2019 H.S. football preview capsules

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Rudy Bagos (8th season)

Key returnees: Sr. RB-CB Blane Hart, Sr. RB-LB Cam Hart, Sr. TE-DE TJ Horner, Sr. WR-CB Owen Robbins, Sr. OL-DL Josh Morton, Sr. OL-DE Zach Todd, Sr. QB Noah Perry, Sr. OL-DL Joe Reitmeyer, Sr. OL-DL Mike Haburay, Sr. WR-S Scott Galbo, Sr. WR-CB Coleman Groff, Sr. Hunter Lizza, Sr. RB-LB Nate Highman, Sr. RB-CB Nate Jean, Jr. OL-DL-P JoJo Higgins, Jr. WR-LB Hunter Lewis, Jr. C-DL Spencer Stanley.

Top newcomers: Sr. WR-CB Branden Matias, Jr. OL-DL Caleb Smith, Jr. RB-DB Patrick Tolley, Jr. QB Max Caron, Jr. RB-LB Aidan Cary, Jr WR-DB Ben Orefice, WR-LB Garrison Wiese, So. WR-FS Will Anglin, Jr. WR-CB Mason Senkow, So. OL-DL David Semnoski, So. WR-LB Damon Simonsen.

Outlook: The Vikings won four of their last five games to post a winning season (6-4) in 2018 and Bagos will lean on a strong senior class this fall as they try to unseat NFA from the Division I throne. They did suffer some key graduation losses, put have experience throughout the lineup — particularly on both lines. East Lyme has good numbers, but Bagos is concerned about his depth as he waits for his younger players to gain experience.

Fitch

Coach: Mike Ellis (5th season)

Key returnees: Jr. WR-LB Noah Charron, Jr. FB-LB James Deichler, Jr. RB-DB Steve Cantres.

Top newcomers: Sr. OL-LB Cody Briles, Jr. OL-LB Andrew McIlquham, Sr. OL-DL Muneeb Butt, Sr. OL-DL Kyle Radley, Jr. OL-DL Landon Huffstickler, Jr. OL-DL Trae Johnson, Jr. OL-DL Brian Toussaint, So. OL-DL John Luethy, Sr. OL-LB Cam Aldinger, Sr. OL-LB Vincent Trento, So. WR-LB Aidan Greaves, Jr. RB-DB Ethan Mojica, Jr. RB-DL David Dorn, Sr. FB-LB Savonne Mitchell, So. FB-LB Greg Santora, Jr., Sr. RB-DB Lonnie Howard, Sr. RB-DB Michael Hamlin, Jr. QB-DB Josh Letellier, Sr. QB-DB Lashier Edwards, Sr. WR-DB Seamus McKenna, So. RB-DB Thomas Williams, Sr. PK-P Evan Burdy, Jr. OL-DL Noah Brown, So. OL-DL Ethan Sisson, Jr. RB-DB Isaac Bordelon, Sr. WR-OLB Tre Bryant.

Outlook: The Falcons went 7-3 last season, just missing out on a Class L playoff berth. They suffered major graduation losses on their offensive and defensive lines, as well as three-year starting QB Tyler Nelli and a solid linebacking crew. The good news is Fitch has some young and talented skill players — led by Cantres, Deichler and Charron — and plenty of speed and depth. Ellis said more success will come with some early development up front.

New London

Coach: Johnny Burns (2nd season)

Key returnees: Sr. CB Jammie Mills, Sr. S Cameron Sousa, Jr. LB Ronde Ford.

Top newcomers: Jr. PK Edwin Rivera, Jr. OG George Senat, Jr. S Jack Britt.

Outlook: The Whalers went 5-5 in Burns' first season, but lost some key players to graduation, including two-way star Jacob Commander, The Day's All-Area Player of the Year. New London will be young as Burns enters his second season, but the Whalers have some talent and Burns is optimistic his team will battle its way through a difficult schedule which includes perennial state power New Canaan in Friday night's season opener at home.

