Hawks start to find answers at spring game

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Jake Pinho (3) runs behind the lead blocking of Zack Happy (55) as Alex Bloomingdale (18) tries to get into the backfield. Pinho will be one of many effective running backs for the Hawks in the fall, but questions at other positions will need to be answered.

BEACON FALLS — One thing will be sure about the Woodland football team this fall: Senior Jack DeBiase will be the man on both sides of the ball.

Besides the returning all-state running back, though, little of the Hawks’ starting lineup will be set in stone come September. Questions surround the inexperienced offensive and defensive lines, and the team’s quarterback likely won’t be named until mere days before Sept. 16’s opener against Ansonia.

Last Wednesday’s Black and White spring game was an opportunity for head coach Tim Shea and the Woodland coaching staff to begin the process of answering those questions. Scores mean little in spring games, but for those keeping track at home, the Black squad claimed a 16-6 victory.

DeBiase got his touches, but Shea was more concerned about the rest of the team learning just a fraction of Woodland’s offensive playbook, as next year’s squad figures to be one of the most inexperienced units the Black and Gold will turn out since its early varsity days.

“We graduated four linemen, our quarterback, and our athlete,” Shea said of the holes left by the class of 2010. “We took it slowly in springs; we went back to real basics, even as far as how to get dressed. We tell the kids in the film room, ‘Now you’re in the front of the room. Act like it.’

“We were very basic play-wise. We wanted to work on a few things and run them well. It’s stuff to build on in the summer.”

Most of Woodland’s offense—as expected—was based on the running game, which should be a strong point for the Hawks again this year. With DeBiase as the starting tailback, a number of players have chances to see time in the trademark wing-T offense, including seniors Jake Pinho, Craig Genz, Chris Williams and Chris D’Occhio, plus junior Matt Zaccagnini.

Pinho and Zaccagnini both found the end zone for the Black team in the fourth quarter, helping their side overcome a 6-0 deficit, and earning bragging rights. Pinho routed an 85-yard run down the right sideline on the first play of the final period before Zaccagnini pounded in a two-point conversion run.

Zaccagnini scored later in the quarter on a 23-yard gallop to the left side following an interception by junior Tom Gendreau. Zaccagnini added another conversion to seal the score at 16-6.

As good as the running game looked at times, Shea said the quality of the offensive line will make or break the Hawks’ ground attack.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in the backfield,” Shea said. “The better team you are up front, the better you are. We have no senior linemen, so the crew we have will be here a while. We need them to work hard.”

That line won’t only be paving the way for Woodland’s running backs, but it will have to protect whoever earns the starting quarterback spot. Three players—senior Scott Lang and sophomores Anthony Scirpo and Brett Fowler—saw time under center during the scrimmage. Lang saw the most work, scoring on a 3-yard sneak for the White team to give that side a 6-0 lead, but also threw an interception in the fourth quarter. Scirpo and Fowler each completed about half his passes.

“We’re going to watch film and break them down,” Shea said. “We have passing league and football camps to go to, which will help as well. It’s going to go right down to the wire, probably the last few days before the Ansonia game. It’s up in the air.”