There’s an almost palpable tension in the air at Sewanhaka football camp.
The Indians’ 2-6 season left them shy of a playoff berth in 2015, and returning players are out to change the team’s culture.
“It made me want to go harder,” Lehman Clark said of last season’s disappointment. “Not a lot of people had heart. All the people who had heart, they’re still here. I thank them for that.”
Heart will only go so far in Nassau Conference II, so coach George Kasimatis has implemented a more rigid system. His practices are now broken into time intervals, with not a minute of preparation wasted.
The players have responded well.
“Not making playoffs, that was at least our goal last year,” said wide receiver Stephane Eugene. “It’s pretty disappointing in that aspect because a lot of people were looking forward to it. But we’ve been practicing since winter, going over our plays and doing a lot in the weight room. Hopefully that’ll translate onto the field.”
Eugene highlights a fast group of skill position players looking to burn Nassau secondaries. Offensive lineman Joe Annunziata said that Sewanhaka has the type of speed to impact games in the final stages when the defense is tired.
Much of that speed is natural, but the Indians have been putting in significant work. Outside of summer practices, receiver Yvans Oscar said unofficial practices started last winter. Oscar and his teammates would wake up at 7 a.m. and work before school in order to improve.
“We’re in 100-percent better shape than last season,” he said.
A change of mentality and increased effort will help sharpen Sewanhaka’s focus, which could translate to a better on-field performance. The Indians stand to improve with everybody on board.
“Early on, we just have to play with confidence coming off not one of our better years last year,” said Annunziata. “But I think a lot of leadership and experience will take us through that.”