Maybe it’s unfair to call Isaiah Israel and Justin Ottenwalder the Newfield football team’s version of “The Odd Couple.”
Plus, would they even get the reference to Neil Simon’s 1968 movie or the 1970s TV show featuring two divorced friends who lived together but could not be more different?
So, instead, call the Wolverines seniors “The Opposites” when it comes to leading Newfield, fresh off capturing the 2015 Long Island Class II championship and the Rutgers Trophy.
“Justin is a quiet leader, who leads by example,” Newfield coach Joe Piccininni said. “Izzy [Isaiah’s nickname] learned a lot from our captains last year, and he’s instilling that to our younger players right now.”
Israel is Newfield’s top returning defensive player with 34 tackles and three sacks last season. He added 195 yards rushing and 127 yards receiving and is a three-year captain.
“Isaiah gets everyone hyped up, and I follow too,” said Ottenwalder, who had 851 combined rushing and receiving yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. “I don’t talk much. He’s the talkative one.”
The two quickly became good friends when they started playing football in the Central Suffolk youth program.
“After that,” Israel said, “we started hanging out every day.”
Ottenwalder, whom Piccininni calls “the best running back in the division,” and Israel were both two-way starters last season.
Senior Ryan Dunbar — who started on the offensive line in 2015 — and “The Opposites” are the Wolverines’ only returning starters. Senior two-way lineman Zach Ferrari also will be counted on by Piccininni and his coaching staff.
“We’re still making adjustments,” Piccininni said. “But it’s interesting to see who steps up every day.”
One player who has stepped up is freshman quarterback Max Martin. The 6-foot, 175-pounder will be the first freshman varsity quarterback to start in Piccininni’s 12-year tenure.
“This has been a learning experience for Max,” Piccininni said. “He’s a confident player in what he does. He’s made mistakes, but we’ve worked with him to correct them, and he’s made less and less mistakes as we’ve gone along.”
A mistake Piccininni doesn’t want his team to repeat is what happened in 2012 after its first Long Island Championship in 2011. The Wolverines started 3-0 then lost five straight games and missed the postseason.
“This team knows what happened in 2012,” Piccininni said. “We can continue to build what we’ve had, or we can go the other way.”
But “The Opposites” won’t even think about taking a step back from 2015.
“Coach has talked about the fact that we have a target on our back now,” Ottenwalder said. “But we’ll take things one game at a time.”
Israel added: “Last year was fantastic, but we can’t look ahead too far to the LICs. We have to concentrate on week one and Huntington.”
Finally, “The Opposites” see things the same way.