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Long Island Lutheran: Looking for competition

Long Island Lutheran's Jordan Channer will try to

Long Island Lutheran's Jordan Channer will try to help his team improve on last year' 1-9 record. Credit: Bob Mitchell

Here I go again on my own/ goin' down the only road I've ever known./Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Whitesnake. And this is Long Island Lutheran.

Look, it's easy to discount the Crusaders. They went 1-9 last year, they play most of their games on the road, they don't so much play Long Island schools, and, because of their markedly un-nifty status as men without a country...erm...league, the post-season is, for now, up there with Russ Cellan signing me up to be this year's kicker in terms of Things That Do Not Happen in Football.  
But there's a story here, kids, and it's not one to be ignored.
See, Lu-Hi is trying. Their roster is more mature, they've got a legit backfield and an improving offensive line that befits what coach Chris Reno called "a Wing T team, no doubt about it." Forget last year, he added, they have eight returning starters and "I believe we can have a winning season."
But, with all their trying (seriously: check out junior RB Jordan Channer, with his 697 yards last year), the biggest obstacle to Lu-Hi's continued improvement and maturation is happening way off the gridiron. 
I could tell the story, but Reno is better at it:
"We don't belong to any active league," he said. "We were denied by the Catholic league, and we tried to get into the Hudson Valley league...we have to overbook games because teams cancel. There is no chance to get to a post-season and we've got no [way] in to the Long Island playoffs since they disbanded the Island Football Conference."
Now, he said, NYSAIS, the independent team governining body, had decided to limit them to nine season games, not counting playoffs. "But we don't go the the playoffs," he said. "So why can't we play our games in the regular season?"
It's a tough little thing, putting together a schedule. They overbook (12 teams this year), because people cancel with little notice. Bye weeks are so scarce that they rarely get a chance to play LI teams. And they travel. A lot. Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
The good news is exposure to college scouts. Don't scoff. Forget the record, Lu-Hi has a freshman playing on the UConn D-Line: Shamar Stephen.
So, what to do, what to do. Reno is fighting the fight - he's trying to petition for section status. He'll need about five teams, he said, and has tentatively agreed with three. "You gotta book October," he said. Moore Catholic (SI) and LI's own St. Dominic's are interested. Friends Academy, which has failed to field a varsity team for the second straight year, is a possibility. The ultimate goal is an ultimate goal: a real, life post-season.

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