COACH — DAVE SOLLAZZO (3rd year, 18-4)
CONFERENCE — NVL Iron
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (693 boys enrollment, moved up from Class L)
HOME — Veterans Field, Naugatuck
2018 RECORD — 9-2, lost to Platt in Class L quarterfinals.
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 vs. Wolcott, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — Maxpreps | TWITTER — @NaugyFootball
WR/CB Zack Koslosky, WR/DB Elijah Robinson, OLB Jayden Anderson, LB Mike Natkiel, DT Tyrell Allen, C Derek McGrath
Each of the past two years, coach Dave Sollazzo’s first two as coach of Naugatuck, the Greyhounds started 9-0 and earned a CIAC playoff spot.
Each of the past two years, Ansonia has won on Thanksgiving to deny Naugatuck a perfect regular season. And each of the past two years, the Greyhounds have fallen in the first round of the state tournament.
“I really feel like this is a redemption year,” senior lineman Syed Ahmad said. “The last two seasons, we did pretty good. … We can really do better. We need to step it up.”
Those two playoff appearances mark the first time Naugatuck reached the playoffs two years in a row since 1981-82. The Greyhounds want more.
“What we take out of (the past two seasons) is that we’ve got to do more. That’s something our players are talking about, is doing more this season,” Sollazzo said.
“It felt like we had two successful seasons, but there was unfinished business there. Somehow we’ve got to grow up and learn how to overcome the unfinished business and do more.”
Naugatuck graduated 18 seniors that Ahmad called the heart of the team. But this year’s team has over a dozen seniors, too, stepping into leadership roles.
“As of right now, we’re still getting stuff straightened out with the lower classes starting out,” senior lineman Herve Tshibamba said. “We are going to have another big group graduating, so we’ve got a lot of work to do. As of right now, I don’t see the hard work that we put in the last couple of years, so we’ve still got a lot to work on.”
Young players contributed to those past two seasons, Sollazzo said. The Greyhounds will need those contributions again.
But they have a solid returning group. Tshibamba “does a really good job for us,” Sollazzo said. “Good football player, really good student, better person.” Ahmad and Anson Lau should be important on the offensive line protecting quarterback Jay Mezzo, back for his second year as starter.
Malachi Gatison starts for the second year at running back. Sollazzo is hoping for a breakout year from his corps of receivers, Jeff Schebell, Paul Marsh (who returned a couple of interceptions for touchdowns last year) and Isaiah Williams.
They’ll contribute as well to a defense that has earned shutouts in seven of its past 14 games.
After a year as the second-biggest school in Class L, the Greyhounds move up from what looks like a loaded L back into what’s usually a loaded LL. Naugatuck’s boys enrollment went up by 22, tying with league rival Crosby as Class LL’s smallest schools this year.
Their work is cut out for them, but they have business to finish.
“I say this all the time, and our players embrace this, that we try to be a family. Being great teammates, that’s the most important thing to me,” Sollazzo said. “We try to incorporate the Borough of Naugatuck into that. We’re playing for them.
“We’re all about our families and us being a family as well, playing for your brothers.”
Sept. 13 — WOLCOTT**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Crosby*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at St. Paul**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — WATERTOWN**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 — at Oxford*, 6 p.m.
Oct. 25 — KENNEDY*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 — at Torrington**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 — SEYMOUR*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 — at Holy Cross*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 28 — ANSONIA*, 10:30 a.m.