Wethersfield football captains (l-r) Luke Whitaker, Nick Guglielmo, Evan Christian, and Ben Caulfield are back to lead an Eagles team coming off a 6-4 season last fall.
The Wethersfield High School football team used the offseason to get bigger, stronger, and more explosive.
Head coach Matt McKinnon hopes the extra time in the weight room translates to a more physical team that plays with passion.
“I knew we had something special up front with our o-line,” McKinnon said of the offseason workouts.
Right tackle Ryan Spadaro, right guard Evin Adhin, center Alex Sifnakis, left guard Chance Krawczyk, and left tackle Joey Yost make up an offensive line that the Eagles will lean on to grind out yards and dominate time of possession.
Kaleb Garcia, who shined on the defensive line a year ago, will add fullback to his duties and act as the team’s quasi-sixth offensive lineman.
“It started in the weight room in January. They lived in the squat rack,” said McKinnon, whose team hosted and won a weight lifting competition in March, “A lot of guys were close to 500 pounds squatting. We are light years ahead of last year with strength.”
Captaining the team are Evan Christian, Nick Guglielmo, Luke Whitaker, and Ben Caulfield.
Christian is coming off an all-conference season as a linebacker, finishing with 88 tackles (seven for loss). He will now shift down to play defensive end.
Guglielmo will also play on the defensive line and said to expect a team that is relentless from the first snap to the last.
“It’s a different mentality, we are all ready to go,” added Guglielmo.
Whitaker and Caulfield will head a defensive secondary that always seems to be a unit of strength in Wethersfield.
“We’ve got a lot of energy this year, we’ve been waiting for this for a while,” stated Whitaker, who will play safety.
Caulfield –– who enters his second year as a starting cornerback –– added, “We’re working hard and getting better every day.”
Behind center will be junior Cam Righi, who earned starting experienced a season ago.
Righi, a 6’3” athletic specimen that has already committed to play baseball at the University of Connecticut, is the perfect fit for an offense that wants to physically punish opposing teams.
“Cam is a great kid that comes from a great family. He respected all of his coaches and his teammates,” said McKinnon. “He leads by example and he wants to lead this team. The entire team believes in him.”
All-conference wide receiver Ethan Lemos returns as one of Righi’s main threats on the outside and Jova’n Hill, who led the team with 610 rushing yards last fall, will set the pace for a deep and versatile offensive backfield.
A year ago, the Eagles won six of their first eight contests before dropping the final two games to rivals Middletown and Newington.
McKinnon believes the work in the offseason, combined with a fresh start are exactly what the team needed.
“The energy level has been great,” stated McKinnon, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach and 10th season overall with the program. “They are a family on the field, and I am loving the aggressiveness and effort in practice.”
Wethersfield opens with a tough test on the road at Windsor on Friday, Sept. 9, kicking off at 7 p.m. The Eagles are aiming to avenge a 20-0 loss to the Warriors of Windsor from a season ago.
The team returns home on Friday, Sept. 23 to welcome Joel Barlow from Redding to Cottone Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Christian said to expect a team that plays with “energy for the entire game”.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin