- COACH — SCOTT SALIUS (11th year, 67-43)
- CONFERENCE — Pequot Uncas
- PLAYOFF CLASS — M (co-op)
- HOME — Van Why Field, Gilbert School, Winsted
- 2017 RECORD — 5-5
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 8 at Old Saybrook/Westbrook, Noon
- TEAM WEBSITE – Maxpreps, FACEBOOK — GNFootball
- ALEX SMITH, Sr. FB/LB, (5-10, 180)
- ERIC LISSY, Sr. QB/DB, (5-10, 160)
- DYLAN KEITH, Jr. OL/DL, (6-0, 230)
- JON CHAPPEL, Sr. TE/DL, (6-1, 200)
- NATE GARALA, Jr. OL/DL, (5-9, 225)
- CHASE SANDEN, Jr. RB/DB, (5-10, 150)
- RYAN VALKO, Jr. OLF/LB, (5-9, 180)
- DYLAN PHILLIPS, Jr. OL/DL, (6-1, 200)
- ZACH MCCELLAN, Sr. RB/LB, (5-5, 140)
Dylan Mulligan, TE/LB; E.J. Claman, FB/LB; Billy Komons, TB/CB; Liam Duran OL/DL; Brad Lissy, QB/LB.
The Yellowjackets graduated 17 kids last year; they added just six freshmen; and their overall roster is down to 40 from 50 a year ago.
“On paper, we should be the worst team in the league except for Canton,” coach Scott Salius said.
But Salius and his staff, with just two losing seasons in 10 years, balanced by two playoff appearances, have a knack for turning paper assessments into dust.
“Let’s check back about three weeks in and see if a bunch of young small-town boys can make some noise,” he said.
Salius starts with the positives, led by senior Alex Smith, an All-Pequot defensive lineman who worked all summer turning himself into G/N’s starting fullback and key linebacker.
“We hated to take him from the line, but we had no choice,” said Salius. “I’d get here for a workout and Alex would be here running sprints up and down the hill on his own. He got down to about 4.7 in the 40.
“We need examples. He’s what you can do if you work.”
Smith’s emergence in the backfield moved senior Zach McClellan from fullback to tailback and now, “Smith and McClellan are as good as anybody we’ve had,” says Salius.
Senior Eric Lissy’s move to quarterback this year brings a little more mobility to that slot.
“I trust him with the option,” said Salius, explaining the low numbers dictate a run-first offense. “We have to be ironmen going both ways, so we can’t have a 20-second offensive series with three incomplete passes.”
McClellan can get out as a slot receiver along with Cam Mulligan, who returns after missing eight games with a broken collarbone last year.
Junior center Dylan Keith now anchors the line with Smith gone to the backfield. “He should be in contention for all-conference,” Salius said.
Two other juniors, first-year starters Nate Garala and Dylan Phillips are solid at tackle, as is Jon Chappell at tight end. A rotating set of guards, including freshman Ian Thompson, sophomore Josh Hamel and junior Ryan Osolanski will have to grow into their roles.
The ‘Jackets play a 3-5 defense, so “we put three guys up front and tell them to play as hard as they can for two or three plays, then throw more bodies in there among six or seven guys,” Salius said. “We’ll try to get Smith to the point of attack as a linebacker.”
Lissy, Mulligan and Chase Sanden return in the backfield.
“We have a decent crop of sophomores and a couple of first-year seniors who might help us,” said Salius.
GN goes on the road for its first three games. Then it’s time to see if the small-town boys are making some noise.
- Sept. 8 — at Old Saybrook,* Noon
- Sept. 14 — at Rockville,** 6:30 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — at Stafford,** 6:30 p.m.
- Sept. 29 — CANTON,** 1 p.m.
- Oct. 6 — WINDSOR LOCKS/SUFFIELD/EAST GRANBY,** 3 p.m.
- Oct. 19 — at Coventry,** 7 p.m.
- Oct. 27 — ELLINGTON,** 1 p.m.
- Nov. 2 — at Granby Memorial,** 7 p.m.
- Nov. 10 — SMSA/CLASSICAL/UNIVERSITY,** 1 p.m.
- Nov. 22 — WATERBURY CAREER ACADEMY, 10 a.m.
Home games are in CAPS
** Division game