Preseason training camp isn’t easy. Then again, that’s the point.
Football is a rough sport, and preparing for a new season is hard work.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” said Jack Martilotta, who is in his second year as head coach of the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team. “It’s very hard. It’s a lot of conditioning, but football is a difficult sport, and we have a hard schedule. We certainly don’t do any of this for the sake of doing it. We’re doing it to make them better football players.”
Every sprint, every drill, every exercise has a purpose. For the Porters, the larger picture is to prepare for the rigors of a demanding Suffolk County Division IV schedule. As the sixth-seeded team among Division IV’s 14 schools, the Porters will face the division’s top five ranked teams. They will play tough squads like the Babylon Panthers, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats, the Elwood/John Glenn Knights, the Amityville Warriors and the Mount Sinai Mustangs.
That is their reward for reaching the postseason for the second year in a row in 2010. The Porters finished the regular season in fifth place in the division before falling to Mount Sinai, 41-19, in a division qualifying round game. They finished with a 5-4 record.
The Porters were back at square one last Thursday, when they started preseason practice, getting ready for another season.
“It’s rough, getting up at 5:30 in the morning and coming out here to run every day,” Tomasz Filipkowski, a junior linebacker and tailback, said after Tuesday morning’s practice session at Greenport High School. “It’s a real challenge. It’s pretty tough. Sprints are hard. Up and downs are hard.”
Training camp is vital, though. Some consider it the most important part of the football season.
“It’s really important because it determines the rest of your season,” said Filipkowski.
Ryan Malone, a senior who is projected to play quarterback and linebacker, will enter his third varsity season. He has been through training camps before and knows what they are about.
“It’s always going to be tough,” he said. “That’s the point of this, to get in shape, to push us to the limit.”
The clock is ticking, too. With the Sept. 9 date for the kickoff to their season in Babylon edging closer and closer, the pressure is on to get players in game shape, have positions defined, and offensive, defensive and special-teams packages installed. For their part, players must make sure they rest and hydrate between training sessions.
“They got to take care of themselves when they’re not here,” Martilotta said. “And when they’re here, I always tell them, the more that they put out here, the better off they’ll be in the game. Everything they do, we need a hundred-percent effort.”
While the Porters made a name for themselves last year, they also lost 15 players to graduation. Talents such as Yianni Rauseo, Mike Mangiamele and Tyler McNeil are gone.
“A kid like Yianni Rauseo is very difficult to replace,” Martilotta said. “A kid like Mike Mangiamele is very difficult to replace. You graduate that many kids, some things have to change.”
The most obvious change could be at quarterback, where Malone is expected to be Mangiamele’s successor. Malone, who was an all-county running back the last two years, could see his old position filled by Filipkowski, a seemingly tireless runner. Chris Schantz, meanwhile, has been moved off the line to fullback and linebacker.
“It will be the same as any other season,” Malone said. “It’s new people filling new spots.”
Martilotta said: “We still got speed. My expectations and the other coaches’ expectations of these kids are still very high, and we’re going to do everything we can to meet those expectations.”
Martilotta has been encouraged by the presence in camp of over 60 players. The Porters will need every bit of help they can get as the No. 6 seed, and all that entails.
“It’s really what the other coaches think we’re going to be able to do,” Martilotta said. “One of our goals was to be a better team, and by the end of last season we were a better team than Greenport had had in a while, and I think that’s reflected in the rankings. It’s harder. Our schedule is going to be harder, there’s no question about it, but it’s also the price we pay for improving. We have a tougher schedule, but everybody thinks we have a better team. Hopefully, we’re going to prove them right.”
On the other side of the coin, because of their seeding and difficulty of schedule, wins would bring the Porters more power-rating points than they would receive as a lower seed.
What transpires in training camp could go a long way toward determining what type of a season the Porters will have.
“We lost a lot of seniors, but we have some pretty good kids,” Schantz said. “We have some kids who have been working really hard in the offseason. We’ll see what comes out of it. You just got to work real hard, stick with it and you just got to have your heart in it, otherwise it’s not going to work out for you.”
Filipkowski had words of advice for younger teammates trying to find their way: “Work as hard as you can, sprint as hard as you can, do everything a million miles per hour, and you’ll do fine.”