KATIE STRANG | Newsday Staff Writer
August 6, 2007
E-mail Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback text size: Joe Sidaras has spent part of his summer running with cinderblocks, throwing tractor tires and carrying steel girders.
No, he didn't get a summer job at the local junkyard; the standout quarterback from William Floyd High School completed these grueling tasks as part of the team's summer lineman clinic. That's right, lineman clinic.
Sidaras isn't contemplating a switch from quarterback to the offensive line, but, as a leader of the team, he wanted to attend the three-session per week conditioning camp to earn respect from the guys that will be protecting him this season.
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"It's the least I can do to work out for them," said Sidaras about his blocking corps. "I can't get anything done without them."
Joe Johnson, Sidaras' best friend and center for Floyd, was definitely impressed with the gesture.
"For him to do that, [when] he doesn't have to do it, I respect him so much," said Johnson. "He knows what we have to go through to protect him."
And Floyd's offensive line has a lot to protect.
Sidaras completed 87 of 124 passes for 1,492 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for 582 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He also won MVP honors after leading the Colonials to a Class I Long Island championship in a 42-20 victory over East Meadow. Arguably the top quarterback prospect on Long Island, touted for his arm strength and rushing ability, Sidaras has garnered interest from some of the top programs in the country, including Maryland, UConn and Pittsburgh. Although Sidaras has not committed to a school yet, he has received full scholarship offers from Army, Hofstra and Stony Brook, and will likely commit to one of the three by early September.
With that decision out of the way, Sidaras can focus on his upcoming senior season, which, given last season's success, will be a tough act to follow.
"I expect a lot, to be honest," said Floyd head coach Paul Longo. "I expect him to be one of the best players in Long Island without a doubt."
One talent that will certainly help Sidaras in 2007 is his ability to read defenses and adjust accordingly, a skill he has worked on specifically in recent years.
"He's become a real student of the game," said Longo. "I'm into the chess game [of football], and he's also like that now. He knows what plays work against what defenses."
That skill is particularly helpful in an offense that boasts not only one of the strongest arms in the area, but also a formidable ground threat in running back Brock Jackolski, who rushed for 1,376 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.
Sidaras' ability to stretch the field keeps the secondary honest, according to Longo, but Jackolski also forces defenses to recognize the run. Compounded with Sidaras' ability to read the defense, the two have been able to skillfully exploit the weaknesses of opposing teams.
This is something Longo thinks will not only help Sidaras in his quest for another Long Island Championship, but also as a quarterback at the next level.
"When you go from high school to college, the speed is different. It's always an adjustment to take it up a notch speed-wise," Longo said, but Sidaras' understanding of the game will certainly help make the adjustment easier.
"I think it's going to be a huge advantage for him," Longo said. "I think it's going to help him transition to the college level so much."
Johnson, who has been snapping to Sidaras since they were 6 years old, said he thinks Sidaras' natural ability and leadership will help him excel at whatever school he chooses to attend.
"I expect him to be a captain at the next level. I know his work ethic and what he can do," said Johnson. "I think he can definitely do it."
Although Sidaras has comfort in knowing that he has a full scholarship waiting at season's end, he isn't growing complacent. Always the consummate team player, Sidaras said he is focused on winning another Long Island championship for those on the team who won't have the opportunity to play once their high school careers are over.
"A lot of kids won't play football again," Sidaras said. "We have to get it done for them."