Tuesday was only the second day of football camp for the Half Hollow Hills West Colts, but it wasn't any sort of a beginning. No, this is a continuation and a culmination.
A senior-laden group that has come up through coach Kyle Madden's system is ready to take the final leap toward a Long Island championship, something it came so close to capturing last year.
"Two years ago, we took 12 sophomores. Now, they're all seniors," said Madden, who is entering his 16th season at the helm. "It was a three-year plan to get to this point . . . They were very talented sophomores. We had an opportunity to work with them. Last year, we got to the [Suffolk II] championship game. We lost it in the end, but now they're seniors and they're ready to go."
That loss, one that came at the hands of East Islip, was motivation for many of the returning Colts throughout the offseason.
"I obviously tried to forget it," junior running back-wide receiver Alexander Filacouris said. "But it was always on my mind and drove me to work even harder in the offseason."
It was the same for quarterback Anthony Lucarelli.
"It's all we thought about this offseason as we worked out and trained together," Lucarelli said. "It was always in the back of our mind that we didn't quite make it and win the championship. It's definitely motivated us to get back."
Lucarelli, one of the focal points of Madden's long-term plan, is entering his third year as the starting signal caller. He knows the offense well and, as a result, is able to do more on the field.
"It's second nature to me," he said. "It allows me to open my mind more and not have to think about what I have to do on the play. I can think about what I can do better. I can correct everyone else on the field because I have to know what everyone else is doing. It makes it easier."
A strong senior class is only the tip of the iceberg for Madden, who preaches leadership, trust, and "three other factors."
"Character, competency and having great connections with each other," Madden said. "It's all about our off-field cohesion and understanding that it's all about team. It's all about what we do together. It doesn't matter who gets the touchdown or the catch as long as we do the right thing at the end."
That cohesion made the first two days of camp less about jelling and more about, as Lucarelli put it, "getting after it fast."
"We're always together because we're all best friends," senior running back-linebacker Lucas DiGiorgi said. "This summer, we spent a lot of time together. I think it just rolls into camp. We know what each other is capable of and what we can do. One guy goes off another guy. We work together in such a way that it's hard to play against."
Added senior lineman Trevor Anton: "We work on all cylinders. Everyone works 110 percent all the time. It's a cohesive team."