The 2019 Central Connecticut Conference football previews, with links to full team preview pages, compiled by the GameTimeCT staff based off interviews and coaches who responded to questionnaires.
DIVISION I EAST
The Hornets graduated electric, first-team all-state players Raquan Tompkins and Jaquan Allen from last year’s 8-2 team that just missed the playoffs. They’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate that feat again, with just six seniors back.
Wyatt Raymond, a recent Yale commit at receiver, returns alongside QB Cody Stager and RB Tallon Stager for the Eagles, who are hoping to continue their rise after a 4-6 campaign.
The Tomahawks have some big boys up front and new coach Eric Hennessey hopes they can pave the way back to the state playoffs after a three-year absence.
The newly-christened Red Hawks graduated much of last year’s squad that went 4-6 and will be looking for new playmakers to fill the void.
Anthony Bellizzi returns for his second season at quarterback as the Bobcats look to back bounce after winless season.
DIVISION I WEST
The Chieftains come into the season with plenty of questions, especially in the offensive backfield and up front. Whoever emerges at quarterback will have a wealth of receivers at his disposal.
Coach Frank Robinson III is relying on his defense, the run game and Sr. QB Matt Keller to improve on last year’s 3-7 record. He’s expecting the junior class to fill the gaps.
The Hurricanes went 9-2 and reached the Class LL playoffs last season, but now look to reload after graduating an All-State caliber backfield, led by Shawn Robinson. Monte Dickson takes over at QB and has a weapon in Tarik Hetmyer. Six-foot-4, 320-pound senior lineman Yasser Vasquez will be a handful for any opponent.
Nine starters return on offense and eight on defense from last year’s 5-5 team, including junior WR Jeffrey Coleman. But the Trojans have to break in a new quarterback. Tommy Guilfoyle and Mohammed Harron are tough at linebacker.
Several key cogs in the spread offense have graduated, including the QB, but a strong group of linebackers return. The Blue Knights should be just fine, as always.
DIVISION II EAST
Senior DE Isiah Lovell is back to terrorize opposing defenses after injuries curtailed his junior season. The Panthers have experience on the lines, but are looking for new playmakers to step up.
With a good returning class, including second-year QB Jacob Conrad and WR Niko Bouzakis, the Indians are hoping to take the next step after last year’s 6-4 season, their best since 2013.
Malachi Randolph, Kahari Palmer and Melvin Flores return as a formidable linebacking corps for the Owls, who are looking to improve on last year’s 2-8 record.
Thanks to heavy graduation losses, the Blue Dragons will be challenged in every way this year if they hope to continue its long postseason streak. They’ve been in this spot before.
The Warriors have made a home in the state playoffs under Rob Fleeting — 7 of out last 8 years, in fact. Expect more of the same in 2019, even with some holes to fill on the lines. Won’t hurt to have hoops star Amir ‘Primo’ Spears joining the squad at WR, either.
DIVISION II WEST
Coming off a 5-5 season, coach Jeff Papazian is hoping his talented, athletic and young playmakers — including sophomore QB Victor Rosa, and receivers Ian Staubley and Galen Hickey — can take the next step.
Winless a year ago, the Lancers are anxious to prove last year’s struggles are behind them. QB Bryce Curtin returns alongside 10 other starters, including top receiver Elijah Gagliardo and three offensive linemen.
The Spartans graduated much of their Class L runner-up team, especially on the offensive side. They’ll have to rely on lineman Trevor Santiago and 1,000-yard rusher James Tarver to continue their run of winning seasons.
Give the ball to Roberto Salas and let him run the rock. That’s what Platt hopes to do this season as they look to return to the postseason, this time in a wide-open Class M.
It’s a new era at Wethers as top assistant Matt McKinnon takes over as coach. He’s blessed with a determined senior class, led by Matt Silver, Connor Pace and linemen Ryan Berasi and Jake Whittaker.
DIVISION III EAST
The Falcons are ina transition period after a 2-8 season and will be fielding a team largely made up of juniors and sophomores.
The Redcoats were hit hard by graduation and two key transfers, but the Redcoats are simply massive up front and return All-Stater Zach Hrubiec to make another playoff run (albeit this time in Class L).
The Bulldogs went winless in 2018, only scoring 28 points and getting shut out in six of their 10 games. They’re looking to snap an 11-game losing streak dating back to a 14-9 victory over Tolland in 2017.
The Spartans went 0-10 a year ago in the Pequot League and have lost 13 straight dating back to 2017. Is this a good time to make the leap into CCC football? Coach John Oko and the Spartans have no choice. They hope to take advantage of big QB Colby Nordstrom and his tailbacks running out of the wishbone.
Multi-talented senior Ryan Carlson returns to help the Eagles take the next step after a 5-5 season. They’ll have inspiration from their coach, Scott Cady, who was diagnosed with cancer but is determined to coach through it.
DIVISION III WEST
The defending Class S champions lose All-State back Ky’Juon Butler. But the Warhawks are returning just about everybody else: A strong defensive line, receivers Anthony Simpson and Javon Massey, and third-year starting quarterback QB Daron Bryden (37 TDs). They’re the team to beat again.
East Catholic has a new crop of players to run the double wing, including juniors Mick O’Connor and Chris Connell. Numbers remain a concern for coach Steve Calande.
With most of last year’s team returning, including LB/TE Skye Dolce and QB Connor Rich, the Lions are hoping to contend for a Class S playoff berth.
The Blue Devils lost three-year starting QB Frank Griffin, but plenty return in hopes of righting last year’s wrongs and finally reach the state playoffs.
Coach Richard Dance returns to his alma mater in hopes of rejuvinating the Terriers, who are just a couple years removed from playing for a state championship.