When he arrived at the school last year, Ryan Razzano didn’t know anyone on the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School football team. “I knew they had a good quarterback,” he said.
K.J. Santacroce sure was good, good enough to be an All-County player and Mercy’s offensive MVP last year. But Santacroce, one of 18 seniors who the Monarchs lost to graduation, has since taken his talents to Pace University. That leaves his backup, Razzano, inheriting the starting quarterback job as a sophomore. (Santacroce, by the way, was a sophomore when he became Mercy’s starting QB).
Starting sophomore quarterbacks are rarities in high school football. At that age, sophomores are more likely to be sitting on the bench or playing for the junior varsity team.
“We’re fortunate to have him,” Mercy coach Jeff Doroski said of Razzano. “I think he’s in a good place. There’s not a lot of places you can go in the county probably and have an opportunity to be a starting quarterback as a sophomore.”
Razzano recognizes that.
“It’s a great opportunity for me, having a great quarterback like K.J., learning from him and then getting the starting position,” he said after Friday morning’s practice. “It’s a little nerve-racking, but I’m doing the best I can to get ready for the first game and getting ready for the season.”
As Santacroce’s backup last season, Razzano didn’t see much action, taking a few snaps in a couple of games. This year will be a different story, though, as Razzano calls the signals, with junior Max Beyrodt serving as his backup.
With Santacroce’s strong throwing arm and a fine cast of receivers, Mercy didn’t hesitate to put the ball in the air last year. Razzano, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, brings a different look.
Doroski said Santacroce “had a real nice career here for us. He’ll be tough to replace, but we like what we have in Razzano. He’s young. He’s a different type of quarterback than what we had the last couple of years here, but he adds a different element to our offense, so we’re excited to watch him go.”
Razzano, who has participated in a number of football camps, said he considers himself a dual-threat quarterback who can run, too.
Matt Raynor, a senior who plays tight end and linebacker, said he has already developed a chemistry with Razzano.
“He’s good,” Raynor said. “He’s got a good arm. He’s young, but he’s learning. Everything’s a process.”
Doroski said Razzano is athletic and has done well reading defenses.
Mercy, seeded 10th in Suffolk County Division IV, not only lost a lot of players from the 2015 team that reached the playoffs for the third time in four years, but it has precious little experience back. The only returning players who saw substantial playing time last season are running back/linebacker John Viola, offensive lineman/linebacker Joe Luisi and Raynor.
Doroski knows there will be some inevitable bumps along the way for his young quarterback. “From a coaching standpoint,” he said, “you know you’re probably going to have to go through a little bit of growing pains this year, but once we get him going, we’re excited about the future here, too.”
In the meantime, Razzano’s thoughts are on the immediate future.
“You know, it’s a little scary being a sophomore and everything, but all the coaches are doing a great job getting me ready,” he said. “I can’t wait for the first game.”
Photo caption: Ryan Razzano, a sophomore, is Bishop McGann-Mercy’s new starting quarterback. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)