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GARRET MEADE PHOTO | We are the champions!   three Shelter Island team mates raise high the Suffolk County Class D Championship plaque.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | We are the champions!
From left, seniors Matthew Dunning, Nathan Mundy and  Matthew BeltCappellino raise high the Suffolk County Class D Championship plaque.

Finally, after all these years, the Shelter Island High School boys varsity basketball team is getting a county championship banner to hang in its gym. (more…)

08/27/13 9:59pm
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island's four-year varsity starter, Ryan Weingart, is admired and valued for his work ethic.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Shelter Island’s four-year varsity starter, Ryan Weingart, is admired and valued for his work ethic.

In terms of a high school soccer player, Ryan Weingart could be referred to as “old reliable.”

The “old” part would be a reference to the fact that he is a senior and the longest-serving player on a young Greenport/Shelter Island boys soccer team. As for “reliable,” well, Weingart has been nothing if not reliable for the Porters.

Weingart, the only remaining player from the 2010 team, can be relied upon to do his job, do it well, and do it from start to finish. If anyone understands the value of effort, it’s Weingart. He believes that it was his effort that earned him a place on the varsity team as a freshman and elevated him immediately to a starting position.

“I know what I’m going to get from Ryan,” Greenport/Shelter Island coach Chris Golden said. “Ryan’s going to give me everything he has. That kid, there’s no regrets. At the end of the day, we walk off that field, ‘I played the best I can play.’ I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

The Porters, who began preseason practice on Monday, have been dramatically revamped. They lost six starters from last year’s 6-9-2 team that reached the Suffolk County Class C semifinals, but they really lost more than that.

“Really, what we lost was a lot of experience, kids who had played three-plus years,” said Golden.

Of the 26 players who reported to the team by Tuesday, Golden estimated that 15 of them are freshmen or sophomores. Six are seniors and two are juniors. That is a young group.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Hooks has been moved out of goal to play the field.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Hooks has been moved out of goal to play the field.

“This is going to be a different year,” Golden said. “We will start freshmen this year.”

Meanwhile, the leadership mantle has been handed to Weingart and Austin Hooks, a senior who has been moved from goalkeeper to striker in the hope that his 6-foot-3 frame will help him head in some goals.

Hooks had played in the field when he was in junior high school before being moved to goal for the junior varsity team. Alex Perez and Richard Torres, two sophomores who played for the junior varsity team last year, are contending for the starting goalkeeper job.

Charlie Binder, a senior outside midfielder from Shelter Island, has starting experience, as does senior midfielder Eddie Rogers and two sophomores, forward Bryon Rivas and defender Angel Colon.

“We’re not going to have a bunch of skill guys,” Weingart said, “but we are going to have a bunch of hard workers, and I like that.”

The versatile Weingart will most likely be found playing midfield, but he can play anywhere on the field.

“I’m going to be moving around a lot this year,” he said. “I can expect that, and I’m ready for it. I was made to play.”

He isn’t kidding.

Golden called Weingart a “minutes-eater” who works hard. “He runs the same way in the first minute as he does in the 80th minute,” said Golden.

Weingart has started every varsity game that he has played in. He missed a few games last season after breaking his nose, but even that didn’t keep him off the field for long. During a game late in the season, Weingart vomited on the field, yet kept playing.

“That’s just who I am. I’ll play no matter what,” he said. “I have to. It’s just how I was raised.”

Of course, with all those minutes comes supreme effort, and that is what Golden values most.

“His key quality for this team is his work ethic,” the coach said. “He’s a kid that what he doesn’t have skill-wise, he makes up with hustle, determination and everything else.”

Hooks can attest to that, saying Weingart probably has “the biggest heart on this team. He’s a great player. He never stops hustling.”

One thing Weingart hasn’t done is pick up a lot in the way of statistics. He figures he had an assist or two last season, but he has never scored a goal for the Porters, something he would like to rectify this year. Then again, finishing wasn’t in his job description before.

“I haven’t taken many shots,” he said. “I had so many goal scorers on my previous teams that I wasn’t really the guy to go out there and shoot.”

Surveying new faces on the field during Tuesday’s practice, Weingart said: “I do feel old. It’s a totally different experience. It looks like Greenport has a bright future ahead of it, so that’s good.”

