Football season — the one that ended last December and the campaign that won’t begin until September alike — may be a long way off, but those invested in the game know the training and preparation pretty much never ends.
Since the crisp autumn nights of football concluded last fall, Shelton High’s football team has been hard at work. Many of the Gaels have been lifting weights in the offseason, and their dedication and hard work paid off with a third-place finish in the Nutmeg State Games 5th annual High School Football Weightlifting Competition in New Britain.
The Gaels lifted a grand total of 12,595 pounds. First-place Newtown lifted 12,955 and runner-up Southington totaled 12,835. Shelton beat out fourth-place finisher and host New Britain (12,390). There were 24 teams in the event.
“I am very proud of the team and the weight lifting coaches. We have placed in the top three the past four years,” Shelton High head football coach Jeff Roy said. “ (Coaches) Dan Dunaj and Justin Stanko do a tremendous job getting our kids bigger, stronger and faster every year.
“It takes a lot of time and effort in order to get to the level that we are at. We started training in December right after our season ended.”
A limited number of team members continue lifting together daily throughout the spring campaign Others are playing spring sports, but that doesn’t stop them. “The kids that are playing a spring sport usually lift twice a week with the team,” said Roy, adding that the lacrosse players and track athletes stay on an in-season lifting schedule.
The dedication and strength-building continue in the hot summer months, where the Gaels have full team lifting and conditioning three days a week, beginning at 6 a.m.
“We want to lift and condition year-round to have the players ready for the football season,” Roy said. “Strength is a big part of football, but we also try and create a culture of winning in the weight room. We have very competitive and intense workouts. This all relates to football and has been a big part of the success we have had on the field the past few years.”
The Gaels are traditionally a state playoff team and had runner-up finishes in 2014 and 15.
Individual winners from the Nutmeg competition are as follows:
In the 161 to 180 pound category: Tyler Janik, third place overall, lifting 905 pounds, and third place in the bench press with 260 pounds. Also in the 161-180 grouping, Jack Carr was first in the power clean with 265 pounds.
In the 201 to 220 group, Zac McEwen was overall, lifting 1,045 pounds. McEwan was first in the squad competition with 495 pounds, second in bench press with 285 and third in power clean lifting with 265 pounds.
In the 220 and over category, Mike Lockavitch earned first place in the power clean competition, lifting 305 pounds.