Dolphins Ready For New Challenges In The PSAL
There is a lot of transition going on inside the Beach Channel Education Campus. The phasing out of Beach Channel continues for another year as the three smaller schools, Channel View, Rockaway Collegiate, and Rockaway Park for Environmental Sustainability, either solidify or grow as programs.
The changes are evident as well for the varsity football team that will go on the field this season.
After making the postseason in three out of the last four years, Beach Channel/Channel View was promoted last spring from the PSAL Bowl Division to the highest level in the Championship Division. The Dolphins were eliminated by Grady in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Bowl playoffs.
This year’s squad will be a lot smaller with just over 30 players, which Dolphins coach Victor Nazario says is the smallest in the 12 years he has been at the school. The team will carry a number of younger members without a junior varsity team.
Nazario said he would have liked for the building to settle down, and have the population grow a bit larger. The Dolphins, though, will be prepared to take on Curtis, Campus Magnet and the rest of the Championship Division.
“I would have liked to reestablish the junior varsity. The schedule is not horrible with respect to the other teams. We’re looking to win just like they are,” Nazario said.
“It’s early but I like the team’s camaraderie. It’s a tighter knit group than last year. We open up with three at home, which is nice considering we are young and inexperienced, which wouldn’t be a good thing if we started on the road.”
The first order of business is on the defensive side of the ball where only four players return as starters.
Defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi will get plenty of attention from the opposition this season. The 6-foot-4- inch, 285-pound senior has fully recovered from various knee injuries which made him miss a number of games the last few years.
He put together some impressive workouts this summer in a number of college football camps. The University of Connecticut was so impressed at their camp that the Big East Division I school made him an offer which he accepted.
Fatukasi will team up in the middle of the line with 6-foot-6-inch, 250-pound senior Roger Arrington to cause havoc. Nazario says outside linebackers Nkozi Stewart and senior team captain Justin Zemser can also make some big plays.
Marcus Wilcox and a few other players will be in the mix to start at the inside linebacker positions. New faces will have to fill roles at safety and at both cornerback spots.
“It’s not just me that has to step up, it’s the whole team. We got to go hard, all of us,” Fatukasi said. “Everybody needs work. We may have to play iron ball because of the low numbers, but everybody is working hard.”
The offense will be guided by returning senior quarterback Breland Archbold. The strong armed starter will also rely on his speed to break down defenses. Nazario calls two of his runningbacks, Chris Reed and Matthew Fordham, a possible “Thunder and Lightning duo” with their speed and strength.
The combo will have to replace Diequan Underwood. A once emerging sophomore star, the runningback transferred after personal issues led to one school punishment that forced him to sit out last year’s crucial playoff game.
Stewart and Khalil Mitchell will have the opportunity to take over at the wide receiver spots. The offensive line may be a concern due to lack of depth if a starter does get injured.
Nazario hasn’t seen any problems in camp so far. The team has held themselves accountable for their actions, and the goal is to make the playoffs.
“What we lack is some depth in some areas, but we have to make up in the intangibles such as leadership and other mental things. We have a good corps of players in other areas,” Zemser said.
Zemser thinks his team will be ready for the new challenges ahead. They won’t look ahead or prognosticate about their schedule. The first task is getting ready for New Utrecht in the home opener on September 8.
“We know we have to rise to the occasion. Sometimes we knew we [were] so talented, we scored 20 points, instead of 60 points. This year we can’t do that. We got to fight for every touchdown. This division will help us get better rather than tear us down.
“This is a small group, but it’s a tight knit group that can rely on one another. I think that can take us far.”