WOODBRIDGE >> It’s an unseasonably-warm, early-November afternoon in Woodbridge as the Amity boys cross country team stretches in a quiet area preparing for practice.
The Spartans are two days removed from winning their second straight Class LL state title.
As the boys warm up, off in a shaded corner overlooking everything are the masterminds of the program, and what some may call the Dream Team of Connecticut cross country coaches — head coach Bob Orgovan, assistant Thom Jacobs and first-year assistant Jon Faitsch.
Together they have a combined 87 years of coaching experience in the sport.
“I think the reason this works is the theme that runs through all three of us, is that it’s not about us. It’s all about them,” Jacobs said. “They are the ones running fast; we are just enjoying spending time with them.”
The coaches have helped guide the Spartans to an undefeated season, the SCC championship and the Class LL crown.
Amity now enters Friday’s State Open at Wickham Park (2:45 p.m.) with a chance to cap the season with the program’s first Open title.
“We have what some would say, the most decorated coaches in Connecticut history,” senior captain Harrison Block said. “But to this point, they’ve yet to win an Open. So it was nice to have someone on board who has a championship under their belt and knows what it’s like to coach a team like that.”
Faitsch joined the Amity staff in the offseason after leaving Guilford, where he was a part of five state titles and the 2004 Open championship.
He says he came to Amity for the opportunity to learn from Orgovan and Jacobs, who have been coaching together for 30 years.
“Jon has added an extra dimension. Because when you’re together for so long and then someone else comes in from the outside, you get fresh ideas,” Orgovan said. “Jon’s helped in how he’s questioned what we’re doing, bouncing ideas back and forth, especially getting ready for LL last week.”
Each coach has his role. Block said Faitsch will sometimes run with them and be part of the group.
“Well, they started making fun of me the first week I was here, so I thought I must be doing something right,” Faitsch said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
The Spartans are a different team than the one that finished fifth a year ago at the Open.
“Last year was a wake-up call. We realized last year we didn’t have the talent to win the Open,” Block said. “We’re definitely faster up front, and our 3-4-5 are more consistent.”
Amity, ranked No. 1 in the state coaches’ poll, has gotten a full team effort every week, something they will need going up against second-ranked Staples and No. 3 Danbury.
“It’s going to take focus and us running our own race,” Block said.
While all three coaches insist it’s not about them and shrug off the notion of the significance of an Open title, a win would mean more than just the first Open title in program history.
“It would mean the world,” Block said. “The coaches do more than coach us to be young athletes; they coach us to be young adults and grow up and be mature people. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for coach O, Jacobs and coach Faitsch.”
STATE OPEN GAMEDAY
• When: Today, 2 p.m. (girls) and 2:45 (boys)
• Where: Wickham Park, Manchester
• Live results: nestiming.com
• Defending champs: Tolland girls; Danbury boys
• What’s at stake: The opportunity to advance to the New England championships on Nov. 14 at Thetford (Vt.) Academy. Qualifiers will be the top six teams and the top 25 individual finishers from each race.
• What to watch for: Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi has a chance to become the fourth female runner to win three straight class and Open titles. The Amity boys will be vying for their first Open crown. The Tolland girls are seeking a three-peat.