MARCE PETROCCIO (2nd year, 5-5)
CONFERENCE — FCIAC West
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (1,075 boys enrollment)
HOME — McDougall Stadium, Trumbull
2018 RECORD — 5-5
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 vs. Bridgeport Central, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITES — Trumbullfootball.com | TWITTER — @TrumbullFB
Colton Nicholas QB, Adam Tolk RB/LB, Justin Schwartz OL/DL, Chris Briganti OL/DL, Ryan Cranston WR/DB/K
Second-year coach Marce Petroccio expects an improvement at Trumbull coming off its 5-5 record in his inaugural campaign at his alma mater.
“What I know is that we have an abundance of depth and more answers on offense than last year,” said Petroccio, who won 210 games and three state championships in 25 seasons at Staples. “Our defense will be a team strength, as will our skill players as a unit on offense. The best part is that we are still young.”
But before jotting down an unbeaten season that ends with Trumbull players carrying him off the field on their shoulders, take in what Petroccio said next: “A concern for us is that youth, that inexperience,” he said. “We open with Bridgeport Central and then play last year’s No. 1 team in the state (Greenwich in Week 2).”
Add playoff teams or state champions in Darien, New Canaan and St. Joseph to the schedule and Petroccio, while excited, isn’t ready to claim a hostile takeover of the FCIAC.
First, Trumbull must improve on 221 points scored and 255 allowed during last year’s campaign. And there’s still growing to do.
“What’s the saying? ‘For every sophomore starter add one game to the loss column,’” he said. “Well, we could see seven to eight sophomores starting at any one time. But last year’s seniors did a great job laying the groundwork and these boys took it from there. We had a great winter and summer.”
Riley Simpson and Hunter Fitzgibbons are competing at quarterback to replace two-year starter Colton Nicholas, who threw for over 1,800 yards at 14 touchdowns last season and added over 200 yards rushing.
“I like it that both have the ability to be dual threats,” he said. “Both are great leaders. The best thing is that whoever is the quarterback will have a lot of toys to play with.”
Trumbull’s main offensive threat will be junior running back Mileeq Green, who saw limited time last season but appears ready to take a breakout role in 2019. He had 339 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns in five games as a sophomore.
“Mileeq Green will a problem to defend, because he is strong and doesn’t need a lot of space to get positive yards,” Petroccio said. “He is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield and we can line him up anywhere.”
The Eagles will also hand off to Jason Knapp and Cole Smith, who will also figure prominently in Trumbull’s offense.
Trumbull has a wealth of receivers returning as well. Kyle Atherton is the main man, Petroccio said. Atherton caught 46 passes for 738 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. “Kyle is big, physical and will catch anything near him,” Petroccio said. “He is an All-FCIAC kid.”
The Eagles also will look to Ray Leonzi, Ryan Quinn, L.J. Ciambriello and Ryan Teixeira, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior who is coming out for the team for the first time.
The biggest question mark, but one with the largest upside, is the offensive line. Matt Delaney and Kobe Levinson return to a group that is inexperienced, overall.
“Up front is still a battle that won’t work itself out until we play scrimmages with pads on,” Petroccio said. “We have a good mix of seniors and younger kids. It will be on the job training. But they are a close-knit group”
Kenny Rivera will kick PATs and field goals. Andy Ilie will kick off. Teixeira or Justin Delaney will do the punting.
Defensively, Trumbull will revolve around Matt Delaney and Kevin DiNacola, who are “interchangeable” at defensive end and linebacker, Petroccio said, as well as linebackers Nick Jack (Trumbull’s ‘mike’), Cole Smith and Ciambriello. Coby Levinson, Dayton and Owen Mikucki will all play on the defensive line.
Petroccio said one of Trumbull’s issues last year was allowing too many 3rd-and-long conversions. He hopes to rectify that with Green and Nolan Shay at safety. “I’m most excited about the back end (of the secondary),” he said.
Ray Leonzi and Billy Colbert will man the corners. Owen Solano is another safety who also will be Trumbull’s primary kick returner.
As mentioned, Trumbull will have a rough go of it early against defending Class LL champion Greenwich in Week 2 and the previous, three-time LL champion Darien in Week 4. They also travel to New Canaan, a Class L title contender, on Nov. 8 and wrap up the season at St. Joseph on Thanksgiving. Trumbull lost to those four teams last year by an average score of 43-8.
Sept. 13 — BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — GREENWICH**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — TRINITY CATHOLIC/WRIGHT TECH*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — DARIEN**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — vs. Danbury** (at Brookfield), 6 p.m.
Oct. 25 — NORWALK**, 6 p.m.
Nov. 1 — at Ludlowe**, 6 p.m.
Nov. 8 — at New Canaan*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 — at Westhill**, 1 p.m.
Nov. 28 — at St. Joseph*, 10:30 a.m.