Shelton High is anxious to get the football season started, as coach Jeff Roy’s Gaels showed in their scrimmage with Ansonia High at Finn Stadium on Sept. 5.
Kyle Drost took a squibbed kickoff to open the contest and ran 59 yards untouched for a touchdown. Sam Kirk’s successful PAT made it 7-0 with only 14 seconds off the clock.
Shelton quarterback Mark Piccirillo ran in it in from the three-yard line with 3:57 remaining in the first period, and the Gael defense twice stopped Ansonia on fourth-and-goal situations.
The varsity played only the first two quarters, with Shelton sitting out Jason Thompson, Matt Herlihy, Jeremy Tarameli, and the Chargers playing without Arkeel Newsome, JaiQuan McKnight and Ryan Hovan.
One thing is certain, Shelton is older, healthy and will be ready to take on Trumbull High in its opener tonight at 7 at Finn Stadium.
“I’m extremely happy,” Roy said. “The players did what was needed in the weight room and over the summer and are going after it as a team.
“It was one of those years (a 6-4 season in 2012). Injuries mixed with our youth, especially at skill positions, took its toll. In our league (Southern Connecticut Conference) you can’t get away with that.
“We lost Jason Thompson (running back) in the first game and he’s back. Trevor Searles (center) had a knee injury and he’s back, and Craig Melvin (guard) was another kid out with an injury.”
Thompson, a 5-8, 175 pound senior, will be the featured back behind Piccirillo, a junior quarterback.
“It’s tough to play quarterback in our league as a sophomore, because you can’t substitute for game experience,” Roy said of the 5-10, 175-pound Piccirillo.
“Mark’s a year older and wiser. He’s put on ten pounds, his arm strength is better and he’s also faster.”
Piccirillo passed for 1,558 yards and 15 touchdowns, with four interceptions, a year ago.
The Gaels boast a solid group of receivers, led by Drost, Mike Pinagree and Christian Federici (6-3, 190 pounds).
Drost, a 6-3, 210-pounder, caught 24 passes good for 425 yards and seven touchdowns. Pinagree (6-1, 170 pounds) caught 14 balls for 180 yards and a score.
Searles (5-11, 220 pounds) will be joined on the offensive line by Melvin (5-9, 210 pounds), Jacob Grasso (6-1, 225 pounds), Christopher Pawlowski (6-4, 195 pounds) and sophomore Matt Zelanin.
“We’ve been playing great defense,” Roy said. “They all are on point, playing with speed and playing with aggression.”
Thompson, Marquet Humphries, Troy Vasilescu, Mike Ortoli and Drost led the linebackers in the preseason, with Grasso, a three-year starter, and Federici up front.
Pinagree, with great speed and ball anticipation, heads up the secondary along with Wadson Petithomme and Ed Deptula.
“We’re used to being challenged each week in our league, so we don’t look ahead,” Roy said. “We game plan each week for that team, and if we do what we do well we’ll be okay.”
Trumbull is coming off a 5-5 season that saw the Eagles score more than 30 points in four games last season.
In four losses last season, Trumbull allowed opponents to score an average of 56 points.
Trumbull did show resolve, defeating Darien 39-26 and holding on to a 44-42 win over Bridgeport Central.
The Eagles have 23 seniors, led by Nick Roberts, a three-year starter at quarterback. The targets down field will be seniors Eric Anderson, Jeff Sam and TJ Hayduk, along with Quentin Brunetti, Liam Moore and Hunter Sharkey.
Trumbull has three solid options on the ground, with senior running backs Marc Cesare and Andrew Marino teaming up with junior Adam Angelucci.
Sept. 12 Trumbull, 7
Sept. 20 Guilford, 7
Sept. 27 at Amity, 7
Oct. 4 at Foran, 7
Oct. 11 Fairfield Prep, 7
Oct. 18 at Wilbur Cross, 3:15
Oct. 25 Daniel Hand, 7
Nov. 1 Hamden, 7
Nov. 8 at Xavier, 7
Nov. 15 at West Haven, 7
Nov. 28 at Derby, 10:30