The JV Peglegs Are Back

The JV Peglegs are having a comeback year and here are some of the reasons why.

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By Ava Quarles

Last year’s junior varsity (JV) Peglegs had a tough year, to say the least. Finishing with a 1-6 record, the team faced adversity throughout the season. As a sophomore-heavy team with a small roster, most players would not be returning to JV, leaving the roster sparse for this season. Making things even more complicated, with varsity head coach Mark Strasser’s retirement, last season’s JV head coach Jonathan Goffman was moved to varsity defensive coordinator this fall, leaving JV head coachless. With all of this, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the 2023 JV Peglegs coming into the season—they would need to prove themselves. And they have.

Starting the season 3-1, the 2023 Peglegs have defied all expectations and shown themselves to be league-leading competitors. With new head coach Cam Simerau leading the ship, the Peglegs have shined, scoring 34 points and 20 points in shutout games against John Adams and Truman, respectively, and beating Brooklyn Tech in a close game. They gave up a nail-biter to Fort Hamilton in their fourth game of the season, which was both their first loss and the first time they were scored on all season. “This has been a really fun squad to watch and practice with,” junior and varsity cornerback Daniel Teboul, who was a JV captain last year, said. 

With this breakout season for the Peglegs, it must be asked: how has this team defied all expectations and started so strongly?

One major aspect of these new-look Peglegs is the coaching. Simerau, in addition to being JV head coach, is the varsity Peglegs’ primary line coach. His background of playing offensive and defensive line in high school and college, as well as his strong coaching history, has carried over to the success of JV. Many of last year’s struggles spawned from a weaker offensive line, but this year’s offensive line has proven extremely solid, allowing sophomore running back Aiden Bailey and sophomore quarterback James Boodhoo to have 200 and 100 rushing yards, respectively, as well as giving the team a better opportunity to throw. “[The JV offensive line is] a really enjoyable group to be around. In my opinion, some of this group’s early success can be attributed to their high motors [and] effort,” Simerau said. 

Another part of this JV Peglegs team is the several second-year players who have stepped up as leaders of the team. Three of the four captains are returning players, and the way they play shows why they deserve to be there. On top of guiding new players, the three returning captains—Bailey, Boodhoo, and sophomore linebacker and tight end Aidan Chan—have all had incredible performances on the field. Chan has three TDs, 21 tackles, and an interception; Bailey has 200 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and 12 tackles; and Boodoo has five passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and even his pick-six.

Lastly, despite the low number of players on the team by the end of last season, many new players joined the Peglegs during the offseason, adding depth to the team. These new players have made an impact: sophomore defensive lineman Isaac Peng recorded a fumble recovery touchdown against John Adams, freshman linebacker Issac Sprung has been a defensive centerpiece with 18 tackles so far, and freshman lineman and captain Jonathan David has not only done an incredible job blocking on O-line but has also been making tackles at D-line. This added depth can also be attributed to the PSAL’s new All-Access program. Through the program, the Peglegs have gained key players such as sophomore safety and wide receiver Aaron Beck (School of the Future) and sophomore cornerback and receiver Ryan Maxius (Murry Bergtraum). “I am really glad that I got this opportunity to play for Stuyvesant, and I believe that as we get used to this new system, All-Access will only become more beneficial for the team,” Beck said.

With the addition of All-Access and the many newcomers, a dynamic change throughout the team seemed inevitable. However, instead of the change being the team becoming less invested and less connected, the change ended up being much more positive, as this team has been sticking together and giving it their all this season. The daily practices, as well as games on the weekends, are a huge commitment that the players have dedicated themselves to. This is especially impressive for the freshmen who are just getting used to Stuyvesant and the All-Access players who have to commute from their own schools to get to practice. The large amount of time spent together, though, is what makes the team’s connection so strong. Despite the different grades and schools among the players, they have all gotten together really well, even having a strong bond with the varsity squad as they practice together. This relationship not only helps the players learn football more from the upperclassmen but also gives them upperclassmen who can help them through their time at Stuy. “For me, the commitment is easy because it’s just fun. To come out every day and practice and get better and just play football with my boys is something I will miss once the season is over,” Chan said. 

This success is not only exciting for the team and its players but also for the future of the JV and varsity Peglegs. This year’s freshmen, like last year’s, show promise to replicate their growth and the success of this JV Peglegs season. JV’s success also gives the younger varsity Peglegs something to anticipate for next fall amid their current 0-4 season.

For now, the JV Peglegs still have two games left in their season. They are excited, especially coming off of a close loss, and are ready to prove themselves once again. “This game lit a fire in us,” sophomore lineman Nisan Safanov said. With these final two games, the Peglegs want to prove to themselves and the rest of the PSAL that they are a group to be feared in the years to come.