Some things never seem to change.
Count the pursuit of the Suffolk County League VII boys golf championship among them.
Once again, a two-horse race is expected between Mattituck and Eastport-South Manor. The teams shared the league title in 2015 for the second time in three years. More than that, though, one or the other of the golfing rivals — and sometimes both of them — have been the League VII champions for at least the past 16 years, according to Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood.
That stretch may be extended to 17 years.
“I think it’s going to come down to our two matches with Eastport,” said Ellwood, referring to matches against the Sharks on Sept. 21 at North Fork Country Club and Oct. 17 at Pine Hills Golf & Country Club.
The teams split their two meetings last year, each winning on the other team’s home course.
Mattituck (13-1 last year) is coming off a brilliant season in which it won the League VII Qualifying Tournament for the second year in a row, posting a tournament record score of 397 on the par-73, 18-hole course at Cherry Creek Golf Links. Eastport (11-1) was the runner-up, two strokes behind.
For the season, Mattituck had a 197 team average, its lowest in at least 15 years, said Ellwood, who called it the best golf team he has coached.
This year’s team has a chance to do some big things, too. Seniors Alex Burns (14-0, 39.69 nine-hole average), Ryan McCaffrey (11-2, 41.07) and Brendan Kent (10-1-1, 41.33) were All-League performers and all qualified for the county tournament, finishing in the top eight in the League VII Tournament. Another senior, Matt Mauceri (13-0, 42.46), is a returning lineup player as well. Seniors Ryan Shuford (9-1, 43.58) and Tyler Seifert are also back.
And then there are the newcomers. “I have some good, new talent coming in,” said Ellwood.
Sophomore Matt Sledjeski and freshman Chris Talbot were the top players on the junior varsity team last year. Another sophomore, Ryan Seifert (Tyler’s younger brother), could find a spot in the starting six.
“The story for us is going to be the depth in the back of the lineup that no one else has,” said Ellwood.
Ellwood said Burns is the team’s No. 1 player, but with “everyone else, all the positions are interchangeable. Any day I write the lineup down, I doubt the scores will come back one through six. On any given day, any one of them could have the lowest score of the day.”
On the cusp of the new season, Bobby Van Mater is Greenport/Southold’s most consistent player. A senior in his fourth year on the team, the All-League golfer with a strong short game averaged about 41 per nine holes in 2015.
“Bobby is doing well,” coach Dave Fujita said. “I’m hoping he’s going to average below 40. He has the potential. He can shoot par on any given day.”
The good news for Greenport/Southold (6-6) is that Van Mater isn’t the only golfer who can have a big day. “My top four players all have the potential to break 40,” said Fujita.
That includes senior Jack Webster, senior Charlie Poliwoda and junior Matt Tuthill. Another junior, Charlie Campbell, also returns.
New to the team are: seniors Joe Saporita and Doug Fiedler, junior Jake Dominy, sophomores Tyler DeFrese and sophomore Emiliann Palermo, and freshman Felicia Kayel.
Fujita said his veteran players have had a positive impact in more ways than one. “They know what they’re supposed to do when they get up to the course,” he said. “I think their leadership helps with developing the younger golfers. I’ve already seen improvement over the past couple of weeks.”