DIVISION I WEST
Former all-stater Ted Czepiga takes over his alma mater after an assistant coaching stint at West Haven. He has Mike DeVito, the son of former Amity coach Mike DeVito, at QB, junior RB Colin Beaulieu at tailback and big lineman Nick Photos. But, overall, Amity is one of the least experienced team in SCC Division I.
Changes abound in Fairfield. The Jesuits have a gorgeous new stadium. Keith Hellstern takes over for Tom Shea as coach. But the starting roster is being overhauled. Tall junior QB Patrick Conte takes over for electric, two-year starter Colton Smith. All-State lineman Anthony Palazzolo is gone, as are plenty of other offensive stars. That all of the captains — Connor Bercik, Aidan Coyle, Nick Franchuk, Sam Opont — are defensive players should say something.
The Green Dragons have won just eight games since their last winning season in 2009 and couldn’t score during last year’s 2-9 season. Hamden will look to captains RB/DB Kwadir Delgado-McIntyre and LB Angelo DiMonaco to get things moving again. Field renovations means Hamden won’t play home for at least a month.
Sadly for Shelton fans, all-everything QB Mark Piccirillo has graduated after accomplishing everything except winning a state title. But all of his weapons — Chris Kanios, Kevin Robinson, Peter Hoff, Alex and Sam Kirk — and three of five linemen return to attend to “unfinished business.” If a QB emerges and nagging injuries heal, this is a team to watch.
Last year’s state championship team was senior-dominated and, while not vintage, upheld the program’s high expectations of winning titles. Yet, only five starters return — among them standout WR Colin McCarthy and RB Glenn Cunningham. But Xavier hasn’t won four titles in five years for nothing. They’ll should be in the thick of things.
DIVISION I EAST
Cheshire lost just about every major contributor, including All-State back Andrew Yamin from last year’s 8-3 team. But there are 22 seniors on the Rams roster itching to make their mark. R.J. Oris takes over at QB. Brian Weyrauch will try to spell Yamin. On defense, the Hillburns — Chris and Nate — should make the Rams tough.
Three-year QB Nick van Dell is honing in on the school’s all-time records. But the Tigers, who finished last year with a losing record for the first time since 2006, have plenty of questions. Seniors Reid Sweitzer, Mark Hill and Ryan Kauffman should help answer some of them.
Fourteen starters are back from last year’s Class L finalist, including New Hampshire commit Christian Lupoli and all-state WR/DB Nico Ragaini. But the Green Knights need to revamp their line to help Ragaini catch and RB Prince Brooks run. DE Kameran Matthews will lead the charge on a stocked defense. ND’s biggest foe? The schedule: Prep, West Haven, North Haven, Shelton annnnd Xavier to start.
Rich Boshea takes over for the state’s winningest coach, Ed McCarthy. But with son Tim back at QB, don’t expect Coach Mac to stray far. The Westies lost Brandon Sebastian to Cheshire Academy, so they’ll rely on Anthony Godfrey at RB and seniors Marquis Lockhart and Adrian Jaynes and to lead a talented, but young squad.
The Governors, perhaps the largest team in the SCC, must replace just about every skill player on offense and defense from last season’s seven-win club. Good news, a massive offensive line returns to protect new QB Zion Setal. Jason Atterberry will be a top target.
DIVISION II WEST
After going 0-fer in coach John Limone’s first year, the Hornets won two games in 2014. It’s progress and Limone is hoping to find the right pieces to take another step. Zac DeGourcey moves from QB to RB, Griffin Lynch takes over at QB. FS Noah DeGourcey, WR Luke DiStasio and OL Jake Roberts are also standouts.
Coach Mike Eagle comes from nearby Morgan, bringing his spread offense to Guilford. He’ll have last year’s entire backfield to work with, including QB Jack Jankura. There’s also experience on the line. LB Nick Russello and Jake Filley lead an experienced defense. There will be a learning curve, but Guilford could make some noise.
Since winning a state title in 2012, Hillhouse has struggled to get back to form. That probably won’t change since the Acs, while big, must replace all of last year’s skill players. They’ll rely on RB Shawn Ogarro and DE Tyler Williams. Much to Hillhouse’s chagrin, it’ll play home games at SCSU again while Bowen Field continues renovation.
Law hopes to regain the mojo from last year’s five-game win streak. But it must replace last year’s standout RBs, Max German and Giovanni Marzullo. With the transfer of a sophomore, the Lawmen have moved end Logan Danville to RB alongside QB Mitchell Smith and WR Justin McFadden and a large line. Defense should be a strength.
Aiden Lynch begins his first year at the helm, replacing Rob Marone, who was fired at midseason. He’s installed a new offense and a new defense. The Trojans will look to Anthony Esposito to lead the young offense. Defense, at least, has some experience. Lyman Hall will play its home games at Sheehan while Fitzgerald Field is renovated.
DIVISION II EAST
East Haven brings in coach Melvin Wells from Hyde to help move the program forward from last year’s turmoil. The Easties return a bunch of starters, including RB Austin Thornberg, QB Trevor Angelo and big LB Liam Coward. RB McClay Marshall is a player to watch.
Who will replace three-time all-state QB Jake Kasuba? That’s the critical question for coach Jeff Bevino’s Lions, who otherwise bring back 14 starters. The good news: The lines return all but intact with Luke Edmundson, Sam Kopatch and Mike Howell.
QB Mike Montano, E Jeremy Imperati, FB/LB Dave Mikos and OL Mike Masnato headline a wealth of returning starters — 18 in all, particularly on the front lines. That’s good news for everyone’s favorite single-wing team, which should qualify for its fourth state playoff in five years.
Nine starters are back from last year’s injury-riddleed squad, including QBs Nolan Cloutier and Tyler Selmecki, RB Zach Davis, DB Kevin Frisco, LB Danny James, but few on the lines. Can the Titans contend? If everyone stays healthy, they might have a shot.