SCC Football 2014: Hand preview

Hand 100pxVitals

  • Coach: Steve Filippone (26 years, 211-58-4)
  • Conference: SCC Division I East
  • Playoff Class: L (623 boys enrollment)
  • Home: Surf Club, Madison
  • 2013 Record: 8-4 (Class L quarterfinalist)
  • 2014 Kickoff: New Canaan, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.
  • Captains: Jack Driscoll, Tom Durkin, Scott Sweitzer, Cory Walsh
Hand junior Nick Van Dell returns at quarterback.

Hand junior Nick Van Dell returns at quarterback.

Top players

Key losses

Tom Wilson, WR; Pat Rogers, OLB; Connor Dowd, RB (207 carries, 1,014 yards, nine touchdowns); Ian Dieli, DL; Dan Rogers, ILB; Tim Dannolfo, WR; Jake Mirando, WR.


On the preseason form Filippone sent in, he wrote: “I would put us in the middle of the pack”.

We don’t believe him.

With 15 starters returning, including Van Dell, Wilson, and the entire offensive line and secondary, Hand should be one of the top teams in the SCC and on the state level. Expectations are always high at Hand, but with the amount of returning talent, this could be a special year in Madison.

Van Dell returns for Year 2 at quarterback after an auspicious debut as a sophomore. Van Dell completed 174 of 287 yards for 2,214 yards and 20 touchdowns, although he did throw 15 interceptions. The nimble Van Dell also rushed 111 times for 439 yards and 11 scores. The year of experience should certainly benefit both Van Dell and the Tigers.

The graduation of Dowd, Hand’s featured running back last season, means the athletic Wilson should see the bulk of the carries out of the backfield. After a solid junior season, Wilson is poised for a breakout year in 2014.

Driscoll, who gave a verbal to play at UMass, Durkin, Staples and Twohill all return on the offensive line. Phan, a Register All-Area pick, returns to handle the place kicking duties after kicking game-winning field goals against Hillhouse and Shelton, and booting 43 of 45 extra point attempts last season.

Despite some injuries last season, Walsh, who made 54 tackles and three sacks as a junior, will lead the defensive line. Scott Sweitzer (two interceptions, two fumble recoveries), Wilson (three interceptions) and junior Reid Sweitzer (two interceptions) all return in the secondary.

A challenging schedule yet again awaits. The Tigers open at home against defending Class L champion New Canaan. Hand also plays North Haven, a Class L semifinalist, an improved Cheshire squad, defending Class LL runner-up Fairfield Prep, Shelton, West Haven, a Class LL semifinalist in 2013, and Notre Dame-West Haven along with New Haven schools Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross and rival Guilford on Thanksgiving Eve.

If Hand can navigate that gauntlet, they should position themselves for a berth in the Class L state playoffs.

2014 Schedule

  • Sept. 12 — New Canaan, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 19 — Hillhouse, 7 p.m.*
  • Sept. 26 — at Wilbur Cross, 4 p.m.**
  • Oct. 2 — at North Haven, 7 p.m.*
  • Oct. 10 — Cheshire, 7 p.m.**
  • Oct. 17 — at Fairfield Prep (at Fairfield Ludlowe), 7 p.m.*
  • Oct. 24 — Shelton, 7 p.m.*
  • Oct. 31 — at Xavier, 7 p.m.*
  • Nov. 7 — West Haven, 7 p.m.**
  • Nov. 14 — at Notre Dame-West Haven, 7 p.m.**
  • Nov. 26 — Guilford, 7 p.m.*

* — conference game
** — division game


    • Mike PucciMike Pucci says

      Yes, thank you. I actually put down Clay’s stats for Scott. Filippone listed Scott as 6-1, 205, so that’s what I will go with. Thanks.

  1. Let's Go Tigers says

    Ryan Kaufmann definitely deserves to be listed as a top player. He plays his safety position as well as anyone in the state and doesn’t make mistakes

  2. Rob (On Connecticut's East Coast) says

    For those of you stymied by the vast Connecticut River, Ledyard (one of the ECC’s “Evil 6”) will be at Hand in Madison Saturday the 30th for some preseason work. The fun is scheduled to start at 9:00 AM and for those claiming that Hand’s defense will be improved; they should get a good test from the Colonels. Ledyard lost some incredible starters in Jordan Kowalski, Joseph Carter and Khary Childs but still have #15Gunslinger, #24JOJOShumaker and #5Basketball_Rivers among others that should be fun to watch this year on Offense. On the other side of the ball, Ledyard returns several of its starters from last year and look to be improved in the secondary over recent years.

