The Huntington High School varsity football team will take the field for its 95th season opener on Friday at Lindenhurst. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs won the Suffolk and Long Island Class I championships last fall.
After falling in the final minutes of last fall’s Suffolk Division II play-off game against Half Hollow Hills East, the Blue Devils have regrouped and fixed their eyes on making another run for a post-season berth.
Head coach Steve Muller heads into his 23rd year leading the Blue Devils with a staff that includes varsity assistants Todd Jamison and Kevin Graham. “We are excited to start playing games,” Muller said. “We’ll give every opponent everything we have.”
Huntington returns a talented group of skilled players on offense, including 6’1 quarterback John P. Paci IV. The teenager was injured late last season and forced to miss the playoff game.
Paci’s field leadership, pocket and play action passing and ability to run with the ball on broken plays are all crucial to the Blue Devil fortunes. He’ll have a number of targets to connect to, including some that could go for big yardage. Seniors Pat Durand, Jordan McCoy and Jon Koumas, juniors Jaylen Bush and Aedan McDonald and sophomores, Trevan Meagher and Chad Rowe all return with at least some degree of experience catching the ball.
Complementing the passing game will be two returning senior running backs in Eric Sands and Sebastian Abreu. Sands will use his strength to power through the line while Abreu will depend upon his superior field vision and speed to run past defenders.
New to the varsity squad is sophomore Nasir Youngblood, who ran the lead leg of the Huntington track team’s 4x100m Suffolk Division II championship relay team. His speed will also be utilized in the backfield and on special teams.
Protecting these skilled players and opening holes for them will be senior Bryce Criscuola and a group of underclassmen, including sophomore Kyle Green and juniors Gary Barash, Tazadon Smith and Aidan Mrotzek.
Huntington lost some size and strength on defense to graduation so the Blue Devils will be relying on its speed this season. The above average speed of both Criscuola and Smith will be counted upon to contain opposing quarterbacks. Barash and Mrotzek will add some size and power in the middle as nose guards.
The Blue Devils’ linebacker corps will consist of a group of young players who don’t seem to mind getting physical. Koumas, Abreu, Henry Cartwright, Joe Ramos, Vinny Caravetto, Jack Stewart are ready to hit hard.
Huntington’s secondary will consist of any combination of Bush, McCoy, Durand, McDonald and Lex Colato. They will use their outstanding speed to cover receivers. They are also capable of coming up to the line of scrimmage and making tackles.
The 2018 Blue Devils will depend upon their underclassmen to rise to the challenges the team will face this season with a handful of veteran seniors providing inspiration and encouragement.
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Muller comes into the season with a career mark of 124-82 for a .602 winning percentage. Only Joe Lucey (125-95-9 .566 in 27 seasons) has more victories as a Huntington head coach.
Huntington first fielded a football team in 1895, but the squad was not officially sponsored by the high school and it contained many players from the town, but not the school. Following a catastrophic injury to a player in 1901, the sport was put on hold until 1924 when it was officially sanctioned by the high school.
Huntington played its games at Heckscher Park through the 1958 season. The program has only had nine head coaches in its 95 year history. The group includes Alton R. Stevens, Ross Scott, William Class, Frank Kubisa, Al Donofrio, Joe Lucey, John P. Paci, Jr. Ron Wilson and Steve Muller. The program’s all-time record is 417-304-30, a .575 winning percentage.
All-Long Island Football Players from Huntington
|1989||John P. Paci III||12||6'4||198||QB|
|2003||Jovan Hairston||12||5'11||280||DL||2nd Team|
|2005||Zach Howell||11||6'||170||QB||2nd Team|
|2005||Dominick Sair||12||6'||235||RB||2nd Team|
|2013||Ben Kocis||12||6'2||190||QB||2nd Team|
|2013||Troy Greene||12||6'1||190||All-Purp||2nd Team|
|2013||Levar Butts||12||5'8||195||LB||2nd Team|