The Sachem North football team is going to have a different look this season.
Not just in terms of losing key seniors that turned a preseason No. 13 seed out of 14 schools into a Suffolk Division I playoff team — every high school football team deals with senior turnover. But with Greg Lauri taking over as offensive coordinator with 15-year head coach David Falco continuing at the helm, the ground-and-pound style of the Flaming Arrows will be replaced with a spread, fast-paced offense.
“Nobody really knows what we’re capable of at this point,” said senior running back and linebacker Chris Maser, sure not to give away any secrets Sachem North may have prepared for this season. “Other teams, they look at us but now they don’t really have film on us. It’s not going to be like our normal every day, wings line up, run the ball. It’s completely different now and it’s going to be really good.”
Even the offensive linemen are excited, although senior Matt Chirichella did admit he’ll miss pushing defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage nearly every play. But Chirichella said he thinks Lauri will bring results and excitement.
“He’s like an offensive genius. He’s like the coach out of ‘The Waterboy,’ who has the book of all the plays and everything like that, it’s funny,” said the senior lineman, referring to Henry Winkler’s character in the Adam Sandler football film. “But he’s definitely a good guy and with the overall level of enthusiasm we have, this team should do pretty well.”
Sachem North finished 5-4 last season, earning the No. 8 seed in the playoffs despite its poor preseason ranking. The Flaming Arrows lost a tough first-round matchup to No. 1 Lindenhurst, 21-9.
“We came into the season knowing we were the 13th seed,” Maser said, “but we knew that wasn’t going to stop us from making playoffs.”
“Truth be told, I loved entering low last year,” Chirichella said. “No one came out and expected anything out of us and we just came out and won the majority of games last year. It was our way of saying ‘We’re here, we’re going to do our thing, you can’t stop us.”’
And Chirichella added he even thinks this season’s No. 8 ranking in the league is too low for a team with high expectations.
Despite graduating a strong senior class, including Chris Fasano, who is playing at Bryant University, Sachem North returns Chirichella, Matt Hill and Mike Chaparro on the line. Nick Gambino will take over at quarterback in the newly styled, spread offense.
“You just really feel the need to prove yourself,” Chirichella said. “Ask anyone in the gym, anyone who cares about the sport and the people out here. People doubt you and you just want to prove them wrong.”
For Hill, returning off a torn labrum, the goals are similar to every other team on Long Island. And while few people expected a No. 13 preseason team to make the playoffs, even less probably expect a No. 8 to win a title. But Sachem North has been known to surprise people before.
“I think we have a lot of talent this year,” Hill said. “I think if we work as a team, work hard, we can get to the playoffs and hopefully LIC.”
Hill’s personal goal?
“Just to win a ring.”