May 28, 2012
Title: From Honor Guard to Grand Marshal; Mayor George Doll once served in honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery. He brought pomp and ceremony Monday to Northport Memorial Day parade.
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: May 28, 2012
Word Count: 468
Before he was mayor of Northport, before he was a lobsterman, George Doll served in the honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
Just a lanky kid from the Long Island suburbs, Doll landed the prestigious duty in 1965, just as the war in Vietnam started to intensify. Doll was drafted and served 18 months with the 3rd Infantry Division guarding Washington.
So Northport picked the right Grand Marshal for Monday’s Memorial Day Parade.
“Down there it’s real serious,” Doll recalled of his stint at Arlington, home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “The day before Memorial Day, the whole army goes out and puts a flag on every one of those graves.”
Doll was a member of the Army drill team in his youth, in part because of his height. As he led the parade down Main Street on Monday – astride a white-haired draft horse and representing the American Legion – Doll appeared downright imposing.
He takes his current role deadly serious.
“Even though I didn’t serve in combat, I was very close to people who did,” Doll said. “My platoon leader, Lt. [Micahel Eugene] Kraft, was sent to Vietnam. He was killed within [three months]. He came back and we had the detail to bury him.”
Kraft was killed in action in the An Lao Valley on April 8, 1967. He was interred at Arlington.
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Doll’s tie, featuring Texas state flag, is a tribute to another fallen comrade. It was a gift from a buddy who died in Vietnam.
“This is not part of the American Legion uniform,” Doll said of the tie. “One of my friends in the service gave me this before he got killed in Vietnam. So I wear this on Memorial Day.”
Doll has been part of the Northport parade since he was a child watching the procession march by.
There was a time – before Doll – when the annual Memorial Day ceremony paraded down an unpaved Main Street. Through the decades, it’s an event that binds the Village and one generation to another.
“The parade always has the right touch,” Doll said. “A lot of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Legionnaires. We are very receptive to the flag display put on by the Rotary Club. If you are doing something patriotic, you have a good chance getting it OK’d.”
The formal pomp of the day struck the proper red, white and blue chord.
Maybe some future mayor of Northport watched Monday’s ceremony in awe sitting on the street curb – or a stroller – as Doll rode past.
It was an inspiring morning. The dead were honored. Our living war heroes were saluted. It was a day where you were proud to live in Northport.
About this column: Regional Editor Jason Molinet weighs in on the people and issues which make Long Island great.
November 20, 2010
Title: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit; Friars football statistician Tom Langan roams the sideline despite losing leg to infection and diabetes.
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Word Count: 960
You know Tom Langan. He’s the guy with an infectious smile, clip board in hand and numbers at his fingertips, navigating the pulsing sideline at St. Anthony’s football games as he keeps pace with what’s happening on the field.
He’s the team statistician, a volunteer job he’s done going back to two decades. And while Langan, 57, has missed games through the years, he has been as much a fixture in the Black and Gold as coach Rich Reichert himself. In fact, the two are cousins.
“I try to tell the kids, ‘You have so many dedicated people here you don’t really realize they are doing things for you behind the scenes,’” Reichert said. “This is really important to him. And he does a really good job for us.”
St. Anthony’s (10-0) plays Iona Prep (8-2) in the CHSFL Class AAA championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. It’s no surprise Langan will be there doing his duties for the Friars.
The remarkable part is that Langan is here at all.
The same day St. Anthony’s beat Iona Prep on Oct. 9, 2009, Langan’s left leg was amputated above the knee. It was the result of a freak infection gone wrong and a previously undiagnosed condition.
Reichert gave his cousin the game ball in the hospital. He stopped in every night after practice. And he’s been there for Langan ever since, through a long and evolving rehabilitation process.
His big step forward came during the home opener in September against Holy Cross. Langan made his return to the St. Anthony’s sideline, albeit with his clip board balanced on a walker.
“Tom was there all the time. And we counted on him all the time,” St. Anthony’s athletic director Don Buckley said. “So when he was out last season, it was obvious. Everyone was saying, ‘Where’s Tom?’”
Langan, who is still adjusting to using his titanium prosthesis, recently transferred from a rehab facility in Long Beach to an assisted living home in Medford. Each day is another closer to normalcy.
“I can get around,” said Langan, who is on disability after a career spent in retail. “I use the walker and I’m training with the cane right now. My goal is to walk without anything. It may take two years, but I’m going to do it.”
Today Langan’s life is packed away, boxed up in Reichert’s garage. He was an only child and never married. The football program is his family. Langan finds deeper meaning in everything now, especially on the sideline of a football game. It’s one small but significant step in the rehabilitation process.
