Nassau Conference IV football preview

Roosevelt High School #32 Johnnie Akins, right, attempts

Roosevelt High School #32 Johnnie Akins, right, attempts to shrug off East Rockaway #11 Luke Fahrenkrug after making an interception with 3:37 remaining in the second quarter of the Nassau County varsity football Conference IV final at Shuart Stadium. (Nov. 17, 2011) (Credit: James Escher)

For the first time in four years, the season begins with a new defending county champion sitting atop Nassau IV.

Roosevelt is the preseason favorite after beating East Rockaway last season to win the county championship, ending Seaford's run of four straight titles. In Roosevelt's suddenly youthful and diverse offense, Neftali Henderson and the O-line will be the calming influence during the Rough Riders' title defense.

West Hempstead running back Tayvon Hall -- called a "physical freak" by his coach because of his versatility -- is healthy and, along with lineman Daniel Njoku, could shift the balance of power.

The Seaford dynasty ended last season but the Vikings, with lineman James O'Hagan paving the way, are in position to reclaim the stronghold they once had on county supremacy.

Valley Stream North, which came within a tipped ball of advancing to last season's title game, have plenty of weapons for quarterback Anthony Martelli to work with.

Clarke has a sure-handed target in John Fogarty. Locust Valley, with a veteran offensive line anchored by Kevin Rieger, will focus on the running game. Tom Sinclair leads a rising program in Island Trees, which opposing coaches called the best 2-6 team they've ever played. David McClure and county runner-up East Rockaway hope for another unexpected championship run.

ROOSEVELT ROUGH RIDERS (9-3)

Coach: Joe Vito, 19th season

Key Players

Neftali Henderson, OT/DT 6-3, 275, Sr.

Marquell Saunders WR/S 5-11, 170, Sr.

Rob Hansen OG/DT 6-0, 230, Jr.

Johnnie Akins RB/LB 5-10, 175, Jr.

Raymond Jones TE/LB6-2, 195, Jr.

Sam Edouard C/DT 5-11, 220, Jr.

About the Rough Riders: The defending county champs have a veteran offensive line for the first time since 2006, with Henderson making line calls and blocking assignments. There will be more distribution of the ball, but Saunders remains the primary target. Akins will be the lead back and also play middle linebacker.

WEST HEMPSTEAD RAMS (6-3)

Coach: Dom Carre, 3rd season

Key Players

Tayvon Hall RB/DB 5-9, 165, Sr.

Michael Petrizzo RB/LB 6-0, 180, Sr.

Daniel Njoku OL/DL 6-2, 255, Sr.

Christian Jean-Louis RB/DL 5-7, 220, Jr.

Donovan Steele TE/DE 6-5, 230, Jr.

Bruce Gibbs RB/LB 6-0, 180, Jr.

About the Rams: The Rams were 4-0 with Hall last season and 2-3 without him after he suffered a broken toe. With his ability to run, block and see the field, Hall will be the focal point of West Hempstead's offense. The team's strength is its interior defensive line, where Njoku and Jean-Louis stuff the run and apply pressure.

SEAFORD VIKINGS (5-4)

Coach: Rob Perpall, 15th season

Key Players

James O'Hagan DT/OT6-3, 275, Jr.

Nick Fischetti RB/CB/LB 5-9, 180, Sr.

Ryan Gliganic G/DT 5-11, 220, Sr.

Peter Bizarro C/LB 6-1, 200, Sr.

Kyle Kolodinsky WR 6-1, 190, Jr.

Pete Adorno QB/DB 6-4, 190, Sr.

Tyler O'Donnell QB 6-1, 180, Sr.

About the Vikings: The Vikings saw their streak of 44 straight wins and four consecutive county championships end last season but they return an athletic team with plenty of star potential. None has more than O'Hagan, who is arguably the top lineman in the conference. He'll be the lead blocker in the Power-I for Fischetti. Kolodinsky could emerge as a top wideout.

VALLEY STREAM NORTH SPARTANS (8-3)

Coach: Tom Schiavo, 15th season

Key Players

Anthony Martelli QB 6-0, 175 Sr.

Billy Patsos RB/LB 5-10, 190, Sr.

Stephen Giuliante WR/DB 6-0, 165, Sr.

James Capoziello RB/LB 5-8, 175, Sr.

Isaiah Short RB/DE 6-0, 200, Sr.

Nick Gonzalez OL/LB 6-1, 185, Sr.

About the Spartans: They are loaded at the skill positions and have all-county QB Martelli to distribute the ball in the pro set. Patsos got valuable experience starting in the playoffs last season. Capoziello will line up in the slot, giving last season's second highest scoring offense on LI another option.

CLARKE RAMS (5-3)

Coach: John Boyle, 26th season

Key Players

John Fogarty WR/DB 6-1, 185, Sr.

Andrew Eannucci RB/LB 5-9, 185, Sr.

Jimmy Morace DT/OT 6-2, 290, Sr.

John Hess, TE/DE 6-4, 240, Sr.

Anthony Yodice G/DE 6-3, 185, Sr.

About the Rams: The Rams streak of nine consecutive playoff appearances was snapped last season by tenths of a percentage point. They return with plenty of offensive weapons, led by Fogarty and Eannucci, and tremendous team speed on both sides of the ball -- including on the offensive line, where none are faster than Yodice.

