The wording on the back of the black hooded sweatshirt Jack Martilotta wore during practice on an unseasonably cool Friday morning said it best: “DOING MORE WITH LESS.”
That’s all Martilotta and his players have known since he became head coach of the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team nine years ago. Small roster sizes are a way of life for small-school teams. Greenport (4-4 last year) is no different, so Martilotta isn’t fretting over the fact that he has only 19 players on his team.
“I think it’s a point of pride,” he said. “I mean, among the kids, we have an extremely tight-knit group, and it gives the kids a lot of opportunities. Everybody gets a chance to play everywhere. There are challenges inherent in that, but overall I think it’s great. I think it’s really rewarding.”
That isn’t the only challenge facing 12th-seeded Greenport as it enters the new season Friday night at No. 9 Hampton Bays. The Porters have lost some good players to graduation like Keegan Syron (Hartwick), Jake Skrezec (SUNY/Maritime College) and Mike Goodale. The team has entirely new offensive and defensive lines, with the exception of senior Jon Rodriguez (6-foot-1, 240 pounds).
“In a positive sense, we have kids who have an opportunity to shine,” said Martilotta, whose career record is 18-32. “We won’t be as much of a downhill running team right now because we have different running backs, but we’ve still got a lot of talent in the right places.”
That includes Jordan Fonseca, a senior running back/defensive back who was an All-County second-team choice last year. Fonseca has recently received medical clearance following a high ankle sprain he suffered shortly before the start of training camp. Martilotta is hopeful Fonseca will be able to play Friday night.
“He’s a kid you don’t want to be watching the game,” Martilotta said of Fonseca, who can bring electricity to a game with his dazzling runs. “He’s a special athlete. I feel bad for whoever’s trying to tackle him on the outside. He’s got a lot of moves.”
Sean Sepenoski, a senior who played quarterback last year, has been moved to tight end and linebacker. Ahkee Anderson, a sophomore who played one varsity game last year, takes over as the team’s new starting quarterback. He will also play cornerback. Robbie Lechner, a junior who also plays middle linebacker, will provide blocking on the offensive line.
Also back are wide receiver/cornerback Brandon Clark, linebacker/tight end/fullback Dante Tramontana, guard/fullback/linebacker Mike Jimenez and defensive end/guard/fullback Jadyn Ford. Martilotta said the Porters may play with two fullbacks at times. Josh Sidor will play on special teams and linebacker.
A big addition — literally and figuratively — is Julian Swann, a senior in his first year of football. The 6-5, 270-pound Swann will play tight end and defensive end, and could give opposing teams matchup nightmares.
“I got knocked down by him a couple of times in practice,” Anderson said. “It didn’t feel too good.”
Martilotta said Swann is “just oozing with talent. I mean, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he has hands. He’s got a great attitude. He’s very coachable and he loves the game. You can see he’s totally fallen in love with the game. He loves it, which is good because I think he has the potential to be something special.”
As for the team as a whole, Martilotta likes what he has seen.
“I think that we’re doing well,” he said. “We got some very good skill players. The line is playing well. Our defense is starting to come together as well and, really, I’m very lucky. We have a great group of kids. They’re very coachable and they love the game, and that’s really what you get, too, on a small team. I mean, these kids love football and they’re working hard. I’m really proud of them. I’m happy with where we’re at right now.”
At Friday morning’s practice, Martilotta seemed in his element and happy. “This is the best time of the year,” he said. “This is where I want to be and what I want to do.”
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold/Mattituck senior Jordan Fonseca was an All-County second-team choice last year. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)