Far Rockaway Fuels Optimism For Great Year
This past week had been an dreary one, filled with non stop rain and overcast clouds. But for at least one day during a Far Rockaway varsity football practice, the rain held up and allowed the team to have a dry practice. The welcome respite from the weather helped the team keep their focus to what they believe will lead to a strong season.
The belief starts from head coach Les Sabbah, who will bring back many starters and import a few players from the junior varsity squad that finished 9-0 in 2002. The team will start their season a non league game this Saturday against Tilden at 11 a.m.
"We are cautiously optimistic. We have a lot of good talented kids", says Sabbah, whose team finished 5-3 in 2002 and missed the playoffs after losing their final game to Adams. "We got a lot of quarterbacks and receivers who can run and catch the ball".
The team returns many players to a high scoring offense. The team will bring back QB Chris Howard, RB Michael Toney, Jamol Hill, Ricardo Remy and Alvin Tirado on the offensive line. Dasheen Jordan and Dexter Geoghan are two players from the defense who will return.
Far Rockaway will have to play a harder schedule as they move to a power rating of 5. The team’s success in both football programs over the past few years may have led to playing a schedule that is filled with teams such as New Dorp and Midwood.
"The schedule is much harder. We’re going to Kennedy on Friday night fighting the Van Wyck traffic", sabbah says. Instead of playing a all Queens schedule, which we always advocate, we’re playing teams outside of the Queens." Their move to a higher power rating means they will not face off against their natural Queens rivals. "We want to play teams we know and have rivalries with. We’re not playing LIC (Long Island City), Bryant, and Springfield Gardens. We always have good games against those teams", Sabbah said.
The team should have at least 30 players to round out the squad. Some players will be playing on both offense and the defense and it is a concern for Sabbah. "As long as we don’t have injuries, it would change the whole complexion of the squad. As long as everyone is ok, we should be fine".
Another issue may be depth on the offensive and defensive line but that may be corrected with some of the junior varsity players. Sabbah says that the team is still conducting tryouts when school opens for both teams at 2:30 p.m. every day.
The Beach Channel game on November 2 sure means a lot to Sabbah. Far Rock lost to the Dolphins 14-0 last year in a tough defeat that led them to miss the playoffs. "We could lose all these games but if we beat Beach Channel, we consider it a successful year. This is like the peninsula Army-Navy game", Sabbah said.
Sabbah has been impressed with the scrimmages that the team has played in the summer against George Washington, West Hempstead, Long Island City, Jefferson and Springfield Gardens. A new weight room installed in the high school from the New York City Fit for Life grants kept the players in good condition during the summer and the team brought in two new assistant coaches.
"We really feel that the table is set. We’re excited about the schedule", Sabbah says. "We got the coaching staff, we got the new field and we got the weight room. We’re just waiting for the team to deliver".
As of press time, there has been no word from the Department of Education on the decision of reinstalling former Beach Channel head varsity football coach Marty Senall. Victor Nazario Jr. remains the interim coach until a final decision is handed down. Coach Les Sabbah for one hopes Marty comes back for the Beach Channel- Far Rockaway game. That’s why we hope Marty is back for that one. It won’t be the same if we don’t play it with Marty not coaching and you can quote me on that", Sabbah said.
Head Coach Anthony Miele of the junior varsity team, who went 9-0 last year, is pleased with the schedule he has received for 2003. "I asked for an 11 game schedule and they (PSAL) gave me what I wanted". Miele’s team plays their first game of the season on September 21 against Lehman High School at home. Far Rockaway will play the same amount of games that most jv teams in the city will play.