08/21/13 7:00pm
08/21/2013 7:00 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Colin Ratsey (6-foot-4, 273 pounds) is Bishop McGann-Mercy's largest player and a big piece of the Monarchs' line.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Colin Ratsey (6-foot-4, 273 pounds) is Bishop McGann-Mercy’s largest player and a big piece of the Monarchs’ line.

One doesn’t have to think too hard to imagine what football coach Jeff Doroski must have been thinking when he saw the hulking figure of Colin Ratsey walking through the hallways of Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School several years ago. And one need not imagine what Doroski’s response was when he learned that Ratsey was a golfer, of all things.

Doroski recalled: “I was like, ‘Golf? What are you doing? Golf?’ ”

Then Doroski went on to convince Ratsey that he has the rest of his life to play golf, but only a few more years to play football for McGann-Mercy. He got his recruit.

Years later, that recruiting pitch seems more important than ever now that Ratsey assumes valuable places on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Monarchs. At 6-feet-4, 273 pounds, the senior is the biggest player on the team, and big things are being asked of him this year.
He is also a big piece of the puzzle. It is considered vital that Ratsey, who aside from senior Pat Marelli, is the team’s only returning lineman, does well this year.

“Has to,” said Doroski.

McGann-Mercy lost some good linemen from last year’s playoff team in Ray Ellis, Chris Motlenski and Jack Strnad. That means a new line with a revamped role for Ratsey.

“Everybody knows he can do it, but he has to show it now,” said Marelli.

Ratsey started all but one game last year for the Monarchs, playing guard and defensive tackle. It’s up in the air where exactly he will play on the lines this year. Marelli will play center and middle linebacker. “With the zone blocking scheme, it’s pretty much the same no matter where you are in those five positions up front,” said Doroski.

And it sounds as if it doesn’t make much of a difference to Ratsey, either. “Wherever they need me, I’ll block, and wherever they need me on defense, you know, I’ll get through the line and do the best I can,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll have a great season.”

That is what the Monarchs are counting on. It goes without saying that backs and receivers get most of the attention and acclaim, but linemen may have more to do with wins and losses than anyone else on the field.

“We’re excited about what he’s capable of doing for us this year,” Doroski said. “He’s got good feet. He can move around pretty good. He’s not one of those slow, lumbering big guys. He can move around pretty good for a big guy. This has the potential to be a very good year for him, and if it is, it’s going to make us that much better.”

So far, outside linebacker/fullback Luis Cintron likes what he has seen from Ratsey. “He’s looking great,” said Cintron.

Ratsey, who lives in Greenport, has attended Catholic schools his whole life. He had played four years for the Peconic Panthers youth football program and is familiar with the current players on the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island team. “I know the whole team,” he said. “They always smack talk, but I’m not worried about it.”

Ratsey has twice played against the Porters. The thought has undoubtedly crossed his mind that under different circumstances he could very well be on the other side of the line wearing different colors. This year the teams aren’t scheduled to play each other, but Ratsey looks forward to meeting his hometown buddies in a scrimmage.

Ironically, a former McGann-Mercy linemen, senior Owen Finnigan, has joined the Porters this summer.

Thanks to that fateful hallway meeting with Doroski, Ratsey’s athletic course changed as he embraced football.

“Right away I loved it,” he said. “Now it’s my passion.”

Golf will have to wait.

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/20/13 12:15am
08/20/2013 12:15 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Pat Marelli recorded a team-=leading 76 tackles (eight for a loss) last season.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Pat Marelli recorded a team-leading 76 tackles (eight for a loss) last season for Bishop McGann-Mercy.

Bishop McGann-Mercy has been a perennial underdog. But can a football team remain an underdog after winning a playoff game, reaching the Suffolk County Division IV semifinals and turning in its best season in decades? Has that underdog tag been shed?

Those questions remain to be answered, but, if nothing else, coach Jeff Doroski has noticed an attitudinal change in his team.

“We have a great respect for the teams that we’re going to compete against, but we’re not going to back down from anybody,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and we’re going to compete, and we’re going to put our best foot forward every game.”

It sounds like something one would hear from a confident team, and if the Monarchs gained a measure of confidence from what they did last year, it would be understandable.

Seeded 12th in a preseason coaches poll before last season, McGann-Mercy bucked the odds, posted its first playoff win since 1991 (a last-second thriller over Hampton Bays), ending up with a 7-3 record. It was their highest single-season win total since 1978.

