(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)
Stacey Bedell (No. 21) has rushed for at least 100 yards in all three home games so far this season. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

Stacey Bedell has come back home. The Mastic Beach, N.Y. native came back to Long Island after two years at the University of Massachusetts to play for the Seawolves.

“I adapted well to everything. The players and coaches treated me like family,” Bedell said.

Bedell spent two years at UMass after being recruited out of William Floyd High School and only put in one full season. He played in two games as a true freshman, but a broken collarbone on the third play of his third game against Indiana sidelined him for the rest of the 2012 season.

He made his first collegiate start at Big 10-power Wisconsin on Aug. 31, 2013, carrying the ball 19 times for 70 yards. He then played another big-time school, Kansas State, in the “Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kan., and played well again. This time, he rushed 23 times for 81 yards and adding a touchdown.

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“That was a great experience for me to play to be able to play in that environment,” he said.

The team only mustered two wins in his two seasons at UMass, and after his second year, it was time to come home.

“I felt like it was a better fit for me to come back home. This was the only (transfer) option for me and my parents were behind me,” the Health Science major said.

It was not just his parents that supported him in the endeavor. Bedell now has 20-30 family members come to each game, and they have not been disappointed. Bedell has rushed for at least 100 yards in all three games played at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, and has scored a touchdown in two of them, including the go-ahead score with 1:12 remaining in the Homecoming game against William & Mary.

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These games have not been the first time that the Bedell family has come to see him play at LaValle. He played here twice as a sophomore in high school and once as a senior. In the Suffolk County Championship game in 2009, Bedell rushed 12 times for 170 yards along with a pair of touchdowns. Then, in 2011, he singlehandedly brought his team and legendary coach Paul Longo the Long Island Championship, rushing for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 54-47 victory over East Meadow.

That performance capped off an amazing senior season for Bedell, who finished with 2,562 yards rushing, fifth most in Long Island history and 39 touchdowns as a senior. Those numbers led him to share the Hansen Award, which is given to the top player(s) on Long Island each season.

Longo is considered one of the legends of Long Island high school football, recording 221 wins and five Long Island Championships.

“He’s an amazing coach and helped me with recruiting and made me a better player. I thank him for everything,” Bedell said.

Coming out of high school, Stony Brook was actually on Bedell’s list. But he instead chose the bigger program.

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“This was my first offer coming out of high school, and it came on my dad’s birthday,” Bedell said.

His family has also gotten to see a bigger workload in the hands of the sophomore running back.

Last year with the Minutemen, Bedell averaged 11.6 yards per carry. In his first four games with the Seawolves, sitting out the game at North Dakota, he has averaged 18 carries per game.

“It’s a big adjustment, but that’s what I worked hard in the offseason for,” he said.

Bedell has been coming to games at LaValle long before he played in them. He would come to games with his dad, and then was able to watch his cousin, Edwin Gowins, play as a running back from 2008-2010. He was able to feel the elation that his family now enjoys watching one of their own play football at the highest level. From his family members, to the fans, there’s only one thing left to say:

Welcome home, Stacey. Welcome home.

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