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Football Is Back

For three years, they have learned, worked and practiced with one goal in mind. They dreamed about it, imagined what it would be like. Now, it is finally here. This weekend, six years after the program was dropped, Flushing can call varsity football their own again.
“It’s coming,” Flushing Coach Jim DeSantis said, a mix of excitement, nerves, and hopes rolled into one uneasy glance.
After two years at the development stage, the Red Devils fielded a jayvee team last year, winning five out of eight games. They were awarded a $10,000 grant from the New York Jets, courtesy of their Heads Up! Program, which they used for video and practice equipment.
Saturday, after three years of training camp with no varsity games in site, they host Adlai Stevenson in their first game on the PSAL’s Cup Division, its lowest level.
Flushing formerly had one of the oldest programs going. It went all the way back to the early 1900’s, but after a lack of interest, the school’s administration decided to drop the sport.
“It was more lack of support from the administration,” the former coach Joe Caso said.
However, after Flushing Memorial Field was refurbished, football was brought back in 2003. Adam Sotiryadis could not hack it, so athletic director Carla Nasso brought in DeSantis.
He spent 13 years as an assistant coach at Bayside, 10 as the defensive coordinator and three running the jayvee, and was ready for a change. “I wanted to be a head coach, and I knew Joe [Capuana] was young and he wasn’t leaving.” (As luck would have it, Capuana took a job as an assistant principal this year and stepped down.)
DeSantis knows his Red Devils will face many challenges. They only have a 28-man roster, with just five seniors. The majority of the team is juniors, kids with no Pop Warner experience who knew nothing of the sport three years ago.
“From day one, we had to teach these guys everything - when to get excited, when to be angry. They just didn’t have a lot of football savvy,” DeSantis said. “It’s going to be a group effort. We’re slight of what I would call football players, and by that I mean kids that come from Pop Warner programs and have a lot of football experience.”
Of the five upperclassmen, DeSantis expected Blake Hunt and Chris Lyseight to see a lot of playing time, but Hunt, in the running for the starting tailback spot, severely injured his neck in a recent scrimmage and his status is unknown. That leaves the job to promising sophomore Jordan Beranger, one of the few newcomers with previous playing experience.
“Once he really learns where his blocks are coming from,” DeSantis said, “he’s going to be terrific.”
DeSantis is hopeful fellow sophomore, quarterback Deon Frazier, can lead the offense. At just 5-foot-7, 120 pounds, he is small, but the southpaw has a fine arm. DeSantis is also high on 6-foot, 225-pound lineman Malcolm Chichester and sophomore guard Nate Elder-Salomon in addition to linebacker/fullback Wilderson Lincifort.
DeSantis has not put any expectations on this first season. His players, however, sure are excited. When asked for five goals, they listed winning the Cup Division championship and going undefeated as two of them.
“This is going to be special,” Lincifort said. “We’re all starting something.”

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