Change is never an easy thing.
Whether it’s a new job, a new school, or in the case of the returning players for the Smithtown West football team, a new coach in Steve Fasciani, a former assistant at Babylon.
“At first it was a little uneasy starting out,” said junior two-way lineman Andrew Sheahan. “But when we started to learn what coach wanted us to do, we were like sponges. Everyone was learning so fast.”
Smithtown West, seeded ninth in Suffolk Division II this season, will need to pick up Fasciani’s approach quickly if it hopes to succeed.
“We know in Division II it’s going to be a grind all season,” said senior running back James Cadigan. “Whether you’re seeded 1 or 2, or at the bottom, every year there is a surprise team.”
Could that team be Smithtown West this season?
“We want to form an identity as a physical football team,” said Fasciani, who was with Babylon for eight seasons. “The kids are buying into that, and we hope that translates into success.”
Cadigan, who had 518 yards rushing and six touchdowns for the Bulls last season, will be joined by senior Cam Brunsvold and Cadigan’s younger brother and junior, Matt, in the backfield at various times as the Bulls utilize a spread offense. Junior Kyle Zawadzki, who has verballed to Yale to play lacrosse, will take over at quarterback.
Sheahan, who had 38 tackles and eight sacks a year ago, will anchor both lines with help from senior Ryan Wahl (22 tackles) and junior newcomer Kyle Walker. Senior Zak Pollicino had 39 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles last season and will help at cornerback. The Bulls (4-4) return five starters on offense and five on defense.
The players, so far, are enjoying what Fasciani and his staff are bringing to summer practices as the team gears up for opening weekend.
“I like the intensity a lot more this year,” said Sheahan, who is the first junior to be named captain at West. “Not that there was anything bad last year, but I think now the coaches are bringing things to the next level, and teaching us all the things we need to know. It’s been a great transition.”
Although the Bulls have a new head coach, the objective is still the same.
“You always want to win every single game. That was our goal in the past, and it’s the same now,” said Cadigan, who has verbally committed to playing lacrosse at Colgate. “At the end of the season, we want to get into the playoffs and make some noise. If we put our heads together we can go as far as we want.”
Fasciani knows his team is in for major tests each week, but believes in his roster of 32 Bulls, including eight seniors.
“We have to become more consistent,” Fasciani said. “There’s no easy outs in this division. There are great programs and great coaching staffs throughout. We have to be ready to play every week, and get everyone to give their best effort. It’s a great challenge and I love that.”