2011 HERALD High School Football Preview
Eagles hope to take playoff flight
By TONY BELLISSIMO
n the Conference II playoff chase right down to the wire a year ago, Valley Stream Central has strength in numbers — 40 — for third-year head coach Frank Chimienti and will try to break into the top eight despite a bump to Conference I. “Our numbers are great and we had a tremendous turnout for summer workouts,” Chimienti said. “We’re excited about the move to Conference I. We’ve got a tough road, but we played a tough schedule in Conference II and it’s nothing we can control.” The Eagles, who went 4-4 in 2010, open at home Sept. 10 against Port Washington and host Massapequa in Week 2. After that, they’ve got second-seeded East Meadow, Hicksville, Baldwin, Farmingdale, Hempstead and Plainview-JFK. “We’ve got nice speed on the perimeter and I think we’ll score if the line holds up,” Chimienti said. Chimienti and his staff spent every day in camp evaluation Central’s two quarterback candidates. Senior Kwesi Harrison, who started at free safety last season but didn’t play offense, and senior Ricky Grosso, were impressive throughout camp. “Kwesi is our best athlete and can probably play five positions,” Chimienti said. “We want the ball in his hands. He’s a runner and understands the offense. Whatever happens, we’ll find a spot [on offense] for him somewhere.” Grosso is a pocket passer with a strong and accurate arm, as well as experience at the position and knowledge of the offense. Junior Laton Butler, off a 1,276-yard campaign, heads the ground attack. He’s explosive with great vision and patience. “He’s a very special player and we’re looking to use him a little more on defense,” Chimienti said. “He’s a powerful runner between the tackles and can also beat defenders to the outside.” Sophomore running back Boljan Cas-
10 17 24
Port Washington Massapequa @ East Meadow
1:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m.
October 1 6 15 22 29
DAVID JOSEPH Lineman
tillo has been the biggest surprise at camp, Chimienti said, and will serve as a nice compliment to Butler after starring at the JV level. Senior Calvin Rosario starts at fullback. Either Harrison or Grosso will have plenty of options in the passing game. “We can diversify the ball,” Chimienti said. Senior Dan Napollonello can be dangerous on screens and gobbles up yards after the catch, and seniors Chris Johnson and Mike Marmol also bring experience to the table. Junior Brandon Wilder has a great set of hands and junior Chris Blaize a quick set of feet. Some of the wideouts will also contribute on special teams in the return game. The Eagles lost a good deal of talent and size up front, but Chimienti said the line is jelling quickly and could hold its own. Seniors David Joseph and Stephan Collins are the starting guards, junior Francisco Montalvo looks strong at center, and senior Dan Craw and junior Aaron Martino have the inside track to be the starting tackles. Avoiding as many two-way starters as possible is something Central’s coaching staff is trying to accomplish. Montalvo will anchor the defensive front from nose
@ Hicksville Baldwin Farmingdale @ Hempstead @ Plainview-JFK
3:00 p.m. 4:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 1:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m.
LATON BUTLER Tailback
guard and everyone else on the line could be full-time, oneway performers. Senior Demitri Taylor can make things happen, senior Corey Brown is back k in action off an injury, and sophomore homore Chris Robert has a nonstop motor. In the secondary, the non-starting ing quarterback — Harrison or Grosso — will be a starter at safety, and Marmol and nd Blaize comprise a fast tandem of cornerbacks. erbacks. Grosso is also handling kicking and punting duties. Evan Nicholson can play at strong rong safety or outside linebacker. Napollonello nello keys the middle of the defense from a linebacker position that includes seniors rs Terry Gagstetter and Ian McGovern, n, junior Delencio Blanco-Holstead, and Castillo. stillo. “We have a bunch of guys competing ompeting for jobs, which leads to better depth,” pth,” Chimienti said. “I can’t say more about bout the commitment level of the kids. They’ve been great since last season ended nded and hopefully we’ll be able to break through and make the playoffs.” The Eagles last qualified for postseason ostseason play in 1993 when they finished fourth in Conference II.
KWESI HARRISON Quarterback
Photos by Kathy Leistner
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September 8, 2011 - FOOTBALL PREVIEW - HERALD COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS