Three days after his Lawrence football team beat Sayville in the 2014 Long Island Class III championship game, Joe Martillotti's cellphone rang.
It was Lawrence's athletic director.
"He told me that 50 kids were in the weight room unsupervised," Martillotti said. "We won the Long Island championship on Friday, and the following Monday the seniors who graduated were grabbing the JV kids and throwing them in the weight room to get ready."
There's a winning tradition at Lawrence. Martillotti coached the Golden Tornadoes to the Long Island championship game in 2011, his second year on the job. They lost a 78-61 shootout to Sayville but responded with three straight championships from 2012 to 2014.
And the Golden Tornadoes weren't content to bask in the glory of their most recent title despite the high brought on by Melik Mavruk's miraculous 82-yard fumble return for the winning touchdown with about a minute left. That's because the winning tradition also has created a pressure that hovers over each new Lawrence team.
"We didn't want to be the grade that loses in the Long Island championship," said senior captain Mike Spinelli, who doubled as a running back and defensive lineman. "That's what we're doing with the younger guys now. We want them to continue the tradition."
It won't be easy, even as Martillotti and his staff develop a crop of players from the unbeaten junior varsity team.
The Golden Tornadoes had a roster laden with seniors. Go down the list, and there's no shortage of players who made critical contributions to a 12-0 season: Spinelli, Mavruk, Tevine Johnson, Sean Moran, Simon Jones -- the list goes on and on. And none made a bigger impact than Jordan Fredericks, the Thorp Award winner.
But Lawrence has been here before. Martillotti said he lost 22 seniors after the 2012 season. After 2013 he had to replace record-setting quarterback Joe Capobianco, a two-time Newsday All-Long Island first-team selection.
"The offense changed a little bit," Martillotti said of the adjustments made after Capobianco graduated. "We put one of our best athletes [Fredericks] at quarterback and changed what we did a little bit. It's the life of a high school coach."
So what's the remedy this time?
Training camp still is eight months away. Plenty of things can change between now and then. Players can join or leave the program. They can improve their techniques and skill sets -- and they can hit the weight room.
That's where junior linemen Cyle Hearst and Frank Manara come in. They're two heirs apparent to the captainship held by Spinelli, Mavruk, Jones and Fredericks.
"They're already organizing 6 a.m. lifts," Martillotti said. "We're two weeks out of the season. Most guys take a week off, a month off. Our guys were right back at it the following Monday."