Monday, September 29, 2008

Housatonic looking to improve on 6-4 season


By: KEVIN D. ROBERTS , Register Citizen Staff

FALLS VILLAGE - What will the Housatonic football team do for an encore this season?
The Mountaineers, who co-op with Wamogo, surprised some with a 6-4 record last season, the first winning season for the school since 1993. Using a formidable running game, Housatonic raced out to a 3-1 start. Three consecutive losses in the middle of the season brought the record to 3-4, but the Mountaineers rallied for three straight wins, including a decisive 42-12 win over rival Gilbert in the Berkshire Bowl.

Housatonic lost several key players from last year's team, including running back/cornerback and all-league defensive player Tom Kennedy, all-league defensive end Jesse Backer (also an offensive guard) and Berkshire Bowl co-MVP Johnny Habacker, who played running back and outside linebacker.
"We lost some seniors to graduation that were team players," coach Deron Bayer said. "That happens."

Bayer is looking at the big picture, and part of that picture is the realization that Sept. 20 is the beginning of a new year for Housatonic football. The Mountaineers host last year's Class MM runner-up Tolland.

"As far as we're concerned, last year is over," Bayer said after practice Friday. "This is completely different season. This is a completely different team."

Bayer said the coaching staff has challenged this year's seniors to step up and be leaders like last year's seniors were. He said the team goal has not changed since he started as head coach.

"Our goal is to be as competitive as we can be and be more competitive than last year," Bayer said.

All-Pequot league and Berkshire Bowl co-MVP running back Will Kennedy (senior) leads the returning players, which also include senior offensive tackle/defensive end Ed Ustico, senior offensive/defensive tackle Jake Blass, offensive guard/defensive end Nick Cook, tight end/outside linebacker Pat Kelleher, center/defensive tackle Connor Johnson, running back/linebacker Sam Schwartz and kicker Gian Lovedole.

Newcomers Trevor Watts (senior running back/defensive tackle), Cole Liebrock (offensive/defensive line) and Tanner Brissett (running back/defensive back) will also look to contribute.

Bayer said his team will look to take advantage of its size and experience up front, though the team is lacking in depth. Bayer said that his team will need to scratch and claw every week against a tough league schedule.
"The Pequot League does not get enough respect around the state," Bayer said. "We have tremendous coaches in the Pequot League."

The tests begin immediately for Housatonic with the home opener against Tolland. The Eagles defeated the Mountaineers 34-6 last year on the way to an 8-2 season and a berth in the state playoffs. Tolland advanced to the Class MM state title game, where it nearly pulled off an upset before bowing to NVL power Seymour 44-34. The Eagles lost plenty of players to graduation, but still return good, experienced players this season.

"We're starting with a playoff game," Bayer said of the matchup. "We're hosting a state finalist."
After Tolland, Housatonic travels on the round for two tough road games in a row against Ellington/Somers (7-3 last season) and Avon, a 9-1 team that did not make the playoffs in Class M.

On the field, the single wing will still be run as the Mountaineers look to take advantage of their size. If the offense has the same kind of success it had last season, Housatonic could be in for another strong season.
Bayer cautioned that everyone is starting out "0-and-0" this season and that it's a different year with different players.

"Our goal is always the same," Bayer said. "To be more competitive week to week."
Another part of the experience at Housatonic is teaching life lessons through football, a point Bayer emphasized.

The Register Citizen
190 Water Street,
P.O. Box 58
Torrington, CT 06790

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