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Previewing high school football: 10 receivers to watch

Updated 11:14 pm, Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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  • Fairfield Warde's Ryan Brown, right, prepares to make a move against Danbury in an Aug. 27 scrimmage. Wide receiver Brown is expected to be an outside threat for the Mustangs. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Fairfield Warde's Ryan Brown, right, prepares to make a move against Danbury in an Aug. 27 scrimmage. Wide receiver Brown is expected to be an outside threat for the Mustangs. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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Ryan Brown, Warde: Brown is a breakout candidate after grabbing 35 balls for 537 yards and five scores as a junior last year. The Mustangs are considered by some coaches to be the FCIAC's "sleeper" team this season. Brown will have a say about whether that comes true.

Coach's take: "He can have a real breakout year. He's got great hands, he runs great routes and he's a smart kid." -- Warde's Duncan DellaVolpe

John DelliSanti, Fairfield Prep: During Prep's run to the Class LL final last year, DelliSanti displayed soft hands and explosiveness after the catch. While quarterback Colton Smith and fullback Nick Crowle combined for nearly 3,000 yards on the ground, DelliSanti forced defenses to stay honest. He piled up 935 yards and nine touchdowns on 45 catches as a junior. For the Jesuits to compete in the loaded SCC, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound DelliSanti will have to deliver another big season.

Coach's take: "John's bigger, stronger, faster. I know he's worked hard at his skills, his route running." -- Fairfield Prep's Tom Shea

Julian Dunn, Newtown: Dunn fits the mold of the hybrid receiver/tight end that NFL types say are revolutionizing the game as matchup nightmares. At 6-3, 215 pounds, he's often too strong for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers. Dunn enjoyed a monster junior year, piling up a school-record 1,024 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns as Newtown won its second straight SWC title. The Nighthawks graduated a three-year starting quarterback in Andrew Tarantino and a workhorse running back in Cooper Gold, leaving the spotlight on Dunn.

Coach's take: "He's tall, he's deceptively quick. He's not a burner, but he can run by you. He can jump and touch the clouds. ... He's big, he's strong, he's a nightmare." -- Bunnell's Doug Cotto

Zhyaire Fernandes, Bunnell: Fernandes thrived in his first year in Bunnell's pass-happy attack, catching 41 balls for 812 yards and three touchdowns. The yardage total led all Connecticut freshmen and ranked fourth in the country among first-year players. Even though the Bulldogs are one of the many teams debuting a new quarterback -- junior Adam Wojenski replaces Nolan Aurelia -- Fernandes' numbers should rise with more seasoning.

Coach's take: "I see him getting better and better. I don't see him plateauing or regressing at all. ... He's the type of kid who can take a 3-yard pass and make it 80 yards in a heartbeat." -- Cotto

Troy Frangione, Newtown: Playing alongside a gamebreaker like Dunn helps, but Frangione is plenty talented in his own right. The 5-9 wideout led the Nighthawks with 51 receptions as a junior, to go along with 684 yards and eight touchdowns.

Coach's take: "I just remember that kid's speed. I knew he had good hands." -- Bethel's Jason Gill

Alex LaPolice, New Canaan: There's one caveat here: LaPolice might not play wide receiver this year. The senior's in a three-way competition to fill the Rams' opening at quarterback, left by the graduation of Nick Cascione. Still, LaPolice is too talented to ignore. In the Rams' run to FCIAC and Class L titles last year, LaPolice recorded 619 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Coach's take: "He has everything you want in a football player. He's intelligent, tough, athletic; the list goes on and on. He's one of the best high school football players in the state of Connecticut, without a doubt." -- Trinity Catholic's Donny Panapada

Pierre Moudourou, Danbury: Moudourou posted quality numbers as a first-year starter in 2013, recording 459 receiving yards and four touchdowns. His 30 receptions ranked fifth among sophomores statewide.

Coach's take: "He's 6-1, and he isn't afraid to go up and get the ball. He's a gifted kid that will help us a lot." -- Danbury's Mark Ecke

Lars Pedersen, St. Joseph: Pedersen was the No. 1 option in an electric aerial attack last year. The Cadets rolled to the Class M title, scoring a whopping 200 points in three playoff victories. Pedersen caught 60 passes for 1,059 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior and will likely be the go-to guy again with first-time starter Kevin Trefz at quarterback.

Coach's take: "He just runs great patterns and he's got great hands. He knows how to get open. That's tough to teach." -- St. Joseph's Joe Della Vecchia

Greg Radovic, New Fairfield: Although the 6-foot, 178-pound Radovic is built more like a receiver than a tight end, he developed into a weapon as a sophomore. His six touchdowns ranked second among tight ends last year, behind only Seymour's Christian Thurmond (11 touchdowns).

Coach's take: "He's a triple threat. He can run, he can block, he can catch." -- New Fairfield's Anthony Fata

Griffin Ross, Darien: The 5-11 Ross was a catching machine last year, hauling in the most passes (80) of any player in the state. Of the returnees, only Alex Jamele -- from Class LL champ Southington -- racked up more yards through the air with 1,623. A reliable target like Ross (1,061 yards as a junior) will certainly ease Timmy Graham's transition to starting quarterback.

Coach's take: "He's just as good on the other side ball (at cornerback), too. He's going to be one of the big guns in the league this year." -- New Canaan's Lou Marinelli

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour