WALLINGFORD — Head coach Bill Weyrauch saw Lyman Hall football make a big leap forward in his first campaign with the Trojans in 2017.
Lyman Hall went 5-5, matching its win total of the previous five seasons combined, and Weyrauch was named the SCC Tier 3 Coach of the Year.
Needless to say, there was much-needed excitement around the program last year and Weyrauch’s boys will strive to improve in 2018.
“We are going to make a lot of noise this year,” LH senior captain Amiri Vaughn said. “A lot of people have been doubting us and it’s time for people to understand what Lyman Hall football is about. I have nothing but confidence in my team and I feel that we are going to do a lot of big things this year.”
The optimisim is spread throughout the Phil Ottochian Complex. The Trojans return a good crop of skill players on the offensive side of the ball. They return eight starters on defense.
“I feel cautiously optimistic,” Weyrauch said. “I think we have some talent here. We have to put it together, obviously.
“We have some good linemen coming back, but we don’t have a lot of depth. So one of the main goals this year is going to be to stay healthy going into the season.”
After last year’s leap to .500, Lyman Hall’s main goal for 2018 is to make the postseason.
“We want to win more games and make the playoffs and turn this program around,” said senior captain Austin Ruiz. “We haven’t make the playoffs in six years. We would like to that back.”The offense
Lyman Hall graduated backfield bellcow Randy McFarline. The All-Record-Journal and All-SCC Tier 3 running back/linebacker rushed for 943 yards and nine TDs last fall, both team highs.
But the cupboard wasn’t left bare. Ruiz (96-529, 3 TDs) returns for his senior campaign and expects to be the main Trojan to carry the rock, along with fellow senior Louis Ferri.
Weyrauch said Lyman Hall will always look to run the ball.
“If we can do that, we will always try to do that first,” the head coach said. “We are going to try establish our pass game through our run game first.
“But I tell you what, we went down to the passing leagues this summer and, when we lined up in the spread formation, we can throw the ball around the field also.”
LH has new a new quarterback: Sean Pragano, a junior transfer from North Branford.
“Sean moved to Wallingford later on last (school) year,” Weyrauch said. “He’s tremendously dedicated to the sport of football and works really hard. He defines himself by playing quarterback. He doesn’t play another position. But he works more than I’ve seen anyone else work at it. It’s great to have him. We are happy to have him on our team.”
Juniors Shakespeare Rodriguez and Spencer Evans will be two of the top weapons in the passing game. Rodriguez caught 12 balls for 192 yards and a touchdown in last season’s run-heavy offense.
“If we have our power formation or spread formation, we will have some talent on the field,” Weyrauch said. “That’s a big positive.”
The offensive line, which lost an All-RJ and All-SCC Tier 3 player in center Andrew McClure, projects with seniors Qristopher Johnson and Bryan Martin at the tackles, senior Zach Kizer and junior Mark Franco at guard, and junior Jaiden Garcia at center.
Junior Joshua Seichter and sophomore Lucas O'Reardon are the tight ends.The defense
Kizer, a senior defensive end and also a team captain, has proven to be a force. He was easy to spot on the field last fall with 60 tackles and nine sacks.
His junior season was recognized by the media (All-Record-Journal), the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (All-State Class M) and the SCC (All-Conference Tier 3).
Kizer, however, hardly feels fulfilled.
“Personally, I don’t think I deserved the accolades that I was given last year,” Kizer said. “I don’t think that nine sacks is that good. This year, I’m going for double digits and, hopefully, earn All-State and All-SCC and feel I earned it.”
Kizer, who enters the season at six feet and 223 pounds, said he logged a lot of offseason time in the weight room.
“I’m more physical than last year,” Kizer said. “I put my time in the weight room and I should be able to handle the guys that gave me trouble last year. I also trimmed some fat off that I had last year.”
The six-foot, 230-pound Johnson is expected to man the opposite end of the D-line.
Juniors James Dadio and Rocco Debernardi are the projected starters at defensive tackle. Dadio goes 6-foot-1, 304 pounds.
Vaughn and senior John Forster lead the coverage in the defensive backfield. Ferri and seniors Furkan Parcal will be the anchors at linebacker.The schedule
As a member of SCC Tier 3, the Trojans will again tangle with Bassick, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Jonathan Law and Sheehan on the divisional slate.
With Creed/Career falling out of the mix with the closing of Creed, the Trojans had to pick up an additional non-conference game. That means they will now face two ECC opponents — Montville at home on Sept. 14 and Ledyard on the road Oct. 12.
The Montville game is the home opener after the Sept. 7 kickoff in Branford.
LH also hosts East Haven on Sept. 21, then plays four straight away games — at Foran (Sept. 28), Ledyard (Oct. 12), Bassick (Oct. 20) and the CREC Co-op (Oct. 27) — before returning to the Phil Ottochian Complex to face Jonathan Law on Nov. 9.
“I think this team is more confident than last year,” Weyrauch said.
“But I don’t want them too confident. The SCC is a tough conference and we aren’t focusing on anything other than Branford in Week 1.”