Another league championship was hardly in the plans.
Paul Ellwood said that when he was handed the reigns as the new coach of the Mattituck High School boys golf team last year by the former coach, Jim Underwood, Underwood apologized for leaving him with such a young team.
No apologies were necessary.
As it turned out, the Tuckers may have had a good degree of turnover (so much so that Newsday predicted a fourth-place finish for them in Suffolk County League VII), but they sure had plenty of talent. Enough so that they went 12-0 as undefeated league champions.
Speaking of his team, which had been 33-3 in the three years preceding last season, Ellwood said, “I don’t know how a 33-3 team can be Cinderella, but I guess we were.”
It was Mattituck’s fourth league title in a row and seventh in 10 years. Not that it came easily, because it didn’t.
“It wasn’t like we blew everybody out,” Ellwood said. “We had a lot of close matches. The 12 and 0 record might have been misleading, but the kids got it done. I think every team in the league had a legitimate chance to beat us.”
Mattituck takes a 45-3 record over the past four years into this season with a deep lineup led by two all-league players, juniors Richie Corazzini and Brad Tyler. At 9-3 in the No. 1 spot, Corazzini had the best record in League VII last year to go with a nine-hole average of 41.45. He is being pushed for the top place in the lineup by Tyler, who went 10-2 with a 43.72 average in the No. 2 spot last year.
And there is more varsity experience back in the form of junior Erik Olsen (47.4 average, 6-4-1 record), sophomore Chris Mauceri (47.4, 8-1-1) and freshman Parker Tuthill, who played mostly exhibition matches last year, but had a low score of 40 in one match.
Meanwhile, six underclassmen are competing for the sixth and final place in the lineup: freshmen Jon Dwyer, Cal Seifert and Andrew Stakey, and eighth-graders Alex Burns, Matt Mauceri and D. J. Gatz.
“We don’t have superstars, but we are pretty strong across the board,” Ellwood said. “Our last two players on any given day could score as much as our first two players.”
Ellwood said Mattituck’s chances of winning the league championship are as good as any other team’s, but something has changed.
“We’re not going to catch any teams by surprise,” he said. “I think teams are going to have an underdog approach against us this year. Now we’re the hunted.”
Greenport/Southold (7-5) has one returning senior, David O’Day. O’Day, the team captain, is the steadiest golfer on a team of young, improving players, said coach Dave Fujita. Fujita likes O’Day’s length off the tee and his ability to put a bad hole behind him. “From a coach’s perspective, Dave is the type of player you would want to build your team around, a steady golfer and a great guy,” said Fujita.
Competing for the No. 2 spot are sophomore Tom Messana and junior Rob Anderson. Both players are capable of shooting in the 30s, said Fujita.
Brian Tuthill, Brendan Walker, Tim Stankewicz, Alex Poliwoda and Liam Walker are also fighting for spots in the six-player lineup.
“The strength of our team is our overall balance,” Fujita said. “What is yet to be seen is whether we have what it takes to beat the better teams. Specifically, we need to be able to get at least two guys shooting low scores and the rest of the team playing steady golf.”