Getting back to the national championship stage and winning it are lofty goals, but Nassau Community College football coach Jamel Ramsay wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Last season was a bit of a rebuild with some guys who hadn’t played ball for two years,” Ramsay said. “Our defense kept us close every week, but we didn’t put everything together some games. We still finished ranked in the top five and now we’re looking to get back to the championship game and win it.”
The Lions went 6-4 with three one-score defeats in 2022. This year’s schedule features many of the usual suspects and Ramsay is excited about the return of Navy prep and Army prep to the slate. “Those two games are really good tests and experiences for our guys,” he said. “I like the schedule much more than last year’s.”
Four of Nassau’s first five games are home at Mitchel Athletic Complex. The Lions open Sept. 2 against Monroe College and close the month Sept. 30 against Hocking College. The lone trip of September is to Hudson Valley C.C. on the 16th.
Some new key faces to the offense are former Nassau County high school standouts Kevon Hall (Roosevelt running back) and William Pickett (South Side quarterback.)
In 2018, Hall captured the Thorp Award, given to the most outstanding player in the county. He rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 22 touchdowns for the Rough Riders as a senior. “Everyone knows who Kevon is,” Ramsay said. “He’s a definite game-changer even though he hasn’t played a snap in two years. He has a lot of tools and he’ll be raring to go game one.”
Pickett is a dual-threat quarterback who played one season at Cortland and was redshirted in 2022. Ramsay said he recruited Pickett out of high school and is “overly excited” to see him get to work. “He brings a combination of tenacity, speed and power,” Ramsay said. “Most people think of someone’s legs when they talk about dual-threat quarterbacks, but Will can really throw the ball. He has big-time leadership qualities and the sky’s the limit.”
Ramsay believes the offensive line is one of the Lions’ top position groups. It includes Jordy Garcia, Kasper Borawski, Matthew Blanco, Christian Sollecito, Ethan Bonachi, Kenroy Hutchinson and Max Adams. “They’re all talented,” Ramsay said.
Freshman tight end Alex Simmonds has turned heads in camp and at 6-6 with speed comparable to some wideouts, Ramsay sees him as an “absolute factor” in the offense. “He’s been a pleasure to watch,” the coach noted. “He has tremendous blocking ability and potential to be something special.”
At receiver, Isaiah Madrey is looking to make a splash after appearing in four games last season. Also expected to be a lead target for Pickett is former Uniondale standout Kayden Liddie.
On the defensive side, the work in the trenches will be led by Daeshaun Polk, who ranked among the team leaders in tackles for loss last fall and also had 2.5 sacks, and nose guard Cesar Villanueva. Glen Cove product Anthony Schettino heads the linebacker corps, while the secondary is likely to have Chris Hernandez and Miguel Lopez at corner, and Sonny Mayo and Kamari Maths at safety.
Kicker Tom Zabransky was a Second Team All-American selection last season, and newcomer Tommy Dellaporta will handle punting responsibilities.