The consequences of winning can be dire. When it is so certain, so embedded, so routine, sometimes it’s taken for granted. And that’s precisely its paradox. Winning, in all its cruel glory, demands respect. The minute it senses the respect has gone away, that’s when it decides to leave.
And perhaps, that’s what happened at Roosevelt last year. No one can quite explain why the team failed to make, at least, the Nassau final for the first time since 2009, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the paradox of success had something to do with it.
“I’m not saying that’’s what happened last year,” 23-year coach Joe Vito said. “But, sometimes that sense of entitlement doesn’t lend to you working as hard as you should in the offseason.”
Vito also has a more concrete idea why the Rough Riders went home a little earlier than expected last year, suffering a Nassau Conference III semifinal loss to Plainedge.
“We didn’t tackle very well last year,” Vito said. “There’s a saying that tackling is 10 percent technique and 90 percent wanting to tackle... If that saying is true, maybe we have to get guys that want to tackle.”
Not only does Vito think he has players who want to tackle, but by their own admission, he has players that have a strong desire to get Roosevelt back on top and bringing hardware home.
“It’s unacceptable,” lineman Latrell Hollis said of last season. “We’re a better team than that.”
Equipped with a strong defense and multiple skill players who can score, the senior believes last year’s early exit was only a momentary dip in Roosevelt’s story and not an indication of an unfortunate turn of fortunes.
“I think we can go farther than we did last year, just because of the fact that we have kids that are working hard,” Hollis said. “Everybody is going to contribute this year in some way.”
Corey Bull can’t wait to contribute. The cornerback/running back tore his ACL late last season, forcing him to watch the early playoff exit from the sideline.
“It hurt a lot,” Bull said of not being on the field in the postseason. “I know I can be a big part of this team.”
After eight months of physical therapy, a missed track and field season, and countless hours dreaming of being back on the field again, Bull is “100 percent” healthy and ready to run.
“I feel confident in the work I put in and the work that the team put in,” he said. “I think we’re going to be good.”