The arrival of Vince Camera as head coach of the Fairfield Ludlowe football team this season has brought a renewed enthusiasm among the players. So now it's the duty of Camera and his staff of 14 assistant coaches to focus that energy on the changes in approach, priorities and plays they are stressing this fall.
Getting results immediately, with a move up the FCIAC Central standings, is secondary to beginning to improve the Falcons' attitudes and raising team wide self-esteem.
The season opener was Thursday night at Lyman Hall-Wallingford in a non-conference game, part of the SCC-FCIAC Challenge.
Preseason training, which began Aug. 20, has been intense -- with plenty of teaching -- and is featuring three scrimmages.
The coaches have been assessing the players' capabilities and the players have been acclimating to different expectations and unfamiliar sets.
Many key players are gone from last year's team that went 5-5, yet finished with a four-game winning streak. Twenty-two seniors graduated.
But enough proven players return to prompt Camera to believe that year No. 1 with the Falcons might be more promising than a traditional task of rebuilding. Three of the six Fairfield Ludlowe players named to the All-FCIAC Central team in 2012 are back -- quarterback Matt White, tight end Stephan Zadravec and two-way lineman David Harris, all seniors.
Question marks abound for the 50 combined varsity-junior varsity players, Camera said, particularly on defense where there is less experience.
Camera wants to avoid two-way starters at all costs but is more entrenched in the belief that the best players must play at wherever they emerge No. 1.
"The depth chart is going to change a hundred times before the season starts," Camera said on Aug.24 prior to the Falcons playing host to Jonathan Law-Milford in an afternoon controlled scrimmage that was a mixed bag of good plays and bad ones.
The Falcons scrimmaged at Fairfield Prep on Aug. 31 and entertained Platt Tech, Camera's team the past six years, on Sept 6.
"If you run the ball effectively, you can control the tempo," said Camera whose goal is to strike a balance between rushing and passing. The offense should be in capable hands with the return of White. Seniors Warren Davis and Jimmy Gasper are the halfbacks. Zadravec will provide a target for White, as well as being part of the line.
Other linemen should be Harris, at center, and Jake Garrell, at right guard, both captains, and three juniors at guard and tackle -- Tanner Hibberd, George Harris and Alex Zeko. Camera said there are four to five candidates in the rotation at wide receiver, led by senior Mike Arman, who is new to the sport, and junior Jake Kiremidjian. Senior Christian Gihiorzi, a solid fullback in 2012, tore two ligaments in his knee against Law and is out for the season.
Candidates to anchor the defense include three linemen among Garrell (nose guard in 2012), Zeko, the Harris brothers and Hibberd; senior Ben Cheney and Gasper at inside linebacker; sophomore Spencer Foley, junior Cole Gottlieb and possibly Zeko at outside linebacker; junior Jack Dailey, senior twins Conor Humiston and Ryan Humiston and junior Nick Inniamo at safety; and junior returning starter Bryan Pacewicz, senior Cole Fetcho and junior Greg Burturla, also a wide receiver, at cornerback.