by Kevin Brown –
The following is an interview that was conducted with Sleepy Hollow varsity football coach Jorge Veintimilla.
Thanks for your time, Coach. So how were the numbers this year? Did you have a good size group hoping to play football this season?
We are currently working on improving the overall numbers in our football program. The best way to do that is by working closely with our Junior Horsemen Football teams. We spent every Wednesday night in July providing those players with a free clinic hosted by the high school staff and current Varsity and JV players.
Is there a bigger emphasis on not leading with your helmet like you see going on in the NFL now?
We emphasize safe tackling and blocking techniques that, if properly executed, keep a player’s head out of contact. This is the fourth year that we are using “Hawk” tackling techniques used by Pete Carrol of the Seattle Seahawks. This technique is based on rugby tackling.
Did Sleepy compete in summer competitions and how did they go?
The summer went very well. We are replacing an All-Section quarterback (QB), yet still maintained a high level of competitiveness in all three seven-on-seven tournaments we competed in. The team won the “Fight Like A Warrior” seven-on-seven in White Plains. This tournament featured great Section 1 programs as well as New York City schools. The team finished in first place. The “Fight Like A Warrior” event also helped raise money for the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Our players loved the idea of trying to give back through football. Our linemen finished in third place at the Lineman Challenge at the summer event which includes a host of teams from all over the region.
I understand that Manny Perez will be the starting QB this season. Can you tell me about some of the other skill positions like wide receivers, tight ends and running backs?
Though we do not have as many skill players on the roster as we usually carry, our coaching staff believes every one of the current varsity wide receivers and running backs have special skill sets that make them dangerous. Senior Daniel Williams who was an All-Section player last season returns as wide receiver while junior Luke McCarthy will take on a more prominent role in the offense. Manny Perez will take over as QB and, though he may not be as polished a passer as Sean was last season, he brings a different level of athleticism that our offense will capitalize on. In addition, Cameron O’Loughlin and Louise Kudla have put in a lot of work in the off-season to get ready to shine this year.
How is the line looking? Have any power upfront?
Our offensive and defensive linemen put in a lot of work in the off-season. They focused on increasing their strength and power while learning how to work together as a unit. The line is returning senior Mike Anniccherico at center and junior Manny Abreu at guard. In addition, senior Victor Tolentino will step in at guard while newcomer Jose Manny Guzman will contribute on the line as well
How is the Defense unit shaping up?
The defensive secondary may be our strength. We return three of four in the secondary from last year. In addition, the coaching staff worked hard to develop a system that will highlight our strengths while allowing the players to use their natural instincts to attack the ball. Junior Ryan Owen will step in as linebacker.
It’s starting to feel like Texas here with all the Friday night games. How do you feel about Friday night games?
This year’s team has four Friday night games, including the first game of the year at Brewster on August 31. The team will also travel to Rye and Harrison in week three and four and host our homecoming game week five against Tappan Zee. Friday night games are exciting. They tend to be big community events. Where else would anyone rather be on a Friday night than a high school football game?
Amen to that! Will Rye EVER come play on our field?
Funny you say that. The last time Rye visited Sleepy Hollow I believe was 2006. That year, we had a current Sleepy Hollow coach as a player, Connor Tompkins. You must give Rye credit, they have a great high school football atmosphere. I look forward to traveling to them and seeing how our Horsemen will play. We look forward to the challenge
How is Junior Varsity (JV) looking? Any players to keep our eyes on for the future?
Our JV has a chance to have a very successful season. We have a few nice players who could significantly contribute to the Varsity team. We have another Good quarterback coming up through the ranks (Ben Good whose brother was a past Sleepy Hollow starting QB). The staff is very excited about what he will bring to our team when his time comes. In addition, there is a combination of power, skill, and intellect between returning JV players Will Kelly, Zack Rudder, Raf Villar-Nils, Kevin Sullivan, and Talon Carsto to name a few.