The New-Look Peglegs Go Worldwide

The Stuyvesant Peglegs have evolved since last season and are ready to take on the 2023 fall season.

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By Ava Quarles

To briefly look back, there’s no question that the Peglegs have lost significant senior talent since their 2022 season. Quarterback Efe Kilic (‘23) led the city in completions (105); running back Sam Glusker (‘23) led the city in receptions (41) and total points (115) and received an All-City Conference Award for his performance; and linebacker William Opich (‘23) is now continuing his athletic career on the Division-III University of Chicago football team. “Last season was a team led by standout seniors at key positions on both sides of the ball,” Coach Eddie Seo said. Not only was the skill level of the 12 graduates invaluable to the team, but their off-the-field caliber was the glue to the 2022 Peglegs who missed the playoffs by just a few seconds.

Now coming off of a 4-3 record, hopes are high amid drastic changes to the team. Last spring, the PSAL launched the All-Access program, and this fall is the first time the program will affect the Peglegs. The program allows athletes to play on teams for schools they don’t attend if that school has a sport that their own school does not have. This season, the Peglegs have acquired a host of new players through All-Access, coming from schools across Manhattan including Murray Bergtraum, LaGuardia, and Graphics Campus. These students now have the opportunity to be a part of the Peglegs’ legacy.

There are many aspects to the All-Access change. The football team has expanded to over 80 varsity and junior varsity players, larger than ever before. Consequently, the team’s skill level has broadened. “The All-Access program has given Stuyvesant the depth that we usually don’t have, as well as the size and strength that we usually have to make up for with speed, agility, and technique,” senior center Anas Ahmed (Stuyvesant) said. With a larger roster comes a larger talent pool, and also comes benefits such as a reduced necessity for two-way players. Though playing with athletes who attend different schools is a big change for the already tight-knit group, many players have enjoyed the unique experience. “[The Peglegs] have taken the initiative to remind [the All-Access players] that they are part of not only our team but also our family. There are some great additions to the team, skilled leaders who[m] we have the privilege of playing side by side with,” senior receiver Stanley Zhao (Stuyvesant) said. Non-Stuyvesant Peglegs notice this tone too. “At Stuyvesant, I feel at home and comfortable playing, and I have fun at every practice,” junior defensive end Corghan Melendrez (Manhattan Early College School for Advertising) said.

In addition to this transition, there have been several coaching changes this season. Former varsity head coach Mark Strasser retired last season after 15 years with the Peglegs, in which he led the team to nine winning seasons, six playoff berths, and two appearances in the Cup Championship game. Mike Tauber has stepped up to be varsity head coach from his previous position as varsity assistant coach/defensive coordinator, among other exciting coaching shifts on both varsity and JV, ultimately increasing depth and precision within each team.

The Peglegs also moved from the A division to the AAA division and are now preparing to face some new schools with their largely new team. For their opening game of the season on Thursday, September 14, Stuyvesant visited Franklin K. Lane. The teams traded touchdowns all night, and the Peglegs held the lead until Lane’s fourth-quarter comeback resulted in a tough loss, 14-20. Stuyvesant played a rush-heavy game, utilizing the talent of junior running backs Bodhi Sabongui (LaGuardia) and Mekhi Edwards (Stuyvesant) for a combined 103 yards. Senior quarterback Eric Tang went 8/11 passing, and senior defensive end Tobias Oyaniran was a defensive anchor with a sack and seven tackles (two for loss). Thursday was a solid start to a long season, but ultimately it came down to a matter of seconds and small mistakes. “This was a wake-up call. I’m woke,” Sabongui said.

With a dedicated group of athletes, seasoned coaching staff, and commitment to excellence, expectations run high all around for Stuyvesant football. “The most exciting thing is playing in front of a Stuyvesant crowd this season,” junior linebacker Eli Lifton (Stuyvesant) said. Catalyzed by four spirit-themed home games and with the city behind them, there is a fresh energy and enthusiasm for these new-look Peglegs.