Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00
Last year, it was clear that the Roslyn High School football team had turned the corner. The Bulldogs began winning games and by large margins, too. For instance, they ended the 2012 season with a 48-14 triumph over Great Neck North and an equally convincing 41-12 win over St. Dominic’s.
This year, the momentum continued. Roslyn won its opening game, a big 42-20 win over Great Neck South. Good times looked to be here to stay. And they were. For the season, the Bulldogs went 7-1, including a playoff win on the road over Port Washington, earning them the title of the “top team” in Conference V play.
To top it off, first year coach Mike Corcoran was named Conference V Coach of the Year in a vote by his fellow coaches. Corcoran used the opportunity to reflect on the honor and on the amazingly successful first year he has enjoyed as head coach.
“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” he told The Roslyn News. “It’s a compliment to my assistants as well. I think of it as a team award.”
And that team brought many exciting moments to Roslyn football fans this year, including the “top team” game where Roslyn scored on a fourth down, 18-yard touchdown pass from Adam Combs to Isaiah Hunter, one giving them the lead in the big game against Port Washington.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Corcoran said of his new team. “I talked with the seniors and I could see they were interested in moving forward. We had good football players. We put them in place to buy into our program. They had to accept a new coaching staff and get used to the way we wanted to do things. We did a lot of teaching and things started rolling from there. It’s an attitude, a state of mind,” the coach added of the winning ways the team developed throughout the year.
One of Corcoran’s first decisions was to name a starting quarterback. He settled on Adam Combs, whose older brother, several years ago, also quarterbacked the Bulldogs to many excellent games. Combs was a freshman, which made his choice highly unusual, but not surprising since he comes from an athletic family.
Asked about the big brother influence on Combs, Corcoran could only speculate, “it [couldn’t] hurt,” adding that maybe the “younger brother wants to prove something to the older brother.”
Next year, the Bulldogs will have Combs and running star Thomas Davis as among those returning for the fall 2014 campaign. But Roslyn will also lose eight seniors on offense and seven on defense.
“It’s tough,” Corcoran acknowledged of the many losses. Still, he added that the underclassmen are ready to step up and fill any holes. Many of them and not just Combs and Davis, have plenty of experience in big game pressure situations and in practice with the star players.
Roslyn prevailed over Port Washington despite the fact that the latter team had significantly more players on its roster than did the Bulldogs.
Hopefully, Roslyn’s success will induce more youngsters to try out for football. The basketball squad is successful because, in part, the players work out together year round, including intense pick up games in the summer months at The Park at East Hills. At a recent “Go Long For Luke” fundraising event at that same park, the football field was full of grade school and middle school boys playing ball, rather than, say, inside watching a Jets or Giants game. And that is what Roslyn needs to continue their football success.
“To build up this program we definitely need more players,” Corcoran said. “Getting a junior varsity team in place [would be ideal] because we need more players.”
Part of Corcoran’s enjoyment this year was not just winning, but being welcomed into the Roslyn community.
“[It was] a real pleasure,” he said of working with residents of the school district. “They were great people to work with, especially Dawn Cerrone, the director of the athletic department.”
Parents were also pleased with Corcoran’s performance.
“It takes teamwork to make a dream work,” said Kim Hunter, mother of now two veterans of the Roslyn program. Roslyn football fans hope to see more of that in the future and chances are that they probably will.