Patch: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit

November 20, 2010

St. Anthony's stat man Tom Langan.

St. Anthony's stat man Tom Langan.


Title: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit; Friars football statistician Tom Langan roams the sideline despite losing leg to infection and diabetes.
Publication: www.Huntington.Patch.com
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.

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

September 3, 2010

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

Title: Long Island Football: 2010 CHSFL Preview; St. Anthony’s still the CHSFL team to beat
Publication: www.Huntington.Patch.com
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:

2010 Seeds

1. St. Anthony’s
2. Holy Trinity
3. Chaminade
4. Holy Cross
5. Iona Prep
6. Xaverian
7. St. Joseph Sea
8. Farrell
9. Mount St. Michael
10. Fordham Prep
11. Kellenberg
12. St. Francis Prep
13. Stepinac
14. Cardinal Hayes
15. Xavier
16. St. John the Baptist
17. St. Peter’s
18. Spellman
19. Bishop Ford
20. Christ the King

Team Watch

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.

Player Watch

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.

Game Watch

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.

2009 Standings

CHSFL Class AAA-AA

TEAM W L PF PA
Holy Trinity 10 1 339 149
St. Anthony’s 10 1 398 165
St. Joseph Sea 7 2 357 240
Holy Cross 7 3 299 201
Fordham Prep 4 7 203 299
Iona Prep 4 6 248 293
Chaminade 4 6 174 198
Xaverian 4 6 173 238
Mount St. Michael 5 5 195 273
Farrell 4 6 139 184
Kellenberg 2 8 141 278
St. Francis Prep 2 8 192 276

 

2009 Playoff Results

CHSFL Class AAA

Quarterfinals
St. Anthony’s 49, Xaverian 7
Holy Trinity 28, Chaminade 24
Holy Cross 32, Fordham Prep 14
Iona Prep 40, St. Joseph Sea 29

 

Semifinals
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Cross 7
Holy Trinity 27, Iona Prep 18

 

Championship
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Trinity 21
CHSFL Class AA-A

 

TEAMS W L PF PA
Stepinac 8 3 287 144
Cardinal Hayes 8 2 299 216
Xavier 7 4 265 155
St. John the Baptist 4 6 173 223
St. Peter’s 5 4 199 149
Bishop Ford 3 7 154 240
Spellman 1 7 80 291
Christ the King 1 8 147 292

 

2009 Playoff Results

CHSFL Class AA

Quarterfinals
Mount St. Michael 21, Xavier 14
Cardinal Hayes 26, Kellenberg 24
St. Francis Prep 35, Stepinac 21
Farrell 41, St. John the Baptist 6

 

Semifinals
Mount St. Michael 28, St. Francis Prep 21
Cardinal Hayes 33, Farrell 7

 

Championship
Mount St. Michael 28, Cardinal Hayes 22
CHSFL Class A

Semifinals
St. Peter’s 27, Christ the King 20
Bishop Ford 38, Spellman 0
Championship
St. Peter’s 41, Bishop Ford 0

 

Long Island’s Blogging Sailor

June 28, 2010

As all great modern adventures certainly begin, John Almberg bought a sailboat on eBay.

It was a 23-foot wooden sloop located along the Florida Panhandle. Just one problem. How would Almberg, a father of four who lives in Huntington, get his prize back to Long Island? Shipping it would prove prohibitively expensive. So Almberg decided he would sail it home.

His 2,000 nautical mile odyssey began when he took possession of the “Blue Moon” in January. The rest is tirelessly chronicled on his blog: http://www.unlikelyboatbuilder.com/ He’s also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnlikelyVoyager

Almberg, 57, grew up sailing with his father and uncle. But he abandoned ship life in pursuit of rowing for a decade. Crew – those pencil-thin missiles cutting through the water under oar power – became his passion.

Then he decided to slow down and cruise once more. Almberg and wife, Helena, began looking at sailboats. When a wooden sloop caught their eye in Mount Sinai Harbor, it gave him the blueprint for the perfect yacht.

In the mean time, he decided to build an 8-foot skiff in his garage, one plank at a time. Nicknamed “Cabin Boy,” the small boat came together rib by rib and gave rise to his blog.

“I really didn’t know anything about wooden boats,” Almberg said by phone. “I just knew what fiberglass boat people tell each other, ‘[A wooden boat] is too much work.’ I decided to build a small wooden boat to prove that I could take care of a larger wooden boat. I don’t know what the logic behind that was, but I came to that conclusion.”

After an exhaustive search, he finally found his yacht – for the right price – on eBay. His plan was coming together nicely.

