Football: New-look Lions putting all chips on table

Foran High may lack experience, but when coach Tom Drew’s Lions open the football season with a visit to Wilbur Cross on Friday afternoon at 3:30, they will be all in.

“We have kids that want to compete,” said Drew, who in his first year as head coach at Foran. “They are excited by the challenge. Even with lack of playing time, they are learning that creating a game tempo can equal things out.”

Leshaun Hicks will quarterback the Governors, whose rushing game is led by Jasiah Barnes who ran for 1,360 yards and 12 scores as a junior. Wilbur Cross went 7-3 a year ago. Foran was 4-6.

“They are always big up front on defense and load the box and dare you to run your offense,” Drew said of the Governors. “We saw them in a scrimmage against Middletown and they went after them. Cross has gifted and skilled players.”

Drew has a read on what it will take his team to be successful.

“This team will go where Andrew Janik (quarterback) and the line goes,” he said. “Andrew is 6-foot-4 and can really sling it. He is talented with a quick mind. We are a spread team and his RPO (run-pass option) reads are on target.

“Ryan Zarnoch and Justin DeEll return on the o-line and its nice to have two leaders there. The line is learning that as a unit they have to be like family. Ryan, a center, and Justin, at left tackle, are getting the group to bond.

“Gage Diaz and Tanner Lucy, like the entire unit, are feisty and tough and will be our guards. Maurizio Arango is a sophomore and loves to learn. He loves to watch film and is a sponge with the mental part of the game.”

Tom Dempsey, Nick Costantini and Teddy Mauro will be the running backs.

“It’s like a three-pronged attack,” Drew said. “Tommy is a power runner, Nick kind of a scat back, and Teddy is a great surprise for us as he is a demolishing blocker on the edge.”

Max Tavitian (6-2) and Will Phelan (6-4) give Janik a pair of tall targets.

“They catch everything,and along with Richie Piscitelli and Nick Costantini give us a great group of receivers,” Drew said. “We’re hanging our hats on them running good routes.”

Drew Izzo will do the place kicking.

“Drew came out and was looking for his niche and found it,” Drew said. “We are happy to have him. He is devoting himself to being accurate and we need to have those conversion kicks.”

DeEll and Gage Diaz will key the defense from their linebacking positions.

“They are both aggressive to the football,” Drew said. “Justin has a great knack for reading a play. His decision-making is on target.

“Richie Piscitelli will quarterback our secondary from his safety position. Will Phelan is also a safety, with Caden Ondeck and Reilly Barry at cornerback.

“Our d-line will be by committee, with Zarnoch, Lucy and Arano our run stoppers. Our speed rushers are Kevin Pokornowski, Willian Ives and James Carlson.

“These kids are eager. You can never replace graduated players, but there is a culture of winning at Foran High and these guys are excited to compete.”


Sept. 7 — at Wilbur Cross 3:30

Sept. 14 — at Amity 7

Sept. 21 — at Harding 7

Sept. 28 — Lyman Hall 7

Oct. 12 — Bunnell 7

Oct. 19 — Daniel Hand 7

Oct. 26 — at Guilford 7

Nov. 2 — North Haven

Nov. 9 — at Hillhouse 7

Nov. 22 — Jonathan Law 10:30