As for him, he said: “It’s a whole new role, a whole new leadership position, whole new players.”

Fortunately for the Porters, though, they have the same old Weingart. Old reliable.

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/20/13 2:39pm
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Gene Allen said coming off an 0-8 season has given the Porters more motivation for the coming campaign.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Gene Allen said coming off an 0-8 season has given the Porters more motivation for the coming campaign.

Perhaps nothing fosters team bonding better than going away to camp like the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team did last month.

For three days, the Porters got away from distractions and focused on football at a team camp at Stony Brook University. They roomed together, practiced three times a day, scrimmaged against Amityville and Syosset, and clicked the fast forward button on their development.

“It was one of the best experiences of my football career,” said Gene Allen, a versatile senior who plays cornerback, rover, wide receiver and quarterback.

It still may be premature to say just how much of a benefit the camp was, but the Porters claim they are already seeing positive results from it. If there was one drawback to camp life, it was the heat they had to deal with on the roasting field turf at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

“It got up to 120” degrees, said Connor Andersen, a senior guard/middle linebacker. “Some kids’ cleats were melting.”

By comparison, the two-a-day preseason practices that the Porters started on Monday at Greenport High School are no problem.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Assistant coach Chris Robinson working with Willie Riggins while assistant coach Mike Miller watches in the background.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Assistant coach Chris Robinson working with Willie Riggins while assistant coach Mike Miller watches in the background.

“It was a great experience,” coach Jack Martilotta said of the camp. “The heat was a little much. We had a couple of shoes start melting apart. All the kids who went to the camp, they’re breezing through this. A lot of kids spent a lot of time in the off-season making sure they were in shape, and I think it’s showing right now.”

Off-season training, fueled in part by the determination to turn things around after an 0-8 season last year, can work wonders. The 2012 season was hardly kind to the Porters. A double-overtime, season-ending loss to Southampton put an end to their pain. It was the 13th consecutive loss for the Porters, who dropped three games last year by a total of 18 points.

“It was rough because no one expects going into a season and being 0 and 8,” Allen said. “That just killed me, and now it’s just extra motivation.”

Andersen said motivation is the only thing he takes away from last season. “Hopefully that motivation will turn into wins,” he said. “We’ve been looking phenomenal. The Stony Brook camp helped a lot. We’re running plays really smooth, and we’re all close as a family and as a team.”

All the way around, the Porters appear to be in a better situation than they were a year ago. As the No. 13 seed among the 14 teams in Suffolk County Division IV, they have a more forgiving schedule. They lost five players to graduation, but have more than a dozen seniors this year.

“They play like seniors,” Martilotta said. “They’re young men and they lead, and young kids look up to it.”

An example of that leadership was seen near the end of Tuesday morning’s practice when a number of varsity players ran alongside a junior varsity player, Chris Schwamborn, and encouraged him as he completed a conditioning run.

In addition to returning veterans like Allen, Andersen, running back Frank Sierra and lineman Cody Fisher, the Porters have a transfer from Bishop McGann-Mercy, senior lineman Owen Finnigan, who should help. The Porters didn’t have a junior varsity team last season and barely had enough players to field a JV team two years ago, but numbers are up, and Martilotta said there will be a JV team this year.

Jared Schenone, a senior quarterback, has been a bystander during these first practices. He had an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago after having been told that his appendix had burst without him knowing it two weeks earlier while he was at the Stony Brook camp. Schenone, who sat out the entire 2012 season with a wrist injury, is awaiting medical clearance to practice. In the meantime, the Porters still have Allen and Matt Drinkwater, who threw most of the team’s passes last season.

But what is past is past. The Porters are looking forward to better days ahead.

“We are a different team this year, I’ll tell you that, a hundred percent different team,” Allen said. “We have a bigger line. Everyone’s bigger … faster, stronger.”

If the Porters produce a season worth remembering, they may want to trace its beginnings to the camp in Stony Brook.

bliepa@timesreview.com

07/13/13 11:42pm
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | The caps of the Riverhead Tomcats, the North Fork Ospreys and the Shelter Island Bucks on top of the North All Stars dugout. For one game, representatives of those teams were teammates.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The caps of the Riverhead Tomcats, the North Fork Ospreys and the Shelter Island Bucks on top of the North All Stars dugout. For one game, representatives of those teams were teammates.

