Joe August of Stratford is one of the key returning players from last year's Stratford High boys basketball team. (Photo by John Nash)

BOYS BASKETBALL: Stratford looking to make a name for itself again

STRATFORD—The early-season MVP of the Stratford High boys basketball team is going to be the person handing out the rosters at the game.

Five seniors—all of whom played major minutes last season on a team that only went seven players deep—have graduated from the program, two of them going off to college play ball.

That means a lot of new names and new faces will be hitting the court this varsity season.

“We’re a very young group,” head coach Tim Swaller said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming up from JV who are fighting for spots.”

Despite the new faces, though, Swaller expects the Red Devils to once again be in the battle for some postseason action.

“I think our league is wide open,” the coach said. “There’s a lot of good teams out there, and a lot of parity. If we can get guys doing the right thing, the right way, we’ll be in the mix. We have a lot of work to do to get better and it’ll take some time, but I think we can be competitive.”

Two players return who saw major minutes last season.

Senior guard-forward Joe August, a proven scorer, is back along with sophomore guard Jayquan Kirkland, one of the best young players in the SWC.

“In a way, it’s very different,” August said of this year’s team overcoming the loss of five starters. “I’ve played with those guys all three years, but I’ve been with a lot of the younger guys, too. We have good chemistry and we know what we can and can’t do. Once we put it to the test, I think we’ll be pretty good.”

Stratford sophomore Jayquan Kirkland is one of the Red Devils key players this season. (Photo by John Nash)

If one thing in Stratford’s season-opening 77-66 loss to North Haven showed, the players are still finding their roles.

“They all work hard, they listen. They’re starting to grasp what’s going on,” Swaller said. “If we do that on a regular basis, we’ll get there.”

Joining August as seniors on the team are guards Tyler Ciccia and Kyle Robinson.

Juniors Michael D’Aloia, George Eyerman and Scott Knorr are joined by sophomores Brady Knorr and Jaden Perez. Brady Knorr—who is expected to be a key player for the Red Devils—is out with an injured foot.

“We have some guys who can score and help in the scoring department,” Swaller said.

Fans might not know who they are early in the season, but the Red Devils hope by the end of the season they’ll be more familiar names.

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