Catch linebacker Liam McIntyre on TV?
The six-foot, 205-pound Long Island University freshman, a former Westhampton Beach multi-sport standout who was also last year’s Carl A. Hansen Award winner — presented to Suffolk County’s best football player — swam with his Sharks on the road at South Dakota State University September 7. The game was broadcast live on ESPN3.
“Going out for my first college game was a crazy feeling,” McIntyre said. “We played at South Dakota State, who has a really big stadium, so playing there felt like something out of a dream.”
His Northeast Conference team fell 38-3 in its Division I debut. The Sharks returned just nine after losing 22 players — 20 to graduation and two to transfers — but signed 35 to help grow the program. McIntyre, one of 15 from Long Island, is a key freshman at the heart of the tank. He directed the defensive efforts in Saturday’s loss, totaling eight tackles and recording the lone LIU sack in his collegiate debut.
“South Dakota is the number three team in the country, so I think our team played very well and battled the entire game,” McIntyre said. “Whether or not the score reflected it, there was a lot of positives to pull from that game. And as for me personally, I just tried to do my job — ball out on every play and prove that I belonged on that field.”
“I thought we hung in there pretty tough defensively,” LIU head coach Bryan Collins added. “It’s good for a young program to see what the top of the mountain is, and I think South Dakota State certainly is the top of the mountain, so it was a good experience for our program.”
The freshman said, in the beginning of the game, the nerves took over.
“I didn’t feel like myself,” McIntyre said. “But once I got comfortable, I started flying around the field and felt like I was right back on the Westhampton turf doing what I always do.”
It’s no surprise to locals. McIntyre led Westhampton to two undefeated regular seasons and Division III titles. He boasted a 33-3 record over his career as a three-year starter with the Hurricanes, including a 22-game win streak snapped in the final game of his high school career. McIntyre had made 107 tackles, including 42 solos, six sacks, and 13 for a loss his senior year. He also ran between the tackles for 913 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Westhampton head football coach Bryan Schaumloffel streamed the game to watch with his former standout with his family.
“It was something I looked forward to all day,” Schaumloffel said. “I was really excited for Liam. I know his family and community were, too. He has a big following. And he stepped up. The Football Championship Subdivision is a much different level than high school football, and I know Liam is up to the challenge. He’s worked really hard for this. He represented Long Island University, Westhampton, and all of Long Island well, and I expect him to have a great career.”
McIntyre also finished a six-year wrestling career boasting a 171-37 record, setting a new record-high in wins at Westhampton. He capped of his senior season ranking second in the state, became the first to earn an All-American nod. He was a two-time Suffolk County champion who was also the first to start the varsity team as a seventh-grader and first to earn six All-League titles.
Practices have been tough, according to the freshman, who said the fast pace creates a high-intensity atmosphere. To counter that, he utilizes mental preparation strategies former Westhampton wrestling head coach Paul Bass taught him.
“It’s all about relaxation and visualization — being able to get off your feet and get your mind away from the game to keep the nerves away,” McIntyre said. “And when going to sleep, visualizing being in the big moment and making big plays, so when you get there in real life, you feel like you’ve been there before.”
McIntyre’s father, Bob, played outside linebacker for the college, known then as C.W. Post, from 1986 to 1988. McIntyre’s mother also went to C.W. Post.
“I don’t think so much about how my parents went to school here, I just think about how much time and effort they’ve given me my whole life,” McIntyre said, “and I just continue to try and make them proud.”