Ryan Klemm thought he had it good last fall. The Newfield quarterback was able to throw deep to Jelani Greene and Elijah Riley and watch the yards and the points pile up. “I didn’t think it could get better than those two,” he said.
Then Klemm came to practice with the Long Island team for this year’s Empire Challenge and saw the talented octet of wide receivers. “It’s like them times four. It sure has been fun,” said Klemm, who Monday was named the starting quarterback for Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. He will share time with Mike Catanese of Carey and both hope to share the ball with a fleet of fleet receivers that includes Green, track star Infinite Tucker (Huntington), Mike Elardo (Syosset), James Pryor (St. Anthony’s) and four more players with game-breaking skills.
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“It’s definitely special playing with great wide receivers and great offensive linemen at every position,” said Catanese, who threw for 1,741 yards and 17 touchdowns with Carey. Klemm threw for 2,441 yards and 31 touchdowns for unbeaten Long Island champion Newfield.
They have varied skills that offensive coordinator Rob Hoss (Sayville) will try to maximize as Long Island goes for its sixth straight victory. “They are both really smart, have a command of what we’re trying to do,” said the coach, who has implemented elements of his intricate Sayville spread into the repertoire. “Catanese gives you a little bit more arm. Klemm’s reads are a little bit quicker and he had a little better command of the offense at first.”
That was because Catanese had to leave several practices early to attend to baseball and school awards dinners. “Now I’m back in the flow and excited for the game,” said Catanese, who hopes to play quarterback at Cornell. Klemm will attend Delaware as a walk-on quarterback.
The plan is for both players to rotate series in the first half. “We’ll go one series at a time for each kid, unless it’s a short series,” Hoss said. “You try to rotate them through the first half and in the second half, you start with that rotation again and depending on how the game is going, we’ll ride the hot hand.”
Hoss said that unlike last year, when quarterback John Daniggelis (Smithtown East) earned MVP honors with his dynamic running as well as his passing in Long Island’s 34-27 victory, this year’s quarterback duo mostly will stay in the pocket. “Neither one of them is a zone-read runner, so we’ll highlight what they do well and let the backs do more of the running,” Hoss said.
But in Hoss’s pass-centric spread, look for the receivers to pad the yardages totals for Catanese and Klemm. “This is the deepest, most talented group of wide receivers we’ve had,” Hoss said. “We’ve told the quarterbacks, ‘Get the ball to the playmakers and let them make plays. Let’s not be perfect, let’s just get it there.’ ”
Klemm and Catanese can’t wait to do just that.