As he had done for so much of his life, Jeff Doroski was wearing the colors of Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, but this time it was different. That is because McGann-Mercy’s new football coach is its old (as in former) football coach.
Doroski retook the reins of the Monarchs for their first two preseason practices on Monday. The gleam in his eye and the grin that formed on his face before he spoke about his return to the Monarchs revealed how much the school means to him.
Not only was Doroski, 41, a three-sport athlete at the school, graduating in 1992, but he coached and had served as the school’s athletic director for a while. If there was such a person as a Mr. Mercy, it very well could be Doroski.
Following a change in administration, Doroski lost his job coaching the varsity football Monarchs after three years (the team went 11-15 during that time from 2011 to 2013). Doroski coached Hampton Bays last year. The Baymen reached the playoffs and finished with a 4-5 record.
Things have changed since. Mike Buck, who coached the Monarchs into the playoffs last year, has taken over as the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck coach, and Doroski has returned to the school that he said holds a special place in his heart.
“This has always been a special place for me,” he said. “It’s been a special place for my family. I’m excited to be back, to have this opportunity again.”
Doroski said the moment when things got real for him and it sunk in that he was back in charge of the Monarchs came in May. He had sat down with the athletic director, Melissa Edwards, to talk about what type of uniforms he wanted for the team (the Monarchs will wear their traditional green and gold). Doroski recalled: “I said: ‘O.K., here we go. We’re kind of back where we belong.’ ”
Doroski was a popular coach among players and fans during his first term with the Monarchs. It appears he remains so.
“I love him,” said Jack Pavelchak, a senior wide receiver/outside linebacker, who played for Doroski as a sophomore. “He’s such a good guy and a good coach, and he makes it more like a family. I mean, not just about football. He makes you into a man and just how to show respect for everybody. It’s not just about football with him.”
Brian Boden, a senior lineman, said he can detect what it is like for Doroski to be back at his alma mater. “I think it means a lot to him to be coaching here rather than at any other school because he played here, went here,” Boden said. “He’s part of the family here.”
Doroski’s coaching style has been described as energetic, enthusiastic and positive.
Like Doroski’s old Hampton Bays team last year, the Monarchs went 4-5 in 2014, losing to Elwood/John Glenn in a Suffolk County Division IV qualifying-round game.
Doroski may not have a lot of players to work with, but he has some quality. A big part of the Monarchs’ success last year can be attributed to their passing game. Much of that aerial attack remains in place, with quarterback Kevin Santacroce and wide receivers Marco Sciarra, Nick Kneski and Pavelchak. Santacroce, an all-division first team choice last year, is heading into his third season as the team’s starting quarterback. Sciarra was named an all-county player and Pavelchak received all-division second team recognition.
All four of those players are seniors. Seniors will have a huge say in how the team fares this year. Of the 24 varsity players Doroski counted on Monday, 14 of them are seniors.
“That’s our theme,” he said. “Being here as long as I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve ever had that many seniors” before.
In high school football, large numbers of seniors can translate into wins.
“They each have a significant role to play on our team,” Doroski said. “Their time is now.”
The Monarchs are seeded eighth in Division IV. The schedule-maker has not been kind to them. Their first two games — both at home — will be against the defending Long Island Class IV champion, Shoreham-Wading River, and powerful Elwood/John Glenn.
Doroski is helping the Monarchs plot their course along with a coaching staff that includes Phil Lombardi, the offensive coordinator/linebacker and running backs coach; Mike Quick, the line coach and special teams coordinator; Cole Malsky, the assistant line coach; and Edwin Perry, the wide receiver and defensive backs coach.
One thing is for sure, Doroski will be spending an awful lot of time at McGann-Mercy in the next few months, where the school will be his virtual home away from home. That sounds just fine with him.
He said, “It’s a good place to be and I’m excited to be back.”