All the signs are pointing in a positive direction for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football team. Perhaps the biggest indicator of all, though, is the senior-rich roster the Porters take into the new season.
By coach Jack Martilotta’s count, his team has 16 seniors, and he knows only too well how valuable seniors can be to a football team.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “You see it every year; teams that are successful, they have seniors. There’s no substitute for experience; there just isn’t.”
That’s a big plus for a team that went 0-8 last year and lost 13 consecutive games. The Porters, seeded 13th among 14 teams in Suffolk County Division IV, haven’t tasted a win since September of 2011 when they defeated Stony Brook. That was a while ago. They hope to snap that losing streak Thursday night when they host No. 14 Wyandanch in their season opener.
“We’re looking to improve a lot,” said Martilotta, who takes a 6-19 record into his fourth year. “We’re hoping to turn this around. These young men have put in the time. I’m hoping they’re going to get the wins that they want.”
Physically more mature, with what may be one of the biggest lines in the division, the Porters lost only one starting position to graduation. Frank Sierra, their workhorse running back and linebacker, is back for his senior season. Sierra, an all-county pick, was the team’s leading rusher with 540 yards from 155 carries and 2 touchdowns. Defensively, he made 16 tackles, including 2 sacks.
In addition, the Porters have three all-division seniors in wide receiver/defensive back Gene Allen, fullback/linebacker Connor Andersen and lineman John Bakowski.
Allen contributed to last year’s team in almost every way possible. As a quarterback, he completed 23 of 36 passes for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 76 times for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. As a receiver, he caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, he made 28 tackles, intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.
Sal Loverde, a versatile senior who can play tight end, wide receiver and defensive end, led the team in tackles with 45.
Cody Fischer, Willie Riggins and Geb Sierra, Franks’s brother, are part of the big line. Other notable upperclassmen are: quarterback/ linebacker Matt Drinkwater, linebacker John Drinkwater, defensive back/wide receiver Christian Angelson, defensive back Jack Volinski, wide receiver/defensive back Timmy Stevens, linebacker Tyshe Williams, running back Billy McAllister, linemen Joe Salice, Jared Tramatana and Adam Goode, and quarterback Jared Schenone.
Schenone, a senior, started a couple of games as a sophomore, but hasn’t played since 2011. He sat out last season with a wrist injury. Over the summer Schenone suffered a ruptured appendix, and he is awaiting medical clearance to practice. In the meantime, Martilotta said, Matt Drinkwater (21 of 68, 278 yards, 2 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) will be the starting quarterback.
Connor Malone, a senior wide receiver/defensive back who took a year off from football, is back. The line will be fortified by the addition of Owen Finnegan, a senior center who transferred from Bishop McGann-Mercy, and Joe O’Brien, who missed the entire 2012 season because of a bout with mononucleosis.
“Last year was tough,” Martilotta said. “There’s no way around it, and a lot of those games were close, which made it tougher.”
“It’s like any organization, you need people with experience,” he continued. “In the past, we asked young men — very young men — to do difficult things.”
This year youth shouldn’t be a problem for the Porters.