With Mike Mangiamele’s graduation, the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team knew it would have a new quarterback this year. What wasn’t so obvious, though, was that the quarterback would be Ryan Malone, who had been the team’s standout running back for the past two years.
With no prior quarterbacking experience, Malone volunteered for the job, and he is getting his shot. Malone, who likes the idea of being in control of the offense and knowing where the ball is going to go before it is snapped, is currently listed as the first-string quarterback.
Malone, a senior who was an all-county choice the past two years and the most valuable player for the Porters last season, appeared stumped when he was asked in an interview on Monday to describe himself as a quarterback. After a delay of a few seconds, he said: “It’s hard to think of myself [as the quarterback]. I’ve always been the running back. Now to think that I’m the quarterback — it’s different.”
Different, indeed. A quarterback needs to know what all his teammates are supposed to do on a particular play. The position involves a good deal of thinking as well as running and throwing. It has kept Malone busy this summer.
“It’s a lot of learning, a lot of absorbing,” he said. “I’m trying to get in as much as I possibly can before the games start. I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I’m trying.”
It helps that Malone is familiar with the offense, which he has known since being brought up to the varsity team as a sophomore. It also helps that he has talented junior Tomasz Filipkowski in the backfield with him. The speedy Filipkowski is the tailback, and also the backup quarterback.
That makes an exciting prospect for Tom Mangiamele, the team’s offensive coordinator and father of the former quarterback.
“Just think,” Tom Mangiamele said, “running the option, you have Ryan Malone coming at you and Filipkowski the pitch man. … You have to account for those two guys. They’re exciting players.”
Both players spent some time behind center Friday night in the team’s purple and gold scrimmage and acquitted themselves well, according to Tom Mangiamele.
“That was the first game-type situation I’ve ever been in at quarterback,” Malone said. “I did well. I’m getting there.”
It is well known that Malone can run the ball, but Tom Mangiamele said the quarterback has a throwing arm too. That makes him a double threat, so the idea is to give Malone opportunities to get to the perimeter.
“If he decides to keep it and he has 10 yards in front of him, he can do anything,” Tom Mangiamele said. “He’ll cut left, he’ll cut right. He has a way of making things happen.”
Asked about his passing, Malone, a left-handed thrower, said: “I’m working on it. It’s a work in progress.”
Rumors had circulated that the Porters would be getting a quarterback from Southampton. “We couldn’t count on it, and it was good we didn’t because it didn’t happen,” said Tom Mangiamele.
So, Malone became the quarterback.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” he said. “I feel like I’m picking it up quickly.”
Malone has gained the confidence of his center, Connor Guditus, who noted that the question of who will quarterback the team was hanging over the Porters’ heads after last season ended.
“It was definitely a question to the whole team because [Mike Mangiamele] was one of the core members of our team and really a good leader and a great quarterback,” Guditus said. “Mike was the quarterback since he was about 7 years old; he was trained to do it. Ryan just found out a few months ago that he was going to be a quarterback, so in a few months, that’s a pretty hard change to make. … It’s definitely not easy moving from running back to quarterback, but if there’s anyone that had to do it on our team, Ryan’s the man to do it because he’s an all-around great athlete.”