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Sachem North players, coach eager to fulfill high expectations

Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2010 by LIBLITZ.com
Editor's note:  The first preview story for the 2010 high school football season.
 
Sachem North the No. 1 preseason team for Suffolk County Division 1--
Sachem North players, coach eager to fulfill high expectations .
 
By JIM FURLONG
 
Coach David Falco says the Sachem North football players and coaches "have a recipe for success."
Two-way standouts Jesse Scanna and Michael Andreassi and quarterback Angelo Armine say they are highly motivated and yearn to excel. The Flaming Arrows are eager to embrace their high expectations and delight their fans.
 
"We want the expectations to be raised. That is what we want," said Falco. "They are where they are. I don't know how (the 2010 season) will turn out. I know how I want it to turn out." For the first time since 2002, their program starts the season No. 1 in the preseason rankings for the 14 varsity teams competing in Suffolk County Division I. After setting a Sachem school record for the winningest season (10-1 in 2009), the Flaming Arrows are dedicated to take the next step: win the county championship. The 25 seniors, preparing for the regular-eason opener Sept. 11 against Patchogue-Medford, want to achieve more during their last prep season. "It is all about legacy," said Armine. "What are we going to be remembered for? Where are we going? We want to be remembered that we were better than last year. That is our goal."

Last season, the Flaming Arrows started No. 7 in the preseason rankings and made a big impact in their first game, grabbing a road victory at then-top-ranked William Floyd, a perennial power.

Sachem North advanced to dominate their regular-season opponents and won two playoff games against Central Islip and Brentwood. But their title dreams died late in November. During the 2009 Suffolk championship game, the William Floyd Colonials used an alert, dominant defense to grab a 27-6 victory at Stony Brook. "That was a horrible feeling losing," said Scanna, a four-year starter. "I don't want to experience that again and no one else on the team does, too. "Last year, we thought we would be a good team. This year we are the No. 1 team and we are expected to be the best. We are very excited, but we know that comes with a target on our chests."

Off-season dedication  -- frequent running and many days working in the weight room -- have made the Flaming Arrows "bigger, stronger and faster," said Falco. "We know our team is something special," said Scanna, an aggressive linebacker who paced the 2009 squad in tackles. "We have more confidence. You can tell with the body language."
 
Falco, a Sachem standout in the early 1980s, has watched his program gain more respect and recognition on Long Island and in the state. He is eager to promote the program's reputation and the Flaming Arrows have an impressive website, which provides plenty of information. "There is a huge carryover (from the 2009 season) in the confidence of the kids , , , and the confidence the kids have in the coaches has been raised," said Falco. "Last year, our goal was to get to the playoffs. This year it is to get to the county championship game. When we get to that game, I will reset our goals. "Nobody outworks us. No stone is left unturned/ This is 24/7,, 365 (days a year)."

Andreassi, a versatile full-back-linebacker, craves a second chance to win the county title. "Everybody is determined," he said. "We are in it for the long haul and everybody is a family. (The coach)  is pushing us more, asking more of us. He says 'nothing is going to be handed to you. You have to go out and take it.'The Flaming Arrows' current varsity roster lists 44 players, which is 12 more than 2009. Falco said as many as 10 young men will play both ways. Besides Scanna, Armine (also at outside linebacker) and Andreassi, James Thompson goes both ways at tackle and a newcomer, junior Dalton Crossan, will play running back and cornerback. Crossan, a transfer from Shoreham-Wading River, looks like the team's fastest runner and Falco says he's elusive.

This season, the Sachem North "Flexbone" offense will operate without Davon Lawrence, who scored 22 touchdowns last season and rushed for 1,887 yards (averaging 10.4 yards per carry). Lawrence, a second-team All-State election and the 2009 Sachem North MVP, is now a freshman for the Stony Brook Seawolves. "This year we will be more balanced with four runners," said Falco.

Armine said the Flaming Arrows are not cocky, but they are cohesive and crave another shot at William Floyd. The two rivals will collide Oct. 16 in a televised duel, the 2010 Homecomign game for Sachem North.. "We are not letting that (high expectations) get  in our heads. That we are big, bad Sachem," said Armine. "We are working hard. I have been waiting for this season since our last game -- the loss to Floyd. (There's) a chip on my shoulder. We want revenge."

On August 21, the Flaming Arrows departed for their annual preseason camp. Falco and his assistants led about 70 varsity and JV players up to Fishkill, N.Y. for five days. "It's a time to get better and become closer together," said Andreassi. "No distractions. Just you, the team and the coaches." Falco displays an obvious devotion to his school and community around Lake Ronkonkoma. A 1984 Sachem graduate, he eagerly descibes the program's past success, which included 23 consecutive playoff appearances. Falco lists multiple assets this season. "We have a recipe for success," he said. "Our administration back us with support. Our kids work hard. We have coaches who are dedicated and we have talent, but I don't have a crystal ball. We are not shying away from expectations. We are trying to meet them."

Paul Longo, the long-time William Floyd head coach, agrees Sachem North deserves the No. 1 preseason ranking in Division 1, ahead of his second-ranked Colonials. "Sachem North is by far, on paper, better than we are," said Longo. "This is supposed to be their year. We are going to try to spoil that, but it will be tough because they have a lot of talented, experienced seniors." Longo offered extra praise for Scanna, a constant defensive standout at 6-1 and 213 pounds. "As an offensive coach, I can say that Jesse is the best linebacker I have ever coached against," said Longo. "Every time I talk to a college coach, I tell them how good Jesse Scanna is."

After the Flaming Arrows returned from their team camp in Fishkill, they competed August 28 in a four-team scrimmage at Riverhead High School. On August 31, Falco's team scrimmaged at Bellport High. The last Flaming Arrows' scrimmage was Sept. 3 at North Babylon. Armine overflows with enthusiasm and he believes he will be an improved leader. "I am a lot more confident," he said. "I know the offense better. I know what I am doing. I am stronger and faster. I want so badly for us to win. We've got  to step it up every day: more focus, more dedication, more intensity. That is what a championship team does."
 

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