COACH — MITCHELL ROSS (3rd year, 8-12)
CONFERENCE — FCIAC West
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (765 boys enrollment)
HOME — Taft Field, Ludlowe High School, Fairfield
2018 RECORD — 7-3
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 at Darien, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — FairfieldFalconFootball.org | Maxpreps | TWITTER: @FalconFootball2
Colin Wilson QB, Aidan Wykoff WR/S, Brian Howell WR/S, Jake Northrup WR/LB, Kevin Quinn TB/OLB
How do you explain Fairfield Ludlowe posting its best season in 47 years when the Falcons went 7-3 in 2018?
“They were hungry for a new style of play, a new direction,” third-year coach Mitchell Ross said. “It didn’t happen overnight, but some of the habits took time to correct. There was a culture change and they embraced it.”
Ross took control of the program after Ludlowe went 0-10 in 2016. The next season the Falcons won only one game, but progress was being made.
“Practice was fine, but in the first half of that season they reverted back to those bad habits,” said Ross, who came to Fairfield after being an assistant coach at Darien since 2005. “We played well the second half of 2017 and last year we were on point.”
How will the Falcons fare with only five starters returning and a gutted passing attack. The heavy graduation losses were QB Colin Wilson, and top targets like all-stater Brian Howell, Aidan Wykoff and Jake Northrup, who combined to catch a whopping 140 passes for over 2,000 yards and 19 TDs.
“The players took on the offseason work, including 7-on-7 (tournaments),” Ross said. “Skill-wise, I know we can compete with anyone in the tri-state area. But it takes years to get the line’s strength up to where it needs to be.
“We are extremely young. We have so many players (including first-year seniors) that haven’t played in a game. I wish we had them all as freshmen, but we welcome everyone. How it reflects on our record remains to be seen.”
Ludlowe has appointed six captains: Carlos Moreno, Nick Macri, Joe Falletta, James Bourque, Quinn Pavoz and Dylan Fragomeni. “It is a big group and they all deserve it,” Ross said.
Pavoz takes over at quarterback for the graduated Colin Wilson, who threw for 2,813 yards with 26 touchdowns a year ago.
“Quinn is a lefty quarterback and played well in the 7-on-7s,” Ross said. “He reads defenses and is precise with his throws.”
Bourque will be a mainstay at running back.
Collin Fleming (23 catches, 329 yards, 4 TDs), Marino (16, 238 yards 2 TDs), Fragomeni (15 catches, 214 yards, TD), and Drew Smith are the top returning receivers.
Macri, Falletta, Lucas Mayer and Travis Hayden lead the offensive line.
Nolan Izzo, who backed up Victor Cunha last year, takes over as the primary placekicker.
“Nolan Izzo is a tremendous kicker,” Ross said of the junior. “He is stronger and is outstanding with field goals and kickoffs.”
Falletta and Mayer will be at defensive end in Ludlowe’s three-man front, with competition ongoing for the nose guard position. Denholm Feldman and Harry Chander are inside linebackers.
Playing outside will be Bourque (82 tackles, 5 for losses), Macri (72 tackles, 5 for losses) and Jack Morison (28 tackles, 4 for losses, QB sack).
Marino (26 tackles, 3 INTs), Drew Buckley, Zack Hathaway and Fleming will be in the secondary.
“Our numbers are good,” Ross said, noting that there were approximately 100 at the start of fall practice. “But we are short on depth on the line. The program is trending positive. There is competition for every single skill position.
“We have a way to go, but last season out of 22 starters seven who filled positions had never played football at the high school level. There is always a lot of coaching needed to get these athletes to be football players.”
It’ll have to be a crash course because the Falcons kick off the season at Class LL playoff contender Darien. They also face nearby Fairfield Prep for the first time since 1951 (Prep holds a 6-2 edge in the series, which was played beginning in 1944).
Otherwise, the schedule doesn’t really go uphill until November when the Falcons wrap up the season at Trumbull, vs. defending Class LL champion Greenwich, at Danbury and then vs. rival Warde on Thanksgiving.
“We have a harder schedule (three Class LL playoff teams), with Darien to open, Fairfield Prep in the third game and Greenwich later. Then there is the rest of the FCIAC, which is never easy. We as a team have to keep taking steps.”
Sept. 13 — at Darien,** 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Westhill,** 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 — FAIRFIELD PREP, Noon
Oct. 4 — at Norwalk,** 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL,** 10 a.m.
Oct. 26 — at Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech,** 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 — at TRUMBULL,** 6 p.m.
Nov. 8 — GREENWICH,** 6 p.m.
Nov. 15 — at Danbury,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 — FAIRFIELD WARDE,* 10:30 a.m.