After a banner year in which A.P. Randolph went 12-2 overall and made it all the way to PSAL Cup Conference Championship game, a 22-18 loss to Dewitt Clinton, the Cougars, now in the realigned B Conference, are ready to claw its way back into contention and chase a title.
While A.P. Randolph’s unprecedented success surprised some PSAL football insiders, Head Coach Eric Perlowitz and company were not.
“I definitely don’t think anyone expected us to make it that far,” Perlowitz said. “The majority of people didn’t know of us. But we knew it.”
With winning comes high expectations, but Perlowitz said he will know more of how his team stacks up to competition after the first two preseason tilts. But he likes what he has seen so far in camp and admires the team’s dedication to winning big again.
“Now, the pressure is on us to be the team we were last year,” he admitted. “Playing these non-league games will be a good test for us. But, from what I’ve seen so far, we’re on pace to being what we were last year. It’s like a business-like attitude like I’ve never seen before. These kids are focused.”
Returning to the fold is gifted senior quarterback Nate Nurse, whom the New York State Sports Writing Assocation named to its All-State team.
The Cougar coaching staff believes the strong-armed Nurse is primed to build off of last season’s success and possesses the coachability to make the necessary adjustments to be tops among New York state signal callers.
“He’s going to have a monster year,” said Perlowitz, who is also the school’s Athletic Director. “He’s been waiting for this (senior season) for a long time. He had a really good year for us last year. We know what he needs to work on to become elite. His ceiling is high. He’s poised to have even a better year.”
One of Nurse’s most talented targets will be 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver Siba Aboudoulaye, whom Perlowitz is very high on.
“He is bigger, faster, stronger than he was last year,” the former assistant coach at Westlake High School, in Westchester, New York, said. “He has a D1 frame, D1 speed, D1 hands. He sticks out like a sore thumb (in a good way). You can tell, in just five minutes, he’s a stud athletic player.”
On the offensive/defensive lines is 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior right tackle/defensive tackle Patrick Tackie, whom Perlowitz called “big, strong and fundamentally sound. He has feet like a running back; he’s quick. We’ll run behind him when we need a yard. He’s our best lineman.”
On the other side of the pigskin, Perlowitz said that A.P. Randolph’s defense will be in good position to complement its potent offense, as they added more depth and different looks and schemes.
Our “defense will be stronger than ever, actually” he said. “Our defense is in great shape.”
As important as wining is to a football program, sending student-athletes to college to earn a degree while playing the sport is doubly sweet. Kelvin Brito is currently at DIII Juniata College, and James Denegall IV is at DIII Buffalo State.
It is no wonder that Perlowitz has developed into a formidable coach. He has his dad– Bruce, who had coached youth football in Pleasantville, New York, for 20 years–from which to learn the finer points of the game.
When the younger Perlowitz was offered the job, he said Bruce pounced on the opportunity to join his son’s staff as a volunteer assistant.
“Having him with the headset on and be the eye in the sky has been an asset,” Perlowitz said of his father’s coaching help. “The fundamentals of the game, I learned from him, as well as the strategies.”
The Cougars will travel to the Bronx to face Kennedy in non-league action to open the 2022 PSAL football season.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photos: Eric Perlowitz