Spring builds gridiron optimism for ‘Hounds

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Nick Kosa busts through a tackle on his way for a 40-yard touchdown during Saturday's Garnet and Grey annual spring scrimmage. KEN MORSE
NAUGATUCK — After two weeks of seeing what the ‘Hounds will have coming back in the fall to defend their NVL football title, spring practice ended with the annual Garnet and Grey scrimmage.

There were just as many if not more fans in the stands as at a typical Friday night game in September. The bright sunny skies may have had something to do with it along with returning a defending championship team.

Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky was very optimistic about what he saw over the past two weeks. And, not just from his players.

“It was a good ten days of education for our three new coaches to get acquainted to the sidelines,” Plasky said.

Tom Tousignant, Mike Ulatoski and Jim O’Brien have joined the coaching staff and the former Greyhounds will be an asset to the team as it looks to defend its NVL title.

The spring practice and scrimmage gave the coaching staff the chance to take a look at some of the younger Greyhounds.

“It also was a good opportunity for the younger kids to show what they can bring to this team,” Plasky said. “We take great pride in our freshman and junior varsity programs and they have been very successful over the past few years.”

Grooming younger players has been a recipe for success for the Garnet and Grey.

“Last year we brought in a junior varsity linebacker Tim Woodfield, who got a little experience at the varsity level. And on Thanksgiving Day he had a great game for us and will be one of our leading linebackers this coming season,” Plasky said.

Naugatuck graduated a bulk of its defensive backfield but coach Plasky was pleased to see more than a few players begin to step up.

Mick Pernell got the Garnet on the board first taking it in from five yards out, getting a rise out of the large contingent supporters in the crowd in the process.

Matt Harris got the Grey team going with a long run to midfield. Nick Kosa showed his wares busting several tackles on his way into the end zone from 40 yards out to tie the game.

“One thing we do have is a very strong stable of running backs,” Plasky said. “Matt Harris is a Naugatuck kid who transferred from Holy Cross and he will be an impact player. Nick Kosa was our leading junior varsity rusher last year and did a real good job during the spring camp.”

Naugatuck’s Jake Yourison will look to give the Greyhounds a balanced offense attack.

“We plan on using Jake Yourison at quarterback and Mike Schebel is a four-year player who will add to the depth of our offense. We might not come right out throwing the ball like last year. That will take some time to develop. But we plan on having the same kind of balance once we get going.”

That passing game may be a little behind the running game at this point but tight end Besim Bamova made a nice finger tip catch laying out for a 30 yarder right before the half.

One of the key elements to last year’s championship season was the defense. They showed a little play making ability when Mike D’Agnone picked off a pass and returned it 50 yards down the sidelines getting knocked out at the five.

Plasky sees the Greyhounds being strong in the trenches next year as well.

“We have a few players on the line that are ready to step up,” Plasky said. “Nikko Cari didn’t get to see varsity time last year playing behind Aaron Echevarria but he is really coming along. We have a good group of guys ready to step into those roles on the line, and we are going to surprise a few people at what we can put in the trenches.”

The Grey came back and took a brief lead at 12-6 in the third quarter before the Garnet wrapped it up scoring three unanswered scores for the 24-12 win.

Naugatuck graduates 19 seniors this year but from what went on Saturday at the annual Garnet and Grey scrimmage the Hounds look like a team ready to defend a title.