Standing on the school track at MacArthur, relaxing before practice, Ryan O’Shea looked up at the bleachers and with a smile, pointed out the scene of some memorable offseason workouts.
“I was not smiling when I was running them,” O’Shea, a returning first-team Newsday All-Long Island selection last year as a junior, said emphatically.
O’Shea and several other football players from the No. 1-seeded defending Nassau II champion Generals worked out with MacArthur’s assistant track coach Anthony Polo, a 2006 Newsday first-team All-Long Island linebacker. It was a grueling routine.
“Coach Polo made up all these workouts for us. We ran on the track, on the turf and we did a lot of bleachers, too,” said O’Shea, who is 6-foot, 240, 10 pounds heavier than last season. “I think it helped a lot. I feel a lot quicker. I improved my 40 times and running the bleachers helped my footwork.”
O’Shea, a four-year varsity player, didn’t simply run up and down the steep bleachers. The drills were far more torturous then that. “We started with one foot on each step, then we’d skip two and then we’d do hops on the left, double hops. I’m probably missing some right now,” O’Shea said, demonstrating each maneuver. “Then we go on the bottom steps of the bleachers and just do jumps. And we worked on getting our arms involved, too.”
Arms had been a neglected part of O’Shea’s workouts before his junior year, because of shoulder surgery. “I couldn’t lift,” he said. “This was a big offseason because I could get back on the weight and then focus on running to get more speed.”
A fitter, stronger O’Shea, who will start at offensive tackle and switch between tackle and end on defense, figures prominently in the Generals’ plan to return to the Long Island Championship, where they lost last season to Newfield. “He’s good on defense but on offense, he’s really good,” MacArthur coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. “He gets into you, he’s got good footwork and he’s very quick. He’s not a heavy kid, but he’s a thick kid. Big neck, big legs and he’s a grinder.”
Fehrenbach said O’Shea, a Martone Award finalist last season, is a relentless blocker. “He goes whistle to whistle and he locks on you. If you watch him on film, he’ll drive you out of the screen.”
Just what you’d expect from a bleacher creature.