Bringing more than a decade of experience at the high school and college gridirons, Jamel Ramsay is eager to begin his first season at the helm of Nassau Community College’s football program.
Ramsay, a former standout player at LIU-Post who served as receivers coach there a year ago following a successful run as Port Washington High School’s head coach, will try to get the Lions back to prominence after a rare difficult 2016 campaign resulting in a 1-7 mark.
“It’s really exciting,” Ramsay said. “Becoming a college head coach is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and Nassau has a great tradition. This team has a lot of upside and I want to incorporate the same stability and consistency they’ve got at LIU.”
The Lions open the season at home on their new turf field at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. against Hudson Valley Community College. “We’re not talking about what happened last year, but I know the guys are eager to prove to themselves,” Ramsay said. “They’re energy, focus and mindset is all where it should be and they’re working to get better every day.”
Ramsay plans to employ a spread offense featuring some explosive skill position players, including returnees Ahmere Dorsey and Naim Jones. Dorsey started games on both sides of the ball in 2016 and quarterbacked the Lions in a 28-24 season-ending loss to Hudson Valley, throwing for 186 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 108 yards and a score. Now he’s transformed into a slot receiver.
“Ahmere is a fast, intelligent athlete who worked extremely hard during the offseason,” Ramsay said. “We’re going to get the ball into his hands and he’s going to give us a lot of yards after the catch.”
Jones, a product of St. Anthony’s High School, looks to build off a 644-yard, 5-touchdown performance a year ago. He had at least 75 yards on the ground in all but one game and produced a career-best 119 yards at Hocking College in Week 2. “Naim is coming off a nice year and is a tough downhill runner with excellent vision,” Ramsay explained. “He changes direction well and he’s going to be our main back.”
A pair of locals — tight end Aronis Espinal (Oceanside) and wideout Jelani Greene (Newfield) — figure to be key cogs in the air attack in addition to Dorsey. Espinal has quality hands and a big frame, and Ramsay is counting on him to catch and block. Greene, a transfer from the University of New Hampshire, is a talented deep threat who can make a lot of things happen. “Jelani is a smart kid and a student of the game,” Ramsay said. “He’s a lights-out receiver and someone we’ll use on return units along with Dorsey.”
There’s an ongoing battle for the starting quarterback job, with Steven Genova, Khalil Trotman and Lavelle Hall in the mix. Of the three, only Hall has taken snaps under center for the Lions. He threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns against Army Prep last Oct. 21. “We’ll have a better idea in a week,” Ramsay said of the position. “We’re looking for a leader in the huddle and for someone who makes great decisions.”
The offensive front is anchored by sophomore guard/center Gregory Bernal (Hewlett) and freshman guard Brian Carney (William Floyd), while Ramsay said the line will be the strength on the defensive side of the ball once all the pieces fall in place.
Another UNH transfer, sophomore Malik Wilder, is a shutdown cornerback with ball-hawking skills. “We expect a lot of him,” said Ramsay, whose assisted by Sean Binckes, Woody Aime, Paul Jennings, Marc Poppe, Kenneth Scottland and Michael Sollenne. Sophomore linebacker Andrew Ciejka had 45 tackles in just three games last season, including 21 against Navy Prep, and will lead the run defense along with freshman Steven Barongi.
“Our goal is to be 1-0 and go from there,” Ramsay said.
Fri. Sept. 1 Hudson CC 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 8 Monroe 7 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 16 at Navy JV 2 p.m.
Sat. Sept.23 at Lackawanna 7 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 30 Hocking 12 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 7 at Louisburg 1 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 13 Army Prep 7 p.m.
Sun. Oct. 29 at Bryant JV 12 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 4 Erie CC 1 p.m.