By Ray Curren
@currenscc on Twitter
1. Guilford (5-5, Season Opener: vs. Wilton):
There is precedence for Guilford to be a football powerhouse. Well, a little, at least. Twenty years ago, the Indians made it all the way to the Class MM title game before falling to Ledyard. That wasn’t that long ago, was it? Yea, none of the current players were born yet, but? Anyway, Guilford has had some success in the SCC and of late, but can this be the year for the return to postseason? They’ll be able to take advantage of some question marks of Division II rivals, and Joe Nault and Eric Zergiebel form a 1-2 punch that will be near impossible to stop. The key, as it seems with many SCC teams, will lie on defense. The schedule-makers have done them no favors: Shelton, West Haven, and Hand all await, and they might have to upset one to get to the promised land of December.
2. North Haven (7-3, Season Opener: at Bridgeport Central):
Jalon White has graduated, and the Indians don’t really have anyone to replace him as a breakaway threat, but the Indians still won’t be any fun to play this season, a veteran offensive line combined with fullback Ethan Suraci will attempt (and probably succeed more often than not) in physically wearing opponents down. And, believe it or not, North Haven might actually have a passing attack this season with senior quarterback Mike Halloran. So while there probably won’t be as many 80-yard touchdown runs, the Indians are not quite ready to fall back to the pack quite yet.
3. Hillhouse (11-2, Season Opener: at Darien):
Maxpreps still lists the head coach as Tom Dyer as of this writing, which just illustrates how little time Reggie Lytle had to get acclimated to being the man in charge. The Acs return Harold Cooper and with him some good size, but graduated their next four leading rushers, and face the daunting task of seeing Hand and Xavier (as well as Darien) in the first four weeks of the season. Hillhouse should eventually be able to reload, but it might take a little time and therefore a couple of losses as well. But Cooper, obviously, is always a threat.
4. Foran (6-4, Season Opener: vs. Fairfield Warde):
There’s little argument that the Lions will be among (and probably the most) entertaining team in the SCC to watch this season. Jake Kasuba threw for 2,547 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore last season, and has plenty of weapons in his receiving corps, led by senior co-captain Nick Weissauer, who caught a ridiculous 86 passes a year ago (in just 10 games). The biggest question will be in their ability to stop opponents, especially with West Haven and Shelton lurking in the first four weeks of the campaign. Either way, it ought to be fun to see.
5. Jonathan Law (4-6, Season Opener: at Harding):
Quietly and imperceptibly to those who weren’t paying close attention, the Lawmen showed significant improvement for start to finish last season, and return a lot of their key players, including option quarterback Tim Maher. Also returning is leading rusher Joe Ziebell, who is a force on both sides of the ball. Struggled would be an understatement for the Law defense, which conceded a whopping 227 points in the final five games of the season. But with a favorable schedule, there’s reason to believe the Lawmen could climb their way back to .500.
6. Sheehan (4-6, Season Opener: vs. Trinity Catholic):
The Titans return all four players who threw a pass for them last season, as well as most of the people that put up stats for them. Still, the usual questions arise for a team with a small roster, and who did not put up any impressive victories last season (defeated Jonathan Law, East Haven, Whitney Tech, and Lyman Hall). Diminutive running back Rafael Dominguez ran for 782 yards last season and could be a bigger threat this season, and — like seemingly everyone else in Division II — Sheehan should be able to put up points. But can it keep the other team from doing so?
7. Branford (5-5, Season Opener: at Woodland):
John Limone becomes the youngest head coach in the SCC, as rumors that Gary Gravina would make a triumphant return to Branford proved false. The Hornets had a solid first half of the season in 2012 and then got bludgeoned in three straight weeks before beating East Haven to finish at .500. Limone is sure to bring energy, but the first half of Branford’s schedule is brutal. Without Alex Borkowski to shoulder the offensive rushing (and defensive) load, it may be tough for Branford to get back to that .500 mark this time around.
8. East Haven (1-9, Season Opener: vs. Bassick):
There’s life in the East Haven football program this season, as new coach Anthony Lucibello has more numbers than the Yellowjackets have seen in a decade. It will likely be a long process, but East Haven’s schedule is very friendly, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them put their highest number in nearly a decade in the win column this season. Mike DeMarco was forced to play quarterback last season, and will be valuable on both sides of the ball. There’s sure to be growing pains, but that’s going to happen when you start at the bottom of things.
9. Lyman Hall (0-10, Season Opener: vs. Fairfield Ludlowe):
Two years removed from a state championship appearance, the Trojans opened last season by losing to East Haven, and — with all due respect to the Yellowjackets — you kind of knew it wasn’t going to get much better from there. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Smith took his lumps and should be improved this season, but it seems like all the teams at the bottom have improved themselves as well. Things get a lot easier in the second half of the campaign, and if they can survive the first half in one piece, the Trojans should be able to find their way to coach Rob Marone’s first career victory.