BEACON FALLS — Tyler Bulinski is set to ascend into the rarefied air of Woodland quarterbacks.
Bulinski, a senior, enters his third year as the Hawks’ starting signal-caller. With 21 career starts and a 14-7 career record under his belt, he’ll become just the third player in school history to start a third varsity season as Woodland’s starting quarterback.
Whenever a Hawk enters the same conversation as Jared Katchmar (2002-04) and Tanner Kingsley (2011-13), it’s kind of a big deal.
“Tyler improved tremendously over the last three seasons and has made great strides,” Woodland coach Chris Moffo told the Republican-American. “He has a great football IQ. He works very hard at his craft and takes care of the ball very well. He doesn’t put too many balls up in the air for grabs.”
Bulinski will have more responsibility this year as graduation losses left the Hawks with a group of players that Moffo and offensive coordinator Chris Anderson thought would be better suited for the spread offense that Katchmar and Kingsley ran.
Woodland will have to replace All-State players in running back-linebacker Edit Krivca and lineman Josh Hassan. The Hawks have a host of skill players ready to step in, while Alek Tolboe and Ryan Knobel return to anchor the offensive line.
“I really believe in the guys up front,” Bulinski told the Rep-Am. “They’re are going to help me and the team out a lot.”
Bulinski, those two returning linemen and several returning skill players played key roles on last year’s squad that went 9-1 in the regular season and made a trip to the Class S quarterfinals, which ended with a loss to eventual state champion Bloomfield.
“Getting to the playoffs was an eye-opening experience,” Bulinski said. “We learned what we needed to do to compete against such great teams. We have to prepare a lot harder every single day in practice. We all need to have high intensity. I’m really pumped up and excited to get started. We all are.”
Krivca was the undisputed leader of the team last year as the leading rusher and tackler, but now that responsibility will lie with Bulinski, who surpassed the 1,000-yard passing mark last season with eight touchdowns.
“I need to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Bulinski said. “Everyone needs to go 100% every day and makes things perfect. If we do, it will carry over into Week 1 against Torrington (Sept. 13 at home).”
Jason Palmieri, who enjoyed a breakout season on both sides of the ball as a freshman, figures to be the Hawks’ top offensive weapon. He’ll be joined by Zach Kabusk, Nick Rousseau, James Champagne, Nate Bodnar and Joe DeDomenico.
Woodland will open the season at home Friday against Torrington before facing Wilby on Sept. 19 at Crosby. The Hawks will also visit Derby’s brand-new facility for a Sept. 27 meeting to end the first month of the season.