Due to afternoon traffic, it took O’Brien Tech nearly two hours to reach Cheney Tech High in Manchester for a CSC showdown with the Beavers this past Friday.
In an effort to avoid the delays, O’Brien Tech coach Nick Aprea used a travel app on his phone to help the bus driver navigate through the standstill. The Condors arrived safely — and on time — but the app drained Aprea’s phone’s battery.
When the phone finally recharged, there were multiple missed calls and text messages, most offering the coach congratulations on a hard-fought victory.
The Condors left Manchester with a 28-25 win, handing Cheney Tech its first loss of the season.
It just might have been the biggest victory in O’Brien Tech history since the program became a solo team in 2011. The Condors were part of a co-op with Derby for several seasons prior.
“For us to beat a 4-0 team named Cheney Tech, that’s pretty big in the Tech world,” Aprea said.
Prior to this season, the Condors had won just 10 games since 2011. O’Brien Tech, now 3-1 in games against CIAC opponents this season, has already surpassed last season’s win total. The Condors finished 2-7 last season.
“As you know, we’ve pretty much beaten the same teams,” Aprea said. “Wilcox, Whitney, Wolcott Tech, all the schools that begin with W; Abbott Tech before they joined with Immaculate (to being ATI). Cheney Tech, when we came into the league, was the team. In terms of pure Tech (schools), Cheney and Bullard Havens, that’s what I think of as the teams in the league. Everything was so great (Friday night). The fact that we were able to do that was pretty awesome.”
Entering this season the Condors returned 17 seniors, so there was reason to believe they would be improved. Aprea also spent considerable time this past spring with Anthony Sagnella, the head coach at North Haven. Aprea implemented a single-wing offense similar to the one Sagnella uses — with great success — with the Indians.
“I learned what they do,” Aprea said. “Not as well, obviously, but I learned enough to bring it over to Emmett O’Brien.”
Former Seymour assistant Eric DeMarco also joined the Condors’ coaching staff in the offseason. DeMarco is O’Brien Tech’s offensive coordinator.
“I knew we would be pretty good,” Aprea said. “I wasn’t sure how good, but I knew we would be competitive in every game. Bringing in DeMarco has really helped, as was learning what we did from Sagnella about the single-wing.”
Senior Kevin Dean (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) is a converted running back after playing on the offensive line last season.
“He’s so athletic, and a tough kid,” Aprea said. “So, we decided to put him as one of our running backs. He runs hard.”
Senior Michael Macary was also moved to running back this season after playing quarterback last year. Senior Billy Rodriguez is another running back, and he’s also capable of throwing the ball. Sophomore Jommar Roc is the team’s primary passer, while his brother, Jonte, also a sophomore, has contributed offensively out of the backfield.
“Single-wing gives us an identity now,” Aprea said. “Teams have to practice against that now.”
Seniors Jose Lopez and Matt Sagehorn have been excelled on the offensive line and at defensive end, while junior Mason Santamaria has played well at linebacker.
The Condors play just eight games against CIAC opponents. O’Brien Tech lost to Hopkins 24-7 on Sept. 23 and plays another prep school, Hamden Hall, on Oct. 28. The Condors’ only loss against a CIAC school was to ATI 49-26 on Oct. 1.
Aprea said the victory over Cheney Tech will certainly help his team’s confidence.
“I think they will understand that they did something great,” Aprea said. “We learned a little something about how to come back.”
O’Brien Tech now preps for CSC power Bullard Havens (4-1) on Saturday at noon in Bridgeport.
“If we can control the ball, at least try to keep their offense off the field, then I think we have a chance,” Aprea said. “It’s a tall order for us, but hopefully we understand that we are a better team than what we’ve been.”
Conte on the mend
Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern says his senior quarterback Pat Conte is on the mend. Conte suffered a shoulder injury against Hillhouse on Sept. 23 and has not played since.
The Jesuits (4-1) had a bye this past week and visit Cheshire (4-1) on Friday. Hellstern says he is hopeful that Conte will return against the Rams.
Conte broke his collarbone and missed several games last season.