FOOTBALL 2017: Lyman Hall regains its piece of the ’Rauch

FOOTBALL 2017: Lyman Hall regains its piece of the ’Rauch

Record-Journal


WALLINGFORD — Lyman Hall senior Harrison Febbriello remembers sitting in study hall a few years back when math teacher Bill Weyrauch stopped by and started talking football.

“We were talking about different schools, standings, how we were looking,” said Febriello, a starter in the secondary for the Trojans since his sophomore year. “All that kind of stuff.”

The conversation didn’t end there.

“He did the same thing to me,” chimed in lineman Andrew McClure, also a three-year LH veteran and now a senior captain.

These days, Weyrauch and the Trojans are talking a lot more football, with no need to infringe upon study hall.

Weyrauch is back in the dual role he occupied at Lyman Hall between 2000 and 2010, when he coached football and taught math on Pond Hill Road. The principal difference: He’s now head coach.

The 49-year old returns to a high school game that, in one respect, he never left. Weyrauch stepped away from coaching expressly to watch his sons Billy and Brian play at Cheshire High.

Yet much has changed in six seasons. Detailed concussion protocols and limits on contact in practice had yet to be adopted by the CIAC. Online film technology had yet to fully blossom.

“I definitely had to get adjusted to the new ways of doing football,” Weyrauch said this week as he and the Trojans hit the field for conditioning week. “A lot of new rules are in place that weren’t around when I was here earlier. Getting used to Hudl. Just an acclimation along those lines.”

At the heart of it all, Weyrauch has rediscovered the timeless beat of the high school game.

“Kids are still the same,” he said. “They still want to be coached and I have a great group of kids to coach on a daily basis. That’s still all the same.”

Appointed earlier this year, Weyrauch returns to a Lyman Hall program that has endured losing seasons and considerable turbulence since the head coach he worked under, Chip McKeehan, stepped down at the end of 2011.

Two other former LH assistants, Rob Marone and then Aidan Lynch, were hired head coach only to be dismissed. Marone was fired midseason 2014 for an out-of-season practice violation self-reported to the CIAC by Lyman Hall. Lynch did not have his contract renewed after the 2016 campaign.

Marone and Lynch, both teachers in other school districts, had the disadvantage of not being at Lyman Hall during the day. Most scholastic coaches also teach at their school.

“Robbie and Aidan, I coached with both of those guys — both great coaches — but it is a challenge when you’re not here in the building,” Weyrauch noted. “I have enough on my plate here being in the building. I couldn’t imagine not being in the building.

“It’s a key thing, just from an academic standpoint and making sure that all the kids are doing what they should, acting the right way, doing the right things outside of football as well as with football.”

Lyman Hall players say Weyrauch returns to coaching with a firm, yet likeable approach. They’re used to it. Most have had Weyrauch as a math teacher.

“He expects a lot from his students and his players, but he’s also laid-back,” senior captain Jake Seichter said.

“He’s got that perfect balance” added Randy McFarline, also a senior captain.

“He’s got a little bit of that intimidation just coming from his size,” said McClure. “Walking down the hallway and you see him standing outside a class, you know he’s someone not to mess around with.”

Indeed. An outside linebacker and defensive end in his playing days at Hunterdon Central High School in western New Jersey and then at Fordham, Weyrauch looks like he could still play a few sets of downs.

He comes across as a throw-back football guy who well understands the changed nature of the game, not to mention the age group he’s working with.

“My strength has always been — and I think it will continue to be — that I am a player’s coach,” he said. “I think guys like to come out and play for me. I’m hoping that is the case this season. So far, the attitude of the kids has been great.”

There’s no question about which coach influenced Weyrauch the most: Chip McKeehan.

“I just thought Chip did everything right in terms of his players,” Weyrauch remarked. “He always said we want to win every game, but he wanted to have a positive impact on kids, and I think that’s the philosophy you have to go in with when you’re a high school football coach. Chip did that to the nth degree.”

Under McKeehan, Lyman Hall football in the first decade of the 21st century was much like what it had been under Phil Ottochian from 1968-1999: not always a winner — the lone state championship for LH came in 1985 — but always a respected opponent.

In the long slog of 2012-16, in which LH went a combined 5-47, the latter reputation faded.

“It’s hard to say why you lose that,” Weyrauch mused. “I think when you lose games, it just kind of keeps running away from you. Everything that can go bad goes wrong. We need something good to happen. We need something positive to happen early on. If we get that, I think the kids will get some confidence.”

Actually, the Trojans are already on that road. They’ve been feeding off their new coach.

“The first meeting we had, it was a day after school and we were sitting in his classroom, and I could tell from Day 1 this was going to be a different year,” McClure said. “He set a precedent from that day on. I started to believe in him and I have full confidence that we can be successful this year because of that first day.”

“He’s so easy to learn from and such a great guy and a great coach,” said senior quarterback Nick Santello, who had Weyrauch as a math teacher for two y ears.

“He has a very energy level in pushing you to be better,” Santello continued. “In the past years I feel we’ve lacked in that as a team. He brings the competitive atmosphere and wants us to be better toward ourselves and on the field.”

Weyrauch doesn’t really know what to expect in his first season. He knows he’s got a good staff, led by right-hand men Ed Neilander and Dom Colavito, who will handle much of the offense. (Colavito is the offensive coordinator.)

Weyrauch also knows he’s got some good football players. A fair number are seniors who have been starters since their sophomore year.

“The cupboard is not bare here; we have a lot of talent here,” Weyrauch said. “Now, it’s how that talent comes together whether we’re going to win games on the field consistently. That’s really the challenge going forward that I see. Can we put it all together where these guys all play as one unit? Can we put it together on the field to say, ‘We’re a good football team; we can compete with other teams out here.’

“That’s really what I’m hoping for. Now, we have a lot of work to do. Let’s make no question about it. We have not done very well the last couple years. That’s something we really want to focus on and we want to have some success early. If we can get that success early, I think some good things can happen.”

Either way, Weyrauch and his Trojans are going to have plenty to talk about in the weeks and months and (here’s betting) years to come. Their first season together opens Friday, September 8 at Bowen Field in New Haven against the Creed/Career/Whitney Tech Co-op. The new era debuts on Fitzgerald Field the following week against Notre Dame-Fairfield.


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