HCBL ALL-STAR GAME | NORTH ALL STARS 4, SOUTH ALL STARS 1 (10 INNINGS)

It’s safe to say that the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League does things differently.

For one thing, the first-year league’s inaugural all-star game was played a full 10 innings, not out of necessity, but in order to give the 10 pitchers on each team a chance to pitch.

What would Abner Doubleday think?

Well, for one thing, he might have been the first to applaud another oddity, or rather a treat to behold. Matt Peacock, a closer for the Riverhead Tomcats, snatched a line drive out of the air with his bare hand to earn the save for the North All Stars in their 4-1 victory over the South All Stars on Saturday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. Numerous witnesses said it was something they had never seen before.

“Maybe in a video game, but not in real life,” said Shelter Island Bucks catcher Joe Burns, who joined with other representatives of the Bucks, the North Fork Ospreys and the Tomcats to form the North team. “That was crazy.”

Peacock turned in the undoubted play of the game — if not the year. After striking out two straight batters with two runners on base, he made the remarkable barehanded grab of the liner hit by Mitch Montaldo in the top of the 10th inning, clinching the game. Peacock held the ball up in his bare right hand for a moment as if he had just surprised himself with what he did. Spectators were stunned.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shelter Island catcher Joe Burns was named the most valuable player of the inaugural Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shelter Island catcher Joe Burns was named the most valuable player of the inaugural Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

“It just kind of happened, a reaction like, oh, a ball, catch the ball and out,” said Peacock, who claimed afterward that his hand felt fine. “I saw it come at me. It wasn’t [hit] that hard. I didn’t want him to get to first.”

Like others, Riverhead third baseman Andre Jernigan had trouble believing what he saw. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen in a while,” he said.

Randy Caden, the Tomcats manager who served as the North’s head coach, said he would have to explain to Peacock’s college coach at South Alabama what happened. “It was an amazing play,” said Caden.

A fitting one, perhaps, given the high-caliber performances on display. Neither side made an error over the course of the 10 innings.

Some may say it was only an exhibition, but it was the league’s showcase event. Playing in front of major league scouts, players undoubtedly wanted to look their best.

“You get to see how talented this league is, a lot of great players,” Ospreys pitcher Dalton Curtis said. “You want to do well because you’re representing your team and everything.”

If some nerves were involved, that would only be natural.

“If anything, I think everybody is kind of amped up, a little nervous, but once the first pitch is thrown, all the nerves go away,” Jernigan said. “It’s just another game of baseball and it’s really fun. Have fun with it.”

Burns and Jernigan both clocked two-run doubles, accounting for the North’s runs. Burns, a St. John’s player whose two-out double in the third inning brought the North a 2-1 lead, received the game’s most valuable player award for his contributions.

“It’s a great honor to come out here with a bunch of great players and hold this up at the end,” said Burns, clutching the MVP award and the bat he was presented with after the game. “Honestly, I was just going in trying to have some fun tonight.”

The South, which included players from the Center Moriches Battlecats, the Sag Harbor Whalers, the Southampton Breakers and the Westhampton Aviators, scored first in the third. Riverhead pitcher Brendan Mulligan, who was credited with the win, issued full-count walks to both David Real and Ryan Spaulding before Kyle Zech dropped a single into shallow left-center field, loading the bases. Joey Havrilak then delivered a sacrifice fly.

But walks helped the North pull in front almost immediately after that. In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Miller of the Ospreys and Jerry Downs of the Tomcats drew passes before Burns brought them home with his double.

The North gave itself more of a cushion in the fifth. After Justin Jones worked a leadoff walk, his Bucks teammate Kevin Brantley singled. Then Jernigan golfed a two-bagger to deep center field, scoring them both.

The South made things interesting in the 10th when its first two batters, David Leiderman and Dan Shea, reached base on an infield single and a walk. But then Peacock buckled down, striking out Zach Persky and Justin Montemayor before making that memorable grab.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Jernigan said of his all-star experience. “You see some amazing things.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | The North All Stars during the singing of the national anthem.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The North All Stars during the singing of the national anthem.