- COACH — ERIK LARKA (3rd year, 10-11)
- CONFERENCE — SCC Tier III
- PLAYOFF CLASS — M (430 boys enrollment)
- HOME — Law Field, Milford
- 2017 RECORD — 6-5 (lost to Killingly in Class M quarterfinals)
- 2018 OPENER — Sept. 7 vs. Sheehan, 7 p.m.
- TEAM WEBSITE — Maxpreps
- MIKE PLASKON, Sr. RB/DB (5-11, 175)
- ETHAN SALEY, Sr. WR/FS (6-1, 185)
- AUSTIN DANVILLE, Sr. LB/OL (6-0, 220)
- SHELDON GARGANO, SR. DE/FB (6-2, 215)
- ZACH MERCHANT, Jr. LB/TE (6-0, 200)
- NAHEIM WASHINGTON, Soph. WR/DB (5-7, 150)
- NICK HANNA, Sr. OL/DL (6-1, 225)
OL/DL Andrew Paulus, OL/DL Justin Abe, WR/DB Dean Pettway, QB Hayden Hulme, WR/DB Jimmy Boyle, TE/DB/K Cole Egersheim, OL/LB Dave Totora
Jonathan Law’s 2017 season was a lesson in perseverance. The Lawmen turned a ignominious start into the school’s glorious first state playoff berth last season… just as we all predicted.
Actually, that last part’s true. We had Law pegged to be a playoff contender. But after a rough 41-26 road loss to Sheehan to start the year, an upset rout vs. Branford at midseason and losses to Cheshire and Hand… let’s just say team’s prospects weren’t looking too rosy when November rolled around.
But Law turned it on late. It defeated Guilford and Lyman Hall and, with an outside shot at a playoff berth on the line, the Lawmen rode Mike Plaskon to a 34-28 overtime victory over Foran in an instant classic to qualify. Everything broke Law’s way and — voila!
That Law’s season ended in the quarterfinals vs. eventual Class M champion Killingly didn’t really matter. The program had reached a milestone.
“As long as I coach, I would say that Foran game will be one of the most exciting games I’ll ever be a part of,” third-year coach Erik Larka said. “That game did wonders for us in terms of the kids getting a (10-year) monkey off their back. The kids have now definitely bought in. They’re listening to the coaches, they’re working together. They’ve really made it a family atmosphere.”
Law’s returning players might need to apply those lessons to the 2018 edition. The Lawmen graduated all but one of their starting offensive linemen — senior Austin Danville — not to mention a handful of contributors who scripted last year’s playoff run.
“Four of our five (new) starters are seniors and they’ve been playing together for a while now, even though it was on the scout team or on junior varsity,” Larka said of his O-line. “Now it’s time for them to play on the big stage.”
Fortunately for Larka, he has an outstanding collection of playmakers returning.
“In all my years of coaching, I have some of the most gifted skill guys I’ve ever had,” Larka said.
It starts with Plaskon, an All-State selection who rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season. His playoff-clinching performance vs. Foran (221 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs) will be long remembered in Devon. Plaskon, the school’s record-holder in the 100-meter dash, will also start in the secondary and be Law’s go-to guy in all phases of the game.
“He’s not leaving the field,” Larka said. “He’s bigger, stronger, faster than he was last year. I put the honus on the offensive line. I tell them, you should be amped up because you’re blocking for one of the best running backs in the state, in my opinion. You give him just a second of daylight and he’ll rip it. He’s ready to go.”
Law also returns senior receiver Ethan Saley, who led the team with 618 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while earning All-SCC Tier 2 honors. Saley, an easy target at 6-foot-1 and sure hands, will also play safety and — like Plaskon — won’t leave the field.
Defensively, Law returns its top two tacklers in Danville, a 6-0, 220-pound rock at linebacker who led the team with 8.1 tackles and Sheldon Gargano, a 6-2, 215-pound All-SCC Tier 2 selection at defensive end who made 6.4 tackles a game. They’re joined by Zach Merchant, a 6-0, 200-pound junior who had a pair of sacks and averaged 4.5 tackles in five games.
“Last year, the linebacking corps was a weakness for us because they were all first-year starters,” Larka said. “Now they’re the strength of the team.”
Senior Zach Smith is slated to return at QB, where he started the first half of the season before giving way to Hayden Hulme took over. Smith threw for 773 yards and nine touchdowns against six interceptions last season.
“The main challenge for us is we want to play faster, more confident,” Larka said. “We’re really taking it week-to-week, but our goal is to hopefully match or exceed last year’s win total. We have a really tough schedule, though, we have no days off.”
The Lawmen get thrown right into the fire again against SCC Tier III rival Sheehan, which has had Law’s number throughout Larka’s tenure and is pegged as the league’s top small school and a bona fide Class M playoff contender. Law also has tough crossover matchups against Cheshire and defending Class L champion Hand.
But the rest of the schedule is conducive for another playoff run. Given Class M’s increased strength this year, what with state champions Killingly and St. Joseph and contenders like Sheehan and Berlin among the field, a 6-4 record probably won’t cut it this season. It’s almost a given this group will have to play even better than last year.
- Sept. 7 — SHEEHAN,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 14 — at Weston, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 21 — BASSICK,** 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 — at Cheshire,* 7 p.m.
- Oct. 12 — STRATFORD, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 19 — BRANFORD,** 7 p.m.
- Oct. 26 — at Daniel Hand,* 7 p.m.
- Nov. 2 — GUILFORD,** 7 p.m.
- Nov. 9 — at Lyman Hall,** 6:30 p.m.
- Nov. 22 — at Foran,* 10:30 a.m.
Home games in CAPS