After a long summer of waiting, the Oyster Bay High School football team finally took to the practice field the week of Monday, Aug. 23. Under the direction of head coach Tore Barbaccia, the team began a rigorous conditioning schedule that includes numerous practices over a short period of time. The players also learned basic football during the first week of practice.
The team, beginning its third season under Mr. Barbaccia, hopes that it can build on its momentum late last season. Sophomore Dustin Abbate will join seniors Brandon Parlante and Chris Cooper in competition for the quarterback job this season. All three played on last year's team and are familiar with the coach's system.
Compared to recent years, the turnout was outstanding, with approximately 40 players practicing. It is likely that there will be a junior varsity football team in Oyster Bay for the first time in three years
Due to the small size of the team in recent years, many players had to play on both offense and defense in the same game. Two-way play, as it is known, will continue to be a style of play in Oyster Bay despite the increase in team size.
According to Mr. Barbaccia, every player will get a chance to play on one of the two teams. The cuts for varsity will be based mostly on grade level because Mr. Barbaccia feels that it is best to avoid placing younger players in varsity games. He feels that the best way to have a player progress is to have him step up slowly rather than quickly. Naturally, if a player were extremely talented, the coach might make an exception.
At practice, Mr. Barbaccia stresses general sports ideas as well as specific football skills. "I like to emphasize punctuality, work ethic and sportsmanship," said the coach. The work ethic is certainly a good thing to talk about, since the team has two practices a day, known simply as "two-a-days." Several players said that they were sore, but they did not let their pain slow them down during practices.
The amount of gear worn by the players changes throughout the early practices. For the first three days, only a helmet was worn. Thursday began the use of "uppers," or shoulder pads. The second week of practice will bring the wearing of full protective gear. The more contact during practice, the more gear worn. With full gear the team will conduct some intrasquad scrimmages to help better themselves.
In order to further prepare themselves for the regular season, the Baymen will participate in a scrimmage held at Clarke High School. They will also host a scrimmage against nearby Locust Valley. These two exhibitions will most likely be held during the first and second weeks of September, respectively.
When the real games begin, Mr. Barbaccia said that the toughest tests will come from Friends Academy, Cold Spring Harbor and Valley Stream South. The coach also added that every opposing team must be taken seriously and the Baymen would approach every game with this attitude.