- COACH — JOE DELLA VECCHIA (21st year, 137-89)
- CONFERENCE — FCIAC East
- PLAYOFF CLASS — Class M (372 boys enrolled)
- HOME — Dalling Field, St. Joseph HS, Trumbull
- 2017 RECORD — 12-1 (Class S State Champions)
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 8 vs. New Canaan, 1:30 p.m.
- TEAM WEBSITE — StJoesHogsFootball.com, Maxpreps, TWITTER — @STJHogs
- DAVID SUMMERS Sr., QB, (6-3, 210)
- PHIL PASMEG, Sr., TE/LB, (6-0, 220)
- ROBERT MIHALY, Sr., OL, (6-3, 240)
- JESSE LAWSON, Sr., LB, (5-9, 190)
- DARREN WARREN, Sr., DB, (5-8, 180)
- ACE LUZIETTI, Sr., DB, (5-10, 175)
- WILL DIAMANTIS, Jr., WR, (6-2, 180)
- JESSE BIKE, Sr., WR, (6-0, 165)
- JADEN SHIRDEN, Jr., RB, (5-8, 180)
- JERMAINE WILLIAMS, Jr., NG, (5-11, 290)
- MIKE MORRISSEY, Jr., DE, (6-0, 195)
WR Jared Mallozzi (All-State, Central Connecticut State), DB Mike DiIorio (All-State), LB Jude Andrzejewski (All-State), SS Conner Murphy, G Jesse Veilluex
It must be good to be Joe Della Vecchia.
Quarterback David Summers, 2017’s consensus All-State first team quarterback and Maryland commit, is back at St. Joseph after throwing football’s version of a complete game, five-hitter — 15-of-30 for 265 yards, five touchdowns and one interception — in the 2017 Class S final against Ansonia.
So is Phil Pasmeg, an All-State first team tight end, and several other starters from last season’s 12-1 state championship team.
With the season opener a little more than one week away, expectations appear to be at an all-time high.
“Our expectations are to get back into the playoffs, and hopefully to get back into the championship again and make another run at it,” Della Vecchia said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of experienced kids back. There’s no reason [not] to have those goals.”
Della Vecchia is no stranger to grandiose expectations. When you’re head coach of one of the state’s most storied programs, they simply come with the territory. Anything short of the playoffs is deemed a failure. Della Vecchia knows it. His players know it.
St. Joseph has won 13 CIAC titles, including five under Della Vecchia, who started coaching at the small Catholic school in Trumbull back in 1998. Only Ansonia has won more (20).
“Expectations are really high,” senior free safety Ace Luzietti said. “We want to be the best team in the state and we want to win a state championship. That goes for every year, though.”
Of course, it’s not every year that Della Vecchia has the luxury of barking orders to a heralded Division-I bound quarterback. Summers — whom 247Sports ranks as the No. 32 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2019 — made life easier for everyone in maroon and gold last year. He passed for 3,227 yards and a school-record 49 touchdowns, including four in the second half of St. Joseph’s 42-36 come-from-behind win over Ansonia last December.
“He can make every throw that we have,” Della Vecchia said of Summers, who committed to Maryland in May. “He can make every decision that he needs to make. Not only is he quick to get rid of the ball and to make his decisions, but he gets us in plays — we always tell him to get us in a winning situation.”
Added Luzietti, one of seven returning starters on defense: “[He] helps us a lot of on defense, too. In practice, we get to go up against what I think is the best offense in the state every day.”
While the Hogs graduated All-State wide receiver Jared Mallozzi, who led the team with 74 catches for 1,052 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017, they return eight starters.
Included in that group are two linemen, a 1,000-yard rusher in Jaden Shirden, and wide receivers William Diamantis and Jesse Bike. Pasmeg, the team’s leading returning receiver, is currently sidelined with a leg injury, according to Della Vecchia.
It’s now up to Della Vecchia — and by extension, Summers — to make the pieces fit.
“He’s got a great grasp on what we’re trying to do,” Della Vecchia said. “He’s definitely the leader, and as he goes, we’re going to go.”
Summers said Tuesday that he made it a goal to wrap up the recruiting process before the start of the season so that he could focus solely on his last year of high school.
He said he feels bigger and stronger, and Della Vecchia noted that his throws appear to have more zip on them than a year ago.
“We have plenty of guys all around the offense,” Summers said. “It’ll be fun.”
The Hogs, who were bumped up to Class M this season due to the new tournament success modifier for “schools of choice,” — a rule Della Vecchia is vehemently against — will face plenty of competition in the FCIAC, beginning Sept. 8 against New Canaan at home.
“I don’t agree with the rule, why we bumped up,” he said. “That bothers me. I felt like we were targeted for that. We are what we are in terms of enrollment. People can believe what they want to believe about what goes on here.
“Our kids are no different than any other kids. Most of our kids that come here have never played football before. I thought we’ve done a pretty good job at developing some kids.”
They also host three-time defending Class LL champion Darien on Sept. 22 and make trips to Ridgefield, Staples and rival Trumbull later in the season.
In Della Vecchia’s mind, the FCIAC is as strong as it’s been in close to a decade.
“Those years [2009 and 2010], the conference was incredible,” Della Vecchia said. “Even the teams that were in the middle of the conference and the teams that ended up at the bottom, I thought they were still good teams. They were still tough teams. I think that’s the case this year.”
- Sept. 8 — NEW CANAAN,* 1:30 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — vs. Fairfield Warde** (at Fairfield Ludlowe) 7 p.m.
- Sept. 22 — DARIEN,** 1:30 p.m.
- Sept. 29 — WILTON,** 1:30 p.m.
- Oct. 5 — at Ridgefield,** 7 p.m.
- Oct. 20 — STAMFORD,** 1:30 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — at Bridgeport Central,** 7 p.m.
- Nov. 2 — at Staples,** 7 p.m.
- Nov. 10 — BRIEN MCMAHON, ** 1:30 p.m.
- Nov. 22 — at Trumbull, * 10 a.m.
Home games in CAPS