NAUGATUCK — Injuries played a major role in the Naugatuck football team’s roller coaster season last year. The Greyhounds began 2-0 until a depleted line-up saw them drop a tough overtime game to Derby.
At one point, Naugatuck had 21 players on the injury list—but that played out as a positive for the younger players, who were shuffled in and out of the lineup to plug the holes.
One game doesn’t make a season but it can, and often does, change a team’s perspective. Naugatuck has struggled the past few seasons and it’s easy to fall into negative thinking when you start to feel you are four or five games away from the top tier.
On a night when Naugatuck was at a clear disadvantage due to injuries heart won over brawn and the Greyhounds set the wheels in motion for this season’s high expectations.
It was Friday the 13th at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury when Naugatuck, a team that should have been playing out the string, went up against an undefeated Holy Cross team that would go on to win the NVL Championship and play for a state title.
There wasn’t a fan in the confines of the old stadium that even gave Naugatuck a chance, but the Greyhounds pulled off the 8-0 upset win with a patched-up lineup. That defining moment has carried the Hounds through the off-season and has set the tone for high expectations in 2010.
“Actually the injuries allowed us to grow and gain experience,” said Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky, who’s entering his NVL-high 10th season. “We played a lot of younger guys and that helped us to get better as a team coming into this season.
“The off-season has been great,” he continued. “These guys have bonded together. They remember that game against Holy Cross, and we are reaping the benefits. They are confident—and so am I—that we can compete for a division and league title.”
Leading the way for the Greyhounds will be senior captains Aaron Echevarria (OL-DL), Iman Farimani (TE-SS), Andrew Cirino (RB-LB) and Nathan Hollie (OL-LB).
Naugatuck will have plenty of chances to break into the end zone with senior quarterback Erich Broadrich leading the way along with senior wide out Tyler Conklin. In keeping up with their namesake the Greyhounds will unleash a stable of running backs that will be able to pound the ball through the line of scrimmage, led by junior Jake Yourison, who set the stage last season with a 332-yard, five-touchdown performance against Sacred Heart.
Also in the backfield will be Cirino and seniors Dashawn Wingate, Shawn Freeney and Jordan Grier along with junior Mike Schebell and sophomore Nick Cosa.
When Naugatuck does go to the air, Broadrich will have able hands to haul in the long gainers, led by Conklin along with seniors Marquan Williams and Anthony Rosato.
“We will need to put points on the board,” added Plasky. “But the old adage stands. Offense wins games but defense wins championships. … Our defense will need to make an impact. So far in the preseason, I like what I see in our defense. They are fearless, hard-hitting and possess a lot of speed.”
Leading the charge on defense will be senior lineman Nick Douglas along with junior lineman Nico Cari and Mike Giuguno. Cirino, Yourison and Hollie will lead a group of hard-hitting linebackers.
The Greyhounds were scheduled to get the season underway Friday at home when they were to take on the Seymour Wildcats at 7 p.m.