LOCUST VALLEY FALCONS (8-2)

Coach: Matt McFarland, second season

Key Players

Kevin Rieger OT/DT 6-3, 215, Sr.

Ryan Panigau DE/TE 6-3, 210, Sr.

Marlon Maldonado RG/DT 6-3, 225, Sr.

Jordan Formicola QB/S 6-0, 180, Jr.

Matt Vezza LB/FB 5-8, 165, Jr.

Louis Falciano LG/DT 6-2, 235, Sr.

About the Falcons: There won't be anything fancy about the Falcon offense: traditional Power-I, with some triple option mixed in. They've got size and experience up front with three-year starters Rieger, Maldonado and Falciano anchoring the offensive line and creating holes for a trio of running backs.

ISLAND TREES BULLDOGS (2-6)

Coach: Michael Bonsignore, fifth season

Key Players

Tom Sinclair LT/DT6-2, 225, Sr.

Kevin Strauss G/DL/LB6-3, 200, Sr.

Vinny Manna RT/DT6-4, 270, Jr.

Matt Anzalone RB/DB5-3, 135, Sr.

Ryan Carroll QB/FS6-0, 165, Sr.

Jimmy Carabott WR/DB5-10, 155, Sr.

Brian Eletti RB/QB/DB 5-10, 165, Jr.

About the Bulldogs: With a big, improved offensive line, led by bookend tackles Sinclair and Manna, the Bulldogs, which lost four games by a touchdown or less, hope to control the ball and manage the clock with their running game and play action. The defense, hurt by big plays last season, will mix up coverages and play more aggressively.

EAST ROCKAWAY ROCKS (6-5)

Coach: Russel Pajer, 18th season

Key Players

David McClure LB/RB 5-10, 210, Sr.

Ben Giliberti C/DT 5-9, 239, Sr.

John Draude OT/DT 6-1, 266, Sr.

Cameron Ralph, RB/LB 5-7, 156, Sr.

Kevin Blessington TE/LB 6-5, 175, Jr.

About the Rocks: The Rocks will have a scrappy offense, fueled by McClure, who will be the primary ballcarrier in a deep running back committee. They get their rematch against defending county champion Roosevelt on Saturday.

COLD SPRING HARBOR SEAHAWKS (5-4)

Coach: Dennis Bonn, ninth season

Key Players

Chris Roufanis OG/LB 5-10, 180, Sr.

Will Hammond OG/DE 6-0, 195, Sr.

Peter Cosentino OT/DE 6-1, 215, Sr.

Michael Mikkelsen TE/CB 6-0, 165, Sr.

Liam McAvoy RB/LB6-0, 170, Sr.

About the Seahawks: The Seahawks, who fell in the first round to Roosevelt last year, return a veteran offensive line. Three-year starters, Roufanis and Hammond, will help open holes for McAvoy, who had 287 yards on 51 carries last season, in the Bone and Diamond formations.

MALVERNE MULES (3-5)

Coach: Kito Lockwood, fourth season

Key Players

Jamal Hill QB/FS 5-7, 160, Jr.

Tyler Zimmerman OL/LB 5-8, 170, Jr.

Tyrae Kelly WR/LB 5-10, 180, Sr.

Antonio Soares RB/DB 5-8, 165, Sr.

Michael Salamone OL/DL 6-1, 230, Jr.

Maxon Jean WR/DB 5-7, 165, So.

About the Mules: Hill, who ran for 575 yards and eight touchdowns last season, shifts from the backfield to under center and could be poised for a breakout season. Outside of veteran wideout and likely first-option Kelly, the Mules will incorporate young players into the offense, including Jean and sophomore tight end Kyle Richard.

MINEOLA MUSTANGS (4-5)

Coach: Dan Guido, 26th season

Key Players

Brian Gaffney RB/DB 5-9, 165, Sr.

Matt Long RB/DB 5-8, 165, Sr.

Tom Behan OT/LB 6-0, 205, Sr.

Tim Natale OT/DT 6-1, 190 Jr.

Bob Rodgers WR/DB 5-11, 160, Sr.

Vin Bienik QB/DB 6-2, 180, Jr.

Tevin Carlo WR/DB 5-9, 160 Sr.

About the Mustangs: A young team that will go as far as Gaffney, an every down back, will carry them. The Mustangs will work out of the spread offense, with first-year quarterback Bienik looking for veteran receivers Rodgers and Carlo downfield.

OYSTER BAY BAYMEN (2-6)

Coach: Joe Knoll, second season

Key Players

Ki-Jana Walker RB/CB 5-10, 170, Sr.

Alex Galizia FB/DE 5-9, 195, Sr.

Thomas Kelly LB/OG 5-10, 190, Sr.

Ian Estevez OT/DT 6-0, 195, Sr.

Nick LaRosa RB/DB 5-11, 170, Sr.

James Mon WR/DB 5-10, 160, Sr.

Conor Comack OT/DT 6-0, 180, Sr.

James LoRusso C/LB 5-8, 175, Sr.

About the Baymen: The Baymen will change the pace by featuring two primary backs and using Multiple-I looks. Walker will be the elusive, breakaway threat on the outside and Galizia will be the bruising, power back going straight up the middle. One final season for the core of eight Baymen seniors.

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