NFA

Coach: Jason Bakoulis (3rd season)

Key returnees: Sr. WR Nolan Molkenthin, Sr. WR Andrew Cote, Jr. RB Sean Preston, Sr. RB-WR Damien Bleau, Jr. OL Joe Klick, Sr. OL Jeffrey Andruskiewicz, Sr. OL Chris Green, Sr. OL Lavery Hill, Sr. DL Josh Brown, Sr. LB Silas Gates, Sr. LB-DB Nate Cote, Sr. SS Xavier Marquez, Sr. CB Nazaiah Paul.

Top newcomers: Sr. QB Austin Richards, So. WR Maxon Pierre Louis, Sr. LB Jaydon Lame, So. CB Dangelo Aristilde.

Outlook: The Wildcats return four starters on their offensive line, which will be key against a difficult nonconference schedule that includes Xavier, Glastonbury, Fairfield Prep and West Haven. They also have three explosive, experienced receivers in Molkenthin, Andrew Cote and Bleau, along with a versatile, hard-nosed running back in Preston. Defensively, the Wildcats return a solid linebacking corps, as well as seniors Marquez and Paul in the secondary. NFA should challenge again for the ECC Division I title.

ECC Division II

Ledyard

Coach: Clay Killingsworth (2nd season)

Key returnees: Sr. WR-DB Caden Foote, Sr. RB-LB Ben Askew, Sr. WR-DB Jadien Bickham, Sr. WR-LB Robbie Petriel, Sr. OL Andres Pardo, Sr. QB-LB Brayden Grim, Jr. OL-DL Davin McIver, Jr. RB-LB Walker Lenz.

Top newcomers: Jr. RB-LB Andrew Allen, Jr. RB-LB Jon Isgro, Jr. OL-DL Chase Barnett.

Outlook: The Colonels have some holes to fill because of graduation losses, but Killingsworth sees his team improving in his second season and he loves the leadership qualities of his senior class. "I really like how our players are starting to hold each other accountable," he said. "As a coach, it's rewarding to sit back and watch our older players take an active leadership role in this program."

Stonington

Coach: A.J. Massengale (16th season)

Key returnees: Jr. QB-DB Drew Champagne, Sr. RB-LB Josh Curtin, Jr. WR-DB Bobby Dimock, Jr. OL-DL Bryan Fusaro, So. RB-DB Christian Hudson, Jr. RB-DB Sam Inthasit, Jr. WR-DB Ryan Keilty, Sr. OL-DL Ryan Mercier, Jr. OL-DL Mahmoud Salha, Sr. TE-DB Marco Tedeschi, So. OL-DL Jack Zuro.

Top newcomers: Jr. TE-LB Nick Abely, Sr. RB-DB Andrew Castagliuolo, So. RB-LB Matt Castagliuolo, Jr. OL-DL Luke Costanzo, So. OL-DL Nathan Garrett, Jr. RB-DB Justin Holland, Jr. TE-DB Colby Johnson, Jr. OL-DL Gavin Kerfus, So. TE-DL Patrick Obrey, Jr. OL-DL Luke Panciera, Jr. WR-DB Anthony Pinzone, Jr. TE-DL Treyvon Poehler, So. RB-DB Lucian Tedeschi, Jr. RB-LB Matt Tipple, Jr. OL-DL Brian Worth.

Outlook: The Bears went 1-9 a year ago, but four of those losses were by a touchdown or less. Massengale has a young team with only six seniors, but there are 75 players in the program. "We have had a great preseason with great energy and enthusiasm," said Massengale, whose Bears have a nice mix of experience and youth.

Waterford

Coach: John Strecker (5th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Ryan Bakken, Jr. Jackson Harshberger, Sr. Jeremiah Harshberger, Jr. Christian Hightower, Sr. Jose Rosario, Sr. Sloan Doerfler, Sr. Ethan Welch, Sr. Michael Vincent.

Top newcomers: Sr. Trey Brennan, Sr. Matt Sanford.

Outlook: The Lancers went 3-7 a year ago but return some familiar faces and Strecker believes Waterford can contend for ECC Division II honors because the division has great balance.

