football Coach Chris Cesar stressed it the entire game: "One play at a time. Don't get too high. Don't get too low."
And that's exactly how his team responded Thursday in an emotional win over to open the 2012 football season in Oyster Bay.
The victory came one week after former head coach Chris Deeks . Deeks' funeral was Tuesday and he was on the players' minds at game time.
The Blazers got their first points of the year on a 4-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Byron Azizi to sophomore running back Brian Kahen to take a 7-6 second quarter lead.
"I felt like he was there with me on that one," said Kahen, regarding Deeks, his former football and lacrosse coach. "We wanted to go out there and give our best for him."
And that they did, but it wasn't easy.
Trailing 12-6 at halftime, the Blazers pulled ahead in the third quarter on a 35-yard Justin Nessimi run. An Adam Harber extra point made it 14-12.
After falling behind 18-14 late in the fourth quater, an interception by Yair Sarraf gave the Blazers the ball back near midfield.
The game-changing play was followed by a long run by Oliver Elihu, which set up the Blazers near the goal line with about two minutes to play.
A 1-yard plunge by Azizi and a failed extra point try by kicker Adam Haber put the Blazers up for good at 20-18.
With the season-opening victory, Great Neck North matched its win total from last season.
"With this week being one of the toughest weeks we've had and the fact that they stepped up like was phenominal," said Coach Cesar after garnering his first win as the Blazers' head coach.
Principal Bernard Kaplan, on hand for the game at , said the coaches, students and faculty handled a diffucult situation well. He said the team really stuck together.
"I'm really proud of who they are as young men," said Kaplan. "It's been a tough couple of weeks and the kids have really stepped up and helped each other."
Ryan Torres, the mother of North player Michael Torres, said the counseling offered at the school has helped in the wake of the loss of Deeks.
"I didn't see any added pressure," said Torres. "I'm sure the team feels even closer because of it."
Click on the video to see the game-winning drive.Scoring Summary September 6, 2012 1 2 3 4 F Great Neck North 0 7 7 6 20 at St. Dominic 6 6 0 6 18