NEW CANAAN — The Harding Presidents have gone high-tech.
Well, sort of.
During Saturday’s 11th annual Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 tournament at New Canaan High School, second-year starting quarterback Kevin Bednarz took to the field wearing a Go-Pro camera atop his helmet.
“We’re just trying to see where his eyes are at,” Harding coach Eddie Santiago said. “What’s his initial read? Why is he seeing that? It’s just making sure he gets the ball where it has to go.”
Last fall, Bednarz was able to get the ball where it was going more than 50 percent of the time as he completed 58 of 103 passes for 920 yards and five touchdowns.
Still, improvement is the name of the game so Bednarz was more than willing to be under the microscope — err, video camera — if that what it took.
“This was my first time wearing it,” said Bednarz, a 5-foot-8, 180-pounder whose football career actually began as an offensive lineman. “I’ll definitely learn a lot from it. I’ll be seeing what I saw and where I was throwing it and if I need to be quicker. I’ll see it all on film.”
Improvement is also the watchword for the entire Harding program this offseason.
Three seasons ago, the Presidents were 10-1 and followed that up with a 7-4 campaign.
Last year, though, Harding made the switch to the Southern Connecticut Conference and slipped to a 3-7 mark.
Led by returning All-State player Coleman Adams and a host of others, though, Santiago is thinking positive thoughts this summer.
“We’re really optimistic,” Santiago said. “We’ve got our stud (Adams) back and when he’s on the field we do really well. We’ve got some pieces up front and three guys in the back, so we’ll be all right for this coming season.”
Adams was humbled by last season’s All-State nod, but knows he’s just part of the package.
“I was blessed to receive that,” he said of his five-touchdown reception, eight-touchdown rushing season. “I’m just looking forward to competing again with my boys. Last year was a learning curve for us, but this year we’ve been in the league before and we’re looking to capitalize on some of our close losses.”
The Presidents lost three games by single digits in a very tough league and Santiago expects his team to learn from them.
“It is one of the toughest leagues in the state,” Santiago said. “With the veteran guys we have coming back, we can push some of those games in our favor this year.”
That’s what made weekend tournaments like the Grip It and Rip It so important.
A summer job forced Adams to miss Friday’s action — which gave some of the Presidents’ younger receivers a shot to shine — but on Saturday he ripped through the Brien McMahon defense from the get go.
“We put him in the backfield, on jet motion, a multitude of things,” Santiago said. “We move him so much it’s tough to defend him.”
“He just brings a whole other level to our team,” Bednarz said.
As goes Adams and Bednarz, so will go the Presidents come fall.
Perhaps, with a little off-season high-tech help, Harding football can rise back to another level, as well.