Southampton’s varsity football program has achieved significant success under the guidance of head coach Darren Phillips, including several playoff appearances as well as a seed in the Division IV championship game several years ago. But despite the team's success, this will be the final season as head coach for Phillips, who in his eighth year recently announced that he is going to be stepping down at the conclusion of the 2011 schedule.
“I think maybe because I’m getting a little older, it's just time to give someone else a shot,” he said during an interview last week shortly before the Mariners played at Shoreham-Wading River in their Division IV opener (Southampton lost 40-6). “Football is such a season-long commitment, it takes up so much of your time, and I also coached football in North Carolina and Virginia for seven years, so I've spent the last 15 years as a head football coach. My kids are also getting older, so it just kind of felt like the right thing to do. It’s not one thing that I based my decision on, it was a number of things.”
Phillips said his goals for the season include getting the team to a .500 or better record, making a run at the playoffs and hopefully trying to get Southampton back to another division championship appearance.
Returning Key Starters:
Lineman Malcolm Williams is one of the top players in the division, anchoring the offense and the defense with his 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound frame. “Malcolm is probably one of the best linemen in our division and when he wants to play, he’s a force because he’s the type of player who can really control the line,” Phillips said.
Senior Teague Florio starts at quarterback and he’s a dual threat, possessing the ability to run and throw in the Mariners spread offense. “Teague’s a real leader and we’re going to try and utilize his ability the best we can.”
Senior John Donovan, a two-year starter, will play both running back and wide receiver while also playing defensive back. Like Florio, Donovan is expected to be one of Southampton’s exciting playmakers this season.
Fullback Sean Barylski, another senior, played lineman and was Southampton’s center last season before getting injured; Phillips indicated his switch to fullback should be a smooth one.
Senior Colin McNamara, a guard and linebacker, is a two-year starter who solidifies the Mariners strong side with Williams.
Seniors Vincent Gully (lineman), Christian Sanchez (defensive back/wide receiver) and Joe Hernandez (lineman) are three players Philips is expecting to see contribute significantly this fall.
Newcomers who are expected to make an impact include junior Alex Doerr, a tight end moved to split end who was the MVP of Southampton’s junior varsity team last season, junior defensive lineman Clayton Prewitt, sophomore tight end Lyle Smith, Tyler Alvarado and Alex Halaka.
Southampton’s biggest strength this season will be its experienced senior class along with a strong physical offensive line and a quarterback who has already had success on the field.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to run the ball and our defensive line will need to control the line of scrimmage,” Phillips said. “Our running backs need to step up and help carry the load so Teague doesn’t have to do it all and our whole linebacker crew is untested and we hope guys can step up early. We want this season to be positive for the kids, regardless of whether we’re 8-0 or 0-8. Every year we always try to be .500 or better, we always strive for that, after that it's making the playoffs and trying to win the division.”