It seems as if whenever the idea of vulnerability is perceived, or even pondered, East Islip releases a memo: "Pfft!''
The defending Suffolk boys bowling champs are rebuilding and returned only one starter . . . so eighth-grader Mike Orobello bowls a 300 last Tuesday.
The Big Red Machine continues to churn out great teams, and this year's group is led by sophomore Jacob Klein, along with Mike Kissel, Jon Cheadle and Nick DeFazio.
"They've bowled well before, but they don't have much experience under pressure," Redmen coach Rick Papandrea said. "But we had a similar situation in 2003 and won counties. The challenge is making them believe."
Another challenge is Smithtown, last year's runner-up, which returns several key bowlers. The Bulls are led by Gregg Reed (223 average), Frank Masone and Stephen Diehl.
Sachem East, the 2009 champ, is led by All-Long Island Steve Sabella, eighth-grader Nick Caruana (227) and Matt Hecker.
Mike Karolewski and Austin Smokler should have Longwood in contention. Middle Country lost Matt Skalacki, who last season set the single-season record with a 232.7 average, but the team has depth with five bowlers averaging more than 200. Among them are Andrew Rosenblatt, Bryan Dragotta and Tim Murray.
With Julian Valdaro, Bay Shore could be a sleeper, as could Islip (Mike Kovarick), Lindenhurst (Josh Sposito), Central Islip (Matt Giantamasso) and Floyd (Mike Cahill).
In Nassau, Sewanhaka District is seeking a three-peat. It will do so with a senior-laden group led by All-Long Islander Tommy Genova, along with Jay Wagan, Joshua Kramer and Michael Jarosch.
The Indians won the 2010 county tournament by just 19 pins, highlighting the parity in Nassau. "I see it going down to the wire again," coach Jay Hegi said. "There's half a dozen teams that can win the tournament."
Last year's runner-up, Farmingdale, is certainly among them. Joe Inzirillo, Eric Kennedy, Steve Hamlin and Jonathan Smalkin headline a roster coach Joe Bianca said is "deeper than last year's."
Jeff Rosenheck, Kevin Moravcik and Billy Hoffman lead a talented Bethpage team that holds a county-best 830 average.
Standout Jeff Juarez will have East Meadow in contention. Bellmore-Merrick is a threat with Tom Bianco, Joe Cucinella and Mike Anagnostopoulous among Nassau's leaders in average. Hewlett took third in counties and could make another run.
Plainview JFK is sparked by senior superstar Matt Farber, who rolled a 300 game on Dec. 6 and has an average hovering around 240.
St. John the Baptist lost only two seniors from last year's CHSAA title team and is a force again this season with Cyle Yambo, Rich Delfino and Kyle Durfee.
Holy Trinity, the 2009 champion and last year's runner-up, is led by Louis Christie (225), Tom Jacubowski, Don Crispyn and Sal Rivieccio. Chaminade, which features standout Andrew Fenn, has talent and depth with Phil Loeschinger and Joe Bucaria. Kellenberg is a young team led by talented sophomores Chris Johnson and Jimmy Morris.
Boys bowling players to watch
Matt Farber, Plainview JFK, Sr.
Louis Christie, Holy Trinity, Sr.
Gregory Reed, Smithtown, Sr.
Steve Sabella, Sachem East, Sr.
Tommy Genova, Sewanhaka District, Sr.