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Wolcott Tech football, 2011. Constitution State Conference offers balanced playing field for Wildcats.

POSTED September 08, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


TORRINGTON: You could sense the excitement in his voice.

Wolcott Tech Wildcat head football coach, Jamie Coty, was definitely what you call stoked, when heard the news that his schools athletic programs were moving out of the traditional Berkshire or Pequot League's and into the Constitution State League.

No longer would the athletes who attend vocational schools to learn a trade (and play a sport along the way) face off against much larger schools that often send kids off to Division I or II schools on athletic scholarships.

“My kids now play kids who are going to school for the same reason they are,” Coty said, “To learn a trade that they hope to use later in life.”

The Constitution State League is made up largely of Technical Schools from around the state.

After four brutal seasons on the sidelines for this four-year old football program, Coty finally see’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Wildcats have been a varsity unit the past three years after kicking things off with Coty’s arrival and a junior varsity season in 2007.

Tech may not have won a game on the field (their lone win was over Nonnewaug via a forfeit), they became known as a hard-nosed team that made you understand you may have been more talented but still left bruised.

Year five will bring it’s own challenges after much of the experienced players left by way of graduation.

Always known as a run the ball down your throat kind of team behind the hard running and big heart of Isaiah Harrington, this years team will feature a wide open offense instead.

“We will run the spread offense,” Coty said, “We don’t have the big bruising running back anymore, so we need to create offense another way. A five-yard pass is just as good as a five-yard run.”

Along with Harrington, Trevor Carlson, Patrick Higgins, Sebastian Walsh, David Sullivan and Matt Archer made up the original six players who had been with the program since the start.

Those six helped Coty keep this program going when the numbers dwindled down to as little as 15 by the end of some seasons.

“We are right around 34-36 right now,” Coty said, “That includes a big freshman class of 15 or so.”

Getting the numbers up has always been tough for Tech and was never made any easier by the unbalanced level of competition they faced each season. Forget about the fact that they would be moved from one part of the Pequot to the other at some points, making it hard for the team to know their opponents on any kind of consistent basis.

The fact that Coty can point to a competitive schedule week in and week out, has got to help with recruiting players to come out.

Getting smacked around by state powerhouses like North Branford, Cromwell or Hyde Leadership did nothing for either team, except to get the other schools some playoff points because Tech plays in Class M.

In 2011, the only returning two-way player left from a year ago, senior Steve Oaks will take over behind center.

That is, when he returns in perhaps week two or three after sustaining an injury during a recent scrimmage.

In the short term, junior Mike Sullivan will take the snaps. Sullivan is usually the Wildcats speed option in the backfield.

The power game will be headed up by a converted lineman, Dan Fortier who is a north/south runner, who will pound the ball when needed.

Two seniors will serve as captains this season. Paul Daniels (wide receiver) and Gunner Schuder (offensive/defensive line) will be looked to for leadership but both may end up getting led by an incoming freshman who has been turning heads early.

Ninth grader Mike Ross, who played Pop Warner in Torrington the better part of the last six years, has gotten the attention of his teammates and coaches with a hard nosed work ethic and a natural ability to lead.

“Mike stands all of four feet and can’t weigh more than 90 pounds,” Coty said, “But he played on some Pop Warner teams that won State Championships and brings with him a winning attitude.”

In a recent scrimmage against Gilbert and Lewis Mills, Ross got the job done in impressive fashion on the defensive end.

“A sweep was being run to his side,” Coty said, “Mike lowered his shoulder and went down low at the runners legs and knocked him down. He’s never going to square up on a bigger player but he doesn’t have to. He just gets the job done.”

The Tech offensive line looks to be the teams strength with some height and muscle in the mix.

Their defense is young but then again, so are a few other teams in the league.

Coty has been most surprised with the play of junior offensive guard/linebacker Shane Celon who has been working hard to get the plays down pat.

“My fire has definitely been rekindled,” Coty said, “I look over at some of the teams we scrimmaged so far and have seen just 15-18 players on some of the teams. I know what that feels like, we have been there. The stability of the league will help the underclassmen as they develop over the coming years.

It’s been a competitive conference the past few seasons with a different winner each year, sometimes the top three teams have been different from year to year.

“It seems anybody has a chance in this league,” Coty said.

That bodes well for the devoted legion of Wildcat fans who are eagerly awaiting that first, on-field “W”.

 

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