An oddity in the scheduling this year has the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team playing all four of its regular-season home games consecutively, sandwiched between two road games to start the season and two road games to conclude the regular season.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze in another game or two” after that, said Porters Coach Jack Martilotta.
He was referring to the playoffs, of course. The Porters reached the playoffs last year, Martilotta’s first in charge of the team. They ran into the tough Mount Sinai Mustangs in a Suffolk County Division IV qualifying round game and lost, 41-19, putting an end to a 5-4 season.
But 15 seniors on that Porters team have since moved on. Regardless, the Porters are seeded sixth among the division’s 14 teams, and with that show of respect comes a demanding schedule. Starting with Friday night’s season opener against the Babylon Panthers, the Porters will face some strong teams, including Mount Sinai, the defending county champion Elwood/John Glenn Knights and the Amityville Warriors.
“That’s kind of scary, man,” said Martilotta.
Some might consider a schedule like that daunting; Martilotta sees it as a challenge. “We played well [last year], and quite frankly I expect the same this year,” he said.
Offering his thoughts on what would constitute a successful season, Martilotta used the “P” word, saying he would like to see the Porters reach the playoffs for a third straight year.
“I’d like to go far,” he said. “I’d like to make it deeper than last year.”
It would be with a largely new crew, however, and a different setup, the most obvious change being at quarterback. Ryan Malone is the new QB, but hardly a new player for the Porters. The previous two years he was an all-county running back.
With the graduation of quarterback Mark Mangiamele, an all-county player in his own right who was the team’s most valuable player last year, Malone will be taking the snaps from center.
“We thought about it over the winter,” Tom Mangiamele, the offensive coordinator, said. “He just seemed like he might be a good fit. He’s been an all-county player since he was a sophomore. He’s a natural leader.”
Malone, a senior with no previous experience at the position, has been working on his passing with one of the assistant coaches, Fred Stroh, and it is said to be progressing nicely.
“His passing’s looking good,” Connor Guditus, who plays center and defensive end, said. “He’s not used to being a quarterback, I don’t think, but he’s an all-around good athlete. He’s pretty confident that he can run it and throw it, too.”
Having Malone play quarterback presents a different dynamic. In addition to running with the ball or passing it, Malone will also have the option of handing it off to senior Tomasz Filipkowski, an all-division player who takes over at tailback and brings possibly even more speed to the position than Malone did.
The Porters can also turn to Chris Schantz, an all-league senior fullback/linebacker.
Mark Proferes, a junior lineman, and Bill Bishop, a senior tight end/defensive end, were both starters last year.
Three seniors — safety Zach Apleskog, wide receiver Nick Lentini and Guditus — are the only other players with prior varsity experience.
“It will be the same as any other season,” Malone said. “It’s new people filling new spots.”
Schantz said: “We lost a lot of seniors, but we have some pretty good kids. We have some kids who have been working really hard in the off-season. We’ll see what comes out of it.”
Martilotta has been encouraged that the Porters have been fundamentally sound in practice. “We’ve got some good athletes and I think we’ve got them in good positions, which we’ve been happy about,” he said. “Now I’m hoping it all comes together over the next week or so. That’s always the hope.”
Malone sounded eager for the opening-night kickoff.
“We’ve been waiting for this day since the season ended,” he said. “It’s been a long winter leading up to this.”