If the Nanuet High School football team is going to improve from its 3-6 record last year, Head Coach Phil Carbone thinks the team needs to improve its consistency, and one way to do that is by leaning on the seniors to lead.
“It’s definitely on us to make sure the younger guys don’t get down and let something negative that happened affect the rest of a game, or the next game,” said senior captain Liam Reilly, a center and outside linebacker. “We have to provide the leadership we didn’t have last year.”
Reilly said he definitely thinks part of the Knights' issues last year were mental, in that a bad play or bad game snowballed and the team got down on itself.
“We need to make sure everyone is working hard,” said fellow senior captain Peter Smith, an inside linebacker and fullback. “We can’t have anyone slacking off.”
That includes on the field during games and practice, as well as off the field while in class.
“We tell [the younger players] to make sure they keep up with the schoolwork and do well in class,” Smith said. “If you don’t do well in class, you can’t play.”
One area of consistency Carbone wants to improve in is finishing, both games and drives.
“We had a bunch of drives last year where our defense would back them up for a third-and-long, and then fall apart,” he said. “We need to learn to not give up the big play. We’d have these long yard situations end up turning into negatives for us.”
Carbone said the team was also on the younger side last year, noting he had about six or seven sophomores playing regularly together. One of them was starting quarterback Ryan Hanney. Carbone said they didn’t simplify anything for the young quarterback last year.
“That wouldn’t have been good for his development,” Carbone said. “We might’ve scaled it back a little bit, but we were still running complex plays.”
To take a step in a positive direction this year, Carbone said everyone on offense will need to improve and that it just doesn’t fall on the quarterback’s shoulders.
“You can see his improvement and how much better he’s running the offense,” Carbone said. “But if we have just one guy who knows what he’s doing and 10 who don’t, we’re still not going to get better. We need everyone, and so far the line and backs have looked good as well.”
Reilly added he thinks having a year like last year can also help.
“It was a learning experience for a lot of us,” he said. “Last year’s record will motivate us to do better this year.”
The Knights open the season Friday night at Putnam Valley at 7 p.m.