Coach: Paul Tenaglia (6th season)
Top returnees: Sr. WR Adam Opsahl, Sr. RB Corey Brimmer, Sr. OL Matt Gillespie, Jr. DB Mark Chmielewski, Jr. DB Dean Beebe, Sr. DL Alexander Ferguson, Sr. OL Kote Wilkinson, Jr. OL Conner Elliott.
Key newcomers: Jr. QB Tyler Hudson, Jr. QB Mitchell Murphy, Sr. OL Kyle Turner, Sr. WR Mike Sabilia, Jr. LB Andrew Benoit, Jr. OL Conner O'Toole, Soph. RB Michael Morgan, Jr. RB Ben Watts, Jr. RB Eric Stirtan, Jr. TE Aqueeb Hussain, Jr. OL Jake Knopf, Soph. RB Hunter Waido, Sr. OL Justin Urbina, Soph. DE Mathew Pagan, Jr. RB James Robson, Soph. DB Mason Pagan.
Outlook: The Vikings will play most, if not all of their home games away from Dick North Field this season, awaiting new turf and lights. Still, Tenaglia remains hopeful. He likes backs Brimmer, Stirtan, Watts and Morgan, who Tenaglia called a "sophomore sensation." He likes Gillespie, Wilkinson and Knopf up front and, as always, his defense. East Lyme still must find a way to score points consistently, a problem even in the program's championship days.
Coach: Mike Emery (17th year)
Top returnees: Sr. P-K Ian Boyd, Sr. DL Christian Charron, Sr. DB-RB Saffwan Davis; Sr. DB-RB Lexus Gordon, Jr. DB-RB Robert Johnston, Sr. RB-LB Patrick Kirkwood, Sr. DL-OL Michael Semancik, Sr. DL-OL Lester Smith, Jr. DL-OL Joe Allyn.
Top newcomers: Soph. LB-RB Adrian Albo, Sr. DL-OL Pete Aldrich, Jr. DB-QB Devante Anderson, Sr. DL-OL Aaron Austin, Soph. DL-OL Bryan Baez, Jr. LB-QB Xavier Crawford, Fr. DB-QB Rob Duncan, Sr. DB-RB Kasey Flint, Jr. DL-OL Jordan Green, Sr. DL-OL Marquis Guess, Sr. DL-RB Desmond Hodges, Jr. LB-OL Hoku Kaneakua, Jr. DL-OL Tory Knaff, Sr. LB-RB Kevin Manzanares, Jr. LB-RB John Moscol, Sr. DB-WR Mustapha Noivi, Sr. DB-WR Riley Pyzalski, Sr. DB-RB Cliff Randolph, Soph. DL-OL Marquas Robinson, Jr. LB Matt Wilkinson, Sr. DL-OL John Rose, Jr. DB Tyler Royster, Jr. DL Mark Evans.
Outlook: Fitch showed its potential last season with its midseason upset of New London. There's plenty of talent here, led by Davis, an all-league caliber runner, and Kirkwood, among others. Emery's motto hasn't changed for 17 years: get a little better every day. If they do, it'll be a happy autumn.
Coach: Duane Maranda (1st year)
Key returnees: Sr. DB-WR Caleb Camacho, Sr. OL-DL Isaias Cruz, Sr. OL-LB Grant Pezzolesi, Sr. RB-LB Joquin Riley, Sr. OL-LB Lamont Waites, Jr. WR-DB Jose Garcia, Jr. WR-DB Nico Ramos.
Top newcomers: Sr. OL-DL Matthew Baird, Sr. QB-DB Ackee Barber, Sr. OL-DL Junior Cuevas, Sr. WR-DB Ahmnod Gomez, Sr. WR-DB Sam Miranda, Jr. OL-DL Zac Allen, Jr. RB-LB Anthony Hodges, Jr. RB-DB Orrin Parke, Jr. WR-DB Jose Pereyra, Jr. TE-LB Leo Clinton, So. QB-DB Troy Gray, So. WR-DB Jelani Lucas, So. QB-DB Danny Maranda, So. TE-DL Hunter Roman.
Outlook: Many quality players graduated: Kyle McKinnon, Rob Key and Jevon Elmore among them. But the Duane Maranda Era begins much the way the Jeff Larson Era ended: with plenty of team speed. Camacho, Garcia, Miranda and Ramos, the receivers, should be a handful to cover. Question: Who gets it to them? There is inexperience at quarterback. Waites is a player of the year candidate. Maranda said much of the team's fate rests with the offensive line. Maranda said he wants to play fast and "make Oregon look slow."
