- COACH — KEVIN CALLAHAN (19th year, 131-66-1)
- CONFERENCE — FCIAC East
- PLAYOFF CLASS — Class LL (834 boys enrolled)
- HOME — Lancaster Field at Tiger Hollow, Ridgefield
- 2017 RECORD — 7-3
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 7 at Darien, 7 p.m.
- TEAM WEBSITE — MaxPreps | TWITTER — @RidgefieldFBall
- JACKSON MITCHELL, Sr., WR/DE, (6-2, 210)
- NICK HALL, Sr., OL/DL, (6-1, 165)
- BEN SEWARD, Sr., RB/LB (5-11, 190)
- DYLAN BEAN, Sr., LB, (5-8, 175)
- LUKE FAILLACI, Sr., WR/DB, (5-8, 140)
- EVAN WEIN, Sr., WR/DB, (5-9, 145)
- PETER BEHNKE, Sr., OL, (6-1, 265)
QB Greg Gatto, LB Ryan McCann, DL Jason Donovan, LB Noah Isaacson, DL John Schneider, WR/DB Luke Gaydos
Behind a profilic offense and aggressive defense, the Ridgefield football team was one of the tops in Connecticut by the time the state playoffs rolled around last November.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, a tough FCIAC schedule that included close losses to Greenwich (Class LL runner-up) and St. Joseph (Class S champion) kept them out of a repeat trip to the postseason.
Add in a season-opening defeat to Darien (Class LL champion), and all three losses came against state finalists.
The FCIAC gauntlet will again be in the way this term as Ridgefield faces those three squads as part of one of the most difficult schedules in the state.
“Our expectation is to play after Thanksgiving and the kids know that,” Tigers coach Kevin Callahan said. “We’re a little unproven, but the kids expect to progress. We play the fourth- or fifth-hardest schedule in the state, playing everyone except for New Canaan. We’re going to cannibalize ourselves in this league which is a little unfortunate because we feel any of us can compete in Class LL.”
The Tigers thrived through the air behind the arm of the graduated quarterback Greg Gatto, one of the top signal callers in the state. Callahan has a pair of underclassmen vying for the starting QB job: Sophomore Declan McNamara and junior Owen Mathews, each with their own unique skill sets. The Tigers participated in 24 weeks of passing leagues to gear up for the new season.
“Declan is a kid who is pretty athletic and has football smarts,” Callahan said. “Owen has the arm to make every throw. They’re both doing a great job making it difficult for us, but it’s nice to see because they’re competing and it’s healthy.”
The Tigers bring back a dangerous weapon in Jackson Mitchell, who had 80 catches for 1,124 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The 6-foot-2 UConn commit will provide a security blanket for whoever is throwing him the ball.
He’ll also be a key player defensively. After spending his first two years of varsity in the front seven, Mitchell will be counted on to play both linebacker and edge rusher once more.
“We’ll use him in every way possible, even have him run with the cross country team,” Callahan joked. “We would be crazy not to. He’s going to be inside and outside (at receiver) and all over on defense.”
Ridgefield must replace several key standouts in the front seven, including Noah Isaacson and John Schnieder. But the Tigers plan to reload here with another talented crop, with Nick Hall and Peter Behnke set to take up key positions along the defensive line. James Isaacson, Evan Wein and Luke Faillaci will lead the secondary.
“Right now our defense is ahead of our offense,” Callahan said. “I think we’re going to lean on them earlier in the season just because we’re replacing so many people. This group has bought in and I’ve never had the turnout in weight room.”
Ridgefield will venture down to the coast Week 1 to visit defending Class LL champion Darien in one of the top matchups on the FCIAC calendar. St. Joseph and Greenwich make the trip to Tiger Hollow this year; home field in these two contests could determine the Tigers’ postseason fate this time around.
- Sept. 7 — at Darien**, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — STAMFORD**, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at Bridgeport Central**, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — STAPLES**, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — ST. JOSEPH**, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 20 — at Wilton**, 2 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — MCMAHON**, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 2 — GREENWICH*, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 9 — at Fairfield Warde**, 6 p.m.
- Nov. 21 — at Danbury*, 6 p.m.
Home games in CAPS