ECC Division III

Montville

Coach: Tanner Grove (14th season)

Key returnees: Sr. QB Ryan Douchette, Sr. OL-DL Bryce Sullivan, Sr. OL-DL Timmy Leitzinger, Sr. WR Colin Nickerson, Sr. RB-DE Jayden Long, Sr. OL-DE Ayden Rodriguez, Sr. OL-LB Matt Tobey, Sr. RB-LB Frank Cook, Jr. WR-DB Nehemiah Owens, Jr. PK Diego Garces-Cortes.

Top newcomers: So. RB-S Miles Sarmiento, So. WR-S Chas Terni, So. OL-LB Raphael Vogt, Jr. WR-DE Antonio Brown, Jr. LB Steven Turchetta, Jr. OL-DL Miguel Adames, Sr. OL-LB Mason Nickerson, Sr. OL-DL Somadina Agunyego, Sr. OL-DL Mardi Santana,Sr. WR-DB Isaac Linicus, Sr. DL Chris Early.

Outlook: The Indians, who were 3-7 last season, return seven offensive starters led by QB Douchette, a three-year starter, an experienced offensive line, and plenty of weapons at the skill positions. The defense has improved, as well, led by an experienced group of linebackers (Cook, Brown, Long and Tobey), so don't be surprised to see Montville in contention for a Division III title.

Others

Thames River

Coach: Darin Jones (3rd season)

Key returnees: Sr. QB Logan Starr, Sr. OL-DL Roark Ryan, Sr. OL-DL Nick Miller, Sr. DB Jagger Petersen, Sr. RB-LB Luis Aguilar, Jr. OL-DL Brian Bethea, Jr. FB-LB Cole Occhialini, Sr. RB-LB Zair Alexander, Jr. OL-DL Tyler Jicha, So. DB Domonick Martinez, Jr. TE-LB Brent Kripas.

Top newcomers: Jr. OL-DL Matt Thorpe, So. OL-DL Camren Topkin, Jr. RB-LB Nate Bastien, Jr. OL-DL Silven Scolaro, Fr. RB Seth Cunningham, Fr. DB Tyler Longo.

Outlook: Thames River, a cooperative program with athletes from Norwich Tech, Grasso Tech and St. Bernard, looks to better last year's 6-4 record despite the loss of six key players. The Crusaders, who compete in the Connecticut Technical Conference, return Starr at QB and veteran two-way linemen Ryan, Miller, Bethea and Jicha. Said Jones: "We have a lot of young players who have come into the season looking to make a name and a spot on the starting roster."

Valley Regional/Old Lyme

Head coach: Tim King (22nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. RB-LB Justin Badolato; Sr. OL-DL Ben Conrad; Sr. DB-RB-WR Arick Outama; Sr. WR-DB Brian Rankin; Jr. WR-DB Colby Andrews; Jr. OL-DL Weston Belisle; Jr. QB Jack Cox; Jr. OL-DL Kyle Metz; Jr. RB-DB Anthony Rosario.

Top newcomers: So. WR-QB James Marsi; Fr. OL-DL Adam Metz; Fr. WR Jeremy Arnold; Fr. CB DiAngenlo Jean-Pierre.

Outlook: The Warriors have been a fixture near the top of the Pequot Football League and a state playoff contender for most of this decade. They’d like to maintain that level of success. … if they can just stay healthy. “Our numbers are pretty good (nearly 50 players),” King said, “but we’ve had to deal with health and sickness and injuries. We haven’t been able to have a full (team) at any of the scrimmages. And one of our best players (Andrews) broke his ankle at the (summer) passing league.” Andrews is being eased back in, and the newcomers such as Marsi made a good showing for themselves in the preseason. Valley/Old Lyme should be pretty solid on both front lines, but will be breaking in new starters at QB, RB and receiver. It’ll also play one of the tougher Pequot schedules featuring the likes of Haddam-Killingworth, last year’s Class S runner-up, and Cromwell/Portland and the Stafford/East Windsor Somers, both which also made the S playoffs.

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