Season preview: Football

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Naugatuck

2019 results: 5-5 (2020 season cancelled)

Graduated: Blake Andrews, Michael Hill, Cass Miller, Jason Spino, Tyler Ruisi, Ethan Garcia, Connor Maxwell, Ernest Nyuggwila, Nick Linton, Aaron Smith, Tim Northrup, Matthew Munno, Travis Caetano, Denzel Amoako, Steven Dwyer, Charlie Sinotte, Ayden Tripp

Seniors: Syed Ali, Nicholas Aliegrini, Jibree Bartelle, David Bien, Jacobi Brown, Cesar Candelario, Kyle Johnson, Nick Lauer, Andrew Lee, Louis Lugo, Matthew Minasian, Emmanuel Peele, Joe Pinho, Omar Redd, Aiden Robertson, Jacob Sanchez, Giovonny Santos

Season opener: Sept. 10 at Oxford

The Greyhounds are on their third coach in the last three years. Dave Sollazzo resigned after the 2019 season, and Ollie Gray served as interim coach during the shortened 2020 season, when the Greyhounds got some 7-on-7 and lineman-challenge experience.

Chris Anderson, who led Woodland to two state titles in 2004 and 2005, takes over and brings a strong coaching staff with him. It’s his first head coaching job outside of Beacon Falls.

“I’m locked in, for sure,” Anderson said. “I have to be. It’s the only way I know how to be. It’s all-in or bust. I’m motivated, challenged, hungry and passionate, for sure.”

Jibree Bartelle will be a key component of the Greyhounds as a senior quarterback and captain, and most of Naugatuck’s major contributors will be new to the varsity field.

Woodland

2019 results: 9-2, Class S quarterfinalist (2020 season cancelled)

Graduated: Elijah Johnson, Joe DeDomenico, Angelo Kollcinaku, Matthew Deptula, Andrew Shea, Nick Rousseau, Justin Petta, Josh Morrone, Brett Barrett, James Troy, Nathan Grom, Mike Bunce

Seniors: Nate Bodnar, Ben Brooks, Jay D’Angelo, Josh Gibson, Matt Gunnison, Anthony Hernandez, Tyler Lato, Josh Morales

Season opener: Sept. 10 at Crosby

Back-to-back trips to the state quarterfinals seem like a distant memory for Woodland, but that’s exactly what they Hawks put together in their last two years on the field. A lot has changed since then, though.

Joe Lato, the former Masuk coach and Beacon Falls resident, enters his first year leading the Hawks and takes over for Chris Moffo, who resigned after four years as head coach. Lato has brought plenty of enthusiasm and winning experience to the already tradition-rich Hawks, but there are plenty of obstacles to overcome.

Like seemingly all teams in the area, the mere numerical size of the squad — in the low 30s when everyone is healthy — will pose a challenge. So, too, will experience. Nate Bodnar and Ben Brooks saw significant playing time in 2019, but the rest of the Hawks will be newer to the fold. Jason Palmieri, who was Woodland’s best player two years ago as a sophomore, transferred to Cheshire Academy. Junior Darren Gasparri will take over as quarterback.

Slow and steady progress will be the name of the game for Lato and the Hawks.

“We’re going to stick to mastering the basics,” Lato said. “We’re going as slow as I’ve ever gone in my career, but I’m not frustrated. We have a great group of kids and I’m having a lot of fun.”