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Patchogue-Medford focused on season opener

Patchogue-Medford boys varsity football head coach Gary Marangi

Patchogue-Medford boys varsity football head coach Gary Marangi watches his team play against Connetquot. (Sept. 11, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Don’t think Patchogue-Medford football has forgotten how last season ended.

After the Raiders scored with 42 seconds remaining to take a 20-14 lead, Brentwood drove down the field and scored with eight seconds remaining to win.

And wouldn’t you know, Patchogue-Medford and Brentwood meet in the season opener.

“We want to go in there and make a statement and let them know we’re not playing around anymore,” said senior defensive lineman Dalton Rhodes. “Pat-Med’s not going to be taken softly.”

The Raiders have a history of starting the season slow. Players and coaches recognize it, saying they haven’t won an opening game in 11 years. Starting off Week One is important to the team to set the tone of the season.

“It’s a lot of focus right now,” said senior wide receiver and defensive back Shameir McCullough. “It’s all coach talks about. ‘Brentwood, Brentwood, we got to beat Brentwood.’ We got to worry about the other games later in the season.”

McCullough is one of the Raiders’ top playmakers this season. Other receivers include Mikel Keane and Erik Matz, who hope to build chemistry with first-year starting quarterback senior Dan Codispoti.

“It’s really essential because with this bond it will help us develop good chemistry,” Codispoti said, “and hopefully through good playing, get more wins than last year.”

Patchogue-Medford finished 2-6 last year and enters this season as the No. 11 seed in Suffolk I.

“Some players from last year remember going 2-6, not a very good feeling,” Matz said, “so they know.”

Head coach Gary Marangi, a former quarterback with the Buffalo Bills, said getting off to a fast start will be key to building confidence for the turnaround season. Along with the receivers, he had Justin Sherack to anchor the offensive and defensive line, Nick Stagnitta in the backfield and Brandon Bihn and James Terrible at linebacker.

Everything comes back to the big opening day rematch against Brentwood.

“I know the returning players … they’re all hungry,” Rhodes said. “Especially losing the way we did last year to Brentwood, it just stings a little. It sticks with you.

“We’re banging out pushups for conditioning and instead of counting, we’re saying ‘Brentwood, Brentwood,’ he added. “It’s our first game and we got to get going from there.”

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