STRATFORD—Behind the scenes, third-year Stratford High football coach Jack Petion likes what he’s been seeing out of his Red Devils.
“We had our best offseason since I have been here,” Petion said. “I am looking for this group of guys to help us take the next step in building a foundation for our program. We want to bring back the days of Stratford being a tough, hard-nosed, physical team.”
As good as the offseason has been, though, Stratford is still dogged by the issues that have been chasing it for the last couple of years—youth, depth and inexperience.
“We have a small roster and will have a lot of first-time varsity starters on the field,” Petion said. “The players are talented, but they are going to have to stay healthy and adapt quickly to the speed and physicality of a varsity game for us to be successful.”
Gone are the Red Devils’ starting quarterback and a handful of key players in other key positions.
Those who do have experience at the varsity level are seniors Da’quin Ello, a two-way lineman; Jah’ki Rogers, a tight end/linebacker; and Jordan Torres, a DB and wideout; along with juniors Tommy Cox, (OL/LB), Kaleb Lafontant, (Slot Receiver/DB), and Edgar Velez (LB, RB).
Hector Oliver (OLB/FB), Cristian Moreno (C) and Gregory Cruz (OL/DL) are the other three seniors in the program.
“Our strong point this year will be our leadership,” Petion said. “We have guys stepping up into that role and they are holding teammates more accountable.”
Eight juniors and 10 sophomores round out the varsity squad.
One of those sophomores will be calling the shots in the huddle, though.
Trey Lanham is expected to take over the duties as starting quarterback while the rest of the backfield are jobs up for grabs.
Only 30 players are on the varsity roster, the coach said, but there are 17 freshmen in the program making this a huge foundation year for the Red Devils.
“This team has a strong bond and embraces the preparation to play this sport,” Petion said. “I’m excited to see what our boys can accomplish this season.”
The Red Devils will take the future just one game at a time, though.
“Every game will present a different challenge to us on a weekly basis,” Petion added. “We look forward to preparing for and competing in every game.”
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