Norwich Free Academy
Coach: Jemal Davis (5th year)
Key returnees: Sr. QB Joey Paparelli, Sr. WR Ryer Caruso, Jr. RB Marcus Outlow, Sr. OL Cody Brown, Sr. OL John Crooks, Sr. OL Tyler Beauschene, Sr. LB Steven Makowicki, Sr. LB A.J. Gomes, Sr. DL Zac Verley, Sr. DL Ryan Stowe.
Top newcomers: Jr. RB Ramel Williams, Sr. OL J.P. Kelly, Jr. OL Colby Britt, Sr. WR Nick Caradelle, Fr. OL Noah Brown, Soph. RB Khaleed Exum-Strong, Sr. RB Tre Wiggins, Fr. DL J'Von Brown, Jr. DL Tuzar Skipper, Jr. LB Calvin Green, Jr. DB Airec Ricks, Sr. DB Kyle Konow, Sr. DB Chris Johnson, Jr. DB C.J. Jarmon, Sr. K Elisa Formoglio.
Outlook: Not many other teams in the league have three better skill players than Paparelli, Caruso and Outlow. Caruso set a single-game record with 270 receiving yards in a game last year, 10th in state history for a single game. Outlow led the Wildcats in rushing last year and is likely the top running back in the ECC. Paparelli brings athleticism to quarterback. If the line play is functional, the Wildcats are playoff caliber.
Coach: Jim Buonocore (5th year)
Key returnees: Sr. QB John Rainey, Sr. OL-DL Alec Gabriel, Sr. OG-LB Ben Morales, Sr. OT-DL Kyle Wilson, Sr. OT-DL Bobby Bozym, Sr. C-LB Evan Stockman, Sr. TE-DL Kyle Perry, Sr. TE-LB Chris Gill, Sr. LB Cal Karpi, Sr. FB-LB Chevy Perry, Sr. NG Colin Grim, Sr. WR-LB Chris Turner, Sr. WR-LB Ryan Lyons, Sr. OL-DL Mike Russak, Sr. TE-LB Alex Hintz-Valdez, Sr. LB-RB Josh DeSouza, Sr. OL-LB Jacob Bennett, Jr. WR-DB Khary Childs, Jr. QB-DB Adam Hildebrandt, Jr. TB-DB Joe Carter, Jr. FB-LB Kevin McDonald, Jr. OL-DL Brandon Chesnut, Jr. WR-DB Jordan Kowalski, Jr. WR-DB Evan August.
Top newcomers: Sr. K Christian Alvis, Jr. RB-LB Darnay Gray, Jr. WR-DB Kavan Jakuba, Jr. OL-DL Josh Throop, Jr. OL-LB Nick Gordon, Jr. OL-DL Latrell Harris, Soph. RB-DB JoJo Shumaker, Soph. WR-DB River Thomas, Soph. TE-DL Jeremy Baron, Soph. RB-DB Mike McDowell, Soph. RB-LB Rashan Young, Soph. OL-LB Kyle Zeppieri, Soph. OL-DL Dwayne Brown, Soph. WR-DB Andrew August, Soph. FB-LB Kevin Ma, Soph. OL-DL Tyler Woods, Soph. OL-LB Evan Vrabel, Soph. QB Fred France, Soph. TE-DE Dan Carrington.
Outlook: Here's a good place to begin: All five offensive linemen are back and so is the quarterback. That, alone, makes Ledyard a contender. Throw in what should be a very good defense, a potential impact newcomer in Gray and the experience of last season's run to the Class M finals and you have a contender for a state title. The Colonels still have to replace workhorse Alex Manwaring, versatile Slade Baxley and big-play guy Dallas Smith, but there's plenty of talent and depth here.
Coach: Tanner Grove (7th season)
Key returnees: Sr. OL-DL Jake Basilica, Sr. OL-LB Isaiah Holloway, Sr. QB-DB Nick Clemons, Sr. TE-LB Peter Utz, Sr. WR-DE Brandon Robertson, Sr. OL-DL Ryan Murtha, Sr. RB-LB Izak Tibbetts, Sr. RB-LB Joey Williams, Jr. RB-LB Jeremiah Crowley, Jr. WR-DB Chad Mooney, Jr. DE-FB Will Thompson, Jr. OL-DL Nick Haralambidis.
