COACH — NOEL THOMAS (8th year, 32-29)
CONFERENCE — Evergreen Tier C
PLAYOFF CLASS — NEPSAC C
HOME — Watson Field at Pedrick Stadium, New Canaan
2018 RECORD — 5-4
2019 OPENER — Sept. 14 at King, 3 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — stlukesct.org; TWITTER — @SLStormFootball
QB Michael Hage, WR/DB Seth Kim, WR/DB Juan Rosario, RB/ LB Chandler Greene, LB Noah Bailey, DL JD Burnaman
St. Luke was faced with an early crisis last fall when team captain and veteran quarterback Michael Hage suffered a season-ending injury in the second quarter of the opener against Rye Country Day.
Rather than dwell on the loss, however, the Storm dug deep.
St. Luke’s won that game 27-6 over Rye, rallied around their captain, and went on to post a winning record of 5-4.
The lessons learned are now a big part of St. Luke’s makeup as it gets ready to kickoff in 2019.
“I loved our response,” said head coach Noel Thomas, Sr., now in his eighth year with the team. “We dedicated our season to Michael Hage and he was an integral part of what we did last year. That situation forced us to come together, rally, and be resilient. We turned a negative into a positive and it brought us together.”
The Storm again has strong leaders as the top, with seniors Jordan Robinson, Frank Intrieri, and Shamond Moore, along with junior Austin Andersen, as co-captains.
Both Robinson (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) and Intrieri (6-2, 265) are linemen, and they’ll headline an O-line which is a team strength.
“A lot of people say it, but I truly believe that as our line goes, so does our team,” Thomas said. “In a world where the skill guys get all the attention, most of the ink, the videos and all the love, we celebrate our linemen. The (captains) vote that we took shows that my belief in our line has trickled down to the team.”
Robinson, a tackle, and Intrieri, a guard, will hold down the left side of the line, with senior Dylan Johnson (6-2, 280), at center. Senior Joey Alfson (6-1, 250) will play right guard and back up Johnson at center, with Dean Pallas (6-5, 275), the lone junior on the line, at right tackle.
Thomas gave much credit for that group to O-line coach Joe Bonaddio, a St. Luke’s alum who coached at Stratford before joining the Storm’s coaching staff.
Austin Andersen (5-11, 185), a linebacker and running back, led the Storm with 88 tackles last year, while Moore (5-9, 180) will again star as a running back on offense and in the secondary on defense.
“Those two guys are standout leaders,” Thomas said. “They’re the voice of reason, they build up the guys when things go wrong, and they truly live our mission and our philosophy.”
Everett Andersen, Austin’s younger brother, had a baptism by fire when he took over for Hage in week one last year, and he’s now an experienced QB as a sophomore.
Senior DE/G Christian Haas (6-2, 220), and junior OLB/SB Koy Price (5-11, 185) return as key players on the defense.
One of the biggest changes facing St. Luke’s this year is the new schedule, as it dives into the Evergreen Football League for the first time. The Storm will play in Tier C with Canterbury from New Milford, Portsmouth Abbey (RI), and Proctor Academy (NH).
Former Fairchester Athletic Association foes Hamden Hall and King play in Tiers A and B, respectively.
The new schedule offers some tough competition, and a few road trips, as St. Luke’s will play twice in Massachusetts (Berkshire School and Dexter Southfield) and twice in New Hampshire Proctor Academy and St. Paul’s).
Evergreen League teams are also eligible for the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) finals.
“I’m so excited about the Evergreen League,” Thomas said. “The competition level is a little more stiff but we love that; we want to play the best available team. And we’re going to use the travel time to bond. We’ll really enjoy each other and have a road trip celebration hopefully. It’s a new journey and a whole new experience for us.”
The Storm has one familiar foe on the schedule, as they still face rival King. That game had traditionally been held at the end of the year, but to accommodate the Evergreen schedule, it’s now the opener on Saturday, Sept. 14, at King in Stamford.
That’s a challenging way to jump into the season, but Thomas is hoping his players will again respond.
“I’m looking for a hot start from every single player, whether it’s a freshman who’s on the side with limited time, or one of our captains,” Thomas said. “I expect every single player to give their absolute best. Last year we played another rival, Rye, in our first game and we played our best game of the year. I want a repeat performance.”
Sept. 14 — at King*, 3 p.m.
Sept. 21 — ALBANY ACADEMY (NY)*, 2 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Berkshire School (Mass.)*, 6 p.m.
Oct. 4 — at Dexter Southfield (Mass)*, 5 p.m.
Oct. 12 — PORTSMOUTH ABBEY (RI)**, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 — at Proctor Academy (NH)**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 — CANTERBURY SCHOOL**, 3 p.m.
Nov. 1 — TILTON SCHOOL (NH)*, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 — at St. Paul’s (NH)*, 2:30 p.m.