A surefire way to tell if there is something wrong with the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team this season would be to look at the sideline. If Ryan Malone is standing there or sitting on the bench, observing the action on the field, something is seriously wrong.
Malone is a vital part of the Porters’ plans for this coming season, whether it be as a running back or linebacker. “And you can’t forget his punt returns and kickoff returns, too,” said offensive coordinator Tom Mangiamele.
A player of his quality is too valuable not to use, and the Porters’ coaching staff knows it.
“He’s really looking great,” Coach Jack Martilotta said. “We expected big things from him, and we still do. He delivers. He’s a football player.”
In retrospect, it’s kind of funny to consider that it was about a year ago when assistant coaches had to lobby the team’s former head coach, Jim Anderson, to pull Malone up from the junior varsity to the varsity team. But Anderson did, and then watched as Malone proceeded to have quite a sophomore season for himself. Malone more than showed that he belonged at the varsity level, and could have been considered the team’s best player. He quickly made a name for himself in Suffolk County Division IV, running for close to 900 yards and putting up four 100-plus-yard games.
Malone’s best game came in a 39-28 win at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School. He galloped for 195 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yarder on the Porters’ first play from scrimmage. Malone’s first carry of the second half covered 70 yards.
In recognition of his standout season, Malone was selected to the all-county team.
“I was expecting to play JV last year, so just getting on the varsity team and being able to play up there was more than I thought I was going to do,” said Malone, a Mattituck resident who stated that he feels better prepared for this season because he knows what varsity football is like.
But what is past is past for Malone. “I’m never satisfied with what I did last year,” he said. “You can never be satisfied. You have to go bigger, go better, go harder.”
When Martilotta coached Malone on his JV team, he knew the Porters had a special talent in their camp. “He was unstoppable at the JV level,” Martilotta said. “He was head and shoulders above everyone else on JV.”
Not only is Malone exceptionally quick, but Martilotta said, “He gets up to top speed in two steps, and he stops on a dime.”
In addition, Malone is also regarded as an excellent tackler on defense.
“He has good instincts, and with his skills, he can make up for a lot of mistakes, too, especially on defense,” Mangiamele said. “He’s fast, he gets back into coverage. He gets up and he lays the wood on people.”
Football may be in Malone’s genes. His late grandfather, Kevin Malone, played running back for the College of Holy Cross (Mass.) and coached a Rutgers Trophy-winning North Babylon team.
“I try to just go as hard as I can every single play and try to get everyone else to do the same,” said Malone, who will be one of the team’s captains. “I really don’t have any individual goals, just do better than I did last year.”
What is Malone’s favorite aspect of football? Well, that’s simple.
“Winning,” he said. “The feeling that you get when everything is rolling perfectly, there are no speed bumps. That is the best part.”