Beloved Wantagh assistant football coach Tony Carter dies at 57


Longtime Wantagh High School football assistant coach and Winthrop Hospital healthcare worker Tony Carter died April 14 from complications of Covid-19.

Carter, a Uniondale resident who was diagnosed with coronavirus March 30, was 57 years old and leaves behind his wife Yolanda, son Idris, and daughter Sabriyah.

Carter, who was Westbury’s head coach for a portion of the 1990s, served as Wantagh’s defensive coordinator for 18 seasons under head coach Keith Sachs and worked in the dialysis unit at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola for more than 30 years.

“He was like a brother to me and I’m just heartbroken,” Sachs said. “He loved kids. They loved him. He was just an awesome guy.”

Carter, who played football at Uniondale High School, Nassau Community College and the University of New Mexico, was hospitalized two days before testing positive and spent more than a week on a ventilator. For 20 years he battled Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that mostly affects lung function.  

Sachs said he first met Carter about 25 years ago in a flag football league. They played on different sides for a few years before their friendship led them to become teammates.

The Warriors won two county championships with Carter on staff, plus the Long Island Class III title in 2016 over East Islip. That postseason, Wantagh allowed only 14 points in four games under Carter’s guidance.

“Tony was my go-to guy and had a great football mind,” Sachs said. “He always had the right words and vision to keep things in perspective.”

For the past four years, Carter found himself coaching against his son, who was Roosevelt’s starting quarterback for the past three seasons. In 2019, Wantagh topped the Rough Riders in the regular-season finale and won an overtime thriller the following week in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It’s hard to coach against your own son and find a way to avoid any conflict, and Tony managed to do that for four years,” Sachs said. “He was a man of strong convictions. We played against Idris seven times in four years. After every game, there were plenty of hugs and tears to go around.”

Roosevelt football head coach Joe Vito had the pleasure of knowing Carter for about 15 years as Idris played PAL youth football in town. “Tony was a very caring guy,” Vito said. “He impacted many kids in the Roosevelt and Wantagh communities.”

Idris is also a standout on the baseball diamond and will play at the next level at Stony Brook University.

Elmont football head coach Jay Hegi has known the Carter family for many years, as Idris played summer league baseball with his twin sons, Matt and Ryan. “Tony was a good friend of mine,” Hegi said. “We were closest during the summer because our boys played travel baseball together. He was soft-spoken and always positive. He was a special person, and he’ll be missed.”