Above: Highlight reel for Ellington/Somers junior WR Mark Hickman, who returns after leading the team in scoring in 2013.
- Coach: Sean Byrne (2nd year, 6-5)
- Conference: Pequot Uncas
- Playoff Class: M (420 boys enrollment)
- Home: Ellington High School field
- 2013 Record: 6-5 (5-1 Pequot North champions)
- 2014 Kickoff: Sept. 13 at Avon, 1:30 p.m.
- Captains: TBD
- Team website: ellington-somers.weebly.com | MaxPreps page
- Mark Hickman, Jr. WR (5-11, 160)
- Ben Kloter, Sr. TE (6-1, 225)
- Justin Ames, Jr. OT (6-1, 225)
- Shane McGowan, Sr. WR (6-1, 175)
- Kevin Barrett, Jr. DE/G (6-3, 230)
- Jake Hinkel, Jr. LB (5-11, 180)
- Tyreik Noel, Soph. LB (5-11, 180)
- Christian Rider, Jr. FS (5-10, 160)
Joe Leslie, QB (2-time All-Pequot); Christian Schneider, LB/RB; Sean McKillop, OT/DE
Fresh off the best two-year stretch in program history, which saw the Knights win 19 games and reach the Class M playoffs back-to-back, Ellington/Somers was a team in transition in 2013. For starters, Keith Tautkus, the program’s founder, retired after two years and handed the team off to Ansonia native Sean Byrne.
While Ellington/Somers was competitive in Byrne’s first year, the Knights couldn’t beat some of the best teams in the conference. A 20-14 overtime loss to playoff-bound Gilbert/Northwestern particularly stung. They won the Pequot North division title, but didn’t return to the playoffs.
The Knights, who mourned the death of former teammate Austin Tautkus in the summer, are anxious to get back into the conference’s upper echelon. But this is a young group, dominated mostly by juniors.
Ellington must find a replacement for two-time All-Pequot quarterback Joe Leslie, who led the team in both passing (1,132 yards), rushing (907) and was second in scoring.
Whoever lines up behind center in Byrne’s spread offense will have some big targets at his disposal. A majority of Ellington’s receivers return, including Mark Hickman, Ben Kloter and Shane McGowan, who combined for 36 catches for 688 yards. As a sophomore, Hickman led the team with 12 touchdowns, half of which came on the ground. Junior tackle Justin Ames anchors the lines.
Defensively, the Knights appear solid up front with junior 6-3, 230-pound end Kevin Barrett and junior linebacker Jake Hinkel. Tyreik Noel, who saw time as a freshman, could also have a starring role. The secondary, which Byrne said was suspect at times in 2013, needs to improve.
The young Knights won’t have much time to figure themselves out. They kick off the season on the road vs. three of the Pequot’s stronger programs: Avon, Windsor Locks Co-Op (led by Penn State recruit Jarvis Miller) and Canton. A good start would do wonders for this team’s confidence, and set the Knights up for a potentially strong second half.
Sept. 13 — at Avon*, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby*, 1 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at Canton*, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 — Stafford/East Windsor*, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 — SMSA/University*, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 — Hyde, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 — at Gilbert/Northwestern*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 1 — Granby*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 7 — at Morgan, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 15 — Enfield*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 27 — Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton*, 11 a.m.