“People say, ‘It’s a shame what happened to you,” Langan said. “I say, ‘It happened.’ You have to do your best to adjust. You do the best you can to get your life back.”
It’s not the first time. When Langan’s father died in 1964 – when Langan was all of 10 – Reichert’s dad took on the role of surrogate father figure. So the cousins spent a lot of time together and grew as close as brothers.
This is Reichert’s 24th season at the helm of the St. Anthony’s football program. Langan joined him on the sideline starting in 1991.
“Richie asked me,” Langan said. “He said, ‘Can you help me out? You’re good with numbers.’”
The closest he had been to a sports venue was as a vendor at Yankee Stadium growing up in the Bronx. But Langan took instantly to his statistician duties.
There were unexpected benefits. The winning was addictive. Being close to his cousin was great. He forged lasting relationships with the coaching staff. And the positive energy flowing from the teenaged players energized him.
“It keeps me young being around the teenagers,” Langan said. “The coaches treat me great. It’s like I’m part of the staff. I feel like I’m part of the St. Anthony’s family.”
That family has seen him though an ordeal.
When Langan discovered a pebble embedded in his left foot, he removed it with tweezers. It drew a little blood. He bandaged it up and didn’t think twice about it. That was August 2009.
But the wound became infected. Langan ignored it, expecting it would get better. Then the infection spread to the bone. Next thing Langan knew he was unable to get out of bed. He called his cousin.
“As soon as I saw his leg I knew he was in trouble,” said Reichert, a former Nassau County Police officer. “He almost died that night. It was really bad. Gangrene.”
Reichert rushed his cousin to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. Langan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which only exacerbated the injury. And his leg would have to go. Surgery was scheduled just 24 hours later.
“When you wake up you see what’s not there any more,” Langan said, “it’s a shock.”
All that seems like a lifetime ago. Langan has been to five games this season. He was on the sideline when Reichert won his 200th game last week. The title game will make six. He has a job to do.
“This gives me an incentive to do something,” Langan said. “It gets me outdoors. I’m seeing people again. I’m more determined. You have to push yourself to do it.”
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the courage of the everyday.
“He’s a true inspiration,” Buckley said. “He’s done so well with his rehab, most of the kids don’t even realize there’s anything wrong. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He’s a guy behind the scenes.”
On the same turf where athletes push themselves to the limit for the glory of sport, so is the humble stat guy. He’s simply learning to stand tall and walk once more.
September 3, 2010
Title: Long Island Football: 2010 CHSFL Preview; St. Anthony’s still the CHSFL team to beat
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Sept. 3, 2010
Word Count: 1,009
There’s little doubt that the Catholic football league is the toughest and most talent-rich in New York state. There’s also no contesting that one school sits atop the heap.
St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington is a Long Island football dynasty with all the trappings of royalty. Coach Rich Reichert has one of the biggest and most experienced staffs you’ll find on a high school field. The 80-man roster is as deep as any college program’s. And the Friars play on a lighted, turf field before packed crowds approaching 2,500, and with TV and radio crews regularly stalking the sidelines.
Little wonder the Friars, despite graduating several key players from last season’s 10-1 CHSFL Class AAA championship, are the top seed and favorites once again. Success breeds success.
Behind the play of QB Tom Schreiber, the Friars won eight games in a row to end the 2009 season. He engineered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to lift St. Anthony’s past previously unbeaten Holy Trinity, 28-21, in the title game. It marked the eighth league championship in the last nine seasons.
How will the 2010 CHSFL season play out? Holy Trinity, Chaminade and Holy Cross will vie for the title while the Friars break in a new QB. Regardless, the path to the championship still runs through South Huntington and St. Anthony’s. That because Reichert doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. Here’s a look at the CHSFL:
1. St. Anthony’s
2. Holy Trinity
4. Holy Cross
5. Iona Prep
7. St. Joseph Sea
9. Mount St. Michael
10. Fordham Prep
12. St. Francis Prep
14. Cardinal Hayes
16. St. John the Baptist
17. St. Peter’s
19. Bishop Ford
20. Christ the King
St. Anthony’s: The Friars will look to reach the CHSFL Class AAA title game for the 12th straight season with a new QB but the same unbeatable attitude. The difference maker for the Friars is up front, where their defensive and offensive linemen play on one side of the ball and have the heft to dominate.
Holy Trinity: Can the Titans fill the void left by the graduation of all-everything RB / LB Anthony Brunetti? The four-year star served as the sparkplug for Holy Trinity’s run to the CHSFL Class AAA title game a year ago. If Holy Trinity lets QB Chris Laviano air it out, then look out.
