COACH — SEAN IRELAND (9th year, 41-40)
CONFERENCE — FCIAC West
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (948 boys enrollment)
HOME — Testa Field, Norwalk
2018 RECORD — 5-5
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 vs. Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — Maxpreps; TWITTER — @NorwalkHighFB
WR/S Jaki Elliott, WR/CB Khalil Eason (St. Thomas More), RB/CB Jakari Walker
With a three-year starter at quarterback and a line that features size and experience, Norwalk’s offense is sure to light up the scoreboard this season.
That’s nothing new, actually — the Bears topped 40 points four times last year and hung 35 on rival Brien McMahon during a Thanksgiving day win.
Now, if the defense, which allowed 33 points per game, takes a step forward, Norwalk could be primed to move from a .500 team and into state contention.
“We’re very excited,” coach Sean Ireland said. “We’ve got a lot of returning starters, which is good, and we have some underclassmen that add to what we’re doing. But we also know this is the hardest league in the state and if we overlook any team, it’ll bite us in the butt. It’s a cliche, but if we take it one game at a time, I think we’ll be very happy with our results.”
Leading the way for the Bears is Kyle Gordon, who took over as the starting quarterback during his sophomore year two seasons ago.
A dual threat through the air and on the ground, Gordon career numbers include 3,094 yards and 31 touchdowns passing, and 1,168 yards and seven TDs rushing. Last season, he had 1,728 passing yards and had 699 rushing yards, surpassing 100 yards on the ground twice.
Gordon, a co-captain alongside senior lineman Sam Papp, is a big plus for the Bears both on and off the field.
“He’s another coach on the field,” Ireland said. “He knows exactly what every single person is supposed to be doing on every play, and he’s just a great kid to be around too.”
Gordon will be well protected as the Bears return their O-line intact from last season. They’re led by the 6-foot-6, 276-pound Papp, and feature Lorenzo Delfino (6-0, 245), a junior, and Aaron Epps (6-1, 215), Chris Vitti (5-10, 200), and CJ Major (5-8, 236), all seniors.
“We have five offensive linemen coming back and they’re a very cohesive group,” Ireland said. “They’re always together and they’re always hanging out. Realistically, we’re going as far as they take us.”
The Bears lost a couple of key weapons in WR/CB Khalil Eason, who is now at St. Thomas More, and leading rusher Jakari Walker, but appear to have plenty of talent to keep the offense humming.
Junior AJ Robinson returns and could be in line for a breakout season as a wide receiver and a safety.
“AJ Robinson is one of the best receivers in the FCIAC,” Ireland said. “We also have a lot of great athletes that surround him.”
Sophomore Cam Edwards takes over as the team’s lead running back and will also play on defense as a linebacker.
“Cam Edwards has the ability to be great,” Ireland said. “He is young and will only get better as the season goes on.”
Norwalk, which was 5-5 last season, hasn’t qualified for the state playoffs since 2011, when it went 9-2 and won a Class LL quarterfinal game before losing to eventual champ Xavier in the semis.
If things come together this fall, Norwalk could be a contender for its first tournament berth in eight years. The Bears’ toughest challenges will come from Greenwich (Sept. 27), Hand (Oct. 8, Norwalk’s lone Scheduling Alliance game), and Darien (Nov. 15) — all three have won a combined six state championships over the last four years.
As far as Ireland is concerned, “we feel we that we can compete with anyone when we are fully healthy.”
Sept. 13 —TRINITY CATHOLIC/WRIGHT TECH*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Bridgeport Central**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at Greenwich**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — LUDLOWE**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — HAND, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 — at Trumbull**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 — WESTHILL**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 — at Danbury**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 — DARIEN**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 — at Brien McMahon* 10:30 a.m.