Winning and losing is the cycle of life in high school football. Last season was undeniably a down cycle for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck.
Having graduated 14 players from the previous year, Greenport purple had turned green. The Porters were desperately short on experience. That was reflected in the results and an 0-8 record.
“The real challenge was we had very few kids with any real experience,” coach Jack Martilotta said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “So, it wasn’t that people weren’t trying hard … We got better as the season went on, but it’s hard to take kids who haven’t played and bring them up to the varsity level.”
Martilotta believes Greenport is better positioned now than it was a year ago. For one thing, the Porters lost only three players from last year’s team. The returning players, he said, are a year older, a year wiser and stronger. “I’m expecting our record to be considerably better,” he said.
Greenport has players like quarterbacks Ahkee Anderson and Brandon Clark, tight end/offensive tackle/nose tackle Jude Swann, linebacker/guard Robbie Lechner, running back Tyrus Smiley, fullback/linebacker Colby Suglia and fullback/tight end/outside linebacker Dante Tramontana to help right the ship.
“We’re looking for wins,” Tramontana said, adding: “We don’t want to end up like last season, 0 and 8. We’re trying to get a playoff run. All the people on the varsity last year look back at that and we’re like, ‘That’s not happening again.’ ”
An 0-8 season can be a great motivator.
The Porters were out in the early-morning sun, humidity and heat Tuesday, battling the conditions in the aim of getting better.
“A lot of sweating, but it’s nice to get back at it,” Suglia said. “I think we might get ahead of some teams. We’re working hard, so we may be in better shape than most teams. Now we just got to push ourselves.”
About 45 players have come out for the varsity and junior varsity teams. Martilotta is happy with the turnout for preseason practice, which started Monday, yet hopeful more players will report in the coming days. “I think we’re in a good spot,” he said. “I think the program’s growing and it’s what you want to see.”
Training camp is when much of the vital hard work is done, setting the foundation for the season to come.
“I look forward to it,” Tramontana said. “This is one of my favorite times of the year because it just means we’re getting back to football.”
A positive sign that Martilotta noticed last year was that even as the losses mounted up later in the season, the approach on the practice field remained the same.
“Last year we didn’t win a lot, but the kids played hard,” he said. “If you’re going to teach a young man anything, you know, life’s not always going to go your way, but you got to keep plugging away at it and we did and we got much better, and I think that we’re going to see that this year. That’s a real measure of character.”
The Porters sound as if they’re ready to leave 0-8 in their rearview mirror and look ahead to bigger and better things in 2018.
“We got a lot more assets, I guess,” Suglia said, comparing this year’s team to last year’s squad. “We got a lot more athletic kids and they’re ready to go.”
As for 0-8, he said, “We don’t want to that to happen again.”
Photo caption: Jon Montgomery-Medina, right, participating in a blocking drill during Tuesday morning’s practice. (Credit: Bob Liepa)