    I’ll admit that it is just a scrimmage, BUT you all know as well as I am saying it right here, right now, Proud Football Programs DESPISE losing (PERIOD). I don’t care if it were a car washing contest, they hate to lose and will do almost anything within their power to win. That having been said, 2 football programs with annual success within their respective conferences are going to get together Saturday morning. I expect it will look a lot more like regular season then a friendly ice cream social.

  3. SCC Runs The State says

    Hand looked good they made some mistakes but then again they played their whole team. Ledyard only really scored on Hands second and third string players.

  4. THE RAY BROWN says

    don’t recall SCC winning anything last fact FCIAC,NVL and lets not forget SOUTHINGTON took a piece of SCC

  5. Rob (On Connecticut's East Coast) says

    Not sure what exactly I need to “Explain”. Clearly I stated that this was just a scrimmage and people in these comment sections look at them differently as to what can be determined from them.

    As for SCC Runs the State’s comment; “Hand looked good they made some mistakes but then again they played their whole team. Ledyard only really scored on Hands second and third string players.” . . .your employer must not drug test. I am uncertain what scrimmage you were watching BUT Ledyard drove the ball consistently; regardless of the defensive personnel. If Hand’s D-Coordinator chose to put less than his best on the field, it certainly didn’t show when they came off the field and he was letting them know exactly how “great” (sarc) they were performing. I am not trying to take nothing away from Hand, they played very well. Hand’s Read Option was fantastic and their Quarterback, who I think is just a Junior, runs the ball like a running back. They also took advantage of a couple opportunistic substitutions when the starting safety was out and made excellent throws over the middle deep for scores.

    As the scrimmage cam to an end consider the format; after the JV’s each ran a 10 play set, the Varsity took the field for one more series. Ledyard scored, Hand didn’t. Not to say that’s the end all, but that is what took place on the field.

    Like I said earlier, I don’t care if it was a car washing contest; neither team was okay with “losing”. Hand’s defense had trouble getting outside on the “Jet Sweep” style stretch play. On one occasion, Ledyard’s running back broke 2 tackles and then destroyed the over thinking safety’s ankles on his way to a score. Ledyard had a couple dropped passes that later in the year aren’t getting dropped. This is an offense that hung 48 on the eventual class M state champs last year, with a lot of their starters who were Juniors back. The only other team that did that to St Joes last year was New Canaan. Listening to the post game from Hand, very much a message of “this is what happens when you don’t play your best” while Ledyard’s was “fix a few things, a tweak here and there and we’ll talk more during film.”

    As for Ray, have the NVL play in a Varsity league before you talk your crap. (that’s right, an ECC guy told you that!)

    • JB says

      Rob, thanks for the recap.

      NC is going to score at will against that Hand defense. In the old Surf Club, NC wouldn’t do well … but that new field favors teams like NC. I am starting to change my view on this one … NC will take Hand by 2 TDs.

  6. SCC Runs The State says

    I’d like to here why you consider their defense horrible. Who’s bad on their defense? Because to me they have one of the best returning defenses in the state going into the season with maybe the exception of their cb’s…

  7. JZ says

    They aren’t bad, and they have good individual players. They don’t look like the nasty Defenses I have seen from Championship caliper Hand teams. They are weak on the D-line, they don’t tackle well, and they don’t swarm to the ball like I have seen in the past. I guess many would love to have their problems, but expectations are always high in Madison, so maybe I’m being too critical. Anyway, I believe it will be a good game vs. New Canaan. I pick Hand 35-28.

  8. mick.bezz says

    Too bad Morgan cant play against Hand. It will be interesting game cuz Morgan is going to have a good year as well Hand too.

    Do not know why the world they stop the rivarly between two school. Since Morgan s like three times smaller than Hand, still Morgan can beat them every four years!!

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