When a high school football team loses a couple of dozen players, like Riverhead has, it’s comforting for a coach to know he has some returning players to count on. That’s what Leif Shay has in Raheem Brown and Ethan Greenidge.
“It’s great to have those building blocks,” Shay said. “You build foundations, and then those guys are solid, you know you can rely on them, and hopefully you put the pieces around them.”
Brown, a middle linebacker/fullback, and Greenidge, a defensive tackle/offensive tackle, are both seniors coming off strong seasons and looking for an even better one in 2014. They both bring helpful qualities to the table.
Shay called the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Brown one of the strongest players he has ever coached. Brown is impressive. He said he benched 315 pounds during the off-season. The last time he squatted, he said, he handled 500 pounds.
“He has, maybe, about three percent body fat,” Shay said. “He’s just jacked.”
So, one assumes, Brown must live in the weight room and put in countless hours pumping iron.
“Not really,” he said.
Brown said what he does comes naturally to him, and some of it is the product of hard work and determination.
“My parents work two, three jobs and I just see them busting their tail, so I feel that I have to have the same mindset, and working out I have to have the same mindset,” he said. “I have to push my body to limits that I didn’t know I had.”
Last year Brown won the starting middle linebacker job and later became the first-string fullback. “He had a great year for us,” said Shay.
Brown blitzed a lot last season, and finished with 74 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
Shay is full of praise for Brown. “He does well in the classroom and he holds down a full-time job,” Shay said. “He’s the type of kid that you wish your daughters would date.”
At 6-5, 320 pounds, Greenidge is an imposing figure, the biggest player in Riverhead’s preseason training camp. In helmet and shoulder pads, he looks even bigger.
“Ethan swallows five kids by himself, so it’s great to have him on our team,” Brown said. “He’s a great asset.”
Despite his considerable size, Greenidge moves well, said Shay.
“How often do you get a big man that’s 6-foot-5, 320, who can move like he does and is as strong as an ox, as well?” asked Shay.
Greenidge made about 20 tackles and had an interception last year, according to defensive coordinator Scott Hackal.
Shay said Greenidge improved as the season progressed and he began clearing big, open lanes, showing his potential to be a dominant blocker. “He was a big reason why we had that late run,” said Shay.
Shay added: “He had such a growth spurt his sophomore year, and it took him a year to figure out his body. Now he’s fully aware of what he’s capable of doing and using the leverage. I expect big things out of him.”
Greenidge said he is taking football more seriously this year and working on getting stronger.
“I’m going to try and live and breathe in that weight room right there,” he said. “I definitely need to be there every day.”