Continuity's been a problem for the Notre Dame Fairfield football team.
The Lancers are on their fifth coach in seven years, and their numbers had dwindled in the process. ND dressed as few as 13 players for games in 2011 as Rico Brogna's squad went 1-9.
Dawon Dicks, Brogna's assistant a year ago, understands this. A 2000-graduate of ND, Dicks was an all-SWC track athlete, and multi-year football player for former coach Joe Bevino.
Fast forward 12 years and Dicks sees hope, even in the face of adversity. Brogna departed to work full-time for the Tampa Bay Rays, and three of ND's top players from 2011 have departed -- including work horse Nigel Beckford who transferred to a school in Alexandria, Va.
But Dicks has watched 40 players show up and stay through triple-sessions in preseason camp. And while many questioned Brogna's commitment when he took the ND job 14 months ago, Dicks is here to finally offer the Lancers some consistency.
And all the while, Dicks has seen his team grow closer.
"They're more supportive of each other," Dicks said. "We're trying to come together as a family."
Glody Tumba, who started at tight end as a freshman, is among the returners. Tumba also played quarterback and he and Matt Moffet are battling to be the Lancers' top signal-caller.
Dicks points to senior outside linebacker and tight end Jelani Roman as an example of what his program is becoming.
"He came in a year ago and was 25 or 30 pounds lighter," Dicks said.
Sean Edwards is what Dicks referred to as a "shutdown corner who shows up for everything."
ND will play freshmen on varsity again and Dicks sees this incoming class as the transitional group to take the Lancers from the bottom of the barrel back to the SWC's upper echelon.
"We had a meeting with the freshmen and we told them that they're going to be one of those classes that makes history," Dicks said. "We want them to jell as a class ... and in a year or two from now, after a couple of offseasons and spring and summer camps, they'll have some talent."
Still, Dicks understands there will be growing pains. The Lancers will open with three straight road games and open at Weston -- who was 7-3 a year ago. Masuk, Newtown, Brookfield and Pomperaug are also on ND's schedule.
"We've got to line up and go toe to toe against every team in our league," Dicks said. "No team is going to roll over. The league seems more competitive than when I was playing here."
But Dicks' energy is contagious, and he sees his squad's work ethic. He realizes-- which few others do -- that success is achievable at Notre Dame.
"There aren't too many people talking positive about Notre Dame football," Dicks said. "These guys understand that there's work to be done ... they want to prove something to themselves."