It’s here. It’s finally here.
After another nine long months (the wait never gets easier, does it?), it’s once again time to grab your helmets, collect all the orange cones you can carry, fill and drag out the water jugs, push the tackling sleds, get into formation and start stretching those calves.
And don’t forget your physicals because you can’t play if you don’t… um, bring your note to the fray.
Anyway! It’s football season. It’s finally really football season.
Ninety-six high school football teams started practice today, joining the 52 others that started last week under the new CIAC rules, which allow teams to eschew spring football for an extra four days in the fall.
(By the way, Big surprise: We already have one unconfirmed rumor today that at least one regional school might have already run both spring and the extra days of fall practice. Not sure how much validity’s behind that, but that’s quite a blatant violation if true. Then again, is it much different than running all of these offseason passing leagues, lineman camps and out-of-state trips and such? Like UConn coach Randy Edsall said, Connecticut is far behind the development curve with the CIAC’s draconian practice rules, but you do have to draw the line somewhere. By the way, how does the CIAC actually enforce these rules? The honor system?)(ahem) Anyway, Connecticut’s 148 teams have now taken their first anxious steps of the 2009 season. Connecticut is finally on the clock. As of this writing, there are 22 days remaining before the season kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 16 with Norwalk at Greenwich, 6 p.m.
After some chiding by Ned Griffen via email about my neglecting to remember last week’s opening day, I’m happy to say now that The Connecticut Post and friends are on back the case.
I visited four practices today in Fairfield to see three new head coaches in their new digs — Joe Beler at Notre Dame-Fairfield; Duncan Dellavolpe at Fairfield Warde; Bill Pinto at Fairfield Prep. Hard to believe but second-year coach Fairfield Ludlowe’s Matt McCloskey, who I saw last, is the old man of this bunch in terms of head-coaching service to their schools (2 years).
Of course, the others aren’t exactly rookies. Dellavolpe, after all, is an Ansonia guy and one of the architects of New Canaan’s state championship run. Beler has an SWC championship and state playoff appearance under his belt back during his days at Foran in 2001. Pinto has been Prep’s defensive guy for years. So…
The idea was to shoot some video and package it into a conditioning week practice feature. But, really, not much goes on at the first few practices. So I’m keeping the cap on the camera until the end of the week.
Here was what I gleaned from my time outside today:
…All four teams have some major gaps to plug. But doesn’t everybody. …Fairfield Prep has just one returning starter. Both of its captains were almost exclusively JV guys. …Fairfield Warde has about 40 on the preseason roster. …Ludlowe about 45. …Prep and Warde are going to scrimmage for the first time in years, if not ever. …Notre Dame is still low on numbers, but Beler’s optimistic with some of his newcomers. …Tried to think of some of the good teams in the SCC this year: Hamden, Hand, Shelton, Notre Dame-WH, maybe Xavier (had a good freshman team last year). …The Westies have some talent coming up through the ranks, too. I also heard good things about Sheehan and quarterback Brett Biestek a 6-3, 220-pound quarterback who’s getting local Division I looks. …Good teams in the FCIAC? Can’t discount New Canaan despite heavy losses (again). Darien will be pretty decent? Their new QB could be pretty good. …It has been pretty quiet down there in Greenwich. “That usually means they’re ready to explode,” said one. 8-3 was a down year for the Cards. …Prep won’t be on MSG this year. But they will be on the Connecticut Sports Network/WTNH game. With Hamden, possibly? …The Jesuits open with Notre Dame-West Haven. …Beler is taking his boys back to Jonathan Law in Milford, his old stomping ground, for three-a-days on Saturday.
Also, we had new football correspondent Henry Chisholm working overtime on the first full day. He’ll be focusing on the SCC this year and visited Amity and West Haven. … Amity, he said, is moving away from last year’s pass-happy modus-operandi. Gunslinger Bill Choiniere is gone, meaning that the team will be much more balanced. Two players are fighting for the QB job. DB/WR/RB Tom Scanlon is the Spartans’ best returning player. He said he’ll have more on West Haven tomorrow. The Westies have a new turf field installed at Ken Strong Stadium.
Looks like Henry’s in midseason form already.
Here are two football-related stories out of Danbury, where new Hatters coach Dan Donovan is keeping busy.
News-Times: Donovan named new Danbury athletic director
News-Times: Donovan wearing many hats for Hatters; New AD, football coach gets new era underway
That’s it for now… in retrospect, kind of a disjointed post. But, hey, it’s preseason for everybody. I’ll get my game on soon as we try to piece together the 2009 season.