BEACON FALLS — It’s an annual tradition, but it’s never the same.
The Woodland football team concluded two weeks of spring football last Saturday with the Black and White intrasquad scrimmage.
Scores don’t mean much in spring football, but fourth-year head coach Tim Shea said he and his staff were enthused by what they saw.
“I think that as a whole the coaching staff is pleased with the outcome,” Shea said. “A lot of our returning starters were as advertised. Our young skill kids stepped it up.”
The Hawks lost five seniors from last year’s 7-4, Class S quarterfinalist team to graduation, including all-everything quarterback and defensive back Jack DeBiase, secondary mates Craig Genz and Jake Pinho, tight end and defensive end Ian Bures, and wide receiver Robby Johnson.
But those losses leave the entire offensive line and linebacker corps, as well as most of the defensive line intact, including All-NVL backer Zach Plourde, All-Copper linemen Jeremy Clark and Jeff Holder, and All-Copper linebacker Matt Zaccagnini.
“Our whole line is back and the majority of our defense is back, as well,” Shea said. “We’re going to lean on them a lot since they’re our seniors.”
Shea said that even though the team returns an experienced group, there will still be challenges.
“Every year, even though we have a lot of the same people back, there are new problems,” Shea said. “We’re going to try some new things on offense and we’ve got some people to replace in the secondary. Some of these young guys will have to step in.”
The offense will undergo the biggest change after the loss of DeBiase, the program’s all-time leading rusher. DeBiase moved from running back to quarterback in his senior season but still ran more often than not while either under center or in the shotgun.
Rising sophomore Tanner Kingsley saw the bulk of action at quarterback after entering a few games at the end of 2010. Kingsley played about two and a half quarters, according to Shea, while rising junior Brett Fowler played the rest of the game.
“We mixed up the run and the pass,” Shea said. “We completed a lot of balls to a lot of different receivers so we were happy with that.”
Woodland’s running game has been the backbone of the team’s offense since going to the wing-T style in 2007 and figures to be a big part of this fall’s squad. Zaccagnini, a rising senior, as well as rising sophomores Mike Lang and Taylor Tucciarone were the “three main guys,” according to Shea.
Despite a few injuries that kept some players out of the scrimmage, Shea was optimistic about everything he saw on Saturday morning.
“We had played better than I thought,” Shea said. “We’re still breaking down the film and we’ll be doing that for most of the summer.”
In addition to breaking down film, the team will continue its offseason conditioning program in July and August while also participating in some passing leagues and the annual team camp at the University of New Haven at the end of July.
Woodland will start its official pre-season conditioning on Aug. 22 before full practice begins Aug. 27. The Hawks open up the 2011 season with three straight home games, including Sacred Heart on Sept. 16, Ansonia on Sept. 23, and non-league opponent Jonathan Law on Sept. 30.