The Southampton football program is rich in tradition, having built a reputation many years ago as one of the top small schools programs on Long Island. But recent history hasn’t been kind to the Mariners, who have failed to make the postseason—or even finish with a winning record—for eight consecutive years.
The Mariners have gone 20-44 over that span, and their last winning season was in 2005, when they went 7-1, earned the top seed in the Division IV playoffs and lost in the Suffolk County title game to Babylon.
Last year, Southampton finished with a dismal 1-7 record and forfeited its last game of the season amid allegations of misconduct in the team locker room. Head coach Edgar “Hikey” Franklin decided to step down after the season was over, leaving the school with the task of finding another coach.
That task was completed last week, when Bruce Muro was named the new head of the program.
Muro, 45, a Patchogue resident in his first year as a special education teaching assistant at Southampton, will draw on his 20 years of experience as a high school football coach as he attempts to restore the Southampton program to its former glory. Muro was a star player as a defensive lineman at East Islip High School and went on to play at Stony Brook University, where he earned All-Conference honors as a junior and senior.
After graduating from Stony Brook, Muro began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, East Islip, before becoming the varsity head coach at Copiague, a post he held for six years. Muro showed an ability to help transform struggling programs. When he first started at Copiague in 2002, the team had been 0-16 over the prior two seasons. The next year, the team won two games before winning three the following year and five the year after that.
“We just built and built, and got better and better, and became a very competitive Division II team,” Muro said in an interview last week.
Muro said he is hoping to repeat that kind of success at Southampton, and he said the fact that he’s done it before should help.
“I want to do the same thing here that we did at Copiague,” he said. “I know how much it means to the community. When I hear community members talk about Southampton football pride, it makes me think about how I grew up. I want to restore that. I want the kids and the town and everybody to feel good about each other again.”
Muro said that while he knows he can’t turn the program around overnight, or even in one season, he has a clear idea of what he wants to see in the future.
“My ultimate goal is to have that parade down the beautiful Main Street that I drive down every day to go to work,” he said. “That’s my honest feeling.”