CLINTON >> Aside from one returning receiver, Morgan graduated nearly every skill player from a team that went 9-2 and advanced to the Class S state quarterfinals last season.
So, this year’s Huskies’ offense has been built around the offensive line. All five members of that unit from last season returned.
“We’re not really oversized,” said second-year Morgan coach Peter Nye. “We have experienced linemen who know what they’re doing. They have a year experience under their belt, but it’s not like we have big size like Morgan’s had in years past. But, the experience breeds confidence. We have confident linemen who believe they’re going to get the job done.”
The offensive line consists of center Matt Capece (5-foot-10, 250), tackles George Limosani (5-11, 215) and Dashuan James (6-1, 230) and guards Ivan Villanueva (5-10, 200) and Zach McCray (5-11, 190). All are seniors.
“I knew (the line) was going to be a strength,” Villanueva said. “It was definitely awesome having all my buddies come back. We’re not that great in size, but we have a lot of heart, and we try to make sure we keep up with the conditioning. I feel that if we continue with our speed and our heart, we can overcome anything.”
Senior Madden Ward earned the starting job at quarterback during summer camp.
“In the summer he was playing receiver,” Nye said. “We didn’t really know who we were. It didn’t look good until we got to camp and we moved him to quarterback. He was willing to take on that responsibility. I don’t know if he was comfortable, the system is a little different from what it was two years ago, but he embraced it, he studied it, and he’s become a very agile, confident kid in the pocket.”
Ward played quarterback as a sophomore and freshman on the sub-varsity level but was not a member of the team last season.
“The main reason was my main focus was on baseball,” Ward said. “I thought I was going to get more exposure for baseball last year, junior year is the biggest year for baseball. I regret it. Obviously I should have played last year, but I’m definitely glad to play this year. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great team.”
Ward has helped guide the Huskies to victories over CREC and Haddam-Killingworth to start the season.
Morgan hosts Valley Regional/Old Lyme, also 2-0, tonight at 6:30 at the Peters Complex in Clinton.
Ward completed 19 of 21 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the 33-27 win over H-K.
“The first couple of scrimmages I was definitely nervous,” Ward said. “The vision of the field was a lot different than freshman and sophomore year, it’s a whole different level. I am more comfortable now. I am more comfortable in the pocket and I know they’re (the offensive line) going to protect me.”
Said Villanueva: “Madden was an awesome pickup. I remember playing with him freshman and sophomore year. It was great protecting him as a young lineman, and it’s also awesome protecting him now as a senior. He’s grown a lot. He’s very accurate and very athletic.”
The Morgan backfield also consists of junior running back Isaac Eriksen and freshman running back Miles Vogl. Eriksen’s brother, Gabe, was the Huskies’ leading rusher last season and earned Register All-Area honors.
Senior receiver Harry White is the lone returning skill player. The receiving corps also includes senior Nate Hornyak, who was not a member of the team last season, and sophomores Zach Johnson and Ryan Caldwell. Junior Sam Hauser was a projected starter in the slot but may miss the entire season with a shoulder injury.
“We have a lot of new receivers who have played maybe in youth football but didn’t play in high school,” Nye said. “Nate Hornyak just came out this year and is a pretty potent weapon at receiver. Harry White is a returning starter and he’s a pretty talented athlete and did well for us last year.”
Morgan defeated Valley Regional/Old Lyme 40-0 last season snapping a Warriors’ seven-game winning streak in the series.
“It’s an awesome rivalry, I love facing them,” Villanueva said. “It’s a great rivalry, and it’s great going against them because everyone is giving 100 percent. Everyone is giving all they got and it’s going to be a great show this Friday.”