If the Mattituck High School boys golf team is to be dethroned, this might be the year. Maybe.
Returning only two players from its lineup, this might be the year for Mattituck (12-1 last year) to catch its breath and recharge after sharing the Suffolk County League VII title with Eastport-South Manor for a second year in a row and winning the league tournament outright for a third straight year.
“Most teams would be in big trouble losing what we lost,” coach Paul Ellwood said. “We’re super young. It’s a good rebuilding year but we have decent experience at the top.”
The Tuckers are young, not a single senior among them, but Ellwood said the race for the league championship will be “wide open,” and that doesn’t preclude his team. “I think we’re going to be right there,” he said. “The question for us is: Is the back of the order going to be strong enough?”
The top of the lineup will feature junior Matt Sledjeski and sophomore Chris Talbot. They finished last year in the third and fifth positions in the lineup, respectively, with nine-hole averages of 39 and 41. “They’re ready for the challenge of playing at the top of the order,” said Ellwood.
The All-League Sledjeski made the cut to reach the second day of the county tournament. “That was a great experience for him, so we’re looking for him to be a leader this year,” said Ellwood.
“I think Matthew has gotten a little longer and stronger,” he added. “His short game is usually his strength.”
Elwood said Talbot has “played a lot of golf and it shows.”
Brothers Ryan Seifert, a junior, and Matt Seifert, an eighth-grader, will fill the third and fourth slots. Matt Seifert won the North Fork Country Club junior championship, shooting an 81. “He’s going to be a very talented player,” said Ellwood.
Also in the mix are sophomore Parker Shepard, eighth-graders Evan McCaffrey and Connor Fox and juniors Tyler Olsen and Chris Siejka.
Ellwood sounded as if he likes his team’s future. He said, “If you’re going to get us, get us this year because I think after that we’re going to be pretty solid again.”
Greenport/Southold (6-6) is clearly in rebuilding mode, having lost five seniors, including the top three players from last year’s team. The Porters will be led by senior captain Matt Tuthill, who had a nine-hole average of 44.3 and made the All-Suffolk County Tournament Team.
“He’s going to be a great leader for our team,” coach Dave Fujita said. “He’ll set the tone for the younger guys.”
Senior Charlie Campbell and junior Tyler DeFrese are also returning players assuming expanded roles.
“They’re ready for it,” Fujita said of his top three players. “It’s just that they’re going to be playing against the top three players on the other team. There’s no place to hide.”
Jake Dominy, a senior who has been bumped up from the junior varsity team, and senior Liam Mullen fill the fourth and fifth positions. Five others are competing for the three remaining roster spots: junior Max Cichanowicz, freshman Chris Showalter, freshman Matt Mullen (Liam’s brother), freshman Ben Ward and eighth-grader Ryan Palumbo.
“Everybody’s shown improvement,” Fujita said. “We just need to see how it’s going to translate out onto the golf course.”
Photo caption: Mattituck’s All-League junior, Matt Sledjeski, had a nine-hole average of 39 last season. (Credit: Bob Liepa)