Hawks seek to fly high with spread offense


Woodland quarterback Tanner Kingsley (green jersey) looks for an open receiver during a scrimmage Aug. 29 against Oxford in Beacon Falls. Kingsley will be leading what the Hawks hope will be a high-powered spread offense. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Some folks believe 2012 is the year of the apocalypse. Everything’s going to end because the Mayan calendar says so, they contend.

But in Beacon Falls, 2012 is a year of rebirth — for the Woodland football program, at least. That’s because this year marks the return of the spread offense.

The spread, which helped put the Hawks on the Connecticut high school football map last decade under coach Chris Anderson and quarterbacks Jared Katchmar and Alex Dorosh, is back after a six-year hiatus.

Junior quarterback Tanner Kingsley is the third quarterback in school history to be entrusted with the keys to the high-powered offense. But the spread’s return isn’t for nostalgia (or to get one more year of the spread in before the world ends) — it’s the best way to exploit the team’s weapons.

“It’s a good problem to have,” said head coach Tim Shea, who is entering his fifth year at the helm. “[Offensive coordinator Tim] Phipps does a great job of finding ways to get the ball to different kids.”

Wide receivers Anthony Scirpo and Rahmi Rountree will be Kingsley’s top targets and will likely make up the best one-two outside combination in the Naugatuck Valley League. But the speedsters won’t be Kingsley’s only options.

Tight ends Levi Fancher and Brian Zaccagnini, slot receivers Brian Reis, Brett Fowler and Jack Pinho, and running backs Joe Fancher and Taylor Tucciarone have all caught passes during the preseason. Wide receiver Mike Kenney will join the mix when he returns from injury.

“It’s a lot of fun when you have weapons like Scirpo and [Rountree],” Kingsley said. “We have slot receivers who do great jobs and big tight ends.”

Rountree thinks the combination of he and Scirpo will create matchup problems in the secondary.

“Most teams don’t have two really good corners so it will be hard for them to defend us,” he said. “You never know which side the ball is coming with us. We have a lot of up-tempo practices. Defenses will get worn down because we’re used to it, and they’re not used to so many pass plays.”

Kingsley was considered a game manager last year, when the Hawks went 6-4 and finished third in the Copper Division. This year he’ll be that and more.

“This year he’s expected to control the offense, be more of a leader and take the team up and down the field,” Shea said. “He’s been great at it so far.”

“I love being the man of the offense and controlling it,” Kingsley said.

Shea has been impressed with the play of Kingsley’s offensive line, which replaced every starter except Jeremy Clark.

“I thought the big thing that would hold us back was our line play but those kids are coming together very nicely,” Shea said. “They’re playing tough.”

Defense in pressure situations was a glaring weakness last season. It cost the Hawks late-season wins against Torrington and Wolcott that would have gotten them to the playoffs.

“The biggest challenge we’re going to have is stopping the run and getting off the field on third down,” Shea said. “That hurt us last year at times and that’s what we’ve been working on. We’re not huge on defense and the NVL is a run-dominated league, so we need to figure out a way to do it.”

Shea says this year’s seniors either played in or watched from the sidelines the tough losses of the last few years so they know how close the team has been. To win the division for the first time since 2007, those losses will have to become wins.

“We’ve given a few away so that’s in the back of our minds as a staff,” Shea said. “A few of the seniors now have been here for those. [Winning the division] by no means an easy challenge but it’s something we can shoot for. They’re constantly reminded of the past success by the weight room and alumni on staff.”

Woodland is set to open up the season Thursday against Sacred Heart at Municipal Stadium.