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Football: Tramontana anchors defense for Porters team that will face brutal schedule

Miller Place. Mount Sinai. Elwood/John Glenn. Babylon. Kings Park.

Yikes!

All of them are tough opponents, to say the least. It will be difficult for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football team to somehow pry a win from any of those five teams this year. As for the other three opponents on its regular-season schedule, Center Moriches, Port Jefferson and Hampton Bays can’t be easily scratched off as automatic wins, either.

It’s a daunting schedule. One might even call it brutal.

“It’s the hardest schedule we’ve ever had, the toughest schedule in my 11 years here,” coach Tim McArdle said after Tuesday morning’s practice at Greenport High School.

How does one approach a schedule like that?

“You know, we put our best foot forward,” McArdle said. “You know, we play every game to win and we prepare every game to win, and you know, you try to find the best things in each game. You talk up those points and you learn from your mistakes and you carry it over into the next game. You got to prepare for winning. If you’re not prepared to win, what are you doing?”

Facing a schedule like that, the Porters can be grateful to have a player like Jay Tramontana on their side. Tramontana is coming off a monster junior season as a defensive end who wreaked destruction on opposing lines and also was a big plus as a fullback or tight end on offense. “He probably was our most impactful player on defense,” said McArdle.

It was a season of numerous quarterback pressures, numerous sacks and numerous tackles for losses for Tramontana.

“Defensively, he had a great season,” McArdle said. “I mean, he was a force to be reckoned with on the edge. I think teams actively tried to stay away from him. I mean, he’s got a great bull rush, you know. He could take a tackle right into the backfield.”

Quarterback Michael DeNicola follows the blocking of running back Carlos Rodriguez. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

Sophomore Michael DeNicola, last year’s junior varsity quarterback, saw enough of Tramontana to describe him as the “Aaron Donald of high school.” Said DeNicola:”His work ethic is 110 percent every time he’s on the field. He works hard. He comes here. He wants to go D-I. I think he can do it.”

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Tramontana earned all-division recognition for his efforts and apparently caught the eye of Stony Brook University — Division I Stony Brook University. Tramontana said he had been in contact with Stony Brook’s defensive coordinator.

“I would love to play college football,” he said. “I’ve been watching football for my whole life and I’ve been playing it for a while, too, so I’d love to go and make that next step.”

Tramontana is entering his third varsity season. He also played during the condensed spring season of 2021 when GSM fielded only a JV team after the normal 2020 season was wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As effective as Tramontana was as a skill-position player on offense, McArdle expects to move him to the offensive line because of team needs.

“I want to have a really big season,” Tramontana said. “I personally want to go to playoffs. That’s my number one goal this year, to make it to playoffs and I’m gonna do everything I can, but it’s not just going to come down [to] just what I can do.”

Last season GSM finished ninth among 12 Suffolk County Division IV teams with a 3-5 record. This year the division has been reduced to 11 teams and GSM is seeded 10th. Replicating that 3-5 record will not be easy.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough season, but then all the other teams lost all their seniors, too,” said Tramontana.

GSM’s most experienced returning players are Gavin Richards, Carlos Rodriguez, Nick Johnson, Aimen Tabor and Tramontana. Richards, the senior incumbent, and DeNicola are in what McArdle called an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Whoever doesn’t get the nod will play receiver, said McArdle.

The Porters have a challenge most other Division IV teams face as well. They have only two weeks of preseason training before their first game. By the time they kick off the season Sept. 2 at home against Miller Place, they will have had only 15 practices under their belts.

Tramontana is relishing the return of Friday night lights.

“I love football,” he said. “I live football, you know. I wait for this time of the year every year and it feels amazing to just finally be back here.”

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