Written by Michael Florio Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00
New Hyde Park Memorial High School varsity football head coach Kevin Dolan has a tough task of trying to win games while also guiding an inexperienced team. Dolan hopes to improve this year, coming off a 2012 season that saw the Gladiators go 1-7.
“We have two players that have any varsity football experience. Everyone else did not get on the field last year with anything significant, or they are new to football or just up from JV,” said Dolan. “Expectations I have for the team this season is improvement.”
Dolan will look to improve through practice. The Gladiators practice three hours every day, and study film afterwards. He will also lean on his four senior captains to bring leadership.
The captains are offensive lineman and linebacker Thomas Labruna and wide receiver and defensive back Brennan Scanlon, who is the most experienced player.
Matt Dluglinski is a physically tough safety and running back while Marc Tangredi, who plays offensive and defensive line for the Gladiators, will be leaned on by younger players.
“Last year’s team was very talented and a great bunch of kids, but they just couldn’t get on the same page,” Dolan said. “This team doesn’t know anything, so they do whatever you ask them to do.”
The Gladiators still have some questions on offense. Dolan looks for a balanced attack but for now, the team will go with a pass-first game plan.
“We are still looking for who is going to emerge as the big running back,” he said. “We have plenty of talent but we are waiting to see who will be that guy.”
As for quarterback, junior Tom Kemmet seems to have the job locked up.
“He’s very talented and extremely intelligent,” said Dolan. In the Gladiators’ opening game, a 44-19 loss to Bethpage, Kemmet went 14-for-26 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a third touchdown, but it was negated due to holding penalty.
The Gladiators are not as big on defense as they would like to be, but Dolan will not complain about that. His concept is defense will be a team effort, focused around gang tackling.
“The only way for us to be successful on defense is for the entire defense to do their job,” says Dolan. “They have to make plays and run to the ball with enthusiasm.”
Dolan also believes that every game is crucial for this team searching for experience. “The only big game we have is the next game,” he said. “That has become a cliché for great teams, but for us, a developing team, it’s a way of life.”
In the opening game the Gladiators outscored Bethpage in the fourth quarter. This is something Dolan hopes to build on.
“They learned a lesson, you can’t take your foot off the gas whether you are winning or losing,” said Dolan.
The Gladiators lost their second game to Floral Park Memorial, 27-0.