FOOTBALL 2017: Sheehan’s future takes the field as record-setters pass the torch

FOOTBALL 2017: Sheehan’s future takes the field as record-setters pass the torch

Record-Journal


WALLINGFORD — If you’re a fan of Sheehan football, you’ll want to get to know the Titans this fall. You’re going to be watching this bunch for a while.

Present intersects with future, with a dose of inspiration from the immediate past, as the T-Men tear into 2017.

They’re coming off a memorable campaign in which running back Zach Davis rewrote the state record book for single-game yardage and scoring while linebacker Danny James set a new school record for solo tackles.

That dynamic duo is off to college ball — Davis at Fordham, James at AIC. They leave behind a team unusually light on seniors, but remarkably deep with underclassmen.

Introducing your 2017 and 2018 and, in many cases, 2019 Sheehan Titans.

“We’re used to having youth on the field,” said head coach John Ferrazzi. “This year is a little unique.”

You can trust that perspective. Ferrazzi is entering his 13th season. He’s the longest tenured coach in the SCC behind only Jeff Roy of Shelton (14 years).

You can also see the youth movement plain as day on the roster. Sheehan has but six seniors and heads into Friday’s season opener against Jonathan Law starting just three: two-way lineman Stephen Zenisky and captains Will Terzi (RT/ILB) and Evan Mansfield (WR/FS).

Underclassmen occupy all the other starting spots. The junior class features a number of players who cut their varsity teeth last year as sophomores — quarterback Wes Terzi, receiver Aaron Simmons, lineman Luke Willette, and linebackers Jake Smith and Tyler Ekstrom among them.

Then there’s the sophomore class. These players were on the Wallingford Vikings team that, two years ago as eighth graders, went undefeated and won the Shoreline Youth Football Conference championship.

“Our sophomore class is a very talented class that’s learning the pace of the varsity game,” Ferrazzi said. “A learning process for them, but once they start to get it, they’re going to be all right, for sure.

“A lot of our juniors were in the same boat last year,” Ferrazzi continued. “They had to get on the field as sophomores and be forced to play when some of them might not have been ready to play. Now they’re bringing, some of them, 10 games of starting experience into their junior year, and they’re functioning like seniors.”

Old or young, the Titans are looking to build on the success of 2016, when they went 6-4 overall and claimed the SCC Tier III title at 5-1. Davis was the SCC’s Tier III Player of the Year. He was the Record-Journal’s Male Athlete of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year. James was All-State Class M.

Davis and James, along with lineman Billy Elevli, were All-Record-Journal players. Jon Olschefski was an All-SCC Tier II/III lineman.

That quartet passes on a torch the 2017 crew is eager to carry.

“Continue the legacy and step up with all of our players, because it’s a team effort,” as Will Terzi said. “Even though we have a young team, people are learning and starting to catch on. I think they’re going to be able to fill the spots and contribute effectively on the field.”

“Zach and Danny and our senior class with Billy and Jon and those others guys, they left a great mark on the program. They set a standard high that our next crew is trying to emulate,” Ferrazzi remarked. “At the same time, we’ve had to move on from those guys. We’ve got to find a new identity for this football team.”

The Offense

New identity is going to come with the territory, especially in the backfield, where the Titans will deploy one- and two-back sets. Terrence Bogan and Russell Rutkowski are the running backs. Braedon McCarthy and Mickey Deming are the H-backs. They are all sophomores.

The lone returnee behind the line is QB Wes Terzi. Able to gain his varsity footing last season mostly handing off to Davis, Terzi will be turned loose in the passing game this fall.

Mansfield, Simmons and sophomore Jordan Davis, the younger brother of Zach Davis, will be Terzi’s targets. Ekstrom and fellow juniors Ryan Paul and Cade Cloutier are vying for the fourth receiver spot.

Up front, the T-Men have muscle. Willette, a junior captain, is at right guard. He goes 265 pounds.

Zenisky, a 270-pound senior, lines up at left tackle next to 290-pound guard William Seay, a junior.

Another junior, 240-pound Jason Klemm, is at center. Will Terzi, the light man in the group at 195 and a linebacker by trade, will protect his younger brother at right tackle.

A year ago, Sheehan’s offense devolved into handing the ball off to Zach Davis nearly 30 times a game. Why not? Davis averaged nearly 360 yards a game and twice went over 540 to break state records. This season, the Titans will be more diverse on the attack.

“We accomplished a lot last year, especially from a ground game standpoint,” Mansfield said. “A big focus this year is balancing out the offense and also improving on stuff that we did so well last year ... A big strength of our team is knowing our assignments and understanding that we can play together if we all do our job.”

The Defense

The Titans will go with a 3-4 alignment. Zenisky and Willette will be up front alongside Deming. Though only a sophomore, Deming is 6-feet, 230 pounds.

McCarthy is another good-sized sophomore, going 6-2 and 220. Either he or Jake Smith, the returning junior, will be at inside linebacker with Will Terzi.

Rutkowski and Ekstrom will be at outside linebacker. Simmons and Jordan Davis man the corners. Ryan Paul gets the starting nod at strong safety. Mansfield, a three-year varsity starter, returns to free safety.

Offense to defense, these are the starters Sheehan will take into Friday night. They are not the only kids who will play during the course of the season.

“This year, our numbers are around the same. We’ve never had high numbers, but our depth chart is little bit more filled than it normally is,” Ferrazzi said. “We have more guys capable of competing to play, which is a great thing because it’s bringing the best out of everyone.

“We’re worried about putting the best 11 on the field and then knowing who could come in and either back someone up or spell or even rotate with someone.”

Is this a winning football team?

“I think so,” Ferrazzi answered. “I think so and I think they believe that already ... As time moves forward and we prepare for our first game, we’ll see what our identity is, but this is a football team that can win.”

The Schedule

Sheehan will look to defend its SCC Tier III title against Lyman Hall, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, Jonathan Law, the Creed/Career/Whitney Tech co-op and SCC newcomer Bassick-Bridgeport.

East Haven was the only Tier III team to beat the Titans last year. That came on opening night.

Sheehan’s other three losses in 2016 were on crossovers against Cheshire (Tier I), eventual Class M champion Hillhouse (Tier II) and Foran (Tier II).

The T-Men have only one SCC crossover this year (Tier I Fairfield Prep). Their two other games are out of conference against Weston of the FCIAC and Plainfield of the ECC.

That’s the regular season slate, at any rate. These Titans hope to be playing in early December. They hope to snap a Sheehan playoff drought that dates back to 1995.

“We’ve been talking about it ever since we started training again with our offseason lifting,” Mansfield said. “Our motto for a while has been ‘December to December.’ Every player on this team truly buys into that.”

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 8 Jonathan Law 7:00

Sept. 15 Weston 6:00

Sept. 22 at Branford 7:00

Sept. 29 at Fairfld. Prep 6:00

Oct. 6 Creed Co-op 6:00

Oct. 20 at Foran 7:00

Oct. 27 at Plainfield 6:30

Nov. 3 Bassick 6:00

Nov. 10 at East Haven 7:00

Nov. 23 Lyman Hall 10:30


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