MAHOPAC, N.Y. – When it comes to providing student-athletes with opportunities to succeed, coaches can only do so much. Ultimately, it’s up to the players to take advantage of they chances they are given.

In the eyes of varsity football coach, Dom DeMatteo, at least five of his former players did just that while under his tutelage at Mahopac High School. Robert Alleva, Ryan Dugan, Reahl Allen, Joe Harney and Anthony Perricone have gone on to play college football. Billy Reilly, from the Class of 2020, has also committed to play at Pace University.

“These are motivated kids who took advantage of all the opportunities the Mahopac Central School District offers to all our kids,” DeMatteo said. “I think they all have a chance for success, not just at the collegiate level, but later in life.

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“It’s not about getting an opportunity to play at the next level, it’s about earning it,” the coach added.

Robert Alleva
Offensive Line, Class of 2018, Fairleigh Dickinson University (Division III)

How did playing at Mahopac prepare you for the next level?

Coach DeMatteo did a great job at preparing me for the next level. He ran a great camp that is very similar to the college camp that I attend today. Coach D also got us used to watching a lot of film as well, which is a huge part of improving personal technique as well as scouting opponents. Lastly, the weight room program at Mahopac has done a great job of preparing me for college workouts. Lifting is critical to success at the next level and DeMatteo did a great job to set us on the right path to succeed.

What was the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make?

The biggest adjustment from high school to college is for sure the level of competition. In high school I was always one of the better players on the field; however, when you go to collegiate football, everybody on the team was the best player on their high school team. In college, size and strength isn’t enough; you need to have really good technique as well. Also, there is a huge difference in the time commitment between college and high school. Between practice, workouts, meetings and schoolwork, balancing all of your commitments can become very difficult.

What would you tell younger athletes who might have aspirations of playing in college? What is most important for them to understand?

For young athletes, I would say that preparation is key. If you want to play college football you need to put the time and effort into the weight room as well as on the field drills in order to be the best possible version of yourself. I would also say that college football has been a great experience where I have met some of my best friends and learned some very valuable lessons. If you want to play college football definitely go for it, and if you work hard you can you can definitely achieve your goals.

Ryan Dugan
Class of 2018, Western Connecticut State University (Division III)

How did playing at Mahopac prepare you for the next level?

Playing for Mahopac and Coach DeMatteo prepared me mentally for the next level. The in-season schedule is almost identical to that of a college program. Coach DeMatteo also challenged us to be smarter football players, helping us further our understanding of the game and making the transition to the next level easier.

What was the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make?

Personally, the biggest difference at the next level is the speed and physicality. Every player on the field was one of the best athletes from their high school. You have to think and react much faster.

What would you tell younger athletes who might have aspirations of playing in college? What is most important for them to understand?

Playing at the next level is a big commitment and will take up a lot of your weekly schedule. With that, you develop great time management skills and become very disciplined. I recommend playing at the next level to anyone who is passionate about the game.

Reahl Allen
Wide Receiver, Class of 2019, Pace University (Division II)

How did playing at Mahopac prepare you for the next level?

DeMatteo is a good coach. He had a good plan. He came from college, so he knew how it was. He already knew the idea. The practices were basically a little bit like college is. He would put an alarm clock on. Once alarm clock goes on, you go to diff drills. Over the summer, he would send us a plan. In the weight room, he shows us the technique.

What was the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make?

It’s pretty much how you’re on your own. You have to work for everything. Nothing is given to you. It’s more diverse in college. You have people from all over. White, Black, everything. So, different types of people. Different coaches. Everything’s different. The plays in high school are simpler.

What would you tell younger athletes who might have aspirations of playing in college? What is most important for them to understand?

Work hard, because there is always going to be some competition. Be humble. Make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself. Make sure you have enough confidence. You can’t be too confident, but don’t be underconfident.

Joe Harney
Defensive Line, Class of 2019, Hartwick College (Division III)

How did playing at Mahopac prepare you for the next level?

I guess you can say it helped me get ready to understand what’s it going to be like, just like the practices, how the coaches would be.

What was the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make?

It was more preparation than anything. I think any sport is more preparation. I think in college, you have to step it up, study more film. Everyone on the team was the best player in high school. You’re going up against the best of the best.

What would you tell younger athletes who might have aspirations of playing in college? What is most important for them to understand?

When something bad happens, stay good. Work hard, study film— just do more than what’s expected. Push yourself.

Anthony Perricone
Defensive Line, Class of 2019, Southern Connecticut State University (Division II)

How did playing at Mahopac prepare you for the next level?

I believe that when calling me up [from junior varsity] and giving me an opportunity to play with the older kids at a young age helped me advance my game to play at the next level. I definitely learned dedication and hard work pays off. And time management was a big one for me.

What was the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make?

I had to plan my time out pretty well in the morning. I did workouts at 5 a.m. then I went to class. What I definitely found most difficult was being away from home and getting thrown right into the mix. It was practice right after I moved in. There was no break-in period. It was just go-time. I know nobody, I’m in a totally new state. All of that was really rough for me.

What would you tell younger athletes who might have aspirations of playing in college? What is most important for them to understand?

Staying in the weight room was probably the biggest help for me. Just getting bigger and stronger. Push yourself. Never give up and follow your dreams.