Nassau CC prepares for kickoff

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Nassau Community College’s football program produced a strong finish in 2018 under then-second-year head coach Jamel Ramsay, who guided the Lions to eight wins in 11 games capped by a dominant 46-6 victory over Northland Community Tech in the Red Grange Bowl.

Two of Nassau’s defeats — to Monroe College and Army Prep — were by a field goal, while all but one of its wins was by greater than a touchdown. “We accomplished our main goal of earning a bowl game invitation and the guys really came out focused and played well,” Ramsay said. “Now we’re looking to build off last season. We have a lot to get done in camp. Every opponent on the schedule is competitive.”

The Lions will be challenged out of the gate by Georgia Military, which visits Mitchel Athletic Complex on Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. It’s the first of six home games. Other visitors are Hudson Valley CC, Army Prep, Erie CC, Hocking and Navy Prep. “Georgia Military is traditionally a powerhouse and it’ll be a good measuring stick for us right off the bat,” Ramsay said.

Nassau’s offense averaged better than 30 points per game in 2018, led by the quarterback tandem of former Freeport High School star Rashad Tucker (747 yards rushing, nine total touchdowns) and Steven Genova (1,447 yards passing, 16 touchdowns), and tailback Jeremiah Nelson (1,014 yards from scrimmage, 14 touchdowns), who’s now at Temple University.

Headlining the competition for the vacated signal-caller job are redshirt freshmen Steven Sanchez (Valley Stream Central) and Nathan Serrette (Lawrence.) Also in the mix is true freshman Mason Booth. “Steven and Nathan are familiar with the offense and we’ll see how the next few weeks of practice goes,” Ramsay said. “We expect to surround the quarterback with enough firepower.”

Nobody on this year’s roster had any of the Lions’ 26 rushing touchdowns in 2018, but Ramsay is excited about the potential of a backfield featuring three local high school stars. Sophomore Chris Collier (Lawrence) gained 78 yards on 14 touches for Nassau and is joined by Farmingdale’s Jordan McLune and Freeport’s Aaje Grayson. “All three are going to contribute,” Ramsay said. “We know the vision and speed McLune and Grayson bring.”

Grayson’s high school teammate, Jaelin Hood, was a key factor in last season’s success. He led the Lions in receptions (35), receiving yards (591) and touchdown receptions (nine) as a freshman. “We’re looking for Jaelin to continue to make big plays,” noted Ramsay, who also expects production from speedster Maurice Teachey (Malverne) and slot La’Mark Jones Jr. “We’re hoping to create a situation where opposing defensive backs are going to have their hands full,” he added.

Center Jake Pohl and guard Thomas Fleming (Holy Trinity) serve as the veterans of an offensive front molding into shape, Ramsay said.

On the defensive side, the Lions appear strongest on the line with Josh Cruz, Brandon McLaren, Henry Garrison, Luca Salerno (Long Beach) and Prince Williams. Sophomore linebacker Nick Hunter, who’s joined by talented freshman Baraka Yabidi, ranked third on the squad in tackles with 70 and plays physical. In the secondary, sophomores Nick Olivier (Freeport) and Joe Connor will set the tone.

Ramsay handles special teams coaching duties and has plenty of options in the return game such as Hood, Teachey and Jones Jr. Andrew Cuchel (Seaford) is leading the depth chart at kicker/punter. “We take a lot of pride in special teams,” Ramsay said. “It’s one of the most important aspects of the game.”

Schedule

Sat. Aug. 31 Georgia Military 1 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 7 at Monroe 1 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 14 at Louisburg 1 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 21 Hudson Valley CC 1 p.m.

Fri. Oct. 4 Army Prep 7 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 12 at DuPage 1 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 19 Erie CC 1 p.m.

Sat. Oct. 26 at Lackawanna 1 p.m.

Sat. Nov. 2 Hocking 1 p.m.

Sat. Nov. 9 Navy Prep 1 p.m.