The hot August sun bounced off John Pedranghelu and Spencer Matthaei's helmets as they ran a series of sprints.

Four hours in the heat on the second day of Locust Valley's football training camp, and neither senior showed any sign of exhaustion.

"This is easy for us because we've been working so hard in the offseason," said Matthaei, an offensive lineman who said he has verbally committed to play football for Yale.

Matthaei, Pedranghelu and a deep senior class got a taste of Nassau football's biggest stage last year: Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium. But their comeback in the Conference IV semifinals came up short, and they lost to Mineola, 16-13.

"Walking off that Hofstra field not being winners," the 6-4, 250-pound Matthaei said, "you don't ever want to feel that. We're working hard so we don't have to feel that ever again."

Added Pedranghelu, a 5-10, 175-pound running back: "We're using that loss as motivation in the weight room, on the practice field, everything that we do."

The expectations are high at Locust Valley, given the team's experience. Head coach Matt McFarland said he returns nine starters on defense and eight on offense. His seniors are so numerous that he can only estimate his total: "We've got 17 or 18."

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With that in mind, Nassau Conference IV coaches seeded the Falcons second, behind Seaford, entering the season.

"Preseason seeds, we don't look into that too much," Matthaei said. "All that matters is who's standing, who's the last man standing at Hofstra come November."

Locust Valley has as good a chance as anyone. Not only are the Falcons among the most experienced teams in Nassau, but they also went 7-1 in the regular season last year, including a win at Seaford. The only loss was to Roosevelt, which won the Conference IV championship for the fourth straight year. The Rough Riders, who moved up to Conference III this year, are not on Locust Valley's schedule.

"We're not going to take anybody lightly," Pedranghelu said.

If their post-practice sprint could serve as an indication, it's clear that he and Matthaei take nothing lightly.