MERIDEN — There’s no question what combining forces has meant for Wilcox Tech and Kaynor Tech football.
Larger roster numbers. Deeper talent pool. Bonhomie each afternoon on the practice field.
“I say this — and this is not being derogatory to any of the teams I’ve had before — but this is the most talented team that I’ve seen since I’ve been at Wilcox, without a question,” says head coach Trevor Jones, with long-time assistant Alonzo Relaford nodding in agreement. “It could add up to a very, very enlightening season.”
Enlightening: A word well chosen. Should depth and skill and chemistry bear fruit on the field, Wilcox football could indeed enter an era of enlightenment with its new partner from Waterbury.
A student of history might say the Indians are due. Just as the Enlightenment followed the Renaissance followed the Medieval Period, Wilcox football went through its 2017 sub-varsity rebirth after the dark ages of its first decade.
But this is football, of course, and closer to the truth is Wilcox-Kaynor will need to borrow from each historical epoch to be successful in its first co-op season — some brains of Locke, some artistry of DaVinci and some hard hittin’, Genghis Khan style.
The Tribe must, in the gridiron sense of the word, execute.
Last Saturday, in a scrimmage against Lewis Mills, Wilcox-Kaynor mustered an excellent effort, yet lost 14-7 because execution was, according to Jones, “less than desirable, especially on the offense side.
“We should have scored 3-4 times, but we were our own worst enemies,” the coach continued. “That was not knowing assignments; that’s all execution. You’ve got to know your assignment. You’ve got to know where to go.”
Wilcox-Kaynor was supposed to prep again this Saturday against Haddam-Killingworth, but a positive COVID case and subsequent contact tracing that required additional quarantining prompted the Cougars to cancel.
Come the regular season, the Tribe will play strictly within the Connecticut Technical Conference, going against fellow tech schools and a couple of co-ops that team a tech with a public or a parochial school, such as the Quinebaug Valley trio of Putnam, Tourtelotte and Ellis Tech, the opponent on opening day.
Here’s the full slate:
Sept. 11 — Quinebaug Valley (at Falcon Field), 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 — Prince Tech (at Platt HS), 1 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at ATI (at Immaculate HS), 2 p.m.
Oct. 2 — at O'Brien Tech, 11 a.m.
Oct. 16 — Cheney Tech (at Falcon Field), 6 p.m.
Oct. 22 — at Northwest United (at Nonnewaug HS), 6 p.m.
Nov. 6 — Bullard-Havens/Kolbe Cathedral (at Falcon Field), 6 p.m.
Nov. 13 — Thames River (at Falcon Field), 6 p.m.
Nov. 19 — at Platt Tech (at Foran HS), 7 p.m.
Nov. 24 — at Vinal/Goodwin (at Palmer Field), 6 p.m.
The Indians will go after these opponents with a lineup that features size and speed and relative youth. Junior Caden Kennedy has emerged from a six-deep field of quarterbacks to take up the reins as a first-year starter.
He will operate behind an O-line that includes two freshman starters, guards Hunter Budres and Uzziah Nelson.
“We’ve got some talent,” said Jones. “We are big, we are young and we’re going to play some young kids.”
Of his quarterback, Jones remarked, “All of 115 pounds sopping wet, but he makes better decisions, understands the offense better than anyone.”
Kennedy will operate behind the two rookie guards, plus tackles Gavin Davis, a 6-3, 260-pound sophomore, and Alex Maheu, a 5-10, 306-pound junior. Carlos Lorenzo, a 5-10, 255-pound junior, is the center.
Juniors Raysean Emrie and Connor Fletcher are the lead “super-backs.” Sophomore Patrick Lachance is also in the backfield mix.
Junior Brandon Alvarado, who started for Wilcox two years ago as a freshman, will line up in the slot along with sophomore Malik Sanchez-Colon.
Jacob Ferrauolo, a 6-foot-3 senior, is a tall target at receiver. Junior Antonio Mejil splits out with speed to burn.
“We’re deep on offense,” Jones remarked. “We’ve got three super-backs. We have four slots we know can play on Saturday. We have at the receiver position, three definitely, maybe four. On the line, I’ve got more linemen than I know what to do with.”
A number of the skill players will also line up on defense —Emrie, Sanchez-Colon and Mejil at linebacker, Alvarado at free safety.
Sophomore Clay Atkins will anchor the D-line at the nose. Ferrauolo and fellow senior Xavion Brown project as the starting D-ends.
All this, though, is just the tip of the personnel iceberg, the vanguard of the potential enlightenment.
“It really is exciting,” said Jones. “It’s fun to have all these kids and be able to teach the game.”