Keegan Syron and Jake Skrezec have different physiques and playing styles, but they both share a common trait: toughness. That toughness will enable both Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football players to take their game to the collegiate level.
The two Greenport High School seniors, both three-year varsity players for the Porters, have committed to play for NCAA Division III teams this coming fall. Syron is headed to Hartwick College while Skrezec will play for SUNY/Maritime College.
Syron, an all-county player last season, will play middle linebacker and the all-conference Skrezec will be a running back.
“It’s going to be sad leaving Greenport,” Syron said Tuesday during a photo ceremony at Greenport High School attended by parents of both players, Porters coach Jack Martilotta and Greenport athletic director Chris Golden. “I had a lot of fun here, but it’s going to be exciting to go on.”
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Syron had his heart set on playing college football following his junior season, when he hit the weight room hard.
“Keegan spent the time in the weight room, you know, and that’s really helped him immensely, especially the way he plays the game,” Martilotta said. “He plays nose first, and to do that, you got to have some muscle behind it and that really helped him out. He was a tackling machine last year. We’re going to miss that.”
Syron said he had also considered Ithaca, Massachusetts and Dartmouth before picking Hartwick. Hartwick already has a former Porter on its roster in wide receiver Gene Allen as well as former Bishop McGann-Mercy wide receiver Liam Martin.
“It’s a really nice college town,” Syron said. “It looked like the best option.”
Syron, who ran for 12 touchdowns last season, said offseason training brought him to this stage, but he has more work to do. “I just got to improve on everything,” he said. “It’s a whole other level at college. You got to work on your speed, your agility. You got to get everything better.”
Skrezec (6-0, 180) was the third generation of Skrezecs to play for the Porters. His grandfather, Whitey Skrezec, was a co-captain and an All-Long Island guard in the early 1950s, and his father, Kip, quarterbacked the team in the early 1970s.
Jake Skrezec has blazing speed to go with his athleticism. Kip Skrezec said his son can do a backflip from a unicycle while wearing his football equipment and land on his feet, a feat that Jake acknowledged is true.
“Jake’s fast, so fast kids you’re going to keep out there and let them run,” said Martilotta.
And that’s what the Porters did. Skrezec was on the field a lot, playing wide receiver, running back, cornerback and safety as well as returning kickoffs and punts.
“Jake has got that God-given speed,” Martilotta said. “That doesn’t come around too often. As you saw with him, he can just turn a corner and he’d be gone.”
Unlike Syron, Skrezec didn’t decide he wanted to play college ball until after his senior season.
“I had good years here,” he said. “I really like football now so I want to play on the next level.”
Skrezec said his time with the Porters was “just a lot of fun, a lot of good memories, good guys.”
Golden said, “Jake and Keegan playing football at the college level is a testament to the amount of time and effort each have put forth to reach the next level.”
The two helped Greenport to a 4-4 record last year.
“Between the two of them, a lot of our success this season rests on those shoulders over there,” Martilotta said. He added: “I’m really proud of them. They’ve both put in a lot of work over the years. I’ve had these young men on my team since they were maybe 13, so it was really great to see them grow up and become men and move on to the next step. Being able to play athletics in college is a real honor and I’m really glad that they’re going to experience it.”
Photo caption: Jake Skrezec, left, and Keegan Syron were joined at a photo ceremony Tuesday with, standing from left, Skrezec’s parents, Allison and Kip, Greenport/Southold/Mattituck coach Jack Martilotta and Syron’s father, Bob. (Credit: Bob Liepa)