by Kevin Brown
The Sleepy Hollow Alumni Game held July 22 at Sleepy Hollow High School (SHHS) brought out more than 50 past Horsemen to mix it up in competitive games of one hand touch football. Many students who graduated over the last five years were on-hand and so were lots of players from the glory days.
Under the leadership of new Head Coach Jorge Veintimilla, players from the past were glad to hear about exciting changes to the Section 1, Class A program. Recently, Veintimilla announced that youth football operating for years as Wolfpack football would fall under his supervision and be renamed Horsemen Jr football. In recent clinics and family fun day, youth from the community got to train with varsity players and former Horsemen.
“We are going to teach safe, head up football from the youngest ages and teach our kids what they need to know when they are representing the school in front of our fan base,” Coach V. explained to the group in attendance.
Coach V. has also brought in some new, exciting additions to his staff. SHHS All-Section Alum and Defensive End for Cortlandt State, Connor Tompkins, has taken over as Defensive Coordinator. Former Briarcliff head coach John Consorti will be the new offensive coordinator. Consorti brings more than 30 years of experience in youth football to the program.
Some of the past alums attending the game were Ed Smerkak, Class of ’76, Jay Duggan, Class of ’78, Steve Garrant, Class of ’79, Joe Arduino, Class of ’78, Mark Jurcic, Class of ’82, Hans Isler, Class of ’83 and former Athletic Director Rod Mergardt, who gave an impassioned speech to past and future players.
Don Whitely, Class of ’73, reflected on the 1972 State Championship game, the last time SHHS won a title and the last undefeated team. “There were 15,000 fans in Port Chester for the game. John Jay Cross River had won 28 straight and were favored. But we were also undefeated and took to them for a 31-12 win,” he said. For the Hollow fans in attendance, hearing stories from the past often centered around the Ossining rivalry game, building up excitement for the upcoming season.
The 2017 squad has had a busy summer, attending and hosting several seven-on-seven camps while the linemen were off for the weekend to the Putnam Linemen Challenge.
Veintimilla enthusiastically discussed the upcoming season.
“We have a great group of core guys returning from last year. There are some very talented young players coming up to varsity that can step in and immediately contribute to our success,” he shared.
Sean McCarthy will be returning at the QB position. He improved each game in his junior season despite having an inexperienced offensive line. “Sean is a workaholic. He has spent so much time working on his skill set. He has worked hard in the weight room and has worked with his own QB coach to improve his mechanics. Most importantly, he is a great leader and I expect him to have a great year,” Coach V. explained and then continued talking about the 2017 offense.
“There is never a lack of skill position players in Sleepy, and this year is no different. Our most versatile player is probably Luis Espinal. He can play anywhere on our offense from running back to offensive line. In addition, Travis Cowles has really impressed this spring. He’s shifty, aggressive and can find the open space in a defense. Daniel Williams will draw a lot of attention from defenses this year. He’s got great hands, great football IQ and can really get after it.”
As far as blocking goes, “It was a big challenge last season. In 2017, we return three O-linemen from last year’s team. Leading the way will be Kyle Hutter who will anchor the line at the center position.” Coach V. continued, “In addition, our defense is going to be young, but our coaching staff will put the players in the right position. They may be young, but they are aggressive and understand our concepts.”
First game of the season is Labor Day weekend, Saturday, September 2 at 1:30 p.m. at SHHS against Pearl River. So when fall arrives and you can hear the theme song from Halloween echoing in the village, it is time to head up to the high school to support this year’s group of gridiron warriors.