MSG Varsity will visit the top football teams in New York City during preseason camps and will unveil our preseason power rankings each day leading up to opening kickoff. In today’s edition of Camp Confidential, we take a look at No. 3 Lincoln
LAST SEASON: 8-3 (Lost to Tottenville in PSAL Championship Division semifinals)
HEAD COACH: Shawn O’Connor (13th season)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Thomas Holley DT, Javon Moore QB, Antoine Holloman RB, Khendell Puryear CB, Malik Andrews WR, Leroy Hancle LB
There’s nothing unlucky about the number 13 for Lincoln.
It’s a number that every member of the team wears in the preseason. It represents Week 13, the week of the PSAL championship game.
“That’s our motto here,” senior quarterback Javon Moore said. “We prepare every week for that week, but we know in the back of our minds that’s the ultimate goal. That’s what we strive for.”
The road to Yankee Stadium starts on Ocean Parkway and the Railsplitters appear to have all the key ingredients to get to The Bronx.
Lincoln returns almost everyone from a junior-laden squad that lost to Tottenville in the semifinals last fall. Of the 15 seniors on the Railsplitters deep roster, 14 have a lot of experience.
That includes the highly competitive Moore, who threw for 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for seven scores.
“I thought he did a tremendous job as the year went on,” said Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor, who enters his 13th year. “What he added this year was some bulk so he could take the hit and he can run the ball if he needs to. He’s more confident being a leader at the quarterback position.”
Moore’s biggest target was supposed to be Jamiek Davis, a first team All-City selection by MSG Varsity. However the lanky senior receiver transferred to Independence in Charlotte, N.C. Filling that void, though, is senior Malik Andrews.
“I think Malik Andrews is going to stand out to people,” O’Connor said. “He’s showing some tremendous ability to catch the ball over the middle that Jamiek did well.”
Speedy Carlos Stewart, who stood out in playoff wins against Campus Magnet and Port Richmond last year, is also a threat in the slot.
All Lincoln returns in the backfield is the PSAL’s leading regular season rusher in Antoine Holloman, who gained 1,281 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a junior.
“He makes people miss,” O’Connor said. “He’s got a low center of gravity and he’s got breakaway ability.”
Leading Lincoln defensively is Thomas Holley, a five-star recruit listed as the top-ranked recruit in New York State and the fourth-ranked defensive tackle in the country in the Class of 2014.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, USC, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Rutgers among a host of Division I schools.
“He hasn’t even come close to his ceiling,” O’Connor said of Holley. “I think he can be very, very good because he’s a hard worker and a good learner. Throwing him into the mix last year, he picked up things really fast.”
Also up front defensively for the Railsplitters are ends Kareem Guess and Alejandro Oregon. Leroy Hancle, who will also run the ball, and Poly Prep transfer Dionte Fleming anchor the linebacking corps.
The biggest improvement, according to O’Connor, is in the defensive backfield. Leading the way is corner Khendell Puryear, ranked No 13 in New York State in the Class of 2014 by Scout.com, Jahsi Meade and junior Elias Davis, who O’Connor believes could be a special talent.
“That was our Achilles Heel last year, people going long on us,” O’Connor said. “That was something we had to fix. Those guys were young last year, but they’ve done a good job of coming along.”
Going long is something Lincoln aspires to do – all the way from Coney Island to The Bronx in Week 13.
“That’s the number one goal,” Moore said. “That’s all we eat, sleep, wake up, all we think about is number 13, Week 13, getting back to the stadium and actually winning.”
Sept. 7 @ Curtis
Sept. 14 Sheepshead Bay
Sept. 20 @ Tottenville
Sept. 27 New Utrecht
Oct. 6 @ Campus Magnet
Oct. 11 Midwood
Oct. 18 Erasmus Hall
Oct. 26 @ Fort Hamilton
Nov. 3 @ Boys & Girls