Taters or pancakes? For a number of years, East Meadow’s Matt Mascia wasn’t sure what was going to be on his college menu, baseball or football.
“I didn’t really know until last year,” Mascia’s father, East Meadow head football coach and assistant baseball coach Vinny Mascia said. “He was All-County in baseball and I asked him, ‘Do you really want to play football in college? Do you really want to beat your head into the wall for the next five years? He looked me right in the eye . . .”
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And Matt Mascia said he told his father, ‘I’ve been lucky enough to hit home runs and I’ve been lucky enough to pancake people. Dad, there’s nothing like just pancaking people. The feeling is just completely different,” he said.
Wednesday, at a small ceremony in the principal’s office at East Meadow High School, Matt Mascia hit a home run . . . in football. The 6-3, 290-pound senior offensive lineman staged a mock signing of his National Letter of Intent to attend Division I-FCS power New Hampshire. He had signed and faxed his official copy to the school at precisely 7:01 a.m. “They couldn’t accept it until 7 o’clock,” Vinny Mascia said with a prideful grin.
For his son, it turned out to be an easy decision. “When I was growing up, there was always a question about baseball or football,” Matt said. “But after I got a lot of accolades my junior year, that showed me football was the way to go. Plus with how the scholarships work, the baseball money isn’t as good. Football was the clear-cut option.”
Matt Mascia was one of several Long Island players who signed letters of intent Wednesday. Among the Division I signees: Carey offensive lineman Anthony Catapano (Stony Brook); Carey quarterback Mike Catanese (Cornell); Farmingdale defensive end Charlie Tomassetti (Princeton); Farmingdale OT/DE C.J. Demers (Bryant); Newfield RB/CB Elijah Riley (Army); Newfield wide receiver Jelani Greene (New Hampshire); Commack DB Augie Contressa (Stony Brook).
Among the Division II signees: Longwood OL/DL Matt Weiss (Southern Connecticut); Longwood DT Anthony Lavio (LIU Post); Miller Place OL/DL Kieran Glynn (Sacred Heart); MacArthur LB Mike Rothberg (LIU Post); MacArthur WR/DB Marc Arboleda (Pace); Glenn LB Dareus Smith (LIU Post).
It appeared early that Mascia would be going the D-II route. He said he had eight offers from that level college and none from Division I. “When did I know he was going to be a Division I player? When New Hampshire told me!” Vinny Mascia said with a laugh. “But once New Hampshire offered, schools like Maine, Bucknell and Old Dominion jumped in.”
When the Mascias visited the Durham, N.H., campus last month, Matt was smitten. “It was a place I fell in love with,” he said. “We had an amazing time. They were the first school that believed in me and gave me my first offer. That meant the most to me throughout the process.”
Vinny Mascia called the visit “unbelievable. It was a special couple of days. The coaches were all over him and second day on the campus, he said, ‘Dad, this is it. I feel it.’ “
But how does Dad feel? “It’s a great thing for him to be going away, because he’s had me over his shoulder for a long time. I’m excited that he’s moving on to the next level but it definitely is bittersweet,” Vinny Mascia admitted. “He’s been here with me at East Meadow since he was about 5 years old, carrying water onto the field. For the last 12 years he’s been part of this program and been with me every day, every pre-game, every game, every film room. I was the father-slash-coach for him 24 hours a day.”
Because Matt is being redshirted next year, Vinny has time before he addresses the geography issue. “As my wife said to me, ‘You’ve coached and watched everyone else’s kid for the last 30 years. It’s time to watch your own.’ ” he said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but it’s fair to say that a year from now, if I can’t work it out and Matt is breaking into the lineup, then I might have to make the decision to possibly move on. Maybe I’ll coach the middle school for a couple of years.”
Weekends in New England might be on Vinny Mascia’s future fall menus.