Top newcomers: Sr. TE Corey Lorraine, Sr. OL-DL Brandon Montgomery, Jr. RB-DB Jake Caskey, Jr. WR Greg Benjamin, Jr. WR-DE Mitch Dole, Jr. TE-DB James Hilbie, Jr. OL A.J. Fortenberry, Jr. OL-DL Brent Politowitz, Soph. RB-DB Jordane Virgo, Soph. WR Buddy Dewaine, Soph. WR Chance Collier, Fr. OL Kevin Murtha, Fr. DB Jonathan McCray.
Outlook: Grove has among the most experienced offensive and defensive lines in the league, led by Holloway, Thompson and Basilica. Clemons is back for his second season at quarterback. Keep an eye on Dewaine, a promising sophomore. Grove said: "We continue to have expectations of playing in December." The Indians certainly have a chance.
Coach: Mike Ellis (10th year)
Key returnees: Sr. SE-DB David Zaldivar, Sr. OT-DT David Willox, Sr. OT-DT Wyatt Guthrie, Sr. C-NG James Auclair, Sr. OG-LB Ryan Brasel, Sr. OT-LB Tucker Murphy, Sr. OG-LB Jordan Jones, Sr. SE-LB Pat Lee, Sr. FL-DB Deion Pittman, Jr. FB Bishme Sheppard, Sr. FB-LB Matt Tulba, Sr. TB-DB Chris Jones.
Top newcomers: Sr. OT-DT Michael Crowley, Sr. TB-LB Edwin Flores, Sr. OT-DT Anthony Long, Sr. OG-NG Anthony McLaughlin-Lawrence, Sr. OG-NG Austin Miner, Sr. SE-LB Kyle Willoughby, Jr. FL-DB Julio Gil-Martinez, Sr. QB-DB Ty Riemann, Jr. FB-LB Joe Gustafson, Jr. QB-DB Seth Hoaglund, Jr. C-LB Kacey Severin, Jr. FL-DB Billy Wendland, Soph. QB-DB Griffin Archambault, Jr. FB-LB Michael McDermott.
Outlook: Here's a line you don't often see: The speedy Waterford Lancers? Could be. There's Gil-Martinez, fourth in the state in the 200 last spring, while Sheppard and Jones helped Waterford win the ECC 4x100 and finish second in Class MM and fourth in New England. Willox is among the league's top linemen. The Lancers are very capable of returning to the playoffs.
St. Bernard/Norwich Tech
Coach: Scott Cook (2nd season)
Key returnees: Sr. QB-DB Phil Jenkins, Sr. OT-DT Tucker Johns, Sr. OG-DT Matt Manavas, Jr. RB-TE-LB Kevin Gazlay, Jr. C-NG Joe Mariani, Jr. RB-DB Devin Gleason, Jr. RB-DB Garrett Borenko.
Top newcomers: Sr. DB-RB Chandler Bottenelli, Sr. RB-LB Dylan Bottenelli, Sr. WR-DB Matt Mainville, Sr. RB-LB Andrew Viens, Sr. WR-DB Dan Paul, Jr. OG-DT John Markham, Jr. TE-DE Doug Babbit, Soph. OT-DT Tom Raymond, Soph. OT-DT Tom Morrow, Soph. OT-DT Stanley Wybraniec, Soph. RB-DB Dan MacDonald.
Outlook: St. Bernard returns six varsity players from last season's team. Cook said the schedule is tough, but that the expectation is to improve on last year's 3-7 season "and contend for the division championship."
Coach: A.J. Massengale (9th season)
Key returnees: Jr. RB-LB Harry Calmar, Sr. RB-LB Cory Candelet, Sr. OL-DL Ian Capozzoli, Jr. OL-DL C.J. Dipollino, Jr. OL-DL Ryan Francis, Sr. DL-TE John Klewin, Sr. RB-QB-LB Jay Nieuwenhuis, Jr. RB-LB Zach Poirier, Sr. OL-DL Jacob Radack, Sr. WR-LB Kyle Woodworth, Sr. RB-DB Nick Balestracci, Jr. WR-DB Jack Dipollino, Jr. OL-DL Teddy Farrell, Sr. WR-DB Brendan Gayowski.
Top newcomers: Soph. RB-DB Stephon Hodge, Soph. WR-DB Bow Johnson, Jr. TE-LB Zach Mueller, Jr. OL-DL Nick Ryan, Jr. TE-DL Nick Sylvia, Jr. OL-DL Brad Turner, Jr. QB-DB Divante White.
Outlook: Massengale said "there are a lot of new faces" this season after losing a number of quality players. But quietly, Massengale runs a solid program that almost always contends in the ECC Small Division. This season should be no exception.