After making it to the PSAL Cup Conference football playoffs and winning its first-round matchup against Fredrick Douglas Academy, 20-8, August Martin High School, now in the B Conference, is looking to duplicate its success, if not surpass it, this upcoming season.
“We can be competitive and successful as we were last year, just in different ways,” expounded Allen, who made the postseason for the first time at the Southeast Queens school last year. “We don’t have the weapons at receiver, but we should be able to run the ball better.”
Sure, August Martin lost the two aforementioned key players to graduation, but they will have returning sparkplug junior running back Giovanni Faulkner, who provided the team with a burst of electrical energy in the open field. He rushed for team-bests with 289 yards on 38 carries and five touchdowns, for an average of 7.61 yards per touch.
Now, Faulkner is even more potent of an offensive threat than he was last campaign after a year more of experience and personal growth, mental and physical, under his belt, Head Coach Kyle Allen noted.
“Gio will be a big weapon for is. He is the heart and soul of our team,” Allen said. “He is so much more explosive than he was last year. He put on some weight, but he is so much more confident. He is also a lot stronger.”
But the coaching staff does not plan on using Faulkner as an every down running back, preserving him for key spots during contests.
“We’re going to have a running back by committee,” Allen said. “We don’t want him (Gio) carrying the ball on every down.”
But not to worry, the offensive line will feature two large tackles in 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior Lamar Campbell and 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior Audari Rookwood, both of whom will pull double duty on the defensive line.
The Falcons’ O-line will also have sophomore Makai Coddett, Mousse Bah and senior Julio Frias on it, to give the ground attack more of chance of thriving.
“Our interior O-line is very good,” Allen said. “This is the best lines, offensive and defensive, I’ve had since I’ve been at August Martin. We’re going to run much better this year.”
Allen said senior quarterback Glorious Enabulele, who was a backup receiver last season, is new to the position but is a decent athlete who is willing to learn.
“He’s going to take some time to develop,” Allen said of his signal caller. “My thinking is to get him to manage the game like Chris (Davis) did. But we will be able to utilize his athleticism more. He will be able to create his own space (to run and pass).”
E.J. Salazar is projected to be the team’s top receiver, with Coach Allen saying he possesses, “good speed, good hands and good body control.” And the fifth-year coach hopes he can utilize junior Tyrique Allen as the team’s deep threat
“He can stretch the field,” he said. “He has good speed.”
Defensively, the Falcons have junior safety Shawn Webb, whom Allen said, “He should be pretty good.” Plus, 6-foot-1, 200-pound outside linebacker Roman Summers, who saw action at the position last season, and will serve as defensive’s primary rusher. Linebacker Richard Thomas is a weak side linebacker with solid potential.
Moreover, Allen and Assistant Coach Chris Sino are already seeing flashes of promise.
“They picked up the defense very well,” Allen said. “They’re ahead of last year’s group going into camp.”
Allen sees this year’s August Martin squad as one that should learn and grow due to its coachability and strong cohesive bond, that has already formed, as the season progresses.
“Every year, we’re a work in progress, Allen explained. “We’re a younger team. I expect these guys to get better every game. It’s a nice mix of young players and returning talent. Plus, there’s a lot of chemistry, and I’m excited to see how we can push it.
“These kids are really coachable,” he continued. “They do what we tell them to do. These kids are like blank slates, and it makes it easier to mold them to fit our system.”
The Falcons will face Eagle Academy For Young Men II on Sunday, September 11 at noon at Springfield Gardens High School, in Queens.
— Jerry Del Priore