By Jake Enea
One of the most exciting times of the year is finally here again—football season. Manhasset’s season last year was disappointing, compiling three wins and five losses. Looking to bounce back, Coach Simpkins added two new personnel to his staff, Jim Jackman and Sean O’Connor. Coach Jackman is working extensively with the linemen, while Coach O’Connor trains the wide receivers and defensive backs. This year’s team is led by a formidable class of seniors full of experience, while also having a mix of young talent throughout the roster. The Indians are poised for a great season and are definitely a team on the rise in the conference.
Manhasset’s offense will start and finish with the running game. With this setup, the work starts in the trenches. With Harvard commitment Gavin Olsen leading the line, opposing defenses will struggle to take down the ball carrier. At 6’9″ and 350 pounds, he is a force to be reckoned with and will be someone this team will rely on for the whole season. He is joined by Danny Hedberg, Brendan Haggerty, Christian Andriotis, Nick Troia, Spyros Karayiannis, Jake Shefcik and Paul Petersen. The chemistry throughout this unit of seniors has been building for years and this understanding will be evident in their performances this season.
Behind the big group of linemen comes a very athletic backfield. With Jallah Stephenson, Jack Tortora, Will Theodoropoulos and Ben Cirella all sharing the workload, offensive production will be at a premium. Although this team will be run first, their passing game is still more than capable. Staying with the senior theme, the two quarterbacks that will lead the team this year are Sal Mancuso and Kevin Mack. Mancuso will provide the Indians with a calm presence in the pocket and be more of the “pocket passer,” while Mack is a solid dual threat quarterback that could run or pass for the touchdown. Both contribute unique styles of play that are proven to work and the contrast will lead to a deadly passing attack. The receiving core is also led by a strong group of seniors who all have sure hands and will make the offense come together as a very cohesive unit.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive unit will be the bedrock of the team’s success. With a line of Olsen, Andriotis, Karayiannis, and Troia, opposing offenses will be under constant pressure. Behind them, linebackers Theodoropoulos, Peter Conlan, and Hedberg will be attacking the backfield and looking for any opportunity to put offenses behind their own line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks Sean Bentley and Tortora, and safeties Cirella and Grant Petracca are all very solid athletes that could shutdown opposing team’s receivers.
The Indians have a huge opportunity to be a very successful because of their raw passion for the game and the number of great athletes on the team. The first game is Saturday at 2 p.m. in Bellmore. Go Set!