When I stopped by Anne Hutchinson School this afternoon, it seemed like nothing had changed in the past year. Eastchester had its varsity on the lower field, its JV on the upper. Assistant Steve Boyer was chatting non-stop, about a veer or fullback toss out of one breath and making a joke out of the other.
Unfortunately, injuries have already begun to weigh on the Eagles, too, much the way they had during last year’s camp. Eastchester has already lost three players for the season, including two who were expected to be factors on a thin and inexperienced offensive line.
We’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s start with the good. The Eagles should be very strong in the backfield. Halfbacks Jake Calby and Jake Scannel are both seniors who return with experience on either side of QB Greg DiCarlo. But the player who has drawn raves from coaches is junior FB Mike Marsico, a strong, quick runner who will likely be the team’s horse.
Marsico moved up from the JV last season to play safety in Eastchester’s final game, but the staff knew he was capable of playing up earlier. He’ll have the chance to show it in an option offense that will highlight his strengths.
DiCarlo is another player ready to take the next step. Sure, he started a year ago, but he has returned stronger as a senior and has more confidence in his arm.
“He’s adjusted to the speed of the game,” coach Fred DiCarlo said. “This is normal speed for him now. He’s much more under control.”
DiCarlo has continued to stress that his offense will open things up more. That will probably include more outside running in addition to a few more passes a game. “We’re going to be more of a perimeter team,” he said.
Like the offense, the defense has strengths at the skill positions. Sophomore Wayne Hoffman and junior Rob Lalli will start at DB alongside Marsico. The young group has enough talent to allow senior Rich Fonte, who’s also a WR, to move up to LB. He’ll team with MLB Will Tracy, who started as a sophomore.
That’s the good news. But question marks remain and almost all are in the trenches. Outside of senior A.J. Cesarini, a C/DE, Eastchester has no experience up front. The team has lost two linemen since Champions Camp – one to a kneecap, another to a torn ACL. It was a tough break for a program with a history of key injuries.
The lines will be a work in progress through the weekend. Thursday’s practice vs. Scarsdale and Saturday’s scrimmage at White Plains will determine who wins jobs on the offensive and defensive lines alongside Cesarini.
The team actually went away to camp in Lakeville, Conn., but came back with just as few answers.
“We began camp with line questions and we still have line questions,” DiCarlo said.
Eastchester begins the season relatively thin; the roster has just 28-30 players, leaving it with little depth. The Eagles have a brutal stretch Weeks 2-4 of Poughkeepsie, Rye and Yorktown. They hope to answer their line questions by then.