Coached By: George O Leary
There are certain things Bill Carpluk can say he did that many other current Central Islip graduates can not: he played for George O'Leary in two sports, he graduated as one of the most recognizable athletes of the 1970s and he played lacrosse for the Buccaneers when they actually had a program.
Carpluk, who won the Ray Enners Award in 1974, played four years of lacrosse, and was on the varsity football team for three seasons. He was an All-American midfielder his senior year.
O'Leary wasn't yet the George O'Leary America has come to know over the last 30 years. The Central Islip native was just a high school teacher and budding young coach in Suffolk County, but he knew how to get through to his student athletes. Carpluk was one of them.
Central Islip was competing against some of the best teams on Long Island then, but O'Leary managed to rally his troops all the way to the Suffolk County title game in 1974 against perennially favored Ward Melville. The Buccaneers may have lost, but it was a moral victory for the school to have made it that far.
"Ward Melville and Central Islip were at two different spectrums of the lacrosse world," Carpluk says. "For us to compete with them was a real credit to George."
Prior to his freshman year, Carpluk had never played lacrosse. The program was only a couple of seasons old when O'Leary started recruiting players from the football team to play the new spring sport.
"We were a fledgling program," says Carpluk. "George was a big influence on getting us all to play and we progressed pretty well. We had a real good collection of athletes and since we strung together really good years in football, it carried over into lacrosse."
Quickly, O'Leary built a contender. But just as fast, he left to pursue other coaching jobs and has since gone on to become an assistant at Syracuse University, the defensive coordinator and head coach at Georgia Tech, a defensive line coach with the San Diego Chargers, the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings and is currently the head coach at the University of Central Florida.
Carpluk recalls his senior team as being stacked at midfield. Many were running backs on the football team, including Anthony Black, who played football at Maryland on scholarship, he says.
"We were a blue-collar team," Carpluk says. "I scored goals, but I wasn't the leading scorer. I made my mark by playing defense. I was a ground ball hawk. We were relentless and ran 100 miles per hour all the time. It was all about effort and where we took that program in a short amount of time is pretty impressive."
Carpluk admits he wasn't the most polished player on the field, and was not the only deserving player in Suffolk County to have been honored with a recognition as prestigious as the Enners Award, but his work ethic and O'Leary's showmanship for his players paid off.
Carpluk played football at Bucknell, but never picked up a lacrosse stick in college because of injuries. He was recruited for both sports, but was always hurt come springtime. He was team MVP for football and lacrosse at Central Islip and named All-League, All-Conference and All-County in both.
Today, Carpluk is an assistant principal at West Morris Mendham High School in Mendham, New Jersey. He was a coach for almost 30 years in the school district. He became the first head lacrosse coach in the high school's history in 1985 and remained in that position for 10 years and was also the head football coach for 17 years. His football teams were 116-49, put together a school record 17-game winning streak from 1992-1993 and won six conference titles.
Success on the lacrosse field didn't last long at Central Islip, and the community has drastically changed since the 1970s. The lacrosse program was disbanded in the mid-1980s because of budget problems and lack of interest in the community, but Carpluk's name will always be remember at Central Islip.