By Jerry Del Priore
No one can blame Canarsie head varsity football coach Kyle Allen for wanting to be hated by other PSAL teams. Most top squads aren’t liked because of their consistent winning ways.
“If people don’t hate you, something is wrong,” Allen explained. “There are a lot of people that hate E Hall and Lincoln. There are obvious reasons why. They’re hated because they win. Nobody hates us. At the end of this year, I want people to hate us. If you’re hated at the end of the year, then you know you’re doing something right.”
With approximately 25 returning seniors, a revamped coaching staff and a new, positive attitude reverberating throughout the entire program, Allen feels the Chiefs have the chance to be a force to be reckon with in 2015, despite its tough City Conference schedule.
“A feel confident that we will be over .500,” said Allen, who coached Canarsie to a 5-5 record and a first round playoff appearance last year. “I’m not going to make any predictions about how far over, but I’m sure it will be over .500.”
Given the Chiefs a good opportunity at success is signal caller Damario Spalding, who’s moving from receiver to quarterback. Allen is confident his football acumen will help lead the team, not to mention his strong arm.
“I’m expecting a lot big things from him,” Allen said. “We spent a lot of time in the offseason going to quarterback clinics, studying, sitting down and doing things on the board. He’s very cerebral. His football IQ is through the roof, so he’ll be able to lead this team.”
Canarsie is returning the potent one-two punch of senior running backs Palyte Stubbs and Shawn Cabbell, both of whom combined for 963 yards last season.
Stubbs, plagued by a late-season knee injury, ran for 708 yards with eight touchdowns in nine contests. The senior inside-the-tackles running back has added 20 pounds, and is completely healthy heading into the season.
“We have our tailback back, Palyte Stubbs, who was one of the better backs in the city last year. He should be one of the top two or three backs this year,” Allen predicted. “He put on a lot of weight, and he’s real healthy. He’s over 200 now. He’s another kid who did a lot of good things in the weight room, so we’re expecting big things from him.”
After being limited by the knee injury, Stubbs, up a solid 20 pounds, believes his knee woes are behind him, and can play up to his potential while helping the Chiefs win.
“It feels great,” Stubbs said of his knee. “I was working out throughout the whole summer. I feel stronger, and faster. I think I can have a 1000-yard season, and help my team win.”
Cabbell will offer the Chiefs a different look in the back field because of his game-breaking running abilities, but he’s added an inside running component to his arsenal.
“He’s comfortable running between the tackles now,” the fourth-year coach said. “Everybody knows he’s an outside runner, but now he can mix it up inside, too.”
Another strong offensive weapon returning to the fold is receiver Darius Lancaster, who caught 11 passes for 298 yards and three scores in 2014. Allen said that Lancaster’s sleeper status will bode well for him and the team early in the season before other squads become more aware of his great hands.
“Darius Lancaster is back, who led us in receiving last year. He made a lot of big plays,” Allen recalled. “His confidence is up a lot. He had a tremendous spring, and is having a great camp. A lot of people don’t know a lot about him, so they’re not going to roll coverage to him early in the season. That’s going to be a mistake for people.”
The six-foot-four Marcus Louis, a backup last year, will complement Lancaster, with a host of other capable receivers given Spalding additional viable options.
A solid, experienced offensive line rounds out the offense.
Defensively, with monster sack machine Kamari Jones now at Monroe College, Allen still feels the Chiefs are loaded with star returnees. For instance, there’s nose tackle Shawn Fredrick, a physically strong player mentored by Jones, and Devonte Malone, one of the top pass rushers in the PSAL in 2014 with nine sacks.
The prospects are even higher for Malone this season, according to Allen, who, along with his coaching staff, prides himself on producing players who make it a habit of harassing quarterbacks.
“I am expecting him to lead the city in sacks,” he said. “We had the sack leader in the city (in just about) every year since I’ve been head coach, so I want that trend to continue.”
Jesse Rivera, who led the league with five interceptions, will anchor Canarsie’s secondary. Darnell Alexander, third on the team in tackles with 50, is back, along with a group of hungry defenders.
The Chiefs will kick off the season on the road against Brooklyn Tech Friday, September 4th at 1:00 p.m.