- COACH — TY OUTLAW (9th year, 64-24)
- CONFERENCE — CCC Division III West
- PLAYOFF CLASS — S (283 boys enrollment)
- HOME — Phil Rubin Stadium, Bloomfield
- 2017 RECORD — 8-2
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 7 vs. Plainville, 7 p.m.
- TEAM WEBSITE — MaxPreps | TWITTER — @BWarhawksFB
- KY’JUON BUTLER, Sr. RB (5-9, 195)
- ANTHONY SIMPSON, Sr. WR/RB (5-11, 180)
- DARON BRYDEN, Soph. QB (5-11)
- MOETH GONZALEZ, Sr. C (6-0, 250)
- KYLE BARROW, Sr. DE (6-2, 205)
- CHE’SAIH HIL-GORE, Sr. OG (6-0, 260)
- JHAKI GUNTER, Sr. OL/DL (6-5, 285)
LB Christian Grant, DE Karl Powell, WR/DB Kamren Watkins (transfer to Loomis)
Bloomfield’s returning players and coaches believe they were one of the best teams in the Class S field last season. The Warhawks, a perennial playoff team that had won a state championship over Ansonia in 2015, finished 8-2, losing only to Rocky Hill and Berlin by a combined 17 points.
But it was one loss too many to qualify. Bloomfield finished ninth in the Class S standings, three points behind Seymour for the final playoff spot.
The disappointment has stuck with the returning players. They’re anxious to produce a different outcome in 2018.
“We were really upset last year we didn’t get in,” coach Ty Outlaw said. “The kids fought hard all year to beat teams like Glastonbury and RHAM. We felt like we had a shot to get in, we just came up short.
“We’re trying to prove that we’re a playoff team.”
On paper, at least, the Warhawks look as if they have the right pieces in place. Seven, mostly two-way starters return to push this club back over the top.
It starts with senior Ky’Juon Butler, whom Outlaw calls the “one of the best, if not the best running back in the state, by far.”
Butler, a four-year starter who played as a freshman on Bloomfield’s Class S championship team, ran for 1,714 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and has 2,442 rushing yards and 19 TDs for his career. Butler also was a team leader at linebacker, with 6.2 tackles per game, seven for a loss, a couple sacks and an interception. Outlaw said Central Connecticut State would love to get Butler to join former Warhawk Dexter Lawson on its roster.
“He started as a freshman and, now as a senior, he’s turned all that baby fat into muscle,” Outlaw said. “He moves real well. He’s exciting to watch. I think it’s going to be a big year for him.”
Butler has the luxury of running behind three-to-four returning starting linemen, led by senior center Moeth Gonzalez and guard Che’Saih Hil-Gore, two brick houses at 6-feet, and over 250 pounds. “They’ve been playing together for a good while,” Outlaw said of his boys up front. “They know each other well, they do track together, working out together… waiting for this moment.”
Outlaw is also expecting a big year out of his quarterback, Daron Bryden. The sophomore has been well-known to football observers for years thanks to high-profile media exposure spurred on by his father, Craig. Bryden has maintained an active social media presence, has a penchant for playing in national all-star youth teams and was the subject of a national brouhaha stirred by a Rivals.com recruiting profile back in 2015, when he was a still a sixth grader at Enfield Middle School.
I’m so proud of my son @DaronQB. He showed Florida coaches/scouts that being from Connecticut doesn’t matter he beat a lot of studs who lives in Florida. Daron came in 2nd to Nick Vattiato by 2 points. Nick has 3 D1 offers. Putting Connecticut and #AirAttackFamily on MAP! #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/VGOt2rlix2
— Deaf QB Coach (@DeafQBCoach) July 23, 2018
Hype and all, Bryden arrived at Bloomfield last summer and started as a freshman. He didn’t disappoint, throwing for 1,676 yards (.673 completion percentage) and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Outlaw says his young star has grown another three inches and has added another 40 pounds to his now 5-foot-11 frame. “He was a little guy running around out there. We used to kid him that he had a baby arm,” Outlaw said. “But he works out really hard, goes to a lot of camps and has really put in the work.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start for a freshman. Yea, it was nerve-wracking for him to go from playing youth football right into varsity. But he’s handled it well. He still has a lot to learn, but he’s matured a lot. He’s smart, he’s hungry and he’s exciting to watch.”
Bryden will have plenty of weapons from which to choose, Outlaw said. In addition to Butler, the Warhawks also return junior receiver and tailback Anthony Simpson, who caught 40 passes for 646 yards and eight touchdowns and had 1,500 all-purpose yards, overall. Seniors Myles Davis and David Robinson and junior Mike Raiford will also be targets. “We have some weapons,” Outlaw said. “You can’t just look at one person.”
Defensively, the Warhawks should again be strong with Butler leading the squad at linebacker and Simpson at cornerback. The team welcomed back senior corner Alfonzo Stokes, who also played as a freshman, from a year’s sabbatical.
The Warhawks will be led up front by 6-foot-5, 285-pound nose tackle Jhaki Gunter and junior terror Kyle Barrows at defensive end. Barrows made seven tackles a game and had six sacks as a sophomore. They will be counted on to replace the 13 sacks graduated end Karl Powell produced last year.
Bloomfield kicks off with two key games in the CCC. The first against an improved Plainville squad at home. The following week they’ll face rival and Rocky Hill in a game that always seems to determine a spot in the Class S playoffs. Bloomfield is 3-6 vs. the Terriers in the last nine meetings, but has won two of the last three. The season’s biggest tests figure to come in November when the Hawks face Berlin, RHAM and Glastonbury.
Outlaw, for his part, is confident.
“We’re going to be pretty hard to beat this year,” he said.
- Sept. 7 — PLAINVILLE,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Rocky Hill,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — TOLLAND,* 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — EAST CATHOLIC,** 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — BULKELEY/HMTCA/WEAVER,* 7 p.m.
- Oct. 20 — at Avon,* 1 p.m.
- Oct. 27 — at Northwest Catholic,** 10:30 a.m.
- Nov. 2 — BERLIN,* 7 p.m.
- Nov. 10 — at RHAM,* 1 p.m.
- Nov. 20 — at Glastonbury,* 6:30 p.m.
Home games in CAPS