August 30, 2006
Southampton Football Preview
Mariners are Hungry to Repeat
The 2005 season for Southampton was one field goal short of the gold. After finishing in first place in Suffolk's Division IV with a 7-1 record, the Mariners nearly put the finishing touches on a championship season only to suffer an overtime loss to Babylon in the county title game at Stony Brook.
And although Southampton (8-2 overall in 2005) graduated a large part of its starting lineup this past spring, there are strong indications that the Mariners will again be one of the top teams in Division IV, regardless of what faces are on the field.
Southampton's offense begins and ends at the throwing arm of quarterback Zach Antilety, a player who showed glimpses of greatness several times last season. "Zach got some experience last year and I'm expecting him to possibly lead Suffolk County in passing," said Mariners head coach Darren Phillips during a phone interview conducted near Monticello, NY where the team was completing a rigorous football camp last weekend. "He's got a strong arm . . . he's football smart . . . he can read offenses and he's got good size. Zach understands when he looks out there [on the field], what we're trying to do."
Antilety will have solid protection from an offensive line that includes both Lucas Lamos and Brendan Lenahan, who each gained strength during the off season. Pat Newcombe, another two-way lineman returns to offer superior pass protection and run blocking skills while Alex Antilety, Zach's younger brother, will start at center as a sophomore. The younger Antilety brings both height (6'4") and size (220 lbs.) to a key Mariners position. Steven Andrews is back to solidify both the offense and defensive units.
When Southampton runs its aerial attack, it will have the speedy Jason Halsey, who also starts at free safety, ready to haul in passes after an impressive showing during last year's postseason run. Halsey is a big-time performer, a punishing hitter and could emerge as one of the top receiving threats in Suffolk by the end of the season.
Kevin Mockler, an All-Division tight end and linebacker returns to give the Mariners another weapon for its passing game and more important a leader both on and off the field. "Kevin's our captain and the kids all look up to him," Phillips said. "We just have to find a way to get him the football more."
Trumaine Smith, a senior, will see plenty of reps at running back after improving during the off-season and BJ Warner, a halfback/cornerback/wide receiver appears to be a special player that is ready to make a positive impact. "BJ's another kid that has made such an amazing improvement. He's much more physical."
Shaun Dillon, a junior, saw varsity action last year and will start at fullback and play linebacker and Troy Pender, another junior will be used as a utility back due to his speed and explosiveness. "Troy's going to see eight-to-10 touches a game," Phillips said. "We call him 'little Vick' because he's got a lot of natural ability. He's gifted and he can make big plays for us."
With as many as 29 players on Southampton's varsity, Phillips has reasons to like his team's chances. "The numbers are up this season and we're excited. It's encouraging.
"I think that [the team's success last season] helped us a lot. I think that this year we have a lot more depth going into this season. We feel really good that there aren't going to be many drop-offs at many positions."
Other players that are looking to make an impact on the varsity include junior halfback/linebacker Robert DeVinney, fullback/linebacker Luke McNamara, another junior, Jon Davis, a starting tackle last year who has since moved to the tight end spot and Cliff Ciruzzo, a senior who last played as a freshman. Ciruzzo has shown good work ethic on the line and is likely to see starting time. "A lot of these players have been pleasant surprises at camp," said Phillips.
Julius Anglickas, the 6'3", 215-pound Lithuanian, has been impressing the Southampton coaches with his sheer strength and he's likely to see time at both offensive tackle and defensive end although he's still learning the game. Only a sophomore, Anglickas could play a major role in the Mariners' future.
Southampton, which is seeded third this season in the coaches poll will be tested early, having to play four of its first five games on the road including the season opener at Elwood/John Glenn on Friday September 9 at 7 p.m.
"We feel that we should be in the top four every year and our goal is to get to Stony Brook," Phillips said. "The returning guys are hungry to get back and the younger kids are excited. We tell the kids right off, what our expectations are. We just need to continue to get stronger. I feel pretty good about the season. We try to preach to our kids, that they're just a play away from starting and we have kids that have really stepped up their games [this summer]. The seniors are even more confident . . . we work hard, but we make it fun at the same time. Everybody that is here is committed to [the program's] success. I have a great staff . . . we're all a family here. Everyone is working towards one goal."