Wantagh Warriors Varsity Football Season Kicks Off

Wantagh Warriors Varsity Football Season Kicks Off

Michelle Smith, Sports Editor

Varsity Football is a huge part of high school culture all over the country, this does not exclude our very own town, Wantagh. September 9th, 2022,  Wantagh High School’s Friday Night Lights Varsity Football season opener took place on the football field behind the school building. The bleachers were full, the lights were bright, and The Warriors came to win. That’s exactly what they did. After the Warriors season opening 16-7 win against Hewlett, I caught up with head coach, Keith Sachs, to ask some questions on behalf of the Warrior:

Q: How many years have you been coaching Varsity Football? How has your method changed over the years?

A: This is my 30th year as the varsity football coach at Wantagh. 

Methods constantly change and evolve but who you are does not. Winning is never emphasized. Getting better and doing the right thing on and off the field is our goal, then the winning will take care of itself. I obviously have also mellowed a bit each year, but still, passion motivated.

Q: Do you think coaching the players and reaching new heights as a team will be easier without COVID restrictions? Could it be harder to get back into the pre-covid routines?

A:Everything is easier without covid restrictions, but it is the same for all schools and programs. It was a bit difficult remembering and continuing all the traditions that were pre covid, but we gradually went back to normal. All the fun team bonding activities were taken away during covid, like buffet nights, pasta parties, mini golf nights, etc.

Q: What are your aspirations for your team this year? 

A: We keep the same goals each year, which is sometimes not fair to less talented teams. But we just want to get better each game and be playing our best at the end of the year. When playoffs come, we set new goals. We always shoot for the stars.

Q:How successful do you think your players will be in meeting these expectations?

A: As long as we work hard and stay united and leave it all on the field, then they will be successful. 

Q:  Which team do you think will pose the biggest challenge to the team this season?

A: Plainedge has been the top team in Long island for the past few years!!!

Bethpage is a championship threat along with Carey HS

To the question, “who do you believe to be outstanding players on this season’s roster? How will they help bring the team above and beyond previous seasons?” Coach Sachs answered with quite the list of players, including, as top returning players, Anthony Tsakos, Nick Cupelli, and Anthony Reale who were a part of The Warriors Varsity Football Team’s County Championship during Covid. Coach Sachs also listed returning starting QB, Joe Legovich, returning 2 way starter, Jake Martini, returning lineman, Rich Benkovic, and returning starting tight end, Tom Conway. This season’s newcomers are also showing potential as Coach Sachs gave another lengthy list of names of players who stand out to him this season. This list included AJ Bardi, TJ Carlo, Paul Fontana, Steve Clark and Tim Hennig. 

I was also able to get a few questions in with the team’s captains to get their perspective on the season ahead of them.

The captains all show a sense of great responsibility and dedication in their responses to the question “What does the captaincy mean to you?” Anthony Reale answered “captaincy is a word that means something to me that is greater than myself. Being a part of this program and team is its own amazing journey, but being able to lead this team is something much greater.” To answer the same question, Joseph Legovich said “The captaincy means a lot to me. It is an honor to represent Wantagh Football and lead the team.”

In response to the question “How do you plan on leading your team to success this season?” Anthony Tsakos gave some insight on his goals, “I plan on leading this team to win a county championship,” he said, “That is practicing everyday and listening to my coaches game plan for our opponent. I plan on holding everyone accountable on the team and making sure everyone is in the right spot. I encourage everyone to always watch film and to learn from our mistakes.” 

Nick Cupelli spoke on his history with football when asked “How long have you been playing football? What draws you to the game?” He said, “I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old. The friendships and being a family draws me to the game. Being able to go out on the field every Friday or Saturday with my family and trusting them and coming out on top also drives me to the game.”

A side of the game fans rarely get to see is the dynamic off the field. When Franco Valentino was asked “What role do you play in the locker room and on the field as a captain? What kind of influence do you have on your teammates?” He said, “I try to make sure the locker room is clean, make sure every practice is intense, and make sure the entire team is smart and safe off the field.”

Richie Benkovic displayed his straightforward, determined attitude when he was asked “What does football mean to you? What draws you to the game?” Benkovic said, “When I step on the field I know my goal is to get my teammates better everyday. We all have the same goal in the end and that’s all that matters.”

Thank you Coach Sachs and this season’s captains and good luck to the 2022-23 Wantagh Warriors Varsity Football team through the rest of the season! Let’s go Warriors!

As of the end of the regular season, the varsity football team is 7-1 and are headed to the playoffs in the chase for another title for the Warriors.