The varsity football program at Jericho High School shut down two years ago due to a lack of participants. But for the players who still want to experience life on the gridiron, they can appreciate a new partnership with Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School.
“They were struggling with numbers to put a team out on the field and compete,” Chris Rogler, head coach of Plainview’s football team, said.
Last year, Jericho partnered with Oyster Bay High School to have some players join that team. But Nassau County adopted a ruling for teams combining programs, meaning that if Jericho continued its alliance with Oyster Bay, the enrollments would be mixed together. That would bump Oyster Bay up a conference.
So that meant Jericho needed to find a team that is Conference I, rather than Oyster Bay, which is Conference IV. That’s when Rogler’s friendship with Jericho High School Athletic Director John Mankowich came into play.
“I went over there, and I had some meetings with Jericho student-athletes and their parents,” Rogler said. “I never want to see kids from a school district who want to play football not be able to.”
For the 2019-20 season, four Jericho ballers will take to the field, adorned in Plainview’s navy blue and white uniform.
The schools are about 15 minutes apart by car, which will make going to practice a bit of a trip for the four students joining the Plainview team. But Rogler is doing all he can to make sure the Jericho student-athletes are comfortable with the change.
“We have four guys coming over,” Rogler said. “They’ve been outstanding. They’ll see a significant amount of playing time.”
Charles Greenfield leads the way for the Jericho football players heading over to Plainview, standing at about 6’3” as an offensive and defensive lineman. Chris Aaron is a four-star kicker in the Kohl’s Kicking Academy, a nationally-recognized program that gets student-athletes recruited to the higher levels of football.
Jeff Qosemi joins Plainview as a defensive lineman, who is also a heavyweight wrestler for the Jericho Jayhawks. Finally, Jason Chen is finalizing his eligibility for Plainview. While he hasn’t been able to practice, Rogler believes he’ll play on defense and with the special teams unit.
Rogler is attempting to turn the Plainview team around this year after a 3-5 season in 2018-19. By doing so, the summer was filled with four-hour practices to get players in shape for the upcoming season. He believes the partnership will not only pay off in the long-run, but will give the team the tools it needs to win.
“I know it’s probably hard for the Jericho kids because they have to put on our uniform and need to go by the Plainview name and not Jericho,” Rogler said. “But it’s been really great.”