Above: Highlights for senior quarterback Ryan Dunn, who threw for 2,371 yards and 27 touchdowns and led Ridgefield to the Class LL playoffs in 2013.
- Coach: Kevin Callahan (16th year, 112-51-1)
- Conference: FCIAC Central
- Playoff Class: LL (919 boys enrollment)
- Home: Lancaster Field at Tiger Hollow, Ridgefield
- 2013 Record: 10-3 (7-2 FCIAC, 5-0 Central champion, lost to Southington in Class LL semifinals)
- 2014 Kickoff: Sept. 10 at Cheshire, 6 p.m.
- Captains: Daniel Peckham, Ryan Dunn, James Turner, James Hesemeyer, Austin Drukker
- Team website: Ridgefieldfootball.com | MaxPreps page
- Ryan Dunn, Sr. QB (5-11, 160)
- Austin Drukker, Sr. OL/DL (6-0, 220)
- Daniel Peckham, Sr. WR/DB (6-2, 180)
- James Hesemeyer, Sr. WR/LB (6-1, 205)
- Jackson Turek, Jr. RB/WR/DB (5-10, 170)
- Leo Grizzaffi, Jr. OL/DL (5-11, 230)
- Patrick Lang, Soph. LB/RB (5-10, 185)
Will Bonaparte, RB (Maryland lacrosse); Andrew Chuma, WR (PG Suffield Academy, committed to Lafayette) Micky Carbone, RB/DB; Aidan Mauro, WR/DB; Lucas Goff, OL/DL; Michael Nyland, OL/DL; Matt Kissell, OL/DL; Wyatt Hemley, OL/DL
Ridgefield in 2013 did what it typically does: Play above expectations and compete for a state playoff spot. Ridgefield has been to four state playoffs under coach Kevin Callahan, two in the last three years.
Last year’s Tigers went 9-2, managed to sneak in at the No. 8 spot where they upset No. 1-seeded Newtown in the Class LL first round before eventual champion Southington unceremoniously showed them the door, 45-0. “We had some good players, but we weren’t overflowing in talent,” Callahan said. “But our kids, they bought in. They bought into what they had to do and we had a great season.”
Callahan’s hoping for more of the same in 2014. But even he knows it’ll be tougher for Ridgefield to pull same feat again. Twenty-four seniors graduated, including All-State tailback Will Bonaparte and his 2,260 all-purpose yards and clutch WR/DB Andrew Chuma, who’s now at Suffield Academy and is committed to play at Lafayette.
Oh, and returning senior James Turner, who was poised to have a big year as the new tailback, tore his ACL on the last play of an early scrimmage. “The buzzer sounded and he planted his foot in the ground, turned his knee and tore everything,” Callahan said. “It was such a shame because he worked the hardest out of everybody in the offsesason.”
Ridgefield’s now down to four returning starters, all captains.
Luckily, one of them is senior quarterback Ryan Dunn, who had an outstanding first full year as the starter. Dunn threw for 2,371 yards and 27 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions and is one of the FCIAC’s top-returning quarterbacks.
But Dunn will have an entirely new team around him with the exception of Austin Drukker and Leo Grizzaffi, the Tigers’ only returning linemen. Fellow captains Dan Peckham and James Hesemeyer caught just 14 passes between them last season and junior Jackson Turek moves from slot receiver to tailback to replace Turner. “We think we have good skill players,” Callahan said. “Our receivers have started to gel and we’re pretty happy about that.”
Three starters return on the defense which “is a work in progress,” Callahan said. Peckham made 51 tackles and three interceptions as a defensive back. Hesemeyer made 56 tackles and had two sacks at linebacker. Grizzaffi and Drukker will man the defensive lines.
After that? “We’re starting sophomores all over the place,” Callahan said.
One of them he’s particularly excited about is linebacker Patrick Lang, who’s beginning to look the part at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. “He’s the type of kid that you watch and say, ‘Woah, who’s that?’ He doesn’t play like a sophomore.” Callahan said. And there’ll likely be a few more underclassmen who’ll emerge.
Though Ridgefield looks as if it’s building for a bright future, outside of a few rough matchups, the schedule is favorable enough to expect a winning season, perhaps more. Ridgefield kicks off the Connecticut football season vs. Cheshire on Sept. 10 in the first game of the SCC/FCIAC Challenge. It’ll also face St. Joseph, Notre Dame-WH and Darien.
- Sept. 10 — at Cheshire, 6 p.m.
- Sept. 19 — at Fairfield Ludlowe, 7 p.m.**
- Sept. 26 — St. Joseph, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 2 — Notre Dame-West Haven, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 10 — Stamford, 7 p.m.**
- Oct. 17 — Harding, 7 p.m.**
- Oct. 24 — Darien, 7 p.m.*
- Oct. 31 — at Norwalk, 6 p.m.**
- Nov. 7 — at McMahon, 7 p.m.**
- Nov. 14 — Wilton, 6 p.m.*
- Nov. 26 — at Danbury, 6 p.m.*