“We were looking, but weren’t really planning on buying then,” Almberg said. “It’s not that easy to find a good wooden boat.”

The Tom Gilmer-designed Blue Moon yawl, anchored in the Steinhatchee River, needed superficial but extensive work. Its barnacled bottom was stripped, wormy wood replaced, imperfections sanded and sealed and finally the keel painted a two-tone blue. Almberg oversaw the restoration in Florida himself.

The Blue Moon, with Cabin Boy in tow, set sail for New York in April. And so Almberg’s blog, which he originally started as a way to document his scratch build of a dinghy, turned into a true nautical adventure tale.

“I was surprised when people started reading it,” said Almberg, who works in technology and web development and is currently home planning the next leg of his trip. “I guess that happens a lot with blogs. You don’t realize how many people follow it. A lot of people fantasize about going to sea and being independent for a while.”

The depth and detail of the blog draws readers in. His 500-mile shakedown cruise down the Gulf coast through the heart of Florida at Lake Okeechobee and out at Indiantown on the east coast makes for mesmerizing reading and the photos are magical.

“It was a very deserted stretch,” Almberg said of the Okeechobee passage. “I maybe passed five boats the entire time. It’s actually really scenic.”

The next leg took him up the Intracoastal Waterway past St. Augustine to Jacksonville, where the Blue Moon and Cabin Boy are currently docked awaiting their captain’s return.

Almberg, whose wife is Brazilian, is understandably a soccer fan. He’ll resume his journey some time after the World Cup. The next stop on his voyage to Long Island? Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I’ve always wanted to take a long sail like this and just never had the chance,” Almberg said. “I have an amazing wife who said, ‘Why don’t you sail it home? Get it out of your system and go have some fun.’”

Fun indeed. Almberg hopes to reach Long Island by November, and his blog brings us all along for the ride.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Another championship for Huntington lacrosse

June 1, 2010

That was Zach Howell holding one corner of the national championship trophy on the field in Baltimore on Monday, mugging for the cameras. The Duke University junior attack was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team after a brilliant postseason capped off with his school crowned champs in men’s lacrosse.

It was a familiar scene. Howell did the same years earlier at Huntington High School. He helped lead another Blue Devils squad to a 63-1 mark and state Class B championships in 2005 and ’06 before losing as a senior in the 2007 state semifinals.

So he’d done this all before. But after scoring two goals and adding an assist as Duke beat Notre Dame in overtime, 6-5, Howell acknowledged this title was even more special.

“I’ll cherish this because I understand now how much hard work it took to get here,” Howell said by phone on Tuesday. “It’s been three years of hard work for me. It was probably the best moment of my life.”

Led by former Hofstra coach John Danowski, Duke knocked off ACC rival and top-ranked Virginia, 14-12, in a wild semifinal. Then the Blue Devils broke through to win their first national title in 14 NCAA Tournament appearances with the thriller over Notre Dame.

Howell was a key figure in each win. He laid the foundation growing up in Huntington. And he never forgot where he came from because he never could shake it. That Huntington squad also featured Rhamel and Shamel Bratton, who are each standouts at the University of Virginia. Stony Brook University senior goalie Charlie Paar helped guide the Seawolves to the NCAA quarterfinals.

In other words, the path to the 2010 NCAA title ran directly through Huntington. First the Brattons took down Stony Brook. Then Howell upset the Brattons in the semifinals.

The Bratton brothers led Huntington to a Suffolk title in basketball in 2006. And with Howell at quarterback, the threesome won a Long Island championship in football in 2005.

“It’s great to see all my buddies from Huntington doing well in college and I’m really proud of those guys,’’ said Howell, who has faced the Brattons seven times now. “We had great careers as high school players and were able to carry that forward.”

Against Notre Dame, no sooner had C.J. Costabile scored off the opening faceoff of OT than Howell dropped his stick and jumped on his Duke teammate. They were quickly bowled over by the entire bench, which rushed onto the field in a wave that crashed into the Notre Dame goal.

“It was really disbelief,” Howell said.

Now Howell, a history major, moves into a long off-season of celebration close to home. He will intern at HSBC Bank in New York City over the summer.

No doubt he’ll also get together with a few of his former high school teammates. With each passing season, that Huntington lacrosse dynasty looks more and more special. They can reminisce about the glory days of years gone by. And they can take heart in the fact that the glory lives on.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Stony Brook Lacrosse: Charlie Paar’s Big Save

May 10, 2010

Charlie Paar’s path was clear until it wasn’t. The second-generation goalie led Huntington High School to a state boys lacrosse championship as a senior in 2005. And then? He embarked on an odyssey which led him to the brink and back.

