Rocky Hill football captains #22 M.J. Torres, #20 Alex Peruta, and #1 Frankie Guerrera highlighted a senior class that helped head coach Rich Dance put his stamp on the Terriers program over the last four years.
Prior to the season, Rocky Hill High School football coach Rich Dance believed his team was capable of winning seven games this fall.
Then the injury bug hit, forcing starters Alex Peruta, Oleg Korotkyy, and Jaiden Reyes to miss a majority of the season.
Despite the early setbacks, Dance and his Terriers still managed to reach seven wins in what turned out to be a banner season in Rocky Hill.
“It was terribly unfortunate for those kids, but I told the team if you knew we were going to lose these three guys for the season so early and still go 7-3 who would have believed us,” stated Dance. “It’s an achievement and a credit to the team.”
Following a win over Tolland on Nov. 14, the Terriers clinched the Central Connecticut (CCC) Tier IV title. It was the team’s first conference championship since Dance took over in 2019.
“We really put it all together this season and now we're seeing what is possible,” added Dance. “We now see what can happen when we work guys through the system for four years.”
Peruta, who was a returning two-way captain, was lost to a season-ending knee injury in the opener, leaving a major void on the field.
All-conference senior captains Frankie Guerrera and M.J. Torres stepped up and took their games to another level, powering an offense that was led by sophomore quarterback Joey Motes for a majority of the season.
Guerrera was the jack-of-all-trade, racking up nearly 1,700 all-purpose yards and scoring 19 total touchdowns.
In a 42-7 win over Lewis Mills on Oct. 28, Guerrera had a game for the ages when he totaled 263 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns.
Torres was the team’s chain mover, grinding out 940 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also led the team with 58 tackles.
Fellow seniors Alex Muniz, Chris Adamczyk, Vrisan Kuttin, and Yazdan Aftab also made all-conference this fall.
When Dance took over in 2019, the member of the Class of 2023 were freshmen and battled through a 2-8 season and the Covid-cancellation before posting back-to-back competitive seasons the past two years.
Dance said the departing seniors were instrumental in helping him put his stamp on the program.
“This is a special class because it’s the first group of players that I have been with for four years,” said Dance, who joked that the only people that saw the seniors more than him were the player’s parents. “Football is a 12-month out of the year commitment and I work in the building, I live in town, and have gotten to know these kids really well. They have a special place in our hearts for what they’ve meant to the coaches and also what they’ve meant to the program.”
The silver lining to the early-season inquires was that several young players had a chance to be in the spotlight and shine.
Junior Daryl Asante, along with sophomores Eddie Kocaqi and Jayzair Hall each made all-conference.
Dance said the experience the returning players earned should pay dividends going forward.
“We’re bringing respectability back to the program after a couple of down years. Teams are starting to take Rocky Hill football seriously again just like they did with coach [Dave] Coyne and coach [Mark] Fritz,” added Dance. “When Rocky Hill shows up on the schedule, teams know they can’t take us lightly.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin