MIDDLETOWN>> If Bruce Springsteen was the public address announcer at Palmer Field when Xavier opens its 2013 football season against Staples on September 11, one might envision hearing his emotional, soul shouting voice introduce the Falcons in a manner usually reserved for the E Street Band.
“Ladies and gentlemanâ€¦.introducing your heart stoppin’, earth shakin’, history makin’, legendary Xavier Falcons football team!”
Heart stoppin’? There’s a stunning 50-49 victory against eventual Class M champion Hillhouse last October at Bowen Field where the Falcons rallied from a 49-21 deficit in the fourth quarter.
Earth shakin’? There’s a 42-7 pounding over Staples in the 2011 Class LL title game at Rentschler Field where the Falcons ran roughshod over the previously unbeaten Wreckers, outgaining Staples 505-175.
History makin’? There’s back-to-back undefeated seasons, a 30-game winning streak, and a state record three straight Class LL state championships (2010-2012).
Legendary? Well, that certainly will be the case if senior captains Joe Carbone, Will Garrity and Andrew Meoli can lead the Falcons to another state title this season.
“You don’t hear, ‘How are you going to do this year?’ All you hear is four-peat.” said Xavier coach Sean Marinan. “We’ve talked about that to the kids. It’s not fair but that’s the reality of it. That’s the legacy that has been handed to you. Are we going to do it or not? Obviously, we’re going to work towards that goal and try. But this is a different team and a different year.”
Like most teams who have sustained a lengthy level of success, graduation losses can be daunting. The Falcons lose Tim Boyle, DeAngelo Berry, James Sullivan, Kris Luster, Max Tylki, Jonah Dorsey, Kevin Dean, Zack Creeron, Max Schumann, and Ben Lisle from a team that went 12-1 and defeated Norwich Free Academy, 48-14, in the Class LL championship.
Still, expectations are as high as ever on Randolph Road. And that optimism starts with the Falcons’ captains.
“Joe, Will and Andrew are hard workers who played significant roles for us last year,” said Marinan. “They’re a good group of leaders who lead by example. There is (pressure) and there are a lot of expectations on them.”
Carbone (6-2, 212) replaces Boyle (UConn) at quarterback and he’ll bring a unique dynamic to the Falcons offense.
“Joe’s a good runner and we’re going to try and take advantage of that and put some pressure on the defense with his legs,” Marinan explained. “He’s got to be Joe. He can’t try to be Tim. He’s more similar to (former quarterback) Pat D’Amato. I think Joe’s arm is as good as Tim’s. His mechanics aren’t quite where Tim’s were when he was here. But he’s making progress and consistently moving forward and getting better.”
Meoli (5-11, 190) is a terrific running back/defensive back, while Garrity (5-11, 219) will anchor the offensive line and lead a solid linebacking unit.
Senior defensive back and receiver Nate Gonzalez (6-0, 182) is also poised to have a big year. Gonzalez played most of last season with a broken hand and still came up with seven interceptions.
Marinan is also expecting big things from junior lineman Chidi Broderick (6-1, 240), junior tight end/linebacker Jesse Bonner (5-11, 195), junior linebacker Max Scherer (5-10, 173), and sophomore linemen Kaleb Lutton (6-2, 225) and Kevin Lawrence (6-2, 278).
Along with the non-league opener against Staples, Xavier’s Southern Connecticut Conference schedule includes Hillhouse (Oct. 4), West Haven (Ken Strong Stadium, Oct. 18), Notre Dame (Oct. 25), Hand (Surf Club, Nov. 1) and Shelton (Nov. 8).
“You better bring your ‘A’ game because the talent and coaching level is very high and everybody is physical,” said Marinan. “We’re no one’s underdog and that’s good. We want to keep the level of play up.”
Marinan is a Xavier alumnus who also played football at Princeton. His two sons, Sean, Jr., a redshirt freshman defensive tackle at UConn, and Paul, a Falcons junior linebacker, are following in his footsteps. “Sean’s had a good spring and a good camp,” he said. “He injured his back last season a week before camp. But he’s in a good place now.”
Marinan, who also led Xavier to the Class LL title in 2005, has a career mark of 92-31-1 (.746) in 12 seasons at the Falcons helm. And he doesn’t mind hearing the words “four-peat.”
“Since we’ve started practice the kids have been working hard and doing what we’ve asked them too,” Marinan said. “If we can be successful and pull it off again, they can put their names in the books and write their own history.”