2008-08-29 / Sports

Seahorses Get Ready To Battle In Unfamiliar Surroundings

By Elio Velez

Walter Wilkerson(right) gives instructions to his players. Photo by Peter Borriello.  Walter Wilkerson(right) gives instructions to his players. Photo by Peter Borriello. The hallways at Far Rockaway High School will once again echo with change this fall. A brand new junior high school and two smaller high schools will open inside the building on September 2.

Add to that FDA VI, an existing fouryear high school, and the denizens will be varied to say the least this fall.

But the fifth school, the original but ever-shrinking Far Rockaway High School, is in the last days if its existence.

As the original Far Rockaway closes in three-years to be incorporated to what will eventually become Far Rockaway High School Campus, the varsity football team have grown accustomed to change, just like the famous David Bowie song.

What's a few more wrinkles to be thrown in to mix for the Seahorses. They will be once again coached by Walter Wilkerson in their upcoming PSAL varsity campaign, which starts on September 6 at home against George Washington High School at 12 p.m.

Far Rockaway's second consecutive season with a 2-7 record and declining numbers on the varsity roster were some of the factors in dropping as a 3- rated team from the PSAL City Championship Division to the 1-rated Cup Division.

"I'm trying to be optimistic. I don't want these kids, myself and the coaching staff to overlook, or take for granted in dropping down," Wilkerson said.

"We were 2-7 last year. We didn't do anything special. I don't think dropping a division should change the way we coach. We still got to motivate to win. All of the other teams are trying to do the same thing."

Edwin Cruz, a senior offensive lineman, along with co-captain Gregory Ibe, have grown accustomed to the changes around the school and the team. Ibe, the team's starting RB heard the friendly taunts from their friends from Beach Channel this summer at the Big Apple Games

"The whole Big Apple, we heard it from them, 'You guys dropped down! Ok',".Ibe said.

Cruz, a four year starter, heard the same.

"That's what we heard all summer," Cruz said. "You guys got dropped down to the 1."

Life is different now that the Seahorses won't be facing Beach Channel, their peninsula rivals or other familiar foes on the schedule this season. They will be playing teams such as Information Technology High School and Alfred E. Smith.

But while their competition and division may be different, Ibe and Cruz are both set out to eradicate the losses that have mounted in their time on the varsity.

"I felt like it was a bad thing but then again it's like a good thing because we can regroup our team," Cruz said.

Daniel Marc Sears returns at QB, junior Christopher Rainey's size at 6-should be a factor on the defensive line, and seniors T.J. Osunkoya and Jesse Aguirre will be starters on both sides of the ball.

A few additions from the junior varsity, including DL Everette Harrison and WR Jevaugh Pennock, could provide instant dividends.

"We bring a lot back. W e got good talent coming back. We got T.J. coming back. Daniel is coming back. We got guys with some fresh legs," Ibe said.

It's up to Wilkerson to mold a team ready to face off against new competition and the ever changing circumstances around them.

What he has seen is a positive that attitude that is different than in years past. If the Seahorses can translate that to victories, then things can be a lot better at the Rock.

"It does get difficult. We still face the same things we're facing, eligibility, school closing and numbers so that doesn't change," Wilkerson said.

"We're still trying to keep the kids motivated, on a positive path, coached to win and playing to win. We're playing to win. It's no difference going from a 5 to a 3 to a 1."

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