Midwood High School fighting for football relevancy
Last season, Midwood High School’s football team was right on the cusp. It wasn’t one of the top teams in Brooklyn, but it was close. The Hornets fought all season, finished with a 5-4 record and scored 30 points against Lincoln in the playoffs, a team with a strong defense that went on to win the city championship.
As it goes in high school sports, the season ended and players graduated. Now the Midwood Hornets are trying to get back to that level with an inexperienced team.
“It’s tough right now because we had a few good players graduate,” said Midwood’s head coach Anthony Odita, who saw 16 seniors leave his team. “We lost a lot of linemen and we’re now starting a lot of guys that have never played before. It’s a lot of young guys, but they’re competing. The goal is to just get better and better.”
Midwood worked all summer at the Big Apple Games and Odita said he likes the heart his players show in practice. However, for kids who have never played at the varsity level before, there is no better way to learn than in-game experience.
“Early on you just want to see who is competing because sometimes in camp you maybe get a false sense of what people can do,” Odita said. “Now that we’re seeing what they can do in [actual games] we go back and watch the film and see what really happened. We have some 10th graders and even a couple of freshmen that have promise, but they have to get their reps.”
With experience, Odita hopes the team will improve as the season goes on. If he can get his younger players up to speed — especially in the offensive and defensive lines where he lost some solid talent — the Hornets could be a sneaky team come playoff time, as the team still has a core of talented players. Among them is Nicholas Falzone, who only started playing quarterback last season and made quick strides as he came loaded with a rocket for an arm after growing up playing baseball as a pitcher. To him, that has made the transition easier.
“I played football a little bit when I was younger and I just love throwing the ball around,” said Falzone, who joined Midwood as a receiver during his sophomore year. “I love being in control and the quarterback is the field general. I played center field and I pitched and those are pretty much the field general positions in baseball. This is just a progression of that.”
Then there is junior Carl Colas, who plays all over — running back, receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback. Odita called Colas the best overall athlete on the team. Brandon White is a similar to Colas in strength and speed, and he also plays all over the field. Seniors William Tarver and Shemar Joseph have also gotten off to a good start, as each picked up a sack during the first game of the season.
Then there are junior receivers Aziz King and Akeil Sealy who have a lot talent and the heart to back it up.
“Aziz has been a guy that has been under the radar a little bit, but if he can put everything together, he is going to be a very good player for us,” Odita said. “Akiel has a lot of fight in him. There are a few guys on the team bigger or faster than him, but he goes out there and competes very hard and has made himself one of the best players on the team.”
Things haven’t exactly started off great for Midwood this season, but there have already been flashes of hope. The Hornets dropped their first game to Grand Street, but hung in there against a team that is expected to compete for the city title. It might have been a loss, but it’s one from which the players can gain confidence.
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