COACH — KEITH HELLSTERN (5th year, 29-14)
CONFERENCE — SCC Tier I
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (807 boys enrollment)
HOME — Rafferty Stadium, Fairfield University
2018 RECORD — 10–2 (lost to New Canaan in Class LL semifinals)
2019 OPENER — Sept. 7, at North Haven, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITES — Maxpreps | jesuitpride.com; TWITTER — @Prep_Football; INSTAGRAM — @ffldprepfootball
Doug Harrison RB, Connor Boyle RB/LB, Finn Duran WR/DB, Owen Cirilli WR/DB, Peter Kavanaugh WR/DB, Henry Houghton TE/LB, Campbell Halloran OL/DL
The team-first philosophy for Fairfield Prep will hold more credence in 2019.
“We are putting in a concerted effort to go to a two-platoon system,” coach Keith Hellstern said. “We have good numbers and want to give every player a chance to excel. There is a standard to be met to play on Friday night and they will all have an opportunity to meet those standards.
“Yes, some of the players will see time both ways, but we want to put each player in the position that is best. If we need one player to kickoff, another to kick extra points, another to punt and another to place kick, we will go with who is best. We want to maximize the players on our roster.”
Max McGillicuddy, Anthony Casablanca and Luke Hopkins are team captains.
J.P. Iaropoli returns to lead the offense from his quarterback position, where he threw for 1,920 yards with 23 touchdowns.
“J.P. has the advantage of playing four varsity games as a sophomore (due to injury) and 12 last year,” Hellstern said of the 6-0, 175-pound senior. “He had Finn Duran as sort of a security blanket (at wide receiver) last year.
“Max (McGillicuddy) is back (25 catches, 427 yards, 3 TDs) and we have five-or-six guys with a mix of good athleticism. Some are seniors that didn’t play varsity and others are rising sophomores. J.P. has the arm and the skills to find them in space and get the ball to where it needs to go.”
Casablanca is back to play on the offensive line with fellow returning starters Joe Centopani and Sean Eustice.
“We are creating depth on the oline around Joe, Anthony and Sean,” Hellstern said. “We have a good handful of guys that play physical and are learning the mental, and most important part, of the position.”
Running backs Doug Harrison and Connor Boyle are among the 30 seniors lost to graduation. They and their fellow seniors took with them 18 of 21 touchdowns scored and 1,500 of 1,900 yards gained.
“Sean Nelson (258 yards running/receiving) and Dean Tsiranides will be looked upon to carry the load,” Hellstern said. “With them we have multiple running backs in multiple grades.”
Luke Hopkins returns in the secondary, where he helped the defense limit rivals to 167 points in 12 games.
“Luke and Nick Morris (linebacker) return for us, but our overall varsity experience on defense is limited,” Hellstern said. “Nine new starters need to be found, but there are capable and athletic players ready to step up. We will be a young team learning and competing daily.”
Toward that end, Hellstern was pleased with his team’s offseason.
“We are all about building a family culture and this off season and summer it was there,” he said. “It begins from the top and our seniors did a good job leading and making things inclusive for the younger guys. It was a great summer.
“We will play to our strengths, recognize where we need to improve and develop in those area. It’s all about putting in the time, training and being diligent.”
Hellstern is aware of what awaits his team, beginning with a visit to North Haven on Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
In addition to Prep’s SCC Tier I schedule, the scheduling alliance stacked the Jesuits’ schedule with games against perennial playoff challengers like Newtown (SWC) and old rival St. Joseph (FCIAC). The Jesuits lost consecutive games vs. the Hogs in 2013-14, in the resumption of a series that ended in 1993.
The Jesuits also play nearby Ludlowe for the first time since 1951, back when Ludlowe was the Flying Tigers. Prep actually holds a 6-2 series record vs. the school.
“We play in what I consider the most physically demanding conference in the state,” he said of competing in the SCC. “There are no easy roads to the postseason. There is not a team you take for granted in the entire group, but Hand, North Haven and Shelton are returning playoff teams or champions. I believe we fit into the picture of top teams if we stay healthy and develop as a relatively young group.
“I would put our overall total schedule (including alliance games) as one the most challenging — if not the most challenging — schedule in the entire state. We look forward to competing against all our opponents.”
Sept. 13 — at North Haven, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — NEWTOWN, 6 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Ludlowe, Noon
Oct. 11 — XAVIER,** 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 — ST. JOSEPH, 6 p.m.
Oct. 26 — at Norwich Free Academy, 1 p.m.
Nov. 1 — at Harding, 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 — NOTRE DAME WEST HAVEN,** 6 p.m.
Nov. 22 — at Shelton,** 7 p.m.
NOV. 27 — WEST HAVEN,** 6 p.m.