The signs were everywhere last fall, and throughout the winter, and Danny Lobo loved seeing it.
Every week that the Mineola High School football team won, the halls of the school were alive with chatter about it.
And Mineola did a lot of winning in 2022, capturing seven of eight regular season games. Each week the stands would fill up with more students, and locals, wanting to be a part of what was turning out to be a very special season.
“Soccer is always really big here, but you could literally see people caring more and more about us every week we won,” said Lobo, a senior wide receiver/defensive back/kicker. “People were buying in and getting excited in a way they hadn’t really before.”
The dream run for the Mustangs ended in the first round of the playoffs with a loss to Malverne, but the signs of a renewed program kept coming.
Head coach Tim Wienclaw saw better attendance at offseason workouts than ever before, with so many players showing up that the field at Hampton Stadium in town had to be split in two so organized activities could occur.
And when it came time to start summer/fall workouts, Wienclaw saw his team’s roster swell to 39 kids, more than he’s had in three seasons as head coach.
“We have a lot of kids now who are fully all-in with what we’re doing, and who are just excited every day to play and get better,” Wienclaw said. “We don’t care who we play, where we play, our kids are working hard and it’s exciting to see.”
The Mustangs are moving up one level to Conference 3 this season, and will have to replace graduated offensive stalwarts like quarterback Jack Ryan and free safety Tommy Renner. But there are several key offensive standouts who are ready to lead, led by senior quarterback Jack McCormack.
McCormack, a converted wideout who was the backup QB the past two seasons, is a Division I lacrosse commit with St. John’s who can make plays with his feet and his arm.
“He’s a 6-foot-2 kid who is athletic and is always smart with the ball,” Wienclaw said. “He can get the ball out fast when needed.”
McCormack said while it’s a change being in charge of the starting offense, he’s ready for the added responsibility.
“Just getting the communication down with the receivers is going to be important as we start training, getting on the same page,” McCormack said. “Seeing how Jack ran things last year, and being our scout team QB, helped a lot. And the coaches have been fantastic with me.”
Helping McCormack get the Mustangs into the end zone will be receivers like returning starter Stephen Frantz and Lobo, who’s foot may be as big a weapon as his speed.
“You give (Frantz) a tiny opening, he’s gone,” Lobo said. “Guy is so, so fast it’s crazy.”
“Having a good kicker like Danny, that’s huge,” McCormack said. “We know once we get inside the 20, we’re going to get points. Not a lot of high school teams have that reliable kicker.”
On the offensive and defensive lines Mineola will be led by junior Desian Husiq, a 6-2, 230-pound athlete who can play several positions on the line.
Husiq will be aided on defense by returners like senior Rusty Carr, a running back/linebacker who moves into a starting role this season, as well as senior Logan Dougherty, expected to play in the defensive backfield.
With other newcomers expected to play key roles as well, Wienclaw and his team know the competition in Conference 3, with foes like Lynbrook and South Side, will be tough.
But the good vibes from last season just may carry over.
“Everyone remembers how much fun that was, and getting everyone excited to be a part of the team,” McCormack said. “We know we’re just getting started.”
2023 Mineola Football Schedule:
9/9/23: vs. Division, 2 p.m.
9/14/23: vs. Hewlett, 7 p.m.
9/23/23: at South Side, 2 p.m.
9/30/23: at Clarke, 2 p.m.
10/6/23: vs. Lynbrook, 2 p.m.
10/14/23: vs Bethpage, 2 p.m.
10/21/23: at Valley Stream North, 2 p.m.
10/28/23: at Kennedy, 2 p.m.