NAUGATUCK – Naugatuck sports fans might become accustomed this fall to the sight of a stable of thoroughbreds galloping past the competition.
No, horse racing isn’t coming to the borough. But the athletes in the backfield of the Greyhounds football squad has head coach Rob Plasky excited, especially after Saturday’s game, which wrapped up spring gridiron practice for the Garnet and Grey.
“We are loaded at running back,” Plasky gushed, “and that’s a beautiful thing. There is so much competition being built among the guys. They know they’re going to have to work hard, because I’m going to put the best 11 guys on the field.”
Nearly 200 Naugy faithful watched the Hounds’ intra-squad scrimmage on the soccer field on a damp Saturday morning. The running backs — including Dashawn Wingate, Andrew Cirino, Mike Schebell, Marquan Williams and Jake Yourison — took center stage for most of the day, giving fans and the coaching staff the first opportunity to check out Naugatuck’s loaded rushing attack.
“I saw a lot of good things out there from the running backs,” Plasky said. “And it’s not just running the ball, either. It’s blocking and running routes. I’m behind the offensive huddle, too, and I hear the leadership coming from some of the guys before the plays.”
While Plasky was pleased, on the whole, with the rushing performance, six total fumbles in the game was a glaring stat in the negative column. Three of those fumbles resulted in turnovers.
“We had an idea that was going to happen,” Plasky said. “With the wet field conditions, we figured the ball was going to end up on the ground a few times. Not only that, but we have six or seven kids competing for center, and a couple times the ball didn’t even get off the ground. It was a good opportunity for us to evaluate not only the backs but the centers. But in any game, you have to cut down on turnovers if you’re going to win.”
Considering the sloppy conditions, it was no surprise that the final score was 6-0, in favor of the Grey team. The lone score came early in the third quarter on a 60-yard screen pass from Tyler Conklin to Nakeem Robinson. Despite the touchdown pass, Plasky said there will be no quarterback controversy like last year — Erich Broadrick is the surefire signal-caller, and Conklin may emerge as one of the league’s best receivers.
“Erich looked good today,” Plasky said of Broadrick’s performance, which included several well-thrown balls that were dropped and one interception. “Erich is the starting quarterback and Tyler is the number-one wide receiver. Tyler Conklin will be one of the elite receivers in Connecticut this year. They looked fantastic together in the passing league.”
With the quarterback issue put to rest, Plasky said spring practice and Saturday’s game will give him and the coaching staff a head start on answering questions about other positions when practice begins again in August.
“Spring practice is a huge benefit,” Plasky said. “We have four new transfers, freshmen, and kids who have never played before. We want them to learn the system now. We’re going to a camp at Central Connecticut State University later this month, and it would be a waste to bring them if they didn’t know the system, and now they do. I like to know where I am when practice starts in August, instead of finding out then.”