Pearl River junior outside linebacker/slot receiver Kevin Considine said he felt like he had to prove himself all over again moving from reserve to starter for the Pirates this season.
"It was definitely an adjustment to the speed of the game having not played a lot last year. It's something myself and a lot of the other juniors have been able to pick up."
Considine made the adjustment quickly, forcing a fumble and recovering it to set up a Pearl River touchdown and sacking Rye quarterback Andrew Livingston twice in Pearl River's season-opening loss to the Garnets. He added three more sacks and recovered another fumble in last week's 28-0 shutout of Yonkers.
"For a guy who was more like a sub on D, for him to be doing what he's doing is amazing," Pearl River Head Coach Jeff Michael said. "He's in the right spot at the right times. He's playing the game we're asking him to play. He's listening to the coaching. He's got an internal motor that is constantly on. He just seeks and destroys. He's a great outside linebacker for us."
Considine will continue to play a key role as Pearl River plays for the Little Brown Jug at Nanuet 1:30 p.m. Saturday, but despite some teasing from the coaches and teammates, he down played his production so far.
"It's not anything special I'm doing," Considine said. "I'm given the opportunities to make plays by my teammates and I've taken advantage of the opportunities."
One thing he did not want to downplay was the importance of shutting out Yonkers. Assistant Coach Pat Aris challenged his players to do just that before last Saturday's game.
"We thought we would be able to keep Yonkers to a low score," Michael said. "Coach Aris asked them to take it a step further and shut them down completely and we did. It let them know they are capable of shutting down a team. For them to achieve that is a nice accomplishment."
"It means everything," Considine said. "It's a credit to all 11 guys. It means every guy is doing his job. We all read and react and rely on each other to be in the right spot and put each other in the spot to make big plays."
That focus on playing their areas of responsibility is key and one of the things Michael pointed to as a reason for Considine's early-season success.
"He finds the ball and sees where it is in the backfield. He doesn't get tripped up by misdirection," Michael said. "He's just playing out of his mind right now."
Michael said he likes what he has seen from a number of players on defense in the first two games, many of them juniors such as defensive tackle Sean Quinlan and lineman Bryan Kondracki.
"Sean Quinlan has been very solid on the defensive line. Bryan Kondracki has been very solid as well," Michael said. "Across the board, our three linebackers, Matt Ehrbacher, Eric Corcoran and Jimmy Linnane, have been playing well. Knock on wood; we haven't really given up big passes at all. Hopefully we can continue that trend as well. Overall, the defense is playing solid for us."
Those defensive players don't know which quarterback they will be chasing Saturday. Nanuet starter Ryan Hanney has not played since early in the opening game against Putnam Valley due to a shoulder injury. As of Thursday, he had not been cleared to practice.
Running back Dan Breit, who scored on an 88-yard touchdown run against Putnam Valley, is one key threat the Pirates must contain.
"They are a good team," Considine said. "They have good size, a couple of good running backs. It should be a tough game."
Corcoran said things look much better after last week's victory, which was only the second start for most of the Pirates. Corcoran was one of only two returning starters.
"The atmosphere at practice is a lot better since we won. How could it not be?" Corcoran said. "The parts are starting to click. Everything is working more fluidly. The offense is running a lot smoother. The defense is running a lot smoother."
Considine will continue to be a big part of both of those units. He also starts as a slot receiver and caught one of junior quarterback Chris Van Houten's two touchdown passes against Yonkers.
"Chris is playing with a lot of confidence," Considine said. "The Rye game was not his best, but we all still believed in him. We know he's good and he came back in the Yonkers game and showed it."
Considine played a very limited role as a reserve last year in football, but he has had varsity success before. He emerged as a top pitcher for the Pearl River baseball team in the spring. Considine was asked if that helped him handle the move into a larger role on the football field this fall.
"With the pressure situations, it has definitely helped," Considine said. "The two sports are polar opposite, but definitely being able to cope with the pressure."
That may be a key Saturday, with so many Pearl River players getting their first real taste of playing for the Little Brown Jug.
"There's nothing like it," Considine said. "It's everything. It's the biggest game of the year. You know if you win, you will have that for the next year. If you win as seniors, that's it for the rest of your life. You can say we won the Jug as seniors."
Battle for the Little Brown Jug
- Game: Pearl River (1-1) at Nanuet (1-1)
- When, Where: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Nanuet High School
- Pearl River 2012 game results: Lost to Rye, 28-13; Defeated Yonkers, 28-0
- Nanuet 2012 game results: Defeated Putnam Valley, 12-0; Lost to Lourdes, 41-13
- Series: Nanuet leads, 30-15-1
- Last year's result: Pearl River won, 25-12