- COACH — HARRY BELLUCCI (16th year, 80-74-1)
- CONFERENCE — CCC Division II East
- PLAYOFF CLASS — L (600 boys enrollment)
- HOME — Hartford Public High School
- 2017 RECORD — 2-8
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 7 at Bristol Central, 6 p.m.
- TEAM WEBSITE — FACEBOOK — hartfordpublicfootball, TWITTER — @HPHSFootball, @coachbellucci
- JERMAINE JONES, Sr., QB-DB (5-9, 170)
- MALACHI RANDOLPH, Jr., LB (5-11, 225)
- JARIER PEREZ, Jr., DL-OL (5-11, 235)
- RYAN WEST, Sr., FS (6-2, 170)
- MELVIN FLORES, Jr., OLB (5-8, 155)
- KAHARI PALMER, Jr., OLB (5-8, 175)
- TYLER McCLENNON, Jr., WR (5-9, 175)
- OC JOHNSON, Sr., WR (5-9, 155)
RB/LB Lavarey Banton (All-State, UConn), WR/CB Leon Campbell (SCSU), QB Joemar Scott, WR/FS Zinodene Stewart (SCSU)
A year ago, the offensive approach at Hartford Public High was rather simple. Put the ball in Lavarey Banton’s hands and watch him do his thing.
Banton rushed for 1,359 yards, scored 15 touchdowns and notched six 100-plus yard rushing games as a senior at Hartford Public. And as a defensive back, he had 146 total tackles, including eight for loss, and added one sack.
Banton is now at UConn as a preferred walk-on and his old team back at Nook Farm is left with a gaping hole on offense.
The solution? This season, Coach Harry Bellucci will put the ball in the hands of the best returning offensive player and see what he can do. Senior Jermaine Jones had 42 receptions last season and is an athletic player, but Bellucci needs to get him the ball.
So Jones will shift to quarterback, despite little experience at the position. Jones has a strong arm, but he’ll also run the option to take advantage of his speed and skill.
“We made the decision because we felt he was our best option,” said Bellucci, embarking on his 16th season as Hartford Public coach. “The young man who played freshman and JV quarterback is just not ready physically for the demands of the position.”
How is Jones adjusting? Just fine, Bellucci says.
“Still getting used to pass rush coming at him, but progressing rapidly in learning his reads and keys,” Bellucci said.
Bellucci also identifies Jones as one of the best defensive backs in the state, a player with Division II and Division III college options in his future.
“He is a high character, good leader and skilled athlete,” Bellucci said.
On defense, Jones will lead an athletic and more experienced unit that includes junior linebacker Malachi Randolph (54 tackles), 235-pound junior lineman Jarier Perez and senior defensive back Ryan West.
There is athleticism and experience on the roster, but the Owls lack depth. That’s not uncommon for Hartford schools.
“With five teams in Hartford, we are struggling with numbers,” Bellucci said.
And no one knows the landscape of high school football in the state capital better than Bellucci, who has roamed the sidelines at city schools for 39 years. After 23 years as an assistant at Bulkeley, he moved to Hartford Public and has compiled an 80-74-1 record over 15 seasons.
The Owls were 2-8 last season, following a pair of 3-7 seasons. The program that won a state title in 1994 had a run of five consecutive winning seasons before 2015.
- Sept. 7 — at Bristol Central*, 6 p.m.
- Sept. 15 — MALONEY*, 1 p.m.
- Sept. 22 — MIDDLETOWN**, 1 p.m.
- Sept. 29 — ENFIELD*, 1 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Wethersfield*, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 19 — at Farmington**, 6:30 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — at Bristol Eastern*, 6:30 p.m.
- Nov. 3 — WINDSOR**, 1 p.m.
- Nov. 9 — at E.O. Smith**, 6 p.m.
- Nov. 22 — BULKELEY/HMTCA/WEAVER, 10 p.m.
Home games in CAPS
* Conference game
** Division game