By John Nestor
Coming off a tough season the Conard High School football team is looking to return to its winning ways.
The Chieftans went 2-8 last season, a drop off from the previous year when they won their first nine games and earned a berth in the state Class LL playoffs.
Conard won its opener last season and was 2-3 after five games before ending the season with a five-game losing streak. It’s not that the Chieftains weren’t competitive as they lost some close games that they might have pulled out the year before.
CCC FOOTBALL CAPSULES
Two of those final five losses were in overtime, including a 31-28 loss to cross-town rival Hall.
The Warriors also handed the Chieftains their lone regular season setback the year before, so Conard will definitely be looking for payback when the West Hartford rivals meet st Conard Stadium on November, 23.
But the rival game is along way off and the Chieftains are more concerned with starting the season off on the right foot. They open with Newington at home on Saturday. Newington won last season’s matchup, 41-16, in Newington in November.
Conard had scrimmages against Hartford Public, Bristol Eastern and defending Class L champ Daniel Hand in preparation for the upcoming season.
Coach Rob Cersosimo is back for another season on the sidelines for Conard as he has been since 1984. He will be looking to his seniors for leadership this season including tight end Caleb Larosate, offensive lineman Chris Kranmas and running back Deron Johnson. The offense is expected to be led by junior quarterback Ryan Bell.
Bell will be getting play calls from Rob Cersosimo’s son Matt, who is back at Conard as the team’s offensive coordinator. Matt started at quarterback as a junior and senior under his dad at Conard and was Class L All-State as a senior.
Matt resigned his position as defensive backs coach at UConn to come back to Conard and he will be bringing plenty of experience and a history of success with him.
Matt was at UConn for eight years and a member of the staff that led the Huskies to a BCS Bowl, a Fiesta Bowl matchup with Oklahoma in January of 2011.
The Cersosimo’s get to start the season not only together again but at home for their first two games as East Hartford pays a visit on Sept. 28. The Chieftains then hit the road for three straight games (New Britain, Simsbury and Manchester) before a tough home game against highly-regarded Southington.
Another tough game at Glastonbury on November 1 starts the home stretch of the season and Conard then has South Windsor at home and RHAM on the road before the season-ending grudge match with Hall.
Coach: Rob Cersosimo
Last Year: 2-8
Home games: Conard High Stadium Field, West Hartford
Power Source: Lights
Top players: Ryan Bell, Jr., QB; Deron Johnson, Sr., RB; Caleb Larosate, Sr., TE.
Outlook: The Chieftains should be able to improve on last season’s win total. Conard is expected to have a solid running game, with Johnson as its go-to back.