Manhasset Indians Power Up For Fall Season

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The Manhasset Indians varsity football team hit the field on Aug. 16 to begin practicing for the fall season, giving the team three and a half weeks to gain momentum before their first game against Great Neck on Sept. 9. The Conference II team has been practicing twice a day, Monday through Saturday, with a short break in between to gear up for the season.
The 35-player team is only made up of juniors and seniors, while the freshmen and sophomores play on the junior varsity levels under head coach Brian Ackermann and assistant coach Nick Deternova.
“We don’t have any freshmen or sophomores,” said varsity head coach Henry Simpkins. “We like them to stay down and develop a bit. At that level we have 42.”
Simpkins, aided by assistant coaches Ted Tsirigotis and Shanton Brown, named this year’s returning players to watch throughout the season as senior captain Grant Petracca, who plays as running back and defensive back; senior and returning starter Jack Cargiulo, who acts as an offensive lineman; and senior and returning starter Peter Spampinato, who plays middle linebacker.
“These guys are all returning from last year, so they’ve seen the practice,” said Simpkins. “They’ve been there.”
There were a few newcomers Simpkins named to his players-to-watch list, including wide receiver Meldon Grant and Steven Salerno.
“We’re still in practice right now,” said Simpkins. “We haven’t decided on a quarterback yet. We’re still in the developmental stage, evaluating talent.”
The varsity coaches have been watching many of the kids since they were in junior high, getting together with the football coaches at other levels at the beginning and end of each season to evaluate talent. Simpkins finds this part of the coaching process the most rewarding, as he is able to watch kids grow from seventh-graders to high school graduates.
“The best parts of coaching is that I’m organizing and putting everything together, watching these men grow, coming from a seventh-grader and going out as a mature senior and having them come back to visit,” said Simpkins.
The biggest challenge the team seems to face is acclimating the junior varsity players to the varsity level, but the nine-year coach is combatting this with drills and repetition, which he claims has been quite successful so far.
“I think the coaching staff is very excited and the students are very excited,” said Simpkins. “I see this season as another opportunity to grow.”

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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