Paar is a senior at Stony Brook University, and he fulfilled the promise of a lifetime over the weekend. He was named MVP of the America East men’s lacrosse championship game on Saturday after tying a career-best with 18 saves in goal as the Seawolves beat Albany, 11-7.

The victory also earned Stony Brook its second ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. The 16-team bracket, released Sunday night, awarded the Seawolves the No. 8 seed and a home game. Stony Brook (12-3) will host Denver (12-4) in a first round game Saturday, May 15 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 631-632-WOLF.

“This is really like a dream,” Paar said.

Dad Mark Paar was a Newsday All-Long Island football player at Huntington and a standout goalie on the lacrosse field. But in 1972, Long Island sports was akin to life on Mars. His father won a county title as a junior, but never had the opportunity to play on the big stage. There was no state tournament.

Little wonder father began coaching up his son as a third grader, passing down his legacy and knowledge to the next generation.

“It all started down at PAL with great coaching,” said Charlie Paar, a history major who wants to teach and coach someday. “The group of people I was with was always strong. And when we got to high school, we won.”

Paar was named a high school All-American after Huntington captured the state Class B crown with a 14-3 thrashing of Jamesville-DeWitt. That’s right. Paar allowed just three goals.

A Division I scholarship awaited him at Towson. But Paar wasn’t ready. He stumbled in the classroom and left college after his freshman year, a missed opportunity that could have marked the end of his lacrosse career.

“My grades weren’t the best,” Paar admitted. “You go from living at home your whole life to living by yourself. It was tough. So I had to come home and do a couple of years at Nassau and straighten out. The grades had to come first. Then lacrosse. It worked out for the best.”

Paar enrolled at Nassau Community College. He stayed two seasons and led Nassau to an NJCAA championship in 2008, where he was named defensive MVP of the tournament. With his classroom obligations finally on track, Paar earned a second chance at big-time lacrosse when Stony Brook offered him another shot at Division I.

The reward? Five years later, Paar is playing for an NCAA title while Towson is not.

Three other Long Island programs reached the postseason this week. Hofstra (9-4) also qualified for the NCAA Tournament and travels to face No. 3 Maryland (11-3) May 15 at noon. In the Division II bracket, defending national champ C.W. Post (14-1) hosts rival Dowling (12-1) in a semifinal on May 22.

If the Seawolves can get past Denver, a possible showdown with No. 1 Virginia awaits in the NCAA quarterfinals. That includes a matchup against two of Paar’s former high school teammates: Rhamel and Shamel Bratton.

“This team reminds me a lot of my senior year at Huntington,” Paar said. “We had never won a Suffolk County championship [since 1975]. We had never won states.”

Stony Brook hadn’t qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2002, its last America East championship season. After his junior season was cut short by injury, Paar played non-stop over the summer. Now he’s seeing the ball better than ever, has a .538 save percentage and is a leader on defense.

“This season has been a blast,” Paar said. “It’s been everything we wanted it to be.”

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Community Shred Day

May 29, 2009

I might throw a ticker tape parade for whoever came up with the following novel idea. A Huntington business is offering to shred any of your documents for free next Saturday. I’ll be there with a few boxes. Check out the press release:

Raymond James Financial Services and Shred-it will be hosting a community “Shred Day” on Saturday, June 6, 2009, from 11 am – 3 pm (rain date: Sunday, June 7). Local residents and business owners are invited to get their home or business paperwork organized and help to prevent identity theft by bringing their obsolete documents to 75 New Street in Huntington Village where Shred-it will have their specially equipped truck on site to destroy documents free of charge.

Attendees are invited to watch as their documents are instantly destroyed by one of the giant Shred-It high speed cross cutting machines. Susan Pearlman and Greg Kennedy of Raymond James Financial Services will be available to offer tips and resources on how to guard against identity theft and to answer questions about financial planning. They will also provide information to determine how long to keep your personal and business records.

Identity theft is the fastest growing form of consumer fraud in North America. It is estimated that a victim of identity theft spends approximately 200-600 hours and up to $1,500 to restore their identities and credit histories. Shred-its trucks contain cutting-edge proprietary technology that can safely dispose of business or personal papers that are no longer needed. Other items that can be shredded include computer discs, credit and ATM cards.

Community Shred events increase the knowledge of identity theft, making our communities safer places to live. Shredding personal information is a key step that individuals can take to prevent becoming victims of identity theft. The destroyed documents, in the form of confetti-sized pieces, will be transferred to a recycling facility, where they return to the marketplace in the form of items such as recycled household paper products.

Blog originally posted at LI Entrepreneurs.com