Following a strong 2011 when West Islip High School’s football team finished with a 7-1 regular season and a trip to the playoffs, head coach Steve Mileti kicks off the new season Saturday with a squad he said brings more size and speed to the field.
“We have bigger kids up front and have a top team athletically,” Mileti said. “It’s just a matter of the team coming ready to play each week and playing four quarters.”
On offensive the Lions replace three year starting quarterback Anthony Santo (Class of 2012, Sacred Heart) with junior Sam Ilario.
A varsity player as a sophomore at the receiver position with four touchdowns, Mileti is excited at the prospects of having the 6-foot 1-inch quarterback calling signals this season.
“He is a big, strong and fast kid that is showing great leadership in camp,” the head coach said. “It’s hard to replace a starter like Santo but there hasn’t been a hiccup in the offense.”
Ilario could have a big season throwing the ball to his two starting receivers, seniors Nick Aponte and Ryan Wieczorek, both standouts on the high school’s state champion boys lacrosse team.
“Teams will have to cover us on the outside,” said Mileti. “If not we’ll run it inside and if they stack the box against us we’ll open up the offensive and throw it to those guys and put a lot of pressure on the opposition.”
On the defensive side, the head coach pointed to several key players including Aponte and Wieczorek, who will occupy the free safety and corner back positions respectively, senior defensive lineman Jonathan Stancavage (6-foot 4-inches, 305 pounds) defensive back Dan Johnson and linebacker Joe Barcia.
As he looks ahead to the season, Mileti feels his team will score, and is cautiously optimistic that his defensive will be able to keep the opposition at bay.
“This team is coming together and we finish each practice with ‘unity,’” he said. “The key will be for us to show up on game day and put our talent together.”
2012 West Islip Lions Football Schedule:Date Teams Time 9/8 West Islip @ Whitman 2 p.m. 9/15 Riverhead @ West Islip 2 p.m. 9/22 West Islip @ Smithtown West 2 p.m. 9/28 West Islip @ Newfield 6 p.m. 10/6 Copiague @ West Islip 2 p.m. 10/13 North Babylon @ West Islip 2 p.m. 10/20 West Islip @Half Hollow Hills West 2 p.m. 10/27 Smithtown East @ West Islip 2 p.m.