Staten Island, N.Y.: After posting a 5-3 regular season record and making it to the first round of the PSAL Football Bowl Conference playoffs, a 24-0 defeat to eventual champs, Madison, McKee/Staten Island Tech (MSIT) is back with a senior-loaded team and have moved up to the A Conference.
Second-year Seagulls coach Chris App Jr. believes the gridiron fortitude of this year’s squad lies squarely on the talented group of 15-plus seniors.
“We have a lot of returning seniors,” said App, who quarterbacked at DIII Western Connecticut St. University. “I’m very excited for the season. This is coming together early on in training camp. I think the strength of our team will be in our senior leadership.”
App, 34, and his coaching staff were able to enjoy a successful 2021 campaign after he took over the head coaching reigns in mid-June. It gave the Arden Heights, Staten Island, resident and the coaching staff limited time to put together the team.
However, MSIT was able to field a competitive squad despite the short preparation time.
“We were 5-3 and we made the playoffs,” he said. “We were able to do that after taking over the program in the middle of June. But I would say it was a success.”
Now, App, with his first year behind him, he has been able to focus more on the X’s and O’s, and less on the mundane duties of getting the program up to par after the 2020 season was lost due to COVID-19.
“I’m very excited about this year,” App said. “But now having year-one out of the way, I’m going back to being more of a football coach where I’m dealing with a lot less of administrative tasks.”
Right now, the Seagull coaching staff is hard at work stressing the importance of fitness, for those gut-check, running-on-fumes times.
“Instead of doing condition after practice, we’re doing it throughout,” the former New Dorp signal caller said. “We want our players to be well conditioned and ready when they’re playing tired.”
As for senior leadership, MSIT sports two gifted two-way players who feel the team should be able to perform well, given the more time that they have had together as a complete unit.
“We should be really good this year,” middle linebacker/offensive guard Temitayo Adewusi Oluwayo said. “The seniors should be able to lead this year. Considering the (shorter) time we had last year, I feel the seniors from last year laid the groundwork for what we have to do now.”
6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive tackle/right guard Anthony Hinds concurs on regarding how well the Seagulls will do this upcoming campaign.
“I feel our team is pretty good,” Hinds said. “I feel like this is going to be a pretty good season. We can’t say if it will be our defense or offense that will make us good. We have a mature team, and that’ll be one of our strengths.”
As for what another factor is in determining how ready MSIT will be for gridiron battle, Hinds gave credit to the coaching staff, which includes the head coach’s bother, Charles, and his dad Chris App Sr.
Charles, a former quarterback and present Seagulls Offensive Coordinator, starred at New Dorp and for DIII Kean University (N.J.) and Chris App Sr. was the longtime, celebrated Head Coach at New Dorp High School and will now serve as a MSIT assistant this season.
“Our coaches, what they bring to the table and how they’re preparing us,” Hinds said of the hard work and leadership they are drilling into the Seagulls.
As for a starting signal caller, App said that there is quarterback competition going on right now in camp, and the coaching staff is waiting to see how things play out.
But make no mistake, App said everyone on the team, not just the seniors, is going to work diligently to improve every day.
“We’re working to develop our team to be a balanced team and a good unit,” App assured.
MSIT will travel to Brooklyn’s Old Boys & Girls High School Field to take on Eagle Academy for Young Men II on Saturday, September 24th at noon.
— Jerry Del Priore
Images courtesy of Chris App Jr.