NAUGATUCK — The Garnet and Grey football scrimmage last Friday marked the end of the spring practice session for Naugatuck. It also marked a fresh start for a team in transition that will lose 19 seniors to graduation.
The Greyhounds will need to replace their quarterback, top running back, a couple of wide receivers, and a host of players along the line of scrimmage. Several prominent members of the defensive unit will also be among the missing, but spring practice served as a preview for coming attractions.
“Spring practice makes a huge difference on the new guys coming into the program and that goes for new coaches, as well,” Naugatuck coach Rob Plasky said. “It’s a vital tool that helps to get everyone on the same page. The freshman and junior varsity players get acclimated to the varsity playbook as we begin to prepare for the start of another season. We are looking forward to the new season and based on what I’ve seen I’m very optimistic about our chances.”
Plasky, entering his 12th season on the job, sounded very optimistic about the Greyhounds’ chances this fall.
“We have some varsity players coming back that feel we could have been a much better football team than our 6-4 record,” Plasky said of last year’s mark, which was good for fourth in the Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division. “We are pretty excited about what we have coming back and there will be a lot of young players who will see the football field this coming season.”
Naugy doesn’t go into the new season empty-handed. Senior two-way skill players Mick Pernell and Nick Kosa, along with junior wide receivers Nate Franklin and Ryne Griesenauer and quarterback Ricky Plasky are expected to be among the major weapons.
“It is so important to have players like Pernell and Kosa who have been there, and players like Franklin and Griesenauer who were given the opportunity and made the most of it,” Plasky said.
The strength of the ‘Hounds could be in the trenches, led by seniors Brian McGrath, Devon Watkins and Kyle Bruneau, along with junior Kevin Mariano.
“They will be looked on to set the tone for the work ethic that will be expected of everyone,” Plasky said. “Watkins played defense last season but we are moving him to the offensive line. He has looked fantastic. McGrath started every game for us and has turned into a real solid performer, making our line the strength of this team.”
Naugatuck will also try to integrate young players who helped the successful freshman and JV units last year.
“We have freshman and junior varsity players who earned a lot of wins under their belt last year,” Plasky said of the teams, which both finished 7-1. “They have every intention of continuing that success at the varsity level. Year in and year out we are developing successful football players at the freshman and JV level.”
Some of the younger players who made their mark at the freshman level last fall are Jason Bradley, Kyle Pyshna, Matt Grillo, Ricky DeJesus and Will Paul.
At the end of June the team will head to Central Connecticut State University, where Naugy will participate in a football camp.
“Camp will give us an idea of who can execute and be ready to go come fall,” Plasky said. “It gives us the opportunity to break it down and let each player know what they need to work on over the summer in order to compete for a position.”