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Sep 4, 2017 2:20 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Football Preview: Canes Are Ranked Third In New-Look Division III; Baymen, Mariners Look To Improve In Division IV

Shawn Stelling will continue as Southampton's quarterback this season. BRETT MAUSER
Sep 5, 2017 9:24 AM

The cancellation of East Hampton football’s season last week had a bit of a trickle down effect for Divisions III and IV in Suffolk County.

Since East Hampton was going to make the jump up to Division III due to higher enrollment numbers, that meant that a team had to make the jump down to Division IV. Amityville, a school that had struggled the past few years and had the lowest enrollment in Division III, has now joined Division IV.

With East Hampton folding its program so close to the start of the season, those Division III teams who were scheduled to play the Bonackers will receive a win by forfeit. Since the divisions are power ranked it shouldn’t affect the standings too much. But those teams who are teetering on the final eighth playoff spot and had East Hampton on their schedule will certainly have the upper hand on those who didn’t.

Westhampton Beach

The Hurricanes had a banner season last year, finishing the regular season 7-1 with its only loss coming in the regular-season finale at powerhouse Sayville, which reached the county finals. Westhampton Beach defeated Harborfields in the first round of the playoffs but then lost to eventual county champion East Islip in the semifinals.

The Canes have since regrouped and will be led once again by Dylan Laube, now entering his senior year. Laube, who has committed to the University of New Hampshire, had a historic campaign for Westhampton Beach in 2016. He rushed for 2,151 yards on 180 carries, caught eight passes for 202 yards and also returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown, and a kick return 99 yards for a score. All in all, Laube accounted for 40 touchdowns, third most in Long Island history; North Babylon’s Jason Gwaltney scored 45 touchdowns in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Laube was the Joe Cipp Jr. Award recipient, given to the top running back in Suffolk County, and he was a finalist for the Carl A. Hansen Award—named after the longtime coach and athletic director of Westhampton Beach—given to the top football player in the county. He placed second to Sayville quarterback Jack Coan, who set a number of passing records and is now playing at the University of Wisconsin.

Returning for their senior year with Laube are defensive end Nolan Quinlan, running back/linebacker Nery Luna, defensive back Tom Blake, and lineman Kurt Mion. Junior fullback/linebacker Liam McIntyre also returns, along with classmate Clarke Lewis, who saw very limited time on varsity this season, but will take over at quarterback for the departed Tristan Hogan, who graduated this past June. Other departed graduates include Zach Arrasate, Ross Cange, Anthony Strippoli, Ralph Amitrano and Scott Rementer.

The Canes are ranked third in Division III this season, behind top seed and newcomer Half Hollow Hills West and returning county champion East Islip. Sayville, Rocky Point, and another new division foe, Bellport, fell in behind Westhampton Beach, respectively. Comsewogue and West Babylon round out the top eight teams; the top eight in each division qualify for the postseason. The Canes did not have a game scheduled against East Hampton this season therefore will not receive a win by forfeit.

Westhampton Beach hosts Bellport in its season opener this Friday night at 6 p.m.

Hampton Bays

A key victory over Bayport/Blue Point pushed the Baymen into the playoffs with a 4-4 record in Division IV last season, but they made a quick exit, losing to county and Long Island champion Shoreham/Wading River in the opening round.

Nearly half the team graduated following the season but many were first-year players helping build depth on the team. The Baymen still have a number of returning players and added a couple of new faces in the offseason.

Senior Nico Antieri was the team’s starting quarterback last season but will be used primarily as a running back/linebacker this season, taking the occasional snap under center when the team deploys its wildcat offense. A sophomore, Lucas Brown, will be taking over for Antieri at quarterback. Brown saw some time on varsity last season as safety and he will see some time there again this season. Sophomore Quinn Smith showed signs last season that he could be a force on the field and will look to continue that as a fullback/linebacker, filling the shoes of his older brother Colin Smith, a two-time All-County selection who graduated last year.

Senior Riley McNamara will continue to be a leader on both the offensive and defensive lines, head coach Rich Doulos said. He’ll be joined by senior Mathew Lligui and junior Josh Bembenski on the line, and senior Jackson Perez will play offensive guard and linebacker.

Hampton Bays has a handful of upperclassmen who are playing varsity football for the first time this season. James and Michael Moscato are both seniors and, with each standing 6 feet 2 inches, they will be the team’s starting wide receivers and defensive backs. Another senior, Tyler Davies, is penciled in at running back/linebacker. Junior Kevin McNamara will play running back and safety and Kevin Eras, another junior, will play on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Baymen were seeded just outside the top eight of Division IV at ninth. Miller Place, Shoreham, Elwood/John Glenn, Amityville, Babylon, Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson and Bayport were seeded ahead of Hampton Bays, respectively.

The Baymen open up against Greenport/Southold/Mattituck this Friday night at home at 7 p.m.

Southampton

Heading into his fourth season now as head coach, Bruce Muro is excited to be working with players he has brought up through the program. Additionally, the program has had some of its best numbers in recent years, with 46 players between varsity and junior varsity, the most Muro has had on varsity since he became head coach, he said.

“It’s been really great. The program is growing,” he said. “We’re still a bottom seed, but we feel real positive about this group of kids. The kids have grown, not only in size, but in maturity as well.”

The Mariners will certainly feel the losses of Shaundel Crumpton, Avory Johnson and Pierson’s Bradley Toole, who have all graduated and moved on to play in college. In fact, Morrisville State, where Crumpton and Johnson attend, will play against Buffalo State, where Toole attends, next weekend, Saturday, September 16.

But Southampton has a number of key returning players that have Muro thinking his team will finish better than its second-to-last, or 13th, ranking, ahead only of Mercy. Shawn Stelling, who has grown to be 6 feet 3 inches and 215 pounds now, is returning for his junior year as quarterback. An injury against Center Moriches derailed much of his season a year ago, but Muro said he is back healthy and may even see some time at linebacker.

Stelling, and fellow seniors Aaron Napier Jr. and Adonis Hutchings, will be the team’s three captains. Napier Jr. led the team in rushing last season and will also play at linebacker this year. Hutchings will play running back and outside linebacker. Senior Deone Minter is also returning and will play fullback/defensive end. Sincere Faggins made a splash on varsity last season, taking his first pass for an 84-yard touchdown reception. The sophomore will be a key piece on both sides of the ball this season.

Pierson will be adding players to the team for the second season. A pair of juniors, Jake Esposito and Max Mensch, are coming in from Sag Harbor. Muro is high on Esposito, a free safety/running back, who helped fuel the junior varsity last season. Mensch is a tight end/defensive lineman. Bridgehampton is sending over players to Southampton after its long partnership with East Hampton. Muro is excited for what sophomore Elijah White brings to the table and called him one of the best players he’s had the opportunity to coach in his 20 years on the sidelines. Dan Gutierrez, a senior linebacker/offensive lineman, is also making the trip from Bridgehampton.

Southampton regained the Hampton Cup last season in its rivalry with East Hampton, and since the Bonackers will not have a team this season, the Mariners will be able to hold on to that for the time being. The Mariners, however, had to hand over the Mayor’s Cup to cross-town rival Hampton Bays last season, but Muro said they have circled their home game with the Baymen on September 28 and expect to give them a battle to bring the cup back to Southampton.

In the meantime, Southampton will focus on its season opener this Friday night at 6 p.m. at home against Mercy. With the Monarchs being the only team ranked under Southampton, Muro said it will be a good test to see where his team is at.

“If we do really well against them it will grow our confidence and be really helpful,” he said.

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