At Central Islip, Malcolm is in the middle of everything

Central Islip's Malcolm Pridgeon. Central Islip's Malcolm Pridgeon. Photo Credit: James Escher

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Central Islip's Malcolm Pridgeon, with his long arms and legs, looks more like a center for the high school basketball team than a lineman for the football squad -- especially when he dunks a basketball with ease.

Yet standing at 6-7 and weighing 295 pounds, the two-way tackle has become one of the area's top Division I recruits. Last year he had 39 tackles with three sacks and also had 30 pancake blocks.

"I just love doing the dirty work," Pridgeon said. "It's all about making the big key blocks for me. I'm not looking for the glory."

But the glory has found him.

Pridgeon has attended invitation-only football camps at Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple and the University of Connecticut, according to Central Islip coach Joe Taormina. Pridgeon noted UConn has an attractive destination and added the school may try using him at defensive end.

"College coach after college coach tell me not to tell anyone about this kid," Taormina said. "But people find out."

It's hard not to notice Pridgeon on the Central Islip field while he's amongst his teammates. Not only because he towers over many of them, but the fact that he's usually hustling at a speed that's remarkable for someone his size and can be heard shouting at teammates with positive reinforcement.

Pridgeon's enthusiasm as a third-year captain hasn't waned despite Central Islip not winning a game in two years.

"As a captain during my sophomore year, I was a bit relaxed," Pridgeon said. "But since my junior year, I picked it up and everyone is pushing themselves. Everyone is jogging to their positions in the practice field, which didn't always happen in the past. I believe in us more than ever this year."

Pridgeon said he would like to follow in the footsteps of Central Islip graduate Andrew Tiller, who was drafted by the Saints in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft. Pridgeon knows he'll have to establish himself in college first . . . after continuing to dominate at Central Islip in his senior season.

Said Pridgeon, "The idea of earning a spot in college pushes me every day to get better and it helps me push my teammates to get better, too."

1. EAST ISLIP REDMEN

2012 record: 8-2

Coach: Sal Ciampi, 13th season

KEY PLAYERS: Connor McDaniel, OT/DT, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Pete Peluso, OG/DT, 5-11, 235, Sr.; Matt Walter, RB/OLB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Erik Adon, RB/CB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Hugens Tranquille, WR/FS, 6-3, 180, Jr.

ABOUT THE REDMEN: Earned top seed on the strength of the front seven on both sides of the ball. Bobby Heyward, Connor McDaniel and Pete Peluso bolster a sturdy line. "We feel we will be able to compete for a championship," Ciampi said.

2. BAY SHORE MARAUDERS

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2012 record: 4-4

Coach: Jim Giattino, 8th season

KEY PLAYERS: Simeon Eato, RB/S, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Jaquan Moore, WR/CB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Cordell Nix, WR/CB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Aaron Lewis, OLB/RB, 5-9, 180, Sr.; Devaughn Burton, TE/OLB, 6-2, 200, Sr.

ABOUT THE MARAUDERS: Eato's days of being his brother's back are over, as he’ll receive handoffs from Mazzie, who tossed 7 TD passes and threw for 583 yards. The goal is to host a playoff game. Lewis and TE/OLB Devaughn Burton are prime for big seasons.

3. RIVERHEAD BLUE WAVES

2012 record: 9-3

Coach: Leif Shay, 15th season

KEY PLAYERS: Jaron Greenidge, FS/FB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Ryan Harkin, DE/OL, 6-1, 225, Sr.; Dan Czelatka, DB/WR, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Andrew Kinard, LB/FB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Cody Smith, QB/DB, 6-0, 185, Sr.

ABOUT THE BLUE WAVES: The fate of the defending Suffolk II champ will be dictated by Jeremiah Cheatom, who rushed for the most yards in the county, 1,901, according to Shay. Cheatom pulled a hamstring during an offseason workout, Shay said, and it is uncertain whether he'll play in the opener.

4. WEST ISLIP LIONS

2012 record: 8-1

Coach: Steve Mileti, 5th season

KEY PLAYERS: Sean Collins, WR/CB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; AJ Ilchert, RB/OLB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Kyle Ziegler, TE/LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Max McNicholas, WR/S, 5-10, 165, Jr.

ABOUT THE LIONS: Sam Ilario is healthy after suffering an ankle injury in the playoffs. He is five rushing touchdowns away from Pat Wallace's all-time mark at the school, 27, according to Mileti. Collins committed himself to being healthy after breaking bones in his face during the summer while playing in a tournament.

5. SMITHTOWN WEST BULLS

2012 record: 4-4

Coach: Peter Cerullo, 9th season

KEY PLAYERS: Matt Heldberg, QB, 6-2, 195, Sr.; Logan Greco, RB/OLB, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Kyle Mathie, WR/FS, 6-2, 195, Sr.; Dan Cox, FB/MLB, 6-1, 200, Sr.

ABOUT THE BULLS: Heldberg showed promise as a sophomore but his junior season was derailed by a torn ACL in the opener. Cerullo said Heldberg "looks 100 percent ready." Mathie is a force on both sides with 20 receptions and five interceptions. Senior running back Andrew Lapreziosa rushed for 350 yards last year.

6. NORTH BABYLON BULLDOGS

2012 record: 8-3

Coach: Terry Manning, 23rd season

KEY PLAYERS: John Clemente, OG/DE, 6-3, 225, Sr.
Mert Sonmez, OT/DT, 6-3, 320, Sr.; Kevin Conner, QB/LB/DB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Ryan Guthrie, TE/DE, 6-1, 210, Jr.
Talib Ahmad, OG/MLB, 5-11, 215, Jr.

