BEACON FALLS — After a record-setting offensive season, Woodland quarterback Tanner Kingsley and the Hawks are headed back to the workshop to craft some new tools.
Woodland’s top three wide receivers, including record-holders Anthony Scirpo and Rahmi Rountree, will graduate Monday, leaving a vast void in the receiving corps. Developing guys to fill those gaps was a major goal of the Hawks’ spring practice session, which ended Saturday with the Black-White intrasquad scrimmage. The Black squad prevailed, 32-14.
“Throughout springs we’ve had guys who have stepped up,” said Kingsley, a rising senior who set a Naugatuck Valley League record with 3,227 yards and a state record with 51 touchdowns last year. “We have some young wide receivers but they’re smart and they know what they’re doing. It’s just going to take time. Some of the timing is off but we’ll get it done before the season starts.”
Kingsley was 22-of-40 passing for 252 yards, two touchdowns and an interception as he quarterbacked both teams in the scrimmage. He also ran for three touchdowns.
Dylan Abarzua, a rising junior, emerged as Kingsley’s favorite downfield target on the afternoon. Abarzua nabbed four passes for 91 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown pass on a fly early in the game.
Jack Pinho, a rising senior, is the only returning wideout with notable experience. He caught three balls for 49 yards, including a 27-yard score on a desperation fourth-down heave by Kingsley.
“Jack’s a captain and the leader of the wide receivers,” Kingsley said. “He knows what he’s doing out there and he’s going to communicate with them to let them know what they should be doing.”
Rising juniors Pat Hale and Chris McDonald, rising sophomores Sean McAllen and Guy Massimo, and returning veterans Levi Fancher, Brian Zaccagnini and Taylor Tucciarone also caught passes.
“We have a lot of kids in new spots and playing for the first time,” Woodland head coach Tim Shea said. “It showed us an awful lot today. Some kids are going to be alright players for us in the fall. I told the kids not to settle for what they did today.”
McAllen, who starred as a dual-threat quarterback for Woodland’s freshman team last fall, grabbed attention early as the Black team’s starting running back with a 69-yard touchdown run up the middle. He finished with 129 rushing yards and two scores on nine carries, benefitting from blocks by Fancher, a veteran starting tight end. McAllen also picked off Kingsley to set up a Black score.
“I’m not surprised by some of the players who stepped up,” Kingsley said. “McAllen played a hell of a game today. You know what you’re going to get from Levi. We had a lot of guys who played well today.”
Tucciarone, a rising senior, started as the White team’s running back and carried nine times for 12 yards, but caught seven passes out of the backfield for 91 yards.
The White Hawks closed the deficit to 20-14 early in the fourth quarter before touchdown runs by Kingsley and McAllen stretched out the lead to 32-14 to seal the game. Kingsley said he enjoyed quarterbacking both teams but acknowledged the difficulty of rapidly switching game situations.
“It’s tough to get in a rhythm with two different teams,” Kingsley said. “One team, you’re up and trying to manage the clock, and the other team is trying to get into the end zone. But I thought both teams played well.”
Woodland will likely have more parts in the fall, including rising sophomore Coby Vaccarelli. He missed the second half of last season with an ACL tear but is expected to be back by training camp in August and should start on both sides of the ball.
“We’re a work in progress but I think we’re going to be all right,” Shea said.
The Hawks will kick off the 2013 season Sept. 12 against Branford before their NVL opener Sept. 20 against Crosby. Highlighting the schedule is the Week 6 nonconference game at Pomperaug, which is part of the NVL’s crossover schedule with the South-West Conference.
“I told the seniors, ‘Branford is going to be here before you know it,’” Shea said. “We’ll give them a few days off, passing league and lifting will start, and before you know it we’ll be in August.”