Fear plays a big part in Gavin Olsen’ game. When he walks off the team bus, opposing players stand up a little straighter. They look on in amazement during warmups as he shows off his impressive footwork and strength.
Olsen is one of the biggest players on Long Island, standing 6-8 and weighing 345 pounds. The Manhasset football star plans to attend Harvard next season after receiving offers from Dartmouth, Penn and Brown, among others.
He headlines an offensive line with five players who are at least 6-3. Naturally, the Indians plan to use this size to their advantage by running the power-I, which caters to running the football hard up the middle.
It’s an offense head coach Henry Simpkins implemented last season after an 0-5 start. Manhasset finished the season on a three-game winning streak.
“It was like night and day,” Olsen said. “We started off with a spread, lost five games in a row, switched to power offense against Sewanhaka and it was like a completely different team.”
The Manhasset players understand their inherent strength. Nassau Conference II teams should struggle to clog holes created by Olsen and his linemates, giving running back Jallah Stephenson and fullback Will Theodoropoulos plenty of room to run.
“It’s a scary sight,” Stephenson said of the size of those blocking for him.
“It’s like running behind a wall,” added Theodoropoulos.
Theodoropoulos is 6-3 and doubles as a blocker out of the backfield. That makes quarterback Bill Cirella comfortable, especially as a dual-threat passer.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Cirella said. “I put my trust in them.”
Manhasset’s strength is not a secret. They’re going to pound the ball up the middle and use the speed of Stephenson to break big plays when the opportunities present themselves.
With the size of that offensive line, Nassau defenses are in for some trouble.
And they’ll know it from the second the Indians step off the bus.