The hope at Greenport High School these days is that winning can beget more winning, even if it means winning at another level.
Greenport/Southold/Mattituck opted not to field a varsity football team this past spring when teams played after the 2020 fall season was postponed in light of the pandemic. Low numbers and a lack of returning varsity experience were cited as the reasons. Instead, the Porters fielded a junior varsity team that, lo and behold, not only went 4-0, but won games in impressive fashion. And this was after the varsity Porters struggled through a dreadful 0-8 season in 2019.
Who saw that coming?
“Yeah, it was a big shock,” Danny Breen, a senior who will kick and punt as well as play linebacker and running back, said after Tuesday morning’s practice. He added, “We’ve got confidence now that we can actually win games.”
Now the question is, what will the Porters do this fall when they return to varsity action? JV results don’t necessarily translate into varsity results.
Having said that, winning breeds confidence, and the Porters sound confident.
That confidence is built on a foundation, too, that includes senior-dominated offensive and defensive lines, a promising transfer quarterback and 14 seniors.
The Porters are seeded 10th among the 12 Suffolk County Division IV teams, with only Wyandanch and Hampton Bays below them. Greenport will open the season with a home game Sept. 10 against Wyandanch.
“Last year was a springboard into this year, especially being that we only played football 12 weeks ago,” said new varsity head coach Tim McArdle, who coached the JV team in the spring and was the varsity defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019. “So you know a lot of the offense and a lot of the stuff that I put in last year is carrying straight over into this year, especially having a very similar group with a couple of additions. It’s definitely a huge benefit for us.”
Still, senior tight end Hunter Anderson is trying to keep things in perspective. “It’s looking pretty good for now,” he said. “We just need to keep our heads out of the clouds and keep moving forward. Last season was last season. It’s a new beginning, varsity [is] a whole new level.”
As of Tuesday, the Porters had 21 varsity players and 18 for the JV team, said McArdle. Eleven varsity players remain from the 2019 team.
Junior quarterback Gavin Richards transferred from Riverhead to Greenport for the last school year and has shown leadership and ability.
“I can see why [McArdle is] so excited because everyone seems dedicated and ready to play,” Richards said. “And the energy of practice is the main thing. Everyone’s energy is high at practice. I’m excited for this year. I think we’re gonna do good.”
McArdle said: “Having those senior leaders on the offensive line is huge. That’s the way you win high school football games.”
Then he offered a cautionary note about a lack of depth. “We got a lot of pieces,” he said, “but we’re one or two injuries away from not having a lot of pieces.”
Diego Giron, entering his third varsity season, is grateful to have the opportunity to play his senior year.
“This is my last year of high school,” said Giron, who plays linebacker, fullback and right guard. “I’m going to be enjoying every single moment.”