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Greg Rando isn’t fazed by the situation he is walking into and the player he is replacing. He welcomes it.
The junior will be Xaverian’s quarterback this season, taking over the job from two-year starter Najee Tyler, one of the best players in the program’s history. Tyler threw for nearly 3,000 yards and more than 20 touchdowns last year and will be taking snaps at Purdue next season.
Rando, who worked with Tyler in the offseason, wants to be as productive, only in his own way.
“I want to be just as good, if not better than he was,” the 5-foot-9 player said. “I want to be more efficient, complete more passes. I don’t have the big arm.”
That is the philosophy for the Clippers’ offense this season. It is about efficiency and yards after the catch. Xaverian no longer has the lethal combination of Tyler and wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, who is at the College of the Holy Cross. They were able to hook up for long, game-changing pass plays. The lengthy strikes erased many of the team’s mistakes, but with attempting big plays come many incomplete passes, something that will need to change.
“We are not going to be a low-completion-percentage team this year,” second-year head coach Joe DeSiena said. “We want to have a high completion percentage so that our guys are going to be having the ball in their hands breaking tackles.”
Rando, who was the starting quarterback on the JV last season, will have plenty of playmakers to spread the ball around to. Mario Tull, who is heading to Syracuse as a safety and linebacker, will move into the No. 1 receiver spot. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he epitomizes the explosiveness and ability to break tackles Xaverian is looking for. DeSiena is also extremely high on his two sophomore running backs, Tu-Shaun Plumber and Muhammad King.
“Tu Tu, he can cut into the hole really quick,” senior lineman Jaime Martinez said. “He is very elusive, and [King] is a truck.”
Martinez, who is getting offers from Hofstra, Syracuse, Rutgers, Stony Brook and Purdue, will be a two-way lineman, taking over the role from Oday Aboushi, who is playing for Virginia. At 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, he can be a force on both side of the ball. So is Tull, who will be the leader of an aggressive defense.
“He is a very rare type who is a wide bodied kid who could probably play man coverage on the best receiver on the field and he is probably unblockable in a blitz package,” DeSiena said.
Xaverian will be inexperienced in the secondary outside of Tull. Senior Andrew Marionakis will be asked to step into a bigger role. The Clippers should be solid at linebacker, where they lost Sacred Heart-bound Ethan Ostermeyer, but have Xavier transfer Kerwin Dasque and Eric Wlasiuk, both seniors.
Depth on both lines could become an issue as DeSiena is trying to avoid too many players have to play both ways. The squad is eager to prove they can continue to be successful without Tyler, Mistretta, Aboushi and Ostermeyer. Xaverian went 7-4 last season and lost to eventual CHSFL AAA champion Iona Prep in the semifinals.
“Every other team out there is going to think that since those players are gone we are not going to be the same Xaverian as we were,” Tull said.
In one way, however, they will certainly be different.
“If we are efficient, we have enough playmakers to compete with anybody,” DeSiena said. “If we are not efficient and we are not disciplined, we don’t have the talent to overcome.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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