Lions boast improved defense, cohesiveness
“We are going to rely on our deep senior class,” Foran High head football coach Tom Drew said. “Their leadership and vision for the program are what is going to carry this team this year. We are filling some big holes left by some dedicated players.”
Andrew Janik, Will Phelan, Max Quieroz and Caden Ondeck are team captains.
“Andrew is a talented quarterback,” Drew said of his second-year starter in the Lions’ spread offense. “He is a tremendous leader who has improved his game during the off season. Andrew has continued to work on his craft and can make every throw we ask of him. He is much more comfortable and has a good grasp of the offense.”
Janik passed for 1,257 yards (7 scores) and rushed for 361 and a touchdown in 2018.
That extra year together carries over to every unit.
“It’s a maturity thing,” Drew said. “These seniors take that experience, have been in the system long enough, to see things different.
“Teddy Mauro is our top runner. He now reads the numbers in the box and goes from there. Last year we saw glimpses of what Teddy brings to the table with his speed and elusiveness.
“Tanner Lucy, Gabe Dias and Philip Boyles lead our offense line. They get how our zone offense works. There is an open competition for the other spots with P.J. Singh, Juanito Briones and Jason Cruz in the mix.
“Will Phelan (14 catches, 227 yards, 2 TDs) is our top wide receiver. Caden Ondeck will be at running back and receiver. Malcolm Chavez, Jack Dawid and Ben Geier will be the other wideouts.”
In a perfect world, the Lions would have a two-platoon system.
“It takes a special kid to play both ways,” Drew said. “We have a lot of those type of players.
“Tanner Lucy, Philip Boyles, Max Quierez, Juanito Briones and Noah Jones will play up front. Max (52 tackles, 3.5 QB sacks) is a talented defensive end and we will rely on him to get pressure on the quarterback.
“Will Phelan (42 tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles), Jack Dawid and David Dong will be our outside backers. Gabe Dias (44 tackles), Eric Johnson, Bryan Thompson, Ben Geier and Dilhan Izaku are inside backers.
“Teddy Mauro and Caden Ondeck (28 tackles) will be at the corners and Reilly Barry (63 tackles) at safety.”
John Franco Menta will do the placekicking.
“John is a soccer guy who came out for football,” Drew said. “The first day of practice he came up and told me he wanted to be a kicker. The next day we were running sprints. I stopped them and told John if he made a 30-yard field goal that sprints were over for the entire team. He nailed it.”
Foran will play four of its first five game at home.
“Our defense is our strength right now,” Drew said. “John Reinecke is our defensive coordinator. He has the kids flying around and getting quickly to the football. Defense brings a different intensity and the players enjoy it. Our offense is catching up.”
FIRST DAY THOUGHTS
“Kids have been working out all summer,” Foran coach Tom Drew said. “I was teaching (summer classes) and it was great to see the players working out.
“The buy-in by the players is what is what I’m most pleased with,” he said. “At 1-9 (a year ago), the easiest thing is to give up. It is the opposite with this group. This is a storied program. Last year was not the usual and we want to right the ship to where it should be.”
Numbers are up for the Lions, from a closing roster in the high 60s to the mid 80s for day one.
“Year two is different than year one,” Drew said. “I know them; they know me. There is no longer a learning curve.”
Conditioning week’s practices were scripted like any other.
“The first hour of every practice this week will be full conditioning,” Drew said. “Then we’ll get into our offense and defense. There is a lot of learning and mental preparation to be done to get the kids up to speed with the playbook, and that includes the new players coming into the program.”
Sept. 13 — EAST HAVEN**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Bassick, 12 p.m.
Sept. 27 — STRATFORD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4— LYMAN HALL*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — BROOKFIELD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 — at Weston, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 — at Guilford*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 — HILLHOUSE*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 — at Branford*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 — at Jonathan Law*, 10:30 a.m.
Home games in CAPS