“I feel like when I’m older I’m going to exaggerate it to like we won the states or something,” said Pat Marelli, the senior center/middle linebacker who had a team-leading 76 tackles (eight for a loss) to go with a sack in 2012. “It was awesome to be a part of that.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Luis Cintron said a tougher schedule puts greater pressure on Bishop McGann-Mercy, but it's nothing the Monarchs can't handle.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Luis Cintron said a tougher schedule puts greater pressure on Bishop McGann-Mercy, but it’s nothing the Monarchs can’t handle.

Reggie Archer, an all-county junior who ran for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns, said, “In a way, I guess you could say we surprised ourselves a little bit, but we always believed in ourselves.”

McGann-Mercy’s reward for that is a No. 6 seed this year in the 14-team division. Along with that ranking comes a considerably tougher schedule that includes games against the top four seeds: defending Long Island champion Babylon, Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River and Elwood/John Glenn. As if that isn’t enough, “the other four games that we have aren’t easy, gimme games,” said Doroski, referring to dates with Center Moriches, Wyandanch, East Hampton/Bridgehampton and Southampton.

“It’s a tough schedule,” Doroski said. “We know we have our work cut out for us, but we’re excited about that. We want to have the opportunity to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.”

Doroski said he told his players it’s as if they have been moved up from the kids’ table to the grown-ups’ dinner table. But, far from shying away, the Monarchs say they welcome the challenge and understand the task that lays before them.

“They know the level of difficulty that it’s going to be,” said Luis Cintron, a senior who plays outside linebacker and fullback. He said, “There’s a lot of pressure,” but quickly asserted that it’s nothing the team can’t handle.

Aside from the schedule, there are other issues to be faced, like dealing with the loss of 11 graduated players, six of whom were two-way starters. Furthermore, in McGann-Mercy’s first two preseason practices on Monday, senior quarterback Asaiah Wilson, who had joined the team as a transfer from Longwood last year, wasn’t present. Doroski said he still didn’t know if Wilson, a major contributor to the team’s fortunes, would be rejoining the team or not, leaving things in a strange limbo.

Meanwhile, the Monarchs have no choice but to operate as if Wilson will not be on the team. “If he’s not here, obviously we’ll miss the production, but we’re prepared to move forward,” said Doroski.

In the meantime, the ball is being placed in the hands of sophomore quarterback K. J. Santacroce.

Paul Annunziata, a cornerback/running back, and linemen Colin Ratsey and Andrew Glasgow are also being counted on for production.

The Monarchs have what Doroski said is a first, a girl trying out for the team. Jackie Spinella, a senior, plays the offensive line.

“It’s a bunch of hard workers, I can tell you right now,” Cintron said. “We’re on a mission this year.”

Doroski said he told his departing seniors after last season that what they achieved can never be taken away from them. “That’s something they’ll have with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Referring to his current players, the coach said: “My question to them, moving forward, is, what’s going to be your legacy? What memory are you going to make in Mercy football?”

More questions to be answered in the coming months.

bliepa@timesreview.com

05/03/13 9:26pm
05/03/2013 9:26 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's starting pitcher, Kevin Thomas, came off the mound to handle a ground ball.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy’s starting pitcher, Kevin Thomas, came off the mound to handle a ground ball during Friday’s win over Port Jefferson.

Designated hitter Pat Marelli’s three-run double keyed a four-run sixth inning to boost Bishop McGann-Mercy to a 9-5 home victory over Port Jefferson in a Suffolk County League VIII baseball game on Friday.

The Monarchs averted a three-game sweep after losing, 9-2 and 14-6, earlier in the week.

Third baseman Greg Gehring’s two-out, bases-loaded walk snapped a 5-5 tie just before Marelli delivered his bases-clearing blow to left field for the Monarchs (5-10, 5-10).

Port Jefferson (6-9, 6-9) overcame a 5-2 deficit by scoring three runs in the fifth inning off starting left-hander Kevin Thomas, who struck out five of the first 11 batters.

Right-hander Ray Ellis, normally a starter, pitched one-hit ball over the final two and two-thirds innings to register the win.

McGann-Mercy second baseman Kurt Bahnke reached base every time he made a plate appearance, scoring three times on a single, two walks and a hit by pitch.

The Monarchs will finish the regular season with a three-game series with Babylon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.