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New skippers at the helm - Nazareth, Xaverian start season with fresh faces

With the high school football season underway here in Brooklyn, two Catholic schools sport new head coaches-one at Nazareth and the other at Xaverian. One school engages in an independent schedule and one private school also plays an independent slate. The fans, usually the students in the competing schools, and families of the players, pack the stands cheering on their student athletes and some ‘fathers get into the game.’

Nazareth’s Kingsmen from East Flatbush are coming off an 0-8 record in the Catholic High Schools Football League and brought in a new head coach in Desmond Defreitas, All the personnel at Nazareth are confident that they will turn the record around. They rely on the ‘West Coast’ type of offense led by sophomore starting quarterback Himeler Despinos, who is capable of passing or running.

Despinos will throw to wide receivers Jonathan Marcellina, Dan Matthews, Ali Nicholas, Alain Dorlean, Jared Gibson, David Young, and Victor St. John or hand off to Katima Stewart, Haskell McQueen, Brandon Lewis-Harthorne, Kevon Robinson, and Radowsky Profile. Some of the players can see action both ways.

“The ‘West Coast’ offense is pretty basic and is hard to stop,” Defreitas said. “I have two receivers, a quarterback, and two running backs who could pull a surprise. We’ll do a decent amount of passing and power running. And we use a 4-3 basic defense.”

“Our strength is in the running game,” Despinos said. “I didn’t start last year because (at the time) I was young; but now I feel pressure is on me as I have the whole team on my back.”

“We are way more aggressive than last year’s team,” Stewart said. “And we’re looking to avenge last year’s season.”

Another private school playing an independent schedule of nine games is Poly Prep of Bay Ridge.

Poly returns 15 players, including six starters from a 3-6 team, promoted some very talented players, led by sophomore Ken Coughlin and Jim Barry, both defensive players from a 7-1 junior varsity team.

Robert Joseph, a running back and linebacker, end Ashton Ghaffar, and Andrew Weiss, who can play offensive and defensive lines, along with Dave Fredrickson, an offensive and defensive tackle, and quarterback Nigel Wheeler head the roster.

With Joseph and Wheeler leading the way, the skill position players seem to be the major strengths at Poly Prep.

“Wheeler is very fast, has a good arm and is more of a runner than a thrower, Poly Head Coach Dino Mangiero said. “Joseph is big, strong, very smart, can run and is good in all phases of the game.”

“We want to have a good season and get eight wins,” Wheeler said. “We like to run the ball a lot.”

Wheeler will be throwing to Matt Meyers, Drew Olsen and Alex Buford. Ghaffar is another running back in a one-back offense.

“We use a spread offense and multiple formations,” Mangiero added. “We use a 4-4 defense. And we have very good special team players.”

The defense is led by Fredrickson, Olsen, Frank Torres, and Gary Fiore.

“The key to a successful season is for the players not to get hurt,” Mangiero said.

Meanwhile at Xaverian, located in Bay Ridge, the Clippers competing in a tough Triple ‘A’ Division of the CHSFL, are trying to bounce back from an 0-10 record under a new head coach in 26-year-old Joe DeSiena,

DeSiena is relying on 30 lettermen, including 17 returning starters, led by quarterback Najee Tyler. The players are motivated, improved and experienced over last year, and unbelievably talented as they try to step ‘it’ up another level.

Offensively, the Clippers’ major strengths are at quarterback with Tyler, a very big offensive line, across the board, led by 310-pound Oday Aboushi, and with the receivers, paced by Gerald Mistretta, Nick Mastros and Yusef Robinson, and in the backfield, paced by Jaquan Bethune and Wesley Sumpter and on defense. Aboushi has already been offered numerous major college scholarships.”

They use a spread offense and a 3-3 stack defense and have above average speed at linebacker.

Tyler is the only returning starting quarterback in the Triple ‘A’ Division. He is within reach of breaking school passing records.

“We have a good running back in Jaquan and four good wide receivers,” added Tyler.

“Our seniors have been through the fire already and are ready to win,” the coach went on. “I feel we can go all the way. We have seniors and talent to upset defending champion St. Anthony (of Long Island).”

“We’re going to win the championship,” echoed line backer Alex Staines.

“The key to what we hope will be a successful season is playing a new system on offense and defense,” said co-director of the football program at Kings Bay and offensive coordinator on the varsity at Xaverian, Tony Spina. “The kids are hungry. We look forward to some victories.”

The goal of all the teams is to have winning seasons.

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