Week 2: Valley Regional/Old Lyme at Morgan, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
CLINTON – Trailing by a touchdown early in the first quarter of the season opener, Morgan’s quarterback tossed a long touchdown pass. Later in the first half, he followed it an even longer touchdown pass and scored on a run to give Morgan the lead.
Morgan was unable to keep pace with the Stafford/East Windsor/Sommers co-op in the second half and ultimately lost, 39-26. But the first-year starting quarterback’s play left an impression on Stafford’s co-op.
“We scored and then he came back and threw a 78-yard touchdown or something like that,” said Stafford/Somers/East Windsor coach Brian Mazzone, whose team has been to two straight state playoffs and is hoping for a third.
“I’m like, ‘What’s going on right now? My defensive backs, Colton Engle and Julian Rivas are my best athletes. They got beat twice. I was like, ‘What is going on?’”
Mazzone went to Morgan coach Peter Nye after the game, incredulous: ”’Hey, where did this come from? Who’s the quarterback?'”
“’He’s my son,” Nye responded.
Yes, the first-year senior quarterback, JP Nye, is the son of the head coach.
“The toughest position in football is being the coach’s son,” Peter Nye said. “I don’t really give him any credit.. ever. He has to deal with a lot of things at home that I’m upset about, about the team and the way the team handles themselves in and out of school. He has to deal with that.”
Nye threw for 364 yards and accounted for four touchdowns – three throwing – while letting the rest of the Pequot know this isn’t the same 0-10 team from a season ago.
Stafford assistant coach knew right away they might be in trouble when he watched the 6-foot, 170-pound Nye warming up before Friday’s game.
“An assistant coach who comes on game day said, ‘This kid is a stud,’” Mazzone recalled. “Look at these passes he is throwing. They really surprised us.”
For the Nye family, the football doesn’t always just stay on the field.
“I think it is special and it’s something that not everyone else gets to experience,” JP Nye said. “But it’s also very tough at times. At home, it’s constantly talking about football.
“We have a better chemistry. We’re able to communicate better because I am not afraid to talk to my coach.”
Not everyone is fond of the constant football talk around the house.
“My daughter, my wife and my other boys get tired of hearing us talk about football when we don’t realize we are doing it,” Peter said. “I don’t feel like I talk about football a lot at home, but they do. So we try to change the subject and do different things together as a family off the field.”
Last season, JP Nye played wide receiver but was called into quarterback duty due to injuries.
This season JP earned the job, his father said.
‘He’s a bright kid, great leader, class president,” Peter Nye said. “It’s no surprise that the guys rallied around him and rose to the occasion for him.”
JP kept the Huskies in the game time and again.
“I am very grateful that we had a night like we had last Friday. We still both wanted to win so we don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about it,” Coach Nye said. “But I don’t know if there’s a much better (feeling) then having the opportunity to let your son make choices and decisions, earn the respect of his teammates and be there to witness it.”
The winning hasn’t happened at Morgan in over a season.
In his fourth season at the helm after coming over from Hand, where he coached as an assistant for 10 years, Peter Nye coached the Huskies to nine wins and a Class L playoff berth in his first season.
The next season, Morgan won six games. Last year, none.
With 16 starters back the Huskies are ready to move past that.
“Rebuild or not rebuild it doesn’t matter,” Peter Nye said. “It’s prepare the team to play the team you’re going to play. Work hard every single day.”
That’s the mentality the Huskies are taking this season.
“Our team looks at that (0-10 record) like we’re pulling a dog sled through a cold dark night,” Peter Nye said. “Sometimes those are the best memoires and the best lessons.”
Despite the loss to the Stafford co-op the Huskies learned a lot and are planning on taking it with them the rest of the season, including a matchup against Peqout power Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
“It gave us a lot of confidence. Knowing that we can put up a good score against a playoff team,” JP Nye said. “Going into game against Valley, they are traditionally a very good team and they go to the playoffs every year. With the confidence we got against Stafford, we will be able to be more successful against Valley.”
The Huskies got some confidence indeed, but Peter Nye remembers that his team is still going up against Valley Regional.
Morgan has won just 2-of-12 meetings vs. Valley since 2006. Their last win against the Warriors was 40-0 in Nye’s first season, which snapped a seven-year losing streak.
“We had a very good team a few years ago and they didn’t let us off the hook,” Peter Nye said about their 2016 meeting. “They’re going to be prepared. I’m not sleeping well this week. I never sleep well during Valley week.”