When Half Hollow Hills West senior Cam Jordan was asked what would be the most important component to his team’s success this season, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“It comes down to our lines,” said the Syracuse-bound Jordan, a 2015 Newsday All-Long Island second-team selection. “You can’t throw the ball and you can’t run the ball without the big fellas up front. They are very important to us.”
Many opposing coaches like to talk about the Suffolk Division II top-seeded Colts’ numerous weapons on both sides of the ball, including Jordan, who had 39 catches, 16 touchdowns and 1,080 receiving yards in 2015. There is also two-time All-County standout Alexander Filacouris, who has 37 career touchdowns, and is 15 yards shy of 3,000 career all-purpose yards.
“We have a real balanced attack,” said the 6-foot, 207-pound Filacouris. “But it comes down to the o-line. We call them the L.O.S. [line of scrimmage]. They’re a real tough group.”
A tough group that helps on both sides of the ball.
“That’s where it starts and finishes, our offensive and defensive lines,” said senior linebacker Ahmaad Crowell, who has led the team in tackles two straight seasons. “They keep me clean and let me do my job.”
It begins with 6-foot, 310-pound senior and two-way lineman Tyler Elmore, who will play left tackle on the offensive line.
“Elmore is a Division I player that is flying under the radar,” 17-year head coach Kyle Madden said.
But if the Colts, who are a combined 18-4 the last two seasons, can continue their success, Elmore and others will start hearing from more colleges and universities soon. Senior right guard Tyler Manley (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is another two-way starter. Both Manley and Elmore can squat 515 pounds.
Junior left guard Jimmy Regateiro (6-foot-1, 267 pounds) played every snap as a sophomore at defensive end. He will be counted on to play both ways this season. Junior center Chris Freda (6-foot-1, 255 pounds) and sophomore right tackle Brandon Manley (5-foot-11, 210 pounds and Tyler’s younger brother) round out the starting offensive line, which averages just over 268 pounds.
Former Freeport line coach Toby Elmore, father of Tyler, came over to the Hills West staff last year after 17 seasons with the Red Devils. Elmore coached many great linemen for long-time coach Russ Cellan, including former Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
“He’s a great, great coach,” said Madden of Elmore. “He’s really committed to the kids.”
The Colts’ quintet will be asked to take care of a pair of sophomores: running back Deyvon Wright and quarterback Gerald Filardi Jr., son of former NFL player Gerald Filardi. More importantly, both of the Colts’ lines could be the difference in Hills West winning its first Suffolk II championship after back-to-back losses in the county finals in 2014 and 2015.
“To lose that game last year was an emotional moment for me,” said Manley, now a senior. “We worked hard all offseason to get faster and stronger. I want to help my team reach its ultimate goal, and help every guy beside me.”
Which is music to the ears of Manley’s fellow linemate, Elmore.
“We want to play nasty and physical,” said Elmore, who will also play defensive end. “If you line up across from us and put your hand in the dirt, you’re going to get what you deserve. We call it a trench mindset.”
Spoken like a true lineman.