COACH — DUNCAN DELLAVOLPE (11th year, 41-60)
CONFERENCE — FCIAC East
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (767 boys enrollment)
HOME — Tetreau/Davis Field, Fairfield
2018 RECORD — 4-6
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 at Ridgefield, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — Maxpreps
Joe Gjinaj TE/DE, Will Stearns WR, Jeff Seganos WR/S
For the first time in 10 seasons, Warde returns a starting quarterback for coach Duncan DellaVolpe.
“We threw Joey Gublin into the fire last year and probably put too much on him,” DellaVolpe said of the 200-pound senior, who threw for 1,300-plus yards with 15 touchdowns last year. “While things were too fast for him last year, he has matured mentally and physically. Joe worked hard in the offseason and his stock is rising with Division 2 school looking hard at him.”
Gublin’s improvement is just the tip of the iceberg for a team hoping to improve upon the 21 points-per-game average from last year’s 4-6 season.
“I was really concerned going into the offseason, but we have players that fit together,” DellaVolpe said. “They were together training in the weight room, running and going to road courses. This team’s chemistry is the best I’ve had. They came into camp in shape to play.”
Connor Burt, Jason Conklin, Ryan Janz, Griffin Gallati and Gublin are team captains.
Ryan Janz, junior Chris Idieu and sophomore Jacob Burmadez will be the primary running backs, tasked with replacing graduated leading rusher Joe Gjinaj.
“Ryan and Chris are both tough inside runners, with Chris more of a breakaway style,” DellaVolpe said. “Jacob has a good mix of both.”
The Mustangs also graduated Gublin’s top targets in Jeff Seganos and Will Stearns. Connor Burt returns alongside Hunter Rasmussen.
“Connor Burt was a great help last year as a receiver,” DellaVolpe said. “We lost two great ones in Jeff Seganos and Will Stearns. Hunter Rasmussen is back. Brett Lauterbach has come a long way, along with Jack McKenna.”
Will Gallagher will center an offensive line that will include returning starters Conklin and Tommy O’Connell.
“We have a good battle going on with the O-line and I’m pretty happy with that,” said DellaVolpe, who mentioned Colin McCarthy, P.J. Gallagher, Josh Pastore and Justin Galemba.
Kevyn Matos and Jessica Pitaniello are working to win the placekicking job.
On defense, DellaVolpe says he has a “big rotation of players,” who should help improve on last year’s 271 points allowed.
“Luigi Ordine, Fitzroy Lawrence-Kenyon, who can also run the football for us, Dylan Inram and Arthur Belile, along with some other kids will see time depending on the defensive package,” DellaVolpe said.
Gallati, Idieu and Michael White will be linebackers.
Rasmussen, a returning starter, R.J. Ihlefeld, Elijah Meade, Zach Corsi, Denis Toslluku and nickelback Jack Bradshaw will play in the secondary.
“We are more balanced this year than any of the last couple,” DellaVolpe said. “We can run and we can pass. The best thing is we can coach things (not just fundamentals). Our practices are running faster, we’re getting in more film work, and position-to-position we’re getting it done.
“We have better competition in practice, because there isn’t that big a drop off from one’s and two’s (on the depth chart). This group is pushing each other to get better, even the backups.”
In addition to a tough FCIAC schedule which includes games against Ridgefield, New Canaan, St. Joseph and Staples all on the road, Warde picked up two Scheduling Alliance games.
They’ll face Cheshire out of the SCC on Sept. 27 and, later, New Milford out of the SWC on Oct. 25. Both had losing records last year.
“Our first five games will dictate how we finish,” DellaVolpe said. “Most years it comes down to our games with Wilton and Stamford, and we get them both early in the schedule. We open with Ridgefield and that is never an easy place to play. We no longer want to hang in there, we want to finish.”
Sept. 13 — at Ridgefield,** 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — STAMFORD,** 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — CHESHIRE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — WILTON,** 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — at New Canaan,* 2 p.m.
Oct. 25 — NEW MILFORD, 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 — at St. Joseph,** 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 — at Staples,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 — MCMAHON,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 — at Ludlowe* 10:30 a.m.