The Huntington High School football team will head into its 96th season with a sense of optimism and high hopes. Practice begins on Monday, August 19.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to host West Islip, Copiague, Smithtown East and Lindenhurst in games this fall. Huntington will travel to Centereach, Half Hollow Hills East, Northport and Deer Park for road contests.
Huntington head coach Steve Muller. (Photo by Mike Connell.)
Head coach Steve Muller returns to the sidelines with a career record of 127-87 in 23 seasons. He will be assisted by coaches Todd Jamison and Kevin Graham. Jim Byrnes Sr. and Jim Byrnes Jr. will serve as the program’s JV coaches.
The Blue Devils were very competitive in 2018, finishing 3-5 after losing to highly regarded Northport, 23-22 and Suffolk powerhouse West Islip, 37-35. A break here or there would have put Huntington in the playoffs. The Huntington JV compiled a 5-2-1 mark while Finley-8 went 4-2 and Finley-7 finished at 5-1.
Huntington is returning many fine players, including several who garnered team awards last season. The group includes Aidan Mrotzek (Pete Sansiviero Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award), Jaylen Bush (Outstanding Defensive Back Award), Tazadon Smith (Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award), Jonathan Koumas (Outstanding Defensive Player Award), Nasir Youngblood (Special Teams Player of the Year), Aedan McDonald (Steve Henry 12th Man Award), Vinny Caravetto (Most Improved Player Award), 2018 Rookies of the Year Award recipients Chad Rowe and Gary Barash and Al White Service Award winner Lex Colato, who plays offense, defensive and even place-kicks.
Koumas, Smith and Bush all captured All-Division honors last fall. The three are expected to play large roles with this year’s Blue Devil squad.
Last year’s JV team award recipients included Josiah Melendez (Most Outstanding Player Award), Kevin Drake (Outstanding Offensive Player), Robbie Smith (Outstanding Defensive Player) and Cameron Santa-Maria (Outstanding Lineman Award). They will all be vying for spots on the varsity roster this fall.
Finley-8 co-Most Valuable Player Awards went to Joe Algieri and Anthony Annunziata. Also winning honors were Jahmar Francis (Outstanding Offensive Player), Aidan Carello (Outstanding Defensive Player), Dominick Vidota (Outstanding Lineman Award) and Sammy Mac Arner (Coaches Award). They are all moving up to the JV team.
Huntington Football History
The Huntington High School football program traces its roots to 1895 when a group of local boys formed a club team. It wasn’t until 1923 that the school officially sanctioned a team. Since then the Blue Devils have won more than 400 games and a variety of individual and team honors and awards.
Although the first football squad in 1895 was comprised exclusively of Huntington High School students, it was considered a town team. That first team included players Al Sammis, C.J. Jennings, Fred Cantroll, Hilman Cox, Henry Smith, Marian Longbothum, Fred Chalmers, John Green, Roy Lindsay, Jim Temple, Clark Judd and Howard Carter.
The late Edward “Mickey” Norton, a 1951 Huntington High School graduate, researched the origins of the football program. That information combined with additional facts uncovered by Long Island high school sports historian Andrew M. Slawson, has provided the underpinnings of what makes up the rich story of Huntington’s long gridiron tradition.
The 1895 team sparked interest in the sport. “As the years went by this team began to use some out-of-town ball players and many graduates of the high school so that pretty soon it had only the remotest connection with the high school,” according to Mr. Norton. “Then an accident occurred to spell the finish of football in Huntington.”
On Thanksgiving Day (November 28) 1901, Huntington’s Lawrence Gildersleeve broke his neck in a game at Hicksville. Public opinion following the accident turned sharply negative toward football as noted in the following excerpt from The Long-Islander newspaper:
“As the game was played many years ago the idea was to kick the ball. The plan now is to kick the man and disable him from duty. As it is played today, it should be as strongly repressed by law as is prize-fighting.”
The sport was thereafter banned in Huntington for the following 22 years until 1923 when Huntington High School decided to sponsor its first team. (The advent of the NCAA in 1906 at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was concerned about violence in football, led to the development of rules and equipment that enhanced the safety of players.)
Huntington played its first interscholastic football game on either September 27 or October 4, 1924 against Far Rockaway in Queens. (Further research is needed to determine the exact date of the game.) The contest resulted in a 56-0 loss for Huntington. The highlight of the season was a 6-6 draw with Manhasset in the third game of the season. That first year ended with the team compiling a mark of 0-4-1 under founding coach Alton R. Stevens.
The 1925 Huntington team was coached by Ross Scott, who went on to lead the team for four seasons through the 1928 campaign. Scott was at the helm when Huntington High School won its first interscholastic football game ever on Halloween 1925 (October 31), when the squad topped Hicksville, 33-0.
In 95 seasons of play under nine head coaches, Huntington’s known record is 420-309-30 for a .573 winning percentage. (It is believed that a handful of games and scores are missing. Further research is currently being performed to acquire that missing information.)
Huntington originally played its home football games on a field laid out in Heckscher Park during the era when the high school was located in the building now used as town hall. Upon the opening of the current high school building and construction of a new football field along McKay Road, Blue Devil football began playing its games at the new site.