MacArthur running back Tom Joyce hits the weight room with vigor.
But while his size may be increasing, the size of the Generals (both in number and stature) remains stable — and it's not very large.
MacArthur is the second-smallest school enrollment-wise in Nassau Conference I, ahead of onlyHerricks. The Generals have alternated between Conference II and Conference I the last four years, and came into the preseason as the No. 9 seed in the stacked large-school division.
Yet MacArthur finds itself very much in the running for a playoff berth after a 41-14 win over visiting Hempstead yesterday evened its record at 2-2.
"We feel we can physically run with any team in this conference," said Joyce, who rushed for 63 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries. "We had two close games we couldn't finish because we didn't execute. We're not afraid to play anyone."
The two losses Joyce was referring to came on the road against two of the best teams Conference I has to offer — Farmingdale (3-1) and East Meadow (3-1).
In a 31-26 loss to the Dalers in Week 1, quarterback Kevin Monahan capped a 90-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown to Will Cheshire to close the lead to five, but that was as close as MacArthur could get. In the 14-0 loss to the Jets last week, they turned the ball over five times, including two interceptions in the red zone.
"We got worn out a little bit," coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. "The depth was a problem. We don't have the size or the depth that some of these other teams do."
MacArthur suits up 44 players, which is a far cry from the rosters of 50- and 60-plus littered throughout the league.
As a result, the Generals must feast on the lower seeds. They've done that with convincing wins over No. 13 Port Washington (42-7) and now winless Hempstead (12 seed).
Saturday, the defense stepped up in a big way. Zach Trimboli recovered a fumble in the end zone to make it 41-6 in the third quarter.
Cheshire and Brett Ellers each had interceptions, while Ellers also rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
With three straight games coming up against 3-1 opponents — Baldwin, Hicksville and Freeport — MacArthur won't be resting on its laurels for long.
"The goal of any high school kid is to get to the turf at Hofstra [for the county semifinals]," Fehrenbach said. "That's the goal of most quality programs out there."
Can MacArthur get there? Only if it starts making its little squad appear large to the big boys of Conference I.