ABOUT THE BULLDOGS: Matt Grassa, who powered his way to 472 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns as a fullback, is prime for another big season behind the help of a powerful O-line. Sonmez is the biggest of the bunch of huge linemen for the runners-up in Suffolk II last year.

7. WALT WHITMAN WILDCATS

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2012 record: 4-5

Coach: Robin Rosa, 4th season

KEY PLAYERS: Berthin Lindor, SS/FB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Savion Black, OLB/OT, 6-3, 220, Sr.; Gerson Cruz, OT/DT, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Jaron Batts, CB/RB, 5-6, 150, Jr.

ABOUT THE WILDCATS: The goal is to make the playoffs for the third year in a row. The team graduated 26 seniors, including starters on the offensive and defensive lines. The running game is still viewed as a strength, however. Lindor ran for 400 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Batts had 550 yards and 3 touchdowns.

8. SMITHTOWN EAST BULLS

2012 record: 5-4

Coach: Pete Melore, 3rd season

KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Schroeder, WR/K, 6-2, 170, Jr.; Cole Vittoria, DE/G, 5-10, 200, Jr.; John Murray, OT/DE, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Andrew Federico, RB, 6-1, 190, Sr.

ABOUT THE BULLS: John Daniggelis will lead an offense capable of scoring many points. Schroeder, Daniggelis' best friend, and junior WR Brian Willets (6-3) give him big targets. Schroeder also makes a difference as a kicker, capable of converting on field goals of 45 yards, Melore said. Vittoria and Murray comprise a strong line.

9. NEWFIELD WOLVERINES

2012 record: 3-5

Coach: Joe Piccininni, 9th season

KEY PLAYERS: Joe Saladino, G, 5-10, 220, So.; Joe Feliciano, RB/CB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Josh Hanna, QB/LB, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Ed Riemers, OT, 6-1, 240, Sr.

ABOUT THE WOLVERINES: Piccininni said a "disappointing" campaign was produced as an encore after the first LI championship in school history in 2011. The seniors are expected to step up and grow as leaders. Piccininni used words like "tough," "physical" and "impressive" when referring to Saladino. WR Eli Riley is physical and quick.

10. HALF HOLLOW HILLS WEST COLTS

2012 record: 1-7

Coach: Kyle Madden, 14th season

KEY PLAYERS: Josh Connor, WR/DB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Jake Klose, QB/FS, 6-4, 180, Sr.; Conrad Ratto, OL/DL, 6-3, 240, Sr.; Chris Baransky, OL/DL, 6-3, 210, Sr.

ABOUT THE COLTS: Devastated by injuries, 10 starters were out by Week 4 last season. Madden referred to last year as the worst in his coaching career, but added that the adversity may have affected the remaining starters in a positive way. Klose will run the spread offense and will hand off to junior Ray Lyte.

11. CENTRAL ISLIP MUSKETEERS

2012 record: 0-8

Coach: Joe Taormina, 7th season

KEY PLAYERS: Micah Bonsu, WR/RB/DB, 5-7, 145, Sr.; Kevin Mowatt, WR/RB/DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Mike Myers,
FB/TE/LB, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Justin Carrasco,RB/DB, 5-7, 145, Sr.; Denzel Abolo, FB/LB, 5-9, 190, Sr.

ABOUT THE MUSKETEERS: Sophomore QB LJ Harriet leads an offense that uses multiple sets to feature speedsters Bonsu and Mowatt. Six players have started since they were sophomores, including two-year captain Malcolm Pridgeon, a highly recruited lineman.

12. WEST BABYLON EAGLES

2012 record: 5-5

Coach: Nick Martone, 1st season

KEY PLAYERS: Nick Gilley, WR/CB, 5-9, 170, Jr.; Elijah Wiegand, C/DT, 6-3, 250, Jr.; Michael Schneider, OT/DT, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Devon Smith-Martin, RB/LB, 5-10, 185, Jr.

ABOUT THE EAGLES: As the No. 8 seed, they upset top-seeded West Islip in the playoffs. Martone, as a first-year coach, will lead an aggressive squad with a lot of speed. Many sophomores are expected to play big minutes, including running back Jonathan Flores, receivers Sean Matiow and Michael Mescia, and lineman Robert Torres.

13. CENTEREACH COUGARS

2012 record: 1-7

Coach: Charles McMillen, 6th season

KEY PLAYERS: Antonio Fiume, WR/FS, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Rich White, RB/DE, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Enrique Soza, OL/LB, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Nick Altebrando, WR/SS, 5-10, 170, Sr.

ABOUT THE COUGARS: After winning two games in two straight seasons, Centereach won only once, but McMillen is counting on senior leadership to move up. Junior QB Jonathan Ackerler will run a spread offense, where he can hand off to White or throw to Fiume or Altebrando.

14. COPIAGUE EAGLES

2012 record: 0-8

Coach: Ken Rittenhouse, 5th season

KEY PLAYERS: Willie McFadden III, RB/DB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Shamar Weir, WR/LB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Tyler O'Brien, QB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Michael Illicete, RB/DB, 5-7, 160, Sr.

ABOUT THE EAGLES: Will need solid play from veteran McFadden. O'Brien, who threw for more than 900 yards and had 9 TDs, provides a steady presence. Weir and Illicete must continue making stops on defense. Junior Aaron McFadden will receive time at wide receiver and defensive back.

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