Above: Highlight reel for Bethel junior Jared Piatnik, who is expected to take over quarterback duties from his all-star brother, Joe.
- Coach: Jason Gill (6th year, 36-19)
- Conference: SWC Patriot
- Playoff Class: M
- Home: Ralph DeSantis Field
- 2013 Record: 9-3 (8-2 SWC, lost to Brookfield in Class M quarterfinals)
- 2014 Kickoff: Sept. 12 vs. Weston, 7 p.m.
- Captains: Jared Willsey, Ben Cleary, Brendan MacIntyre
- Team website: MaxPreps page
- Jared Willsey, Sr. FB/LB (6-0, 200)
- Will Daniels, Jr. WR (6-4, 180)
- Jared Piatnik, Jr. QB (6-3, 185)
- Alec Byrnes, Sr. OL/DL (6-3, 300)
- Brendan MacIntyre, Sr. DE (6-0, 195)
- Sloan Austermann, Sr. DB (6-1, 180)
Joe Piatnik, QB/DB (1,310 all-purpose yards, 17 TDs; now at Bentley); Cal Daniels, WR/DE (9 sacks; CHSCA All-State; now at Stony Brook); Nick Silva, RB/DB (468 yards rushing, 8 TD; CHSCA all-state); Ian Melvin, OL/DL (CHSCA All-State; Cornell)
Bethel is getting used to this.
Since coach Jason Gill took over in 2009, the Wildcats have been among the upper echelon of the SWC and have reached the state playoffs in three of his five years. They’ve even managed to pull some upsets along the way.
That wasn’t the case last year, when Bethel, fresh off an impressive, 20-0 victory over arch rival Brookfield on Thanksgiving, was knocked from the playoffs in a rematch five days later.
Still, the Wildcats had a great 2013 season. They won nine straight games after an 0-2 start. Many of the stars from last year’s run, however, have graduated.
But you wouldn’t know it by glancing at the roster. Bethel still has a Piatnik at quarterback and still has a Daniels at receiver. Huh? Before opponents demand a CIAC inquiry, know that’s junior Jared Piatnik, not Joe. And that’s junior Will Daniels, not Cal.
Yes, Jared Piatnik and Will Daniels assume the same roles as their brothers. If they’re anywhere near as good, Bethel will be all right. Both come from good stock (dad Todd Piatnik starred at Villanova and dad Scott Daniels at UConn in the 1980s) and saw significant time as sophomores. Tough, 6-foot, 200-pound fullback and tri-captain Jared Willsey is the team’s top returning rusher with 225 yards and 4 TDs.
Bethel. once again, is blessed with some size. Junior tackle Eric Almonte (6-2, 235) and tri-captain Ben Cleary return on the offensive lines. Joining them will be senior 6-3, 300-pound Alec Byrnes and junior David Tamburino. Bethel’s ability to push opponents around in its triple option is paramount. “If we can win the battle in the trenches, we should do well this year,” Gill said.
The Wildcats defense, which surrendered just 168 points last year, did suffer significant graduation. Byrnes and senior tri-captain Brendan MacIntryre (83 tackles, 4 sacks) will anchor the defensive front along with 6-1, 180-pound DB Sloan Austermann.
Unlike last year, Bethel’s schedule is favorable in the early going. Beginning with a Week 5 clash at home vs. Newtown, the second half of the season will determine if the Cats can make another playoff run.
Sept. 12 — Weston**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Notre Dame-Fairfield**, 1 p.m.
Sept. 26 — Joel Barlow**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — at New Fairfield**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 — Newtown*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — at Seymour, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 — Pomperaug*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 — at Masuk*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 — New Milford*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 — at Bunnell*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 27 — at Brookfield**, 10 a.m.
* – Conference game
** – Division game