Dewitt Clinton is ready to cash in on the all learning, maturity and growing pains from last season. The Governors has some success with a young team a year ago and are set to take the next step of competing with the upper echelon of PSAL football teams.
“Last year was the apprentice year,” Governors coach Howard Langley said. “This year we need to get paid.”
Clinton started last year 4-0 before finishing 5-5, including a two-point loss to New Utrecht in the post season. The players felt they weren’t mentally ready to win big and learned there can be no let ups if they are going to sustain success. They feel this group is more experience, deeper and capable of great things.
“We feel like we can get over the hump,” senior wide receiver Joseph Kennedy said.
The Governors are armed with one of the city most talented quarterbacks in junior Brandon Harris, who is still doing some maturing of his own. The duel threat with his arm and legs posted 1,881 total yards and 27 touchdowns last season in his first varsity campaign under center. Last year’s junior varsity starter Dashown Wilson Jr. has pushed him in the preseason.
Harris will work behind an offensive line led by senior tackles Devante Hunter and Christopher Velasquez and right guard Tre Smith. Clinton is not without weapons around Harris, despite the loss of its starting running backs and top receiver.
Senior running back Eddie Nunz, who was last season’s projected starter, returns from a broken wrist that cost him all of his junior year. He is a power runner with a late burst. Nunez is the lead back and will team with Solomon Reed and Chauncey Murray in the backfield. Nunez is the team’s best defensive player and will play middle linebacker.
“I’m just ready to go,” Nunez said. “I’m hungry. I’m ready for the season.”
The coach is most excited about his wide receiving core. Star Ovandre Reynolds was lost to graduation, but his group is deeper starting with Kennedy and classmate Chesley Carter. Davian Rutledge and Lamont Ray will also contribute.
“They catch the ball and they block pretty well to,” Langley said. “I just like them. They are probably the best crew that I had as receivers.”
There is plenty of returning talent on defense as well, starting with strong safety Ataa Gordon. He joined by linebacker Adbul Kaba, lineman Jaskashi Miller and cornerback Tristan Brady. Langley expects to see some new faces make an impact on defense.
Kevin Martinez, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound lineman is just starting to play organized football. He and Mount St. Michael transfer Remi Lynch shot help on the defensive line and Kenny Baoholit will add depth at corner back. Ataa had plenty of confidence in this unit.
“We are coming every play, he said. “We have to come with the intensity every play. Fast, hard that’s how we play.”
The aggressive mentality is something Langley feels comes with the confidence you get from experience. Clinton certainly is full of both, leaving them ready to take the next step.
“That’s how we have been talking to them all year,” Langley said. “We know what we can be. Now lets be it for this season.”