COACH — RICH BOSHEA (5th year, 22-10)
CONFERENCE — SCC Tier I
PLAYOFF CLASS — LL (818 boys enrollment)
HOME — Ken Strong Stadium, West Haven
2018 RECORD — 5-5
2019 OPENER — Sept. 13 at Shelton, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITES — Maxpreps
Shane Clarke, DE; Joe Manning, C; Mekiel Coates, SE/DB; Tylen Jenette, FB/LB
West Haven rarely has seasons like its 2018 campaign. The Westies were uncharacteristically small up front and had to mix-and-match elsewhere just to stay competitive.
Against their unsympathetic SCC Tier I rivals, West Haven simply wasn’t.
Hand had their way at the Surf Club, 47-6. Shelton beat the Westies 42-12. In perhaps the final insult, Fairfield Prep — a team the Westies rarely lose to on Thanksgiving — crushed West Haven 63-12, in one of the worst losses in the program’s distinguished history.
West Haven finished the season 5-5, its first without a winning record in 10 years.
“We got pushed around last year,” coach Rich Boshea said simply.
Not a month later, Boshea received some good news, for once.
Andre Rentas, a soon-to-be 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback, was coming home for his senior year.
Rentas grew up playing for the West Haven Seahawks Pop Warner team alongside West Haven’s Jordan Berrios, Hamden Hall’s Jordan Benoit and St. Joseph’s Jaden Shirden. He left West Haven to play at Bergen Catholic (N.J.), and moved to Georgia last year.
Rentas arrived in West Haven in January, giving the football program a needed boost heading into 2019.
“He’s been a quarterback his whole life,” Boshea said. “He’s always been a field leader-type guy, so he assumed that role really well when he came to us in January.
“He didn’t think, I’m going to come in and be great. He came in to work with the guys, he worked hard in the weight room and got a much stronger and a lot faster. Everybody saw that and respected it.”
With Rentas now the quarterback, it allowed West Haven to move Jordan Berrios — who’d taken over the role by necessity last year — back to receiver, where he’s better suited, Boshea said.
“Jordan was more than happy to move,” Boshea said with a laugh. “He had it real tough last year, but he handled it like a true leader. He was an example to everyone to follow, for everything he sacrificed.
“Jordan could throw the ball, but Andre can really throw the ball.”
West Haven graduated its entire offensive line with the exception of senior tackle Devon Coleman, a 6-2, 235-pound tackle and nose guard.
Though young and inexperienced, the newcomers are decidedly bigger than last year with sophomore Kyshawn Togba (6-1, 305), senior Daniel Zamora (6-0, 295) and center Joseph Hawkins (6-1, 245). Alohm Cowes, a 6-3, 305-pound junior transfer from Amistad, could also contribute.
“We actually have a couple guys up around 300 pounds up front,” Boshea said. “They’re not technically sound or great just yet, but it’s a little bit more beef.”
West Haven returns senior Justin Medina and junior Jaden Grant at running back. Junior Troy Nelson, who has impressed Boshea with his offseason commitment, will also play receiver.
“Our skill players are really good if we can get some blocking for them,” Boshea said.
Most of West Haven’s starters go both ways, so those same players will be tasked with improving a defense that surrendered 227 points last year.
Malachi Wright returns at middle linebacker and has looked good in the preseason, Boshea said. He’ll be flanked by Medina and junior Angel Robles. Nelson, Berrios, Grant and Chauncey Evans will man the secondary.
So, on paper at least, it looks like West Haven will be better than a season ago. But then there’s the schedule, one of the state’s roughest.
The Westies kick off the season with a road trip to rival Shelton on Friday night. In addition to playing their usual SCC Tier I foes — which includes Hand — West Haven also gets Conard, SWC favorite Newtown and Norwich Free Academy in their Scheduling Alliance games.
“So we lose Hamden, Bassick and Cheshire and we picked up Conard, Newtown and NFA,” Boshea said with a hint of exasperation. “We’ll be much better than we were last year but the record might not show it. Our schedule is much harder.”
Sept. 13 — at Shelton,** 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — CONARD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at Newtown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 — NORTH HAVEN,** 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — NORWICH FREE ACADEMY, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 — HAND,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 — HILLHOUSE,* 7 p.m.
Nov. 15 — at Notre Dame-West Haven,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 — at Xavier,** 7 p.m.
Nov. 27 — at Fairfield Prep,** 6 p.m.