Young Titans prepare to defend crown

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

The Boylan Titans are again the conference favorites. Whether that is by reputation or by talent, the Titans have proven time and again to be the class of the NIC-10.

But Boylan coach Dan Appino does not see an easy path to another conference title. In fact, not only does he expect a challenge, he expects it at every turn.

“I think there are seven teams that, depending on how injuries go and how they develop, can all be competitors for a conference championship,” Appino said. “It’s one of the more balanced NIC-10s that we’ve had in years. I think that’s good for our conference, and it means it’s going to be a battle each week, which we expect it to be.”

Talent will not be an issue for this year’s Titans. Experience, on the other hand, could be an issue.

The Titans graduated a big class that featured a lot of senior talent on both sides of the ball. The Titans will only return eight starters overall, and of more concern for Appino, only three on defense.

“It’s one of our biggest concerns,” he said. “We do have guys that have experience on that side of the ball who are back. They weren’t starters, but they played. That has really been our emphasis, on defense.”

On top of that, the Titans need to find a way to replace conference MVP Michael Morman. Morman was a four-year kicker for the Titans, who handled all the kicking duties for Boylan. Appino said they may have to use three different kickers to replace him.

More importantly, Morman was the quarterback and leader of the offense. The Titans have an open competition for quarterback, but Appino thinks he’ll have a special player no matter which of his top two options wins the job.

“That’s kind of a quandary right now,” Appino said. “We have a senior in Frank Cimino, who’s a big kid and has really done a nice job of learning our scheme. We’ve got a junior who is competing, Lamont Toney, who is just a heck of an athlete. He’s probably a little bit behind of Frank in terms of experience, but he’s an awfully good athlete.”

Because of the inexperience, Appino said his team has worked harder than ever in the offseason to prepare for the season. And he said the hard work has paid off, with this team being further ahead in preparation than any other team he has had in the past.

The preparation is needed, too. Appino said much of the pressure this year will be on the offense. The Titans have a big offensive line returning, as well as skill players Chris Miller, Aaron Einhorn and Jimmy White. If Boylan can keep pressure on with their offense, it could give a young defense a chance to jell.

“We think offensively, that will be our strength,” Appino said. “And we have to be good there to give our defense and special teams a chance to develop.”

From the Aug. 18-24, 2010 issue

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