06/07/13 9:27pm
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.”

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09/08/12 12:38am

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra scored two of Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s touchdowns against Stony Brook.


The high humidity was taking its toll, particularly on The Stony Brook School players, who were going down, one by one, their leg muscles cramping up as a long football game dragged on. But the press-box view through binoculars provided an especially disconcerting image with 3 minutes 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Don Liotine, who had been having a super game for the Bears, was lying on his back in obvious pain, and it clearly wasn’t cramps. No, it was something more serious than that.

After a while, Liotine made it to his feet and slowly hobbled off the field. It looked like his night was clearly over. What Liotine was dealing with — and has been since preseason practice started last month — was painful shin splints.

Imagine the surprise of some, then, when just a couple of plays later, Liotine was back on the field, making a tackle for no gain, no less. It takes a lot more than shin splints to keep a determined player like Liotine on the sideline.

“I only go down if I break something,” he said. “I got to stay out there. I got to keep the team up.”

Liotine gave Stony Brook a big boost with his inspired play. The senior played with shin splints, but it was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island that felt the pain on opening night of the 2012 high school football season in Suffolk County.

Shin splints didn’t prevent Liotine from playing in the season opener or from running for four touchdowns and 243 yards in a 38-21 defeat of the visiting Porters on Friday night. It was quite a performance by the player who, aside from the work he did as a running back, made eight tackles and defended three passes as a free safety in addition to blocking a punt. He even kicked a couple of extra points, to boot.

“He’s a great high school football player, man, probably one of the best we’ve had at this school,” said Stony Brook coach Kris Ryan.

The Porters, seeded 11th in Conference IV, unveiled their brand new spread offense with mixed results. Under the direction of sophomore quarterback Matt Drinkwater, who made his first varsity start, the Porters totaled 315 yards of offense and gained 17 first downs. But the Porters completed only 10 of 33 passes for 147 yards. Their first nine passes were incomplete.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Frank Sierra, left, and Willie Riggins, right, converged on Stony Brook running back Don Liotine.

“As the game went on it got better, and I think it will continue to improve,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “It takes practice. It takes time.”

Meanwhile, No. 10 seed Stony Brook managed to overcome 15 penalties and three turnovers with 463 yards of offense. The Bears have quick-strike, big-play ability.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liotine showed his vision, balance and speed on one play when he scored the game’s final touchdown on a dazzling 91-yard run with 2:41 left to play. He also had a pair of 38-yard touchdown runs and seven-yard score in the first half, when the Bears forged a 32-14 lead.

“He’s an amazing kid, and he works hard,” Ryan said. “He’s a workout warrior. His dream is to play college football, and I’m hoping that this season gets it going for him.”

Liotine’s first touchdown run came after he received a direct snap from the Wildcat formation, something Stony Brook turned to last year after losing its top two quarterbacks to injuries. “It’s a way to mix things up,” said Ryan.

Liotine didn’t run like he was hurting, but he was. “You feel it on every cut,” he said.

A passer, Marco Masakayan, and a receiver, Tyler Hoegsberg, also figured prominently in Stony Brook’s victory. Masakayan, the senior quarterback, had missed most of last season with an injury. Playing in his first game since Week 2 of last year, Masakayan accounted for 172 yards on 6-for-15 passing. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Hoegsberg (three catches, 140 yards). Hoegsberg was wide open behind the Porters’ secondary for both of those scores, covering distances of 51 and 62 yards.

“We believe in our players,” Ryan said. “I learned that they are much better football players than they were last year. They worked hard in the offseason. They bought into what we’re doing here. They believe in the coaches, and they executed, and because of that they are head and shoulders above where they were last year.”

Stony Brook surged to a 25-0 lead before the Porters struck for two touchdowns within a span of 92 seconds late in the second quarter. Frank Sierra (30 carries, 135 yards) carried the ball in untouched from three yards out for the first score. Then, after Jack Volinski recovered a fumble, giving the Porters possession in Stony Brook territory, Drinkwater fired a 20-yard strike to Gene Allen in the end zone.

Sierra picked up a second touchdown for himself, thanks to some alert play on his part. When the ball was jarred loose from a teammate’s hands, Sierra scooped up the fumble and dashed 55 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter. John Drinkwater’s extra point made it an 11-point game at 32-21, but that was as close as the Porters got. It wasn’t enough for the Porters to avoid losing their sixth straight game, a stretch that goes back to last season.

“There’s a lot of things that we can fix going forward, and we’re going to,” Martilotta said. “We’re going to be successful.”

Speaking of his players, the coach said: “I think they have a lot of heart. I thought that the effort was great. They fought to the very end. They kept their heads up. They have something to be proud of. They didn’t win today. You don’t win every game, but they came out and they played very hard.”

Stony Brook’s defense was bolstered by Ed Kim (11 tackles, one fumble recovery, two passes defended, one sack), Benjamin Fye (nine tackles) and David Jensen (five tackles, three sacks).

“We’re tough,” Liotine said. “We don’t have a lot of size, we don’t have a lot of depth, but we’ll fight. We’re fighters.”

Before the euphoria of victory had worn off, Liotine was asked how he felt and whether he could still feel the pain that comes with the game.

He said, “I’m so exhausted that everything hurts.”

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