After finishing the past two seasons with less than impressive records, the Eastport South Manor football team is hoping that a core of returning players will lift the team into the postseason.
Heading into his third season as head coach, Paul Mastronardi is expecting, and confident that, his team can make it to the postseason.
“We had a really good summer program and practice has been good so far,” he said. “The kids know what to expect from us as coaches and we know the personnel we have.
He continued, “We have a tough schedule but I’m expecting a lot from these kids this year.”
During Mastronardi’s tenure, the Sharks have posted a 5-11 mark, finishing last season with just two wins in 13th place of 14 teams.
Heading into this season, the Sharks are seeded 11th of 14 teams, a ranking that Mastronardi considers “fairly accurate.”
On the roster of 32, there are 13 returning starters, among them, senior Mike Bianco, a returning All County and All Division player. Bianco, the team’s lone captain at this point in the season, will move to fullback this season and Mastronardi considers him an “excellent player” and “the heart and soul of the defense.”
Bianco is one of three players who Mastronardi considers the team to be built around. When Mastronardi took over the program, he brought up three sophomores to the varsity team—Bianco, Joe Pesce and Cole Zeller. The coach’s idea was to groom these players from a young age and now that they are seniors, a lot of weight will be placed on their backs.
Both Pesce and Zeller were All Division players last season and Pesce will anchor the team’s offensive line while Zeller will do his part as a strong side linebacker and running back.
Another veteran who will be key to the team’s success this season will be Austin Macchi in the quarterback position. Macchi took over the starting quarterback duties last season after week three when the coaching staff opted to move Matt Prokesch, arguably the team’s most well-rounded player, to wide receiver.
“He’s progressing well; he’s maturing,” Mastronardi said of Macchi. “He knows how to run the offense and has five games under his belt from last season so I’m confident in what he can do.”
Mastronardi also noted he’s looking to a pair of juniors to give his team a lift this season. Pat Minogue, who’s playing in his third season as a varsity starter, moved from cornerback to strong safety and will also be one of the team’s wide receivers, and Jager Chaisty is expected to be one of the team’s leading receivers.
ESM’s schedule features just one of the top three teams in the division. In week three, the Sharks will head to Sayville, which comes into the season ranked third in Division III, however, the Golden Flashes are the three-time defending Suffolk County Champions, going 8-0 last season.
Miller Place and Huntington, which finished division play in second and third, respectively, last season are this year’s top ranked teams in the division.
The 2013 season will not feature a game against neighborhood rival Westhampton Beach.
ESM will open its season on the road, heading to Amityville on September 12. The squad’s first home game will be on September 21 against Islip and is also the school’s annual homecoming game.