.
“My experience playing as a Colonial was tremendous,” Sykes said. “But it was a lot of pressure playing on a team that has won 13 Suffolk County Championships. With the help of the amazing coaching staff and my teammates, it became a lot easier to play the game.”
Sykes, who at 6-foot-1 and 265 pounds runs a 4.9 40-yard dash, plans to study marketing or information technology in college and continuing to play football. The school district said Sykes and his family are weighing multiple athletic scholarship offers.
Sykes expressed how it was an honor to learn from Longo, the all-time winningest public school coach in Suffolk County history and a newly-minted member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame.
“When I first talked to him, it seemed like I knew him for years and that’s rare to find in someone. He’s more than just a coach,” Sykes said. “Once you get to know him, you realize that he is an amazing individual on the field, as well as off it.”
Coach Longo shared a similar sentiment regarding his star defensive player.
“Deontae was a dominant defensive end,” he said. “He was an excellent team player that would play any position asked of him. The great thing about Deontae is he is as good a young man as he is a football player.
Six of Sykes’ teammates joined him on the All-State team: Dylan Harris and Jayson Thomas (Second Team); Brian Benson, Ryan Amato and Sonny Mayo (Fourth Team); and Mike Turner (Sixth Team).
Photos: Courtesy of William Floyd School Dsitrict.