Normally, immaturity makes football coaches cringe. It makes the job needlessly complicated, having to correct mistakes that shouldn’t even be considered, much less made.
But Lynbrook coach Stephen LoCicero isn’t one to entertain that “normal” line of thinking. No, the Chip Kelly-idolizing head coach, now in his 11th year, likes that his team is a tad wet under the ears.
“Their immaturity helps them be aggressive,” said LoCicero, who is guiding a group that graduated 38 seniors. “They don’t know any better. It’s like coaching a puppy. You coach a puppy, you throw something at them and they go after it. They don’t have anything but unbridled enthusiasm.”
Steven Hendrickson is one of those newcomers. The junior running back/defensive back is athletic in space and has a high football IQ, something coaches love. Joey Castillo, will compete for the quarterback spot and is an all-around athlete.
Of course, they aren’t all like that. The two Nicks — Nick Paris and Nick Tuzzio — are both multi-year starters and are looking to lead the Owls to the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.
Paris, a three-year starter at strong safety, had 55 tackles in seven games last year.
“I think he’s a top 100 guy,” LoCicero said. “What’s not to like about Paris?”
Paris, who also plays running back, said he spent the offseason in the weight room getting stronger and faster. He believes that a strong passing game will help him gain some major yardage on the ground.
“I think it’ll have other teams think more about us as a passing team and open up the line for the running game,” Paris said.
Tuzzio is a two-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back. He caught a school-record 43 passes last year for 632 yards and two touchdowns.
“We have a lot potential,” Tuzzio said. “We’re young, not too much experience, but we have a lot of skill players.”
Youth isn’t necessarily a bad thing in Nassau Conference III, where Lynbrook is seeded eighth. It seems to be a theme throughout the conference - the old guard gone and a new one trying to rush themselves up to speed enough to get into position for a late-season run.
“I think Wantagh is the best team in the conference,” LoCicero said. “That’s why they’re [seeded] number one. But the rest of the conference is all pretty young. Any of the top eight teams can be in that top four at the end of the year. That’s always a plus. I think it’s how well everybody gets their young guys to be seasoned by the end of the year.”