Chaminade: The 2009 season ended with Holy Trinity returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in a 28-24 playoff loss. You can bet second-year coach Stephen Boyd, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, will have the Flyers playing inspired defense. Chaminade will be in every game.
Holy Cross: A semifinalist a year ago, Knights have top wideout Devon Cajuste (921 yards, 7 TDs) back. Holy Cross gave St. Anthony’s a scare in the regular season but bowed out with an injury-riddled lineup in a 28-7 playoff loss to the Friars. This cast will be motivated for more.
Mount St. Michael: Thanks to a No. 9 seed and easy schedule, look for the Mountaineers to play their way into the Top 8 and a spot in the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs. Veteran coach Mario Valentini gets his team to play and Mount finished strong in 2009 with a AA title. Multitalented QB Jaylen Amaker leads the offense. Think sleeper.
Devon Cajuste, Holy Cross, WR: The 6-4, 211-pound senior was unstoppable a year ago as an NYSSWA first-team All-State pick. He led the CHSFL in receiving with 921 yards and 7 TDs on 40 catches, good for 23 yards a reception. Committed to Stanford.
Isaiah Kearney, Xaverian, RB: After a standout freshman year in which he averaged 8.2 yards per carry and rushed for 774 yards and 6 TDs, all of Brooklyn is buzzing over Kearney. The sophomore back is sprinter fast and a true game breaker.
Chris Laviano, Holy Trinity, QB: MaxPreps calls him a Top 100 recruit. This 6-1, 180-pound sophomore will be the focal point now that 2,000-yard rusher Anthony Brunetti is gone. He threw for 1,122 yards and 8 TDs in 2009. He’s got a big arm and a heady sense of the game. Poised for a breakout year.
Tyler McLees, St. Anthony’s, LB: The 6-0, 210-pound senior led the league with 121 tackles a year ago and added 4 sacks. The son of former Carey coach Matt McLees (himself a linebacker at Southern Connecticut), he’ll be a leader on defense.
Charlie Raffa, St. Anthony’s, QB: An Under Amour All-American in lacrosse, the 5-10, 185-pound Raffa has great instincts. And like his predecessors, he can beat you with his arm or legs. Committed to Maryland for lacrosse.
Farrell at Kellenberg, Sept. 18: This is as important a game as Kellenberg will play all season. If the No. 11 Firebirds hope to qualify for the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs, then a win against No. 8 Farrell is a good place to start.
Holy Cross at Holy Trinity, Oct. 16: Holy smokes! A pair of CHSFL Class AAA semifinalists from a year ago collide. Buckle up. This one should be fun to watch.
Chaminade at Holy Trinity, Oct. 9: These Nassau rivals have met in the playoffs two of the last three seasons. It’s always close and heated. The winner of this game could be in the driver’s seat for a home playoff game.
St. Anthony’s at Chaminade, Oct. 16: This rivalry defines the two schools. While Chaminade hasn’t been a factor of late, there’s no one the Friars would rather beat. But it’s the middle of a tough stretch in the schedule for St. Anthony’s. Expect a physical and emotional game.
St. Anthony’s at Holy Trinity, Oct. 23: A rematch of the 2009 CHSFL Class AAA title game. St. Anthony’s has ripped the Titans in recent seasons (outscoring them 201-62 since 2005), bringing Holy Trinity back to Earth after sky-high expectations. This one will be for playoff seeding.
CHSFL Class AAA-AA
|St. Joseph Sea||7||2||357||240|
|Mount St. Michael||5||5||195||273|
|St. Francis Prep||2||8||192||276|
2009 Playoff Results
CHSFL Class AAA
St. Anthony’s 49, Xaverian 7
Holy Trinity 28, Chaminade 24
Holy Cross 32, Fordham Prep 14
Iona Prep 40, St. Joseph Sea 29
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Cross 7
Holy Trinity 27, Iona Prep 18
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Trinity 21
|St. John the Baptist||4||6||173||223|
|Christ the King||1||8||147||292|
2009 Playoff Results
CHSFL Class AA
Mount St. Michael 21, Xavier 14
Cardinal Hayes 26, Kellenberg 24
St. Francis Prep 35, Stepinac 21
Farrell 41, St. John the Baptist 6
Mount St. Michael 28, St. Francis Prep 21
Cardinal Hayes 33, Farrell 7
Mount St. Michael 28, Cardinal Hayes 22
St. Peter’s 27, Christ the King 20
Bishop Ford 38, Spellman 0
St. Peter’s 41, Bishop Ford 0