- COACH — CRAIG BRUNO (1st year)
- CONFERENCE — SCC Tier II
- PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (748 boys enrollment)
- HOME — Bill Johnson Field at the William E. Sim Complex, Woodbridge
- 2017 RECORD — 3-7
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 7 at Harding, 7 p.m.
- JAMES LAUBSTEIN, Jr. QB
- JOE DIGELLO, Jr. OL/DL
- MICHAEL YOUNG, Sr. WR/RB
- JACOB LEDDICK, Sr. WR
- NICO SEMMONELLA, Jr. DL
- ANTHONY OLENCHUCK, Soph. LB
- DAN BECKWITH, Sr. RB
- JAKE FORCHETTI, Jr. WR
LB/TE Ryan Sabo, TE/LB Luigi Luciani, WR/DB Luke Smith, PK Jordan Conn.
Craig Bruno may be just 50 years old, but his wealth of football knowledge goes way beyond his years.
The Amity football program is hoping that knowledge, combined with Bruno’s passion for the game, rubs off and turns around a program which has had 11 consecutive losing seasons sooner rather than later.
Bruno’s track record is impressive as he comes to Amity with 124 wins, including a pair of Class L state championships at Bunnell in 2006 and 2007. What is even more impressive is his winning percentage (.714), with just 49 losses and one tie.
“We are very excited to have Craig here at Amity,” Amity athletic director Ernie Goodwin said. “He has proved to be an outstanding coach, and the committee was excited to bring him on board. The kids are really enjoying their experience so far.”
Bruno started his head coaching career in 2001, taking over for legendary coach Bob Mastroni at Bunnell and leading the Stratford school to the two state titles in 12 years. Bunnell, residing in the South-West Conference, was where the Stratford native made his mark, leading his alma-mater to a 94-36-1 record and the school’s only two state titles.
Named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2006, Bruno moved on to lead the program at Naugatuck in 2013. His teams compiled a 30-13 record through 2016, including a spot in the Class L postseason in 2014.
“Talent is the most important thing,” said Bruno, who has coached NFL player Marcus Easley and former Rutgers star Mark Harrison. “I have to give the credit to the players. They drive you. I try to work as hard as I can to make sure they are prepared. The more players you have, the better you are going to be. Since I have been here, I have really enjoyed the kids. It is a great opportunity to try and improve this program.”
After resigning in 2016, Bruno became an assistant coach at Staples under another legendary coach in Marce Petroccio.
“When the position (Amity) opened up, I just thought it was a great opportunity,” Bruno said. “I have been in the NVL, SWC, and now the SCC. It is another great conference to work in.
“I have been through a few conferences, but none quite like this. I am very aware of Notre Dame (West Haven), West Haven, Shelton, and Fairfield Prep to name a few. I know how good they are. It is going to be a challenge, but it is great to be a part of this conference.”
Successful in just about every sports program, Amity is looking to get the football team to follow suit after just eight wins in 30 games over the last three seasons under former coach Ted Czepiga.
For Bruno, it is all about believing in the process.
“I think certainly confidence will be very important to us,” Bruno said. “We certainly want to improve, and we have the ability to improve ourselves and move forward. We will prepare every day and get better every day. I love being here, the team and the school. Everyone has treated me great. We will work as hard as we can to turn this around.
“We have had 11 straight losing seasons. We have some high stakes in front of us. It will be a large challenge. We have to be able to stay the course. We are in a situation where we were 8-22 over the last three years. That is not an easy task. But, everyone has to continue to know we are headed in the right direction each day in practice. We have to stay in that frame of mind. If we do, I know we will get there.”
“It has been amazing so far,” junior defensive end Nico Semmonella said. “Everyone on the team knows the teams he has coached have been successful. Everyone has his full respect. He is always teaching something new at practice. He has been great to learn from and we learn something new every day. It is just the way the practices are run and how he has been with all of us. He is the new guy coming in from successful programs. Everybody is ready to go and ready to practice.”
Semmonella is just one of several key players Bruno and his staff have to work with. Defensive coordinator Pat O’Rourke, who has been with Bruno since his days at both Bunnell and Naugatuck, has plenty of talent on that side of the ball, a group which is extremely balanced in mainly a 4-3 defense.
Semmonella will join fellow junior Joseph Digello at the defensive end positions, and will work with sophomore linebacker Anthony Olenchuck to form a nice trio to build around. Senior Ryan Biagetti, who will also play on the offensive line, is another key piece on the defensive line.
Bruno is well known for his aggressive play-calling on offense and has no intentions on changing. Bruno has plenty to be excited about with the talented players Amity can put on the field.
Leading this group is junior quarterback James Laubstein, who has impressed Bruno thus far. Laubstein will have a nice selection of targets to throw to in seniors Mike Young (slot receiver) and Josh Lettick, along with another slot receiver in junior Jake Forchetti.
Bruno and the Spartans understand the importance of balance as Young will also line up at the running back position. He will be joined by fellow senior Dan Beckwith.
“I like the effort I have seen,” Bruno said. “It has been outstanding. I like their willingness to improve. I like what we have done in scrimmages. We have done a good job. I have enjoyed the whole process. We have to remain confident. I think if we can be successful early on, that will give us a lot of confidence. I know this team. If we can be confident about what we are doing, we will be able to compete at a higher level.
The Spartans open the season Friday evening at Harding.
“I’m excited,” Bruno said. “I can’t wait for (the Harding game). It is going to be a lot of fun. It is what we live for. We are going to get ready for this game and be ready to go. We will play as hard as we can.”
- Sept. 7 — at Harding,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — FORAN,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — HILLHOUSE,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 27 — WILBUR CROSS,** 6 p.m.
- Oct. 13 — at New Milford, Noon
- Oct. 19 — at Notre Dame-West Haven,* 7 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — BRANFORD,* 7 p.m.
- Nov. 2 — SHELTON,* 7 p.m.
- Nov. 9 — at Hamden,** 7 p.m.
- Nov. 22 — at North Haven,* 10:30 a.m.
Home games in CAPS