Jaden AlfanoStJohn wants to hit the ground running.
The Westhampton senior running back knows he has big cleats to fill this season, following in the rushing footsteps of back-to-back Hansen Award winners Dylan Laube and Liam McIntyre. Still, he said he’s not worried about stats or anything except finding the end zone and getting the Hurricanes back to their championship-winning ways.
“I have high goals; my team has high goals,” said AlfanoStJohn, who racked up 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns last year. “I’m ready for it. No matter how many carries I’m getting, no matter how many touches, I’m ready to do whatever is asked of me.”
Westhampton is the top seed in Suffolk III this year, while East Islip is the two and Sayville third. Half Hollow Hills West, the defending county and Long Island champs, and Comsewogue round out the top five.
The seeding is a preseason confidence boost for the Hurricanes, but after falling, 21-10, in last year’s title game and coming up short of a second straight championship, AlfanoStJohn said he and his teammates have a renewed desire to prove themselves.
“It was frustrating,” AlfanoStJohn said of the loss. “I think we can make it back there. We want to silence any doubters and show we still have a great team in Westhampton.”
AlfanoStJohn split carries with McIntyre last season and still rushed for big-time numbers. Now, coach Bryan Schaumloffel said, the Hurricanes are hoping for even more, calling him “a really talented, athletic kid.”
Westhampton has its sights set on a championship run this fall and, with a core of returning players and AlfanoStJohn’s determination on the ground, the Hurricanes are ready to roll past the competition.
“We talk about it a lot with this year’s senior class, it’s their turn,” Schaumloffel said. “The emphasis is going to be on them and the focus is going to be on them. It’s their time to carry the load.”