SCC football coaches break down their teams

Southern Connecticut Conference football coaches agreed on one thing — how tough it was to come away with a victory during the league season — and no one put it into words better than Foran High coach Jeff Bevino at the SCC’s 2014 Football Media Night at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on Sunday, Aug. 24.

“It has been said, and I agree, that other leagues fear us (for cross scheduling purposes),” said Bevino, who was the final coach to take to the podium. “But I think a lot of teams in this league fear playing each other.

“Not to downplay other leagues, but I know top to bottom every week we are going to get whacked and have to be ready to whack the other team.”

Foran (8-3) will visit Fairfield Warde (3-7) on Friday, Sept. 12.

Jonathan Law coach Derrick Lewis, fresh out of coaching at Bassick of Bridgeport, said: “We are enthused about this coming season. We have done a lot of legwork to generate a positive feeling.

“We are very young as a football team, but the varsity is at the 43-44 player mark and we have 40 freshman. It is great to be at a new place with new beginnings. We are looking to compete as one to the highest degree.”

Law (4-7) will host Harding of Bridgeport (3-6) on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

SCC Commissioner Al Carbone greeted 13 of 16 league teams in attendance (Xavier of Middletown, East Haven and Lyman Hall of Wallingford didn’t make an appearance), along with captains from the represented teams.

Carbone pointed out the overall success of the league, football in particular, and brought up the importance of year two of the upcoming SCC-FCIAC Football Challenge that dominates week one. The FCIAC took year one, 9 wins to 8.

Shelton High’s Jeff Roy, whose team defeated Trumbull High 57-20, in week one of the challenge a year ago, was the first coach from the SCC Division West to provide a quick insight into his team and its expectations.

“We have a veteran team coming back,” Roy said of his Gaels, who finished 7-4 in 2013 and will open the season with a visit to Trumbull High (8-2) on Friday, Sept. 12.

“The players have done all that we asked for in the weight room and the passing leagues. We have good size up front and our defense is the same (as the offense) with six or seven starters coming back.”

Tom Shea from Fairfield Prep said, “We started our team from ground zero and enjoyed success last year. We lost some outstanding players, but we’re excited with the players we have coming back on offense.

“Colton Smith (quarterback) ran for 1,900 yards and threw for 1,700 to account for 40 touchdowns. John DelliSanti had 40 receptions for about 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Joe Ganim is back at running back and our offensive line is strong. We know it is going to be a challenge, and we look forward to meeting it.”

Prep (11-3) will open its season when Stamford High (2-8) visits Fairfield Warde on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Amity coach Bert Mozealous’ Spartans went 5-6 a year ago.

He said, “We have five guys back on defense and six guys back on offense. We lost 19 seniors and the schedule is brutal. We welcome it. We’ll work our butts off to be competitive every year.”

Amity will visit Seymour High in a non-Challenge game on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Hamden High coach Todd Dowty said of his 3-8 Green Dragons,” We’re trying to grow a new Hamden program and the players and coaches are working hard toward restoring it. The players all did a good job in the offseason.”

Hamden visits Danbury High (3-7) on Friday, Sept. 12.

Division I East boasts two of the SCC’s most successful coaches in West Haven and Milford native Ed McCarthy and Daniel Hand of Madison’s Steve Filappone.

McCarthy said, “I really like our team. We had a great winter. It’s so different. Forty four years ago when I started, after Thanksgiving you would say, ‘See you in the spring.’

“Now its 365 days of the year and our guys have answered the call. The effort is great, we are young, but have a lot of skilled kids. This is the best sophomore class we’ve had, but that’s it, they are only sophomores.

“We have 11 maniacal teams we are going to play. We know our league, we know what our opponents are all about, and I’m hoping we’ll be ready.”

West Haven (10-3) will host Greenwich High (7-3) on Friday, Sept. 12.

Daniel Hand finished 8-4 and will play host to New Canaan (13-0) on Friday, Sept. 12.

“We have a veteran team returning with 27 seniors,” Filappone said. “We look at ourselves and we’re a fine football team. Then, we look at who we have to play, and you realize you have to be a great football team to be successful.

“Every team in this league improves every year because of the level of competition. Every team that comes out of this league and gets to states in going to compete and represent the best football league in Connecticut.”

Notre Dame of West Haven’s Tom Marcucci, in his second tenure leading the Green Knights, admitted he has had to change.

“I’m getting with it,” he said. “We’re going to wear wrist bands. I know we did before, put they only read, ‘Block and Tackle.’ Now we have plays written down.

“We’re optimistic. We lost six games last year, five to state playoff teams and the other one to Xavier.

“We are relatively small, but its our fastest team since the 90s. This too, is our best sophomore class, they went unbeaten as freshman.

“There is nothing better than going to an SCC football game, no matter who is playing Division I or Division II, whatever you want to call it, and see two tough teams go at it.”

Notre Dame will host St. Joseph of Trumbull (12-1) on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Wilbur Cross posted a 4-7 record a year ago. Coach John Acquavita said, “I was looking through our record book, and I think this is the fifth straight year we have no one returning on our offensive line. We are working hard and excited to play these teams.”

Wilbur Cross hosts Brien McMahon of Norwalk (7-2) on Friday, Sept. 12.

Cheshire High coach Don Drust’s Rams, coming off a 4-7, campaign, will greet Ridgefield High (8-2) on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

“We return 23 letterwinners and 21 seniors,” Drust said. “We understand that to survive you have to work your tail off. It is truly an honor to represent this conference on Wednesday night with Ridgefield.”

The Division II West Division’s Tom Unger spoke of his Guilford Indians (5-6).

“We have two 1,000-yard rushers we have to replace,” he said. “I’m happy with the guys we got and have half of our starters returning. We have two juniors competing for quarterback. This league is extremely challenging and we open with a good Wilton High (3-7) team (on the road, Thursday, Sept. 11).”

Hillhouse High went 5-6 a year ago and coach Reggie Lytle’s Academics will play Darien High (9-1) at Wilbur Cross Field on Friday, Sept. 12.

“If you are going to win states you are going to do it by going through this conference,” Lytle said. “We want to get back to our winning ways.”

Branford High coach John Limone came right to the point regarding his team’s 0-11 season.

“We struggled mightily,” he said. “Our guys are working hard to put that behind them. I couldn’t be happier with the effort...The guys are really getting after it. We had 16 sophomores starting last Thanksgiving morning. The outlook is positive and we look forward to getting ourselves right.”

Division II East champion North Haven (10-3) will open at home with Bridgeport Central (0-10).

Coach Anthony Sagnella said, “We lost an outstanding group of seniors and we lost a rough, rough group of guys. The program standards at North Haven are high.”

Sheehan of Wallingford coach John Ferrazzi said, “We are bringing back a double-digit group of seniors for the first time. Being the smallest school in the league, we have to prepare every day and the guys have been doing that.”

Sheehan (6-5) will travel to play Trinity Catholic-Stamford (0-10) on Saturday, Sept. 13 for a 1 p.m. game.