Will the Vikings dynasty end or is a three-peat ready to unfold along the shores of Hempstead Harbor?
There’s some unanswered questions at North Shore. The two-time defending Nassau County Conference IV football champion boasts a retooled roster after losing lots of their studs from the 2021/2022 juggernauts.
In 2021, North Shore won its first county title since 1975 and first-ever Long Island championship. Last fall, the maroon notched another county championship with an unbeaten record before losing in the L.I. championship game to Bayport, 35-7.
Gone is the Vikings powerhouse backfield – running back Nick LaRosa, quarterback, Peter Liotta, fullback Ryan Freund and third-down back Nick Livoti.
“Obviously, those are big shoes to fill,’’ said head coach Dan Agovino, who starts his 22nd season in Sea Cliff/Glen Head. “But we got some guys we think will step up. We’re not going to have the superstar names you’re used to reading about but we’re solid enough to get the job done.’’
North Shore still got seeded No. 1 in a coach’s vote but Malverne and Seaford are considered major threats.
“The hype right now if you talk to anybody is on Malverne and Seaford,’’ Agovino said. “People are writing us off. That’s OK. We still think come November when it’s playoff football, with our experience, our team will be ready to go.’’
Agovino is pumped about Liotta’s successor at quarterback: senior Garret Gates, who took some snaps in 2022 when Liotta rested.
“He’s got a lot of experience, a lot of feel,’’ Agovino said. “It’s a natural progression to put him back there.’’
Gates is a standout baseball player, too, committing to Division I NJIT. “With his competitiveness and athleticism, we won’t skip a beat from Liotta to Gates,’’ Agovino said.
Replacing the bulldog running of La Rosa and physical Freund is a larger challenge. “That’s an open competition,’’ Agovino said. “We have guys who are battling for that spot.’’
Junior Jack Damphouse, up from JV, and senior Matthrew D’Aversa are battling for featured-back role.
D’Aversa didn’t play last season but Agovino calls him “a tremendous athlete who’s been really surprising us, showing a lot of poise.’’
The speedy Livoti played a change-of-pace role that contrasted with La Rosa. That job will be filled by athletic Sawyer DeSeve. “We will want to run that East-West stuff to keep teams honest,’’ Agovino said.
The Vikings are strong at receiver with last season’s starter James Toner returning. And the offensive line looks bold with returning senior starters Justin Rosen and Isaac Bratter. “That’s where we rely on our core and strength,’’ Agovino said.
Athanasios Alafogiannis will play H-Back as a key blocker while anchoring the defense at middle linebacker.
“His downhill tackling is going to help us a lot,’’ Agovino said.
Defense might be the maroon’s strongest element with its aim on pressuring the quarterback. D’Aversa shares the line with defense ends Bratter and Rosen. Charles Godfrey and Luke Patapov are other linebackers. John Haff excels at defensive back.
“Malverne and Seaford are very good, but I still think we have a good chance to be the last team standing as we have the last couple of years,’’ Agovino said. “This year will be a little different. We have to rely on depth instead of a few athletes.’’