STONINGTON — Stonington High football coach A.J. Massengale says the first game of the season is the worst.
Well, it’s the worst when it comes to preparing. Football coaches usually spend hours reviewing video of their opponents, trying to identify tendencies and weak points they can exploit. They may also have the benefit of an in-person scouting report.
But for the first game, most of that is lacking. Stonington travels to Montville on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the season opener for both teams.
“You just don’t what you are going to to see,” Massengale said. “A few years ago we played Plainfield and it was a totally different team than what we saw on film.
“It’s tough. You are still trying to get your kids firing on all cylinders, and trying to figure out what they are doing with little to go on.”
Montville finished 4-6 last season, including a 35-0 loss to the Bears on Sept. 29. The Indians will be led by junior quarterback Ryan Douchette and lineman Tyrone Mack.
Massengale was forced to rely on history as he prepared his team for Montville.
“They are always physical up front. If they get going with their power run game they will absolutely take it to you,” Massengale said. “We have to be able to contend with that. They usually have strong, aggressive kids up front that can dictate the whole game.”
Running back Nate Miller will key Stonington’s double-wing attack. He was the leading rusher on the team last season with 422 yards. He averaged 5.3 per carry and led the team with five rushing touchdowns.
Riley Burnside, Jon Curtin and Josh Curtin will play the wingbacks. Marco Tedeschi has moved from quarterback to receiver. Sophomore Drew Champagne will start at quarterback, but Tedeschi and Burnside could also get snaps.
Massengale said the Bears will be more likely to consider the pass this season and take a “more balanced” approach on offense.
Stonington is young up front on both sides of the ball. How quickly the linemen develop will be critical to the Bears’ opportunity for success.