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Bayside hoping for smooth sailing in 2001

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The Bayside Commodores finished just three points out of the playoffs last year, despite a sub-.500 record of 3-5 posted against some of the best teams in the city. Coach Joe Capuana is hoping the rough seas of a season ago will translate into smooth sailing for the Commodores this year.

And judging by the amount of returning talent, Bayside could be the class of Queens.

“It’s early to say, but I think we have some strong leadership and there’s some good talent,” said Capuana, entering his fifth year at the helm. “But we need to develop some more bench help. Like some other teams, we could be an injury away from having some trouble.”

Back are a triple-threat of strong running backs in fullback David Coleman and halfbacks C.J. Okogeri and Andre Lewis. Coleman missed almost the entire 2000 season and Okogeri was sidelined for half of the campaign, leaving Lewis to do most of the work.

“[Coleman’s] a guy we were banking on a year ago,” Capuana said. “He’s back and he’s healthy.”

Okogeri, Capuana said, is a blue chip talent already being scouted by such prestigious Division I programs as Syracuse, Penn State and West Virginia.

“He’s probably the most highly recruited player I’ve had,” the coach said. “His expectations are high for himself and he’s shown that. We expect him to make big plays.”

The trio will run behind a veteran offensive line that features returnees Marcus Lugo, Kevin Forrester and Ian Camerer, a transfer from St. Francis Prep.

The big questions on offense are the quarterback and receiver positions. Junior Zanu Simpson and sophomore Darnell Winn are battling it out for the starting QB job, something the coach said won’t be determined until the day of Bayside’s opening game.

“I’m going to go with the guy who gives us the best chance to win,” Capuana said. “It’s a game-time decision.”

Complementing the team’s solid offense is a potent defense with a talented group of linebackers at its core, junior Anthony Harris, senior Richie Richards, Okogeri and Coleman, who will both pull double-duty for the team.

“We could have the best set of linebackers we’ve had in a long time,” Capuana said. “They’re all fast, they all can hit. We’re going to be more aggressive. I think we’re going to be a little more concerned with just getting to the ball and making plays than anything else.

“It’s a very intelligent group I have and I think they understand what it takes,” the coach added. “They’re not afraid to practice. They really look forward to going out there. We’re OK. We look pretty good. If we block well I think we’re going to be a very productive team.”

The Commodores open the season at New Utrecht Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Their first home game will be against fort Hamilton Sept. 15 at 11 a.m.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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