Glastonbury senior football players Jack Petrone (left) and John Desmarais will help lead the Guardians this fall, both starting on offense and on the defensive front seven, which should again be the team’s strength.
With the smell of a brand new field house in the air, the Glastonbury High School football team hopes that the 2022 season offers a refreshing start.
Head coach Eric Hennessy is entering his fourth year with the program—one season lost to the Covid-19 cancellation—and feels there is a positive vibe around practice.
“We’ve had good energy, they are excited to be here,” Hennessy said about the returning players. “They are working hard and they understand the importance of that after going through a disappointing season.”
Last fall, the Guardians finished 2-8. They lost their first four games—three of those losses by a single score—and battled a multitude of injuries throughout the season.
A healthy, invigorated group returns this fall wanting to prove that last year’s struggles are a thing of the past.
Seniors John Desmarais, Danny Ryan, Jake Jackson, and Jack Anglim will captain the team on the field.
Senior Jack Petrone, who ran for 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns despite playing in only nine games, is the team’s lone returning all-conference player.
“We have to leave everything on the field,” stated Petrone. “We want to go out there and play our hardest every game.”
Petrone will again carry the rock for the Guardians and start at linebacker for a defensive front seven (defensive line and linebackers) that should again be the team’s strength.
Five of seven starters from the front seven are back, and has six of the starters this fall earned extensive playing time a season ago
Desmarais, who recently committed to play football collegiately at Hamilton College, said he feels that the team’s front seven is as good as any in the state.
He added that this season the team can’t afford to take any plays off, saying “We need seven dawgs giving 100% every single play. We have to get into that mindset that we are coming after that quarterback and running backs every play, and we’ll be after you all game.”
Joining Petrone and Desmarais in the front seven will be Jackson, Ryan, Jordyn Sams, Danny Bowman and Kevin Delbon.
Hennessy praised Jackson and Ryan for embracing the team’s offseason weight training program, saying both were “tough-nosed kids” who have “worked tremendously hard.”
The team implemented a strength and conditioning program, led by Zachary Bohling, in the offseason that Hennessy took over. Hennessy said the program has made all the difference
“We’re finally seeing the rewards of our strength program,” said Hennessy. “We’re seeing a team that may not be a real big team, but we are strong and athletic and explosive.”
There is again a competition between who will guide the team offensively with Anglim and fellow senior Drew Curto vying for the quarterback position. Both took turns starting behind center a season ago and Hennessy said it will again come down to what the data shows throughout training camp and in the team’s scrimmages.
Hennessy wants a ball control offense that dominates time of possession and said he’s looking for a signal caller who will manage the game and pop the occasional big play, adding, “It is a good problem to have because there is good competition there and you can’t go wrong with either one.”
Desmarais, who also plays tight end, said the offensive will roll with either quarterback.
“I’m ready to go out and fight with whoever is in there. I am confident with both of them,” added Desmarais. “Whoever coach Hennessy picks is going to be the right person to lead us.”
The team feels they left some plays on the field a year ago and Hennessy said that the coaching staff has preached throughout training camp about not being the “weak link”.
“We are going to have to count on every single person on this team to contribute in some way,” stated Hennessy. “It might be as a starter. [The players] have to understand that they are one play away from having to go out there and play. We have to have every single person giving maximum effort.”
2022 graduates and all-conference selections Jack Hennessy and Matt Daniels will be the toughest pieces to replace from last season. Both impacted both sides of the ball and Hennessy, who will play football at Southern Connecticut State University this fall, made all-state for his work as a defensive end.
The opening of the new Field House, which is equipped with modern locker rooms and plenty of space to watch film, should give the team a morale boost.
Last year, the Guardians were a home team without a home and had to change in the parking lot and hold halftime meetings on the field while the construction of the new field house was ongoing. The team ended up losing all five games at GHS a season ago.
Coach Hennessy said it’s nice for the team to again have a “place to hang our helmets” and the improvements finally give the team a sense of normalcy following the last two years of Covid cancellations and restrictions.
But before the first game kicks off, the team already has an obstacle to overcome because a scheduling snafu gives the Guardians only four home games instead of the customary five. However, they do open with three of their first four games at GHS, starting with a home date with Brien McMahon of Norwalk on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6:00 p.m.
Because of the new crossover scheduling, McMahon and Norwich Free Academy are two new opponents for the Guardian this fall.
Regardless of the amount of home game or opponents, Hennessy said the goal is to compete for “four solid quarters”
For the seniors, who have been with Hennessy since he first took over the job, they aim to go out on a high note.
“It’s our last shot to make the playoffs and go far, and that’s what we are trying to do,” said Petrone. “We just have to keep the intensity up and play with fierce attitudes.”
Desmarais added, “We’re trying to build that culture of competition. That’s what the senior class is trying to do and we want that to last for years after us.”
Glastonbury High School’s football team in the new Field House, which opened on August 11.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin