When it comes to the Mineola Varsity Football season in 2012, which do you want first: the good news, or the bad news?
The good news is that the Mustangs are laying a foundation for a good team.
The bad news is that it will probably get here in time for the 2013 season.
The bad news is that they will face their highest-ranked opponent in the season opener: Valley Stream North .
The good news is that at least in terms of ranked opponents, it’s all downhill from there.
The Mustangs will return only eight of their players from the 2011 campaign, three of them starters: Brian Gaffney, who played safety and RB who will look to carry the offense for the team, Matt Long, a defensive safety, and offensive tackle Tommy Behan.
“Some of the guys that didn’t play last year of those… are playing and then most of the positions are the guys from the JV and the JV was good last year,” coach Dan Guido, who is entering his 26th year at the helm, said.
Needless to say, with such a youth infusion, the off-season weight training gives him hope, as well as a softer schedule thanks to a lower seeding.
“Our schedule is really not easy but it’s not as hard as last year,” he said.
Senior Tevin Carlo returns as a starter as does Bobby Rogers, who hadn’t played for a couple of years, having moved out of the district but now returns for his senior year.
Juan Gulinao had playing time last year but not consistently as a starter. He increased his size in the offseason but also underwent a knee operation over the winter.
“He’s fine, he got operated on really early,” Guido said when asked if he has concerns about pushing the LB.
Succeeding Rob Clarkin at the QB post will be junior Vinny Bieniek, who played the position as a starter at JV as well as in middle school.
“He’s a big kid, he throws the ball really well, he’s smart,” Guido said. “He knows the offense and he’s going to be good if we can block.”
The team has also called up two sophomores: Ryan Eccher at LB and RB and Edien Hincapie, a 210 lb. defensive end and offensive lineman.
“They’re going to help,” Guido grinned.
What plagued the Mustangs during the 2011 campaign was their consistent inconsistency; their ability to hang with the top seeds only to lose out in the end, or to beat good teams one week only to fall to a weaker seed the next match.
“There were games during the year we needed to not lose that we lost,” Guido admitted. “We beat really good teams, we were beating Roosevelt for three-quarters who was in the Long Island Championship game, we were beating them for three quarters and then we just fell apart.”
Mineola was also able to only to 7 days later and ending up in the first round of the postseason.
“We would’ve had a better playoff game if we woulda won another game somewhere, so that was our own fault,” Guido said. “Any games we win will be good. I don’t expect to be really good but we could end up being ok, it’s hard to say. But if not we have the majority of the team back for next year and I think we have some real good kids on the JV. That’s hard with high school when you get all new kids in.”