The following are 25 high school football players to watch during the 2018 CIAC season. The list includes athletes representing CIAC schools and is in alphabetical order.
Sr. WR/CB, East Hartford: The 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver made 34 catches for 701 yards and seven scores to help QB Raquan Tompkins and the Hornets make the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.
Sr. RB/LB, Windham: A 6-foot-1, 260-pound monster at running back and linebacker who has amassed nearly 3,500 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns without much fanfare during his career at Windham. That is, until you see him barreling toward you.
Sr. LB, New Canaan: Averaged 5.5 tackles a game and had 13 for a loss with nine sacks as the leader of No. 1 New Canaan’s defense. Has committed to play at Rice.
Sr. RB/LB, Bloomfield: Bloomfield coach Ty Outlaw calls his senior four-year starter “one of the best, if not one of the best running backs in the state.” Butler has run for nearly 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns, and is also the Warhawks’ top tackler at linebacker.
Sr. DB/WR, Hand: There were few 50-50 balls last season that the safety didn’t come down with. With nine interceptions and a first-team All-State certificate to show for it, Butler is the state’s top pickoff artist.
Sr. DL, Greenwich: A 6-foot-2, 200-pound terror on the defensive line, Bici burst onto the scene last year with 120 tackles, 20 1/2 for a loss, caused four fumbles and recovered three. He’s the first guy opponents account for while game-planning against the Cardinals’ defense.
Sr. RB/DB, Shelton: The senior two-way star had 1,100 yards of all-purpose offense and averaged 7 tackles per game for the Gaels, despite missing a handful of games early last season. When the game’s on the line, Carr can literally carry Shelton on his shoulders.
Sr. OL/DL, Windsor: The 6-foot, 270-pound two-way lineman was an All-State pick in Class L last season. He made 45 tackles, eight for a loss and had 5 1/2 sacks as a junior and will be counted on as the anchor of the Warriors’ veteran offensive and defensive lines.
Sr. RB, Greenwich: Much like his father, former New Fairfield All-State back Rich Comizio, the equally powerful and elusive back ran for 1,379 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 34 passes for 4 scores. He gives Greenwich a surefire offensive threat to go with All-State quarterback Gavin Muir.
Sr. OL, New Canaan: The Boston College half of of New Canaan’s behemoth, all-state offensive tackles. At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, he’s already a handful for college defensive ends, never mind high school ones.
Jr. RB/WR, Sheehan: Much like his older brother, Zach, now starring at Fordham, just by stepping onto the field he makes Sheehan’s offense lethal, especially when teamed with fellow junior Terrence Bogan. Had over 1,100 all-purpose yards.
Sr. LB, Darien: Earned all-state (following his older brother, Quinn) as a junior by leading the Class LL champion Blue Wave with 86 tackles (6.6 per game), including seven for a loss and 2 1/2 sacks. He’ll be the conductor of Darien’s defense as the Wave go for an unprecedented fourth-straight title.
Sr. LB, Hand: We know all about Hand’s exceptional defensive line — Jack Flanagan, Ben Corniello and Macken McDonald. But Girardi, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior who was second on the team with 95 tackles (8 for a loss) and five sacks, assumes the task of leading Hand’s defense after the loss of two All-State LBs, Ryan Coady and Brian Casagrande.
Sr. RB/LB Fairfield Prep: Beginning with an upset of Shelton, he burst onto the SCC scene as a sophomore with over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’ll try to help carry the Jesuits back to the state playoffs after missing almost his entire junior year due to injury.
Sr. WR, SMSA Co-Op: The 6-3, 180-pound senior caught 46 passes for 960 yards and 12 touchdowns to earn all state. Was a big part of SMSA’s surprising Class M semifinal drive last season and, teamed with dynamic junior QB Devin Hill and Hayden Jordan, should do so again.
Jr. DL/RB, Berlin: All-state as a sophomore, the 5-foot-11, 235-pound end made 77 tackles (28 for a loss), had seven sacks and forced three fumbles. Returns to help Berlin work toward a third-straight state playoff berth.
Sr. RB/LB, Newtown: Like his older brother, Ben (now starring at Michigan), the 6-0, 220-pound senior linebacker doubles as a bruiser at running back for the Nighthawks and will be counted on to help the Nighthawks return to the state playoffs after a year’s respite.
Sr. WR/LB, Ridgefield: The 6-foot-2, 210-pound UConn commit caught 80 passes for 1,124 yards and three touchdowns last season. With the Tigers graduating much of last year’s underrated 7-3 club, Mitchell will be tasked with doing just about everything to help the team return to the state playoffs after a year off.
Sr. WR/LB, St. Joseph: A first-team All-State receiver as a junior on St. Joseph’s Class M championship squad follows in the footsteps of his cousin, former St. Joseph all-stater Lars Pedersen. Caught 51 passes for 856 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s committed to Hofstra for lacrosse.
Jr. QB, New Canaan: The junior, who has already committed to play at Notre Dame, enters his third year as New Canaan’s starting quarterback. He’s thrown for 4,702 yards and 51 touchdowns in his young career.
Sr. QB, RHAM: At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, the senior is like a dump truck, but dynamic in his role as the Sachems’ quarterback. He threw for 446 yards and ran for another 1,441. RHAM hopes to ride him again to their first winning season since 2010.
Sr. OL, Avon: New coach Jeff Redman and the Falcons figure to run their entire offense behind Schrecengost. And why not? At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, mild-mannered high school defenders don’t stand a chance.
Sr. OL, New Canaan: The Michigan half of New Canaan’s monster tackle tandem, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Stewart was a first-team Walter Camp All-State pick (second team NHR) and provides another high-profile protector for QB Drew Pyne.
Sr. QB, St. Joseph: Transferred to St. Joseph a year ago and became the final ingredient in last year’s Class S championship season. Threw for a whopping 3,227 yards and 49 touchdowns to earn consensus all-state first team honors and parlayed that into a commitment to Maryland.
Sr. QB, East Hartford: East Hartford coach doesn’t mince words: Tompkins was the reason for East Hartford’s 9-2 surprise run to the Class LL playoffs last year. He threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, and ran for another 1,066 yards and eight scores. Look out.