COACH – ERIK BECKER (3rd year, 11-9)
CONFERENCE – Pequot
PLAYOFF CLASS – S (Co-op)
2018 RECORD – 5-5
2019 OPENER – Sept. 14 at Old Saybrook/Westbrook, 11 a.m.
TEAM WEBSITE — MaxPreps | TWITTER — @CoginchaugFB
David Skelps, Justin Gagner, Jordan Camp, Terry Lockwood, Ryan Genest, Zach Hart, Eli Rivera, Ethan Martin, Mike Slade, Ken Trawiki, Colin Sheehey
Last season, Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hamptoncoach Erik Becker pulled the plug on the spread formation after two games when it became clear to him that he didn’t have the personnel to continue running that style of offense.
Becker’s team switched to the single wing, which produced just one touchdown in losses to Valley Regional/Old Lyme and Cromwell/Portland before hitting its stride in the second half of the season.
The Blue Devils won four of their last six games, with 900 yards of offense in their last three, to finish 5-5.
Yet, Becker is determined to try again. The Blue Devils will be back in spread mode for the full run of the 2019 season, beginning with their Sept. 13 opener at Old Saybrook/Westbrook.
“I think I would be out of a job if we stuck with the single wing,” said Becker, now in his third season at Coginchaug. “I love the forward pass. It’s my favorite part of the game. I thought (the single wing) is was what we had to do.
“The forward pass gets kids excited, puts people in the stands, puts points on the scoreboard. It’s no secret. And I like to put the ball in different kids’ hands. We’re going to be a spread, no-huddle, high-tempo team that I think will be really fun to watch.”
Coginchaug has the players to accomplish this, starting with 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Aaron Faiella and a receiving corps of juniors made up of 6-foot-2 twin brother Evan Faiella, 6-4 Tyler Garrettson, 5-11 Jackson Moore, 5-11 AJ DeFilio and 6-3 Terrence Murphy.
Aaron Faiella, who made one start as a sophomore, has progressed steadily during the offseason with his confidence and arm strength and has a “solid understanding of the offense, his coach said.
“He is a kid who’s come farther in the two years I’ve known him than any other player I’ve been around,” said Becker, who had 16 years’ experience on the staffs at Hand and Choate before getting the job at Coginchaug. “Aaron has worked really hard to improve himself physically and worked really hard to improve himself in terms of understanding the game and comprehending concepts. He is maximizing his potential and has grown with his leadership. I am so proud of him.”
Alex Case, a 185-pound senior, will be the Blue Devils’ featured back.
“He will carry the load for us in the backfield,” Becker said.
Last season, the Blue Devils had size and experience on both lines, but lacked game-changing ability at the skill positions, dictating the need for the single wing.
Now, they are experiencing the flip side of sorts – options on offense, but lots of young and untested players along both lines.
The Blue Devils might have to feel their way through the first couple of weeks of the season considering only two seniors were starters as juniors and there is a grand total of three seniors on Becker’s roster of 48.
“Our younger players will need to build confidence quickly early in order to be successful,” he said.
The lack of inexperience means they will have to learn quickly under the weight of a competitive Pequot Conference schedule. Old Saybrook/Westbrook, Valley/Old Lyme and H-K are among their first five opponents.
“We have a solid group of young talent and I hope we can have some success early,” Becker said. “If we do, it will help us believe in ourselves. I think we do have the makings of a good team, but also, with three seniors on your roster, that is not a great thing. Realistically, we will start some sophomores.”
Sept. 14 – At Old Saybrook/Westbrook*, 11 a.m.
Sept. 20 – SMSA/UNIVERSITY/CLASSICAL*, 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 – At Valley Regional/Old Lyme*, 1 p.m.
Oct. 12 – ROCKVILLE*, 1 p.m.
Oct. 25 – At Haddam-Killingworth*, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 – GRANBY/CANTON*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 9 – MORGAN*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 16 – CROMWELL/PORTLAND*, 1 p.m.
Nov. 23 – At Ellington*, 1 p.m..
Nov. 27 – At North Branford*, 6 p.m.