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Copiague football has team-first attitude

Copiague's Jabbar Morris does a drill during training

Copiague's Jabbar Morris does a drill during training camp at Copiague High School on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Copiague’s Jabbar Morris doesn’t have to look too far for motivation for his senior season.

The running back/linebacker glanced down at his left wrist during a break in a recent three-way scrimmage against host Babylon and Kings Park. The wrist has a blue band with the phrase: “go hard or go home” on it.

“It’s a daily reminder for me,” said Morris, one of the Eagles’ captains. “There will be times during the day that I’ll look at it.”

Copiague, the 13th seed in Suffolk Division II, will be an interesting team to follow this season. Yes, the Eagles went 1-7 a year ago, but Copiague has six three-year starters returning this season.

“Our team bond is strong with a good senior core,” Morris said. “We have each other’s back.”

That was evident during the three-team scrimmage on Aug. 27. Players were positive throughout the competition after good plays, and even when teammates made mistakes.

“It takes a team-first attitude, and we all have to be on the same page as a whole,” said senior captain Kory Corkins.

“We never want to talk down to a teammate; we should be picking each other up. We’re out to do our best this season.”

Depth could become a problem with Copiague’s roster hovering right around 25 currently. Still, eighth-year coach Ken Rittenhouse has Morris and Corkins at both running back and linebacker to lead his squad.

“Our strength,” Rittenhouse said, “is our experience this season.”

Other experienced players Rittenhouse will be counting on include seniors Tyrone Browne (TE/DE), two-way linemen Hilario Minaya and Dublan Gonzales, and quarterback/defensive back Ronald James. The Eagles will look to newcomers Jawaine Rayford (senior WR/DB) and Dennis Garrison (junior WR/DB) as well.

“It’s all about staying healthy,” Morris said, “and if God forbid someone gets banged up, it’s the next guy in.”

The Eagles, who have just two wins the last five years, also have something else to be concerned about.

“We are looking forward to this season,” Morris said, “but finishing is the key.”

Copiague either led or were tied at halftime in four of its eight games last season.

“We have to finish as a whole team,” Corkins said. “Me, personally, I don’t want to make a single mistake. I want to fulfill all my assignments, and be very crisp and very clean.”

The Eagles will need to follow Corkins’ approach in the talented and deep Suffolk Division II.

“We all want to play better,” Morris said. “We’re hoping for a big improvement this season.”

That’s motivation enough.


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