NAUGATUCK — As Rob Plasky enters his 11th season at the helm at Naugatuck High, he may only return a select few of the starters from the 2010 Naugatuck Valley League championship and playoff season, but he still has plenty of talent in the mix.
“The kids are hungry,” Plasky said. “The statement we made at the end of last year was that teams would be gunning for us and the only way to stay on top is if we worked hard in our conditioning.”
Among the leaders of the team will be three-year starter Jake Yourison, a running back and middle linebacker.
“I told Jake that he needed to take on the role of being a leader like Montrell Dobbs did for Ansonia last year,” Plasky said. “We don’t need Jake to be ‘Montrell.’ We have other guys to help him offensively. We are loaded at running back.”
They include junior Nick Kosa, who was sidelined in 2010 with an injury, sophomore Nate Franklin, junior Mick Pernell and senior Mike Schebell.
“Nick is also going to play middle linebacker and Nate has no fear,” Plasky said. “Mick, our placekicker, has shown an ability to play in the slot as a receiver and can run the football.”
Senior guard Nikko Cari, senior tackle Mike Giugno and senior Tim Woodfield, all returning starters, will anchor the offensive line.
The Greyhounds, who played their opener at Killingly last season, had only a one-year agreement with the school.
“Last year, we had no other choice but to schedule Killingly because there was no other school on the Connecticut map we could play.”
This year, Plasky needed to fill the opening week and found East Longmeadow, Mass.
“I went to Springfield College and was familiar with schools in that area and tried to find schools in the Massachusetts-Rhode Island area,” Plasky said. “East Longmeadow had an opening.
“[Woodland coach] Tim Shea went to a wing-T camp in that area a few years ago and I thought he would have contacted them for their nonleague game,” Plasky continued. “I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but then found out that Tim had scheduled another game with Jonathan Law (Milford).”
Once he knew that, Plasky then made a call and arrangements with East Longmeadow. There’s only one glitch. A turf field is currently being installed there. If the field is not ready in time for the Sept. 16 opener, the game would be moved to Naugatuck.
“I didn’t care where we play the game,” said Plasky.
Plasky has added three former Greyhound players to the coaching staff: Tom Tousignant and Mike Ulatoski, starters on the 2005 team, and Jim O’Brien, a starter on the 2001 NVL champion squad.
The Greyhounds will start conditioning Aug. 22 and have their first scrimmage against Amity Aug. 31. After visiting East Longmeadow in Week 1, Naugy will host Derby Sept. 23 and will visit St. Paul Oct. 1.