Season-opener in sight

LeMetrik ‘Duke’ Smith (22) cuts back up the field during the Naugatuck Valley Riverdawgs’ Gray versus White scrimmage July 22 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

LeMetrik ‘Duke’ Smith (22) cuts back up the field during the Naugatuck Valley Riverdawgs’ Gray versus White scrimmage July 22 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — While most football teams still have to wait about a month for the regular season start, the season-opener is just around the corner for one team in Naugatuck.

The Naugatuck Valley Riverdawgs, a Naugatuck-based semi-pro team playing its first season in Major League Football, will open their regular season on Aug. 6 at Naugatuck High School against the Silver City Wolves out of Meriden. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

John Sanders, captain, quarterback and founder of the Riverdawgs, is a former teammate of the Wolves’ owner and said that relationship should make the game a bit more personal and meaningful.

“Expect a hard-hitting in-your-face kind of game,” Sanders said.

The Riverdawgs have been training the past couple months for their inaugural season. Sanders said the team is at a point where the offense can be explosive and the defense can do enough to get the job done. He said that combination should give them a good chance to win versus Silver City, which is also a first-year team.

“We have been studying film of the Wolves so we are ready for them,” Sanders said. “We have a high-powered offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense.”

Sanders added the team’s performance in the preseason has given the players a lot of confidence going into game one.

“Preseason went great,” Sanders said. “Training camp was crazy with the heat. But our coaches, John Esser (head coach and defensive coordinator), Dan Labirte, James Clark (special teams coordinator), Joel Balisciamo, Hunter Esser, and our GM Diane Laures kept us on the right track and got us together as a team.”

John Sanders (9) looks down field for an open receiver during the Naugatuck Valley Riverdawgs’ Gray versus White scrimmage July 22 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

John Sanders (9) looks down field for an open receiver during the Naugatuck Valley Riverdawgs’ Gray versus White scrimmage July 22 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Riverdawgs played their first annual Gray versus White game, a preseason scrimmage, July 22 at Naugatuck High. Sanders said the game went a lot better than expected. Sanders threw for four touchdowns, three to wide receiver Jeremy Caraway and one to wide receiver Daniel Nazario. Percy Gladding also had a 20-yard touchdown run.

Sanders said Gladding, Caraway, Marcus Daniels (wide receiver), Carlos Martinez (defensive tackle), Anthony Goldberg (defensive end), John Esser (linebacker), Adam Grantmeyer (linebacker), Alex Luna (cornerback), and the entire offensive line are players to watch for in the opener.

Sanders said a win over the Wolves in the season-opener would be a huge step for the team coming out of the gate.

“It would mean the world to me and this team if we started off the season with a W,” Sanders said. “We set team goals and our number one goal was to make an impact right out of the gate.”

Tickets for the game are $7 at the gate. People can also call 203-982-9665 to buy season passes for $35.