Football: Porters, tired of losing, want that winning feeling

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island's leading risher last season with 540 yards from 155 carries.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s leading rusher last season with 540 yards from 155 carries.

The Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football team has had enough of losing. Losing is something the Porters have known only too well over the past two years, and now they’re doing something about it.

A winless 2012 season that ended with a 26-20 double-overtime defeat to Southampton did not sit well with the Porters, who have lost 13 straight games dating back to 2011. Many of them, like Frank Sierra, have resolved to do all they can to see that next season brings the Porters some wins.

“It’s just something I never want to feel again,” said Sierra, who led the Porters with 540 rushing yards from 155 carries last year. “It was a horrible feeling.”

Borne from all those losses was a spirit of determination and motivation. A stronger Sierra said that ever since the football season ended, he has worked out in the weight room five days a week and ran on weekends with teammate Jared Schenone.

“Everyone’s determined,” said Gene Allen, who ran for three touchdowns, passed for three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass in 2012. “We’re focused on working hard. We know what we have to do to win games.”

Players say they have noticed a changed attitude during the team’s weeklong mini-camp that concluded on Friday at Mattituck High School.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Andersen, who made 19 tackles last season, working on his agility Friday, the final day of the weeklong mini-camp.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Andersen, who made 19 tackles last season, working on his agility Friday, the final day of the weeklong mini-camp.

“Everyone’s hungry for some wins,” said Connor Andersen, who plays fullback and middle linebacker. “We have people pushing each other.”

Last year’s 0-8 record was something the Porters did not expect. Coming off a 1-7 season and a brutal schedule the year before, the Porters thought 2012 would be kinder to them. They were in for a rude surprise.

“I was shocked,” said Andersen.

Allen said: “Honestly, I thought we were going to win a handful of games. I thought we were going to go to the playoffs.”

The bulk of the team will return in August. In fact, the Porters have said goodbye to nine seniors over the past two years, and coach Jack Martilotta is expecting to have about 15 seniors on his roster in the fall.

That, along with a more forgiving schedule, provides the Porters with cause for optimism.

“We’ve got high hopes,” Martilotta said. “Last year, even though we didn’t win, we had a lot of close games — heartbreakingly close games — and we feel that this year it should tip in our favor.”

Martilotta said 55 players attended the mini-camp. One of the benefits of the mini-camp is that it gives players an idea of what to expect when preseason practice starts on Aug. 19. Before then, though, the Porters plan to attend a team camp at Stony Brook University in mid-July.

“They’re very motivated,” Martilotta said. “They really are. It shows the character of these young men.”

Among the players who participated in the mini-camp was Schenone, who sat out last season because of problems with his wrists, but is said to be looking forward to his senior season as the leading quarterback candidate. Schenone was brought up to the varsity team as a freshman three years ago along with Allen, Andersen and Sierra. They all witnessed firsthand what playoff football is about, and they would like to experience it again this coming fall as seniors.

“This year, it’s like, everyone is always talking about football 24/7,” Sierra said. “We’re always talking about what we can do to improve. This is our last year. We want to go out with a bang.”

Allen was already looking forward to the team’s season-opening game, which will be at home on Sept. 12 against Wyandanch.

“We’re going to be ready,” he said. “We know what it felt like to lose. Now we just want to win.”

bliepa@timesreview.com