FAIRFIELD — It made no difference that it was only February, that it was 6 a.m. and the ground was covered with snow, that Saturday’s season opener against Lafayette was still months away.

Mark Nofri wanted to get down to business and start scouting. Only his focus was not on Lafayette, Wagner, Bryant or anyone else on Sacred Heart’s 2018 schedule; it was on his own team.

So, with his program facing turnover like never before, Nofri thought it’d be productive if the players who were already enrolled — from the early enrollees to returnees — learned a bit more about each other.

“Before Wednesday morning workouts at 6 a.m., we’d all be in the locker room, and I’d call five kids out,” Nofri said Tuesday. “They had to tell us where they were from, how they grew up, where they grew up, what type of family life they had — like brothers, sisters, parents, guardian — why they played football and what they want to do when they graduate.”

There were no name tags worn, only stories shared.

“It was eye-opening to hear some of the kids,” Nofri continued, noting that he held these get-to-know-you sessions for somewhere between six to eight weeks. “You didn’t know certain things about certain kids until they got up in front of everybody.”

SACRED HEART PIONEERS

COACH — Mark Nofri (7th year, 37-29)

CONFERENCE — Northeast

HOME — Campus Field, Fairfield

2017 RECORD — 4-7 (2-4 NEC, T-5th)

2018 OPENER — Saturday vs. Lafayette, 6 p.m.

TOP PLAYERS

Kevin Duke, QB, Grad. (6-0, 190); Andrew O’Neill, WR, 5th-year (5-11, 185); Shawn Ramcheran, DB, Jr. (5-11, 190); Kevin Sears, LB, Sr. (6-0, 200); Christian LoDolce, DL, Sr (6-2, 285); Jordan Meachum, RB, Sr. (5-10, 200); Eli Terry, RB, Sr. (6-0, 220); Andrew Starr, OL, Sr. (6-4, 300); Knikeem Lewis, OL, Sr. (6-3, 290)

KEY LOSSES

RB Nate Chavious (Team-high 490 rushing yds); WR Byron Barney (55 rec. for team-high 709 yds); LB CJ Parvelus (First Team All-NEC, team-high 97 tackles); LB Kevin Barry (90 tackles); DB Khaamal Whitaker (61 tackles, team-high 5 INT); LB Max Trudeau (40 tackles, team-high 4 sacks); DL Delvon Artis (2.5 sacks)

— Doug Bonjour

Nofri, who is entering his seventh season as the head coach at Sacred Heart, is no stranger to the volatility of college rosters. Between graduations and transfers, they’re in a constant state of flux. Coaches must think fast and being willing to adapt, or risk being left behind by the competition.

Even so, to say that Sacred Heart’s roster has changed quite a bit over the last 12 months would be a gross understatement. To recap, the Pioneers graduated their leading rusher, second-leading receiver, three starting offensive linemen, two tight ends, and six of their top seven tacklers on defense. Altogether, they will head into 2018 with 64 underclassmen on their roster.

“The past two years we’ve had a lot of guys returning,” said senior linebacker Kevin Sears, who played in all 11 games last season, recording 40 tackles. “This year I think is going to be a whole different look in a good way.”

Coming off a disappointing 4-7 season, in which they lost three games by only a field goal, the Pioneers haven’t received much respect thus far. They were picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference preseason poll and did not have a single player named to the preseason all-conference team, both of which haven’t gone over well with senior running back Eli Terry.

“No all-conference players for the preseason, it’s like more disrespect,” said Terry, who is expected to split carries with Jordan Meachum. “But it’s OK. This is what these Saturdays are for.”

Six players who started at least four games on offense last year are back, including quarterback Kevin Duke — who passed for 2,596 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017 — and his favorite target, receiver Andrew O’Neill. The duo connected 59 times for 690 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.

“Obviously having a weapon like Andrew come back, it makes you happy as a quarterback,” Duke said last month at NEC Social Media Day. “If I can take a whole team where there’s 11 guys on one side and 11 guys on the other side and every guy’s name is Andrew O’Neill, that team’s going to win a lot of football games.”

Unfortunately for Duke, there’s only one Andrew O’Neill. And Sears — who has big shoes to fill on defense following the graduation of All-Conference linebacker CJ Parvelus — there’s only one of him, too.

But there have been plenty of teaching moments, especially for the younger guys.

“I think every day there’s been a lesson,” Sears said. “Again, we’re so young, 51 freshmen. … I think every day there’s something that they can take away and grow on and mature throughout the course of the summer that’s going to help us going into the season.”

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour