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Whitman football seeks a return to the playoffs

Walt Whitman's quarterback Isaiah Wilkerson (2) runs as

Walt Whitman's quarterback Isaiah Wilkerson (2) runs as Jordyn Guerrero blocks Northport's Andrew Havrilla (32) during the first quarter in Huntington, Sept. 12, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

The Whitman Wildcats’ football season will be defined by returning skill players.

Robin Rosa feels fortunate to be in a situation with a returning quarterback in Isaiah Wilkerson and playmakers Jamari Brown and Matthew Havekotte splitting time at wide receiver and running back.

“We got to get them the ball,” Rosa said. “If we get them the ball, they’ll make plays. That’s how our offense goes.”

Whitman also returns four offensive linemen -- led by Jake Marx along with Tom and Derek DiLorenzo. Marx, at center, knows the importance of the offensive line creating the opportunities for the skill-position players if Whitman is going to make its first Suffolk Division I playoff appearance after joining the league in 2014.

“It starts with the line,” Marx said. “If we don’t do what we got to do, they can’t do what they got to do. If we mess up, they can’t do it. So we got the talent, we just need the line to do what we got to do.”

Brown rushed for 600 yards last year and added 700 receiving yards with six touchdowns. Havekotte added 400 receiving yards and three scores. But their goals for this season goes beyond numbers. It’s about a potential playoff run and chance to shock the league as a No. 12 seed.

“Definitely playoffs,” said Brown about the team’s goals. “We’re trying to make the playoffs, it’s been a while. I’d cherish that forever.”

Wilkerson said he enters this season more confident and understands the importance of getting the ball out of his hands quickly to his playmakers. Rosa has been impressed with Wilkerson’s improvement from last season and during training camp.

“It gives you a ton of confidence because Isaiah is like a coach on the field,” Rosa said. “It’s now slowed down. Last year in the first four games, things were so fast that he could not see the field. Now he sees the field, it’s slowed down. He makes his reads and gets the ball to our best athletes.”

Despite finishing 3-5 last year, the Wildcats think this could be the season they make a postseason run. They have a young linebacking unit in Mike Bottoni, Vincent Pastore and Derek DiLorenzo moving to inside linebacker. The offensive linemen largely make up the defensive line as well with Brown and Havekotte also leading the secondary.

“I can see it in everyone’s eyes out there,” Havekotte said. “Everyone’s itching to hit and get out there, put the pads on and just start the season off right.”

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