High school football preview capsules / Week 1

Ledyard's James Smith (2) looks for running room against East Lyme in a game on Oct. 20, 2017 at Ledyard.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Ledyard's James Smith (2) looks for running room against East Lyme in a game on Oct. 20, 2017 at Ledyard. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Today’s game

Waterford at Ledyard, 6:30 p.m.

2018 records: Waterford (0-10); Ledyard (2-8)

Outlook: The program with the most stability in the ECC — Ledyard had one coach (Bill Mignault) for more than 40 years — welcomes its fourth coach in the last four seasons. The Clay Killingsworth Era begins tonight at Bill Mignault Field as the Colonels strive to improve on last season’s record. Waterford, meanwhile, followed a promising 7-3 record in 2016 with last season’s doughnut, meaning that if nothing else, there’s no other option but progress.

Friday’s games

Stonington at Montville, 6:30 p.m.

2018 records: Stonington (6-4); Montville (4-6)

Outlook: A two-win season is atypical in Montville, where the win totals have been consistent under coach Tanner Grove. The Indians should win many more this year, welcoming back quarterback Ryan Douchette and 14 other starters. Montville is competing in a winnable ECC Div. III this season. … The Bears lost several starters to graduation, prompting 15-year coach A.J. Massengale to say, “This is the youngest group we have trotted out in a decade.”

Ellington at Valley Reg./Old Lyme, 6:30 p.m.

2018 records: Ellington (5-5); Valley/Old Lyme (9-2)

Outlook: Valley/Old Lyme, a fixture in the state playoffs, hopes to defend its Sassacus Division title within the Pequot Conference, using a solid defense. The offense returns receivers Jason O’Brien, Jaelen Arnum and Ryan Santos, who combined for nearly 1,300 receiving yards a year ago. … Ellington returns four starters from a team that finished 5-1, quarterback Jonathan Conte, who threw for 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Capital/Achievement First at New London, 6:30 p.m.

2018 records: Capital (5-5); New London (4-6)

Outlook: The Johnny Burns Era begins with the Whalers going out of conference to meet the cooperative program of Capital Prep and Achievement First of Hartford. Burns, who graduated from New London in 1995, had a longtime run coaching youth football. … New London, which ended last season rallying to defeat NFA, has one of the league’s best quarterbacks (Owen George) and running backs (Jacob Commander). Whether the offensive and defensive lines can hold up will determine the success rate this season.

Xavier at NFA, 6:30 p.m.

2018 records: Xavier (4-6); NFA (5-5)

Outlook: NFA lost productive quarterback Shea McManaway to graduation, but does return running back Sean Preston and receivers Nolan Molkenthin and Kevin Pomroy, leaving the opportunity to score plenty of points. Keep an eye on Adelino Daviega, one of the best defensive linemen in the conference, as well. … Xavier, with an uncharacteristic losing record last season, replaces quarterback Will Levis (at Penn State now) with Matt Ryan, who bears the same name as an NFL starter. Xavier, with two running backs eclipsing 200 pounds, may be difficult to stop.

Fitch at Hamden, 7 p.m.

2018 records: Fitch (10-1); Hamden (1-9)

Outlook: Fitch players spent much of the offseason in the weight room, making this a season of promise. Nick Helbig, a two-way starter, anchors both lines. Quarterback Tyler Nelli is back for this third season, with Hamear Stephens, Pedro Mojica and Kennard Tate among his weapons. Fitch made the playoffs last season and could certainly return. … Hamden has four returning offensive linemen back for now third-year coach Tom Dyer, who won multiple state championships at Hillhouse.

Norwalk at East Lyme, 7 p.m.

2018 records: Norwalk (6-4); East Lyme (7-3)

Outlook: The Vikings lost many of their linemen to graduation, but return quarterback Chris Salemme and a number of other skill players. This could certainly be the program’s second straight winning season. This, however, will not be an easy start. Norwalk, with only one offensive lineman returning, has plenty of speed. Quarterback Kyle Gordon threw for 1,743 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, also running for nearly 500 yards.

Saturday’s game

Platt Tech at Thames River, 1 p.m.

2018 records: Platt Tech (3-7); Thames River (5-5)

Outlook: This is year ywo for coach Darin Jones, who returns several starters on offense and defense. The program is a “tri-op,” among Norwich Tech, Grasso Tech and St. Bernard. Platt Tech returns seven starters, four on defense.

Ledyard's  Jacob Sylvia (16) passes off a ball to teammate Collin Wiltshire (26) during a game against Fitch on Nov. 23, 2017 at Ledyard. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Ledyard's Jacob Sylvia (16) passes off a ball to teammate Collin Wiltshire (26) during a game against Fitch on Nov. 23, 2017 at Ledyard. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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