Are Long Island football players faster and stronger than their counterparts from around New York State?
There's a chance to find out, beginning with the fourth L.I. high school football combine on May 1 at Half Hollow Hills West. "It's really more of a showcase than a combine," said Hans Wiederkehr, president of the Suffolk Coaches Association, which runs the event. There are two sessions, beginning at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and they are open primarily to players from Nassau and Suffolk who will be freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors in the fall of 2011.
The event is open to the public and spectator admission is free.
For a second straight year, the event is also tied into a competition run by the New York State Football Coaches Association. The top 80 players from Long Island will compete with top players from similar events all over the state in a combine at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse on the morning of June 6. The second Upstate-Downstate Football Classic all-star game will be played at the Carrier Dome later that day.
"It's a great venue for high school football players to showcase their talent," Wiederkehr said of the Hills West combine. "It shows where they fall in relation to other kids on Long Island and the rest of the state."
The Long Island combine mirrors what is done at the NFL's annual combine in Indianapolis for top college players. There is testing in strength (bench press of 185 pounds), speed (40-yard dash), agility and jumping (vertical and long).
It's a place where a player like All-Long Island running back Stacey Bedell of Floyd got noticed last spring for running the 40 in 4.4. "For kids interested in playing at college, it's nice to have some times for them," Floyd coach Paul Longo said. "It definitely helped Stacey that I could show college coaches a 40 time that wasn't done by our school." Bedell, Class of 2012, is being heavily recruited by several top Division I Eastern colleges.
Sachem North coach Dave Falco said he plans to send two of his top young players for the 2011 season, Trent Crossan (2014) and Tyler Andreassi (2013). "The weight training and speed training has been going on since January. It's good to take it outside," Falco said. "This combine is great for kids to see how they'll do against guys they'll play against in the fall."
Following the combine tests, players will be divided into strength and skill groups for an additional hour of drills. "We film everything so there's something for the colleges to see," said Wiederkehr, who expects more than 200 participants.
Preregistration can be done on the event's website at bluechipprospects.com.