Football: Bears face difficult challenge in opener vs. powerful Killingly

Football: Bears face difficult challenge in opener vs. powerful Killingly

Record-Journal
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| Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

STONINGTON — Opening a football season against a team that has already played a game is a disadvantage.

When the opener is against Killingly, perhaps the ECC’s strongest team, the disadvantage intensifies.

Stonington travels to Killingly on Friday (6:30 p.m.) to play the Redmen, who are loaded with key returnees from a 10-2 team that reached the Class M semifinals last season. While Stonington opened with a bye last week, Killingly debuted with a 47-28 win over East Lyme.

Spencer Lockwood, an All-State back who gained 2,458 yards and scored 28 TDs last year, picked up where he left off with 287 yards against the Vikings. The 5-11, 200-pounder is not alone. Linebacker Zach Caffrey is a beast, and tight end Jake Gauther (6-0, 234) and lineman Alex Fontaine (6-0, 280) made All-State last year, too.

Playing Killingly any week would be ... well, a bear. The Redmen, powerful for stretches in the 1980s and ’90s, fell on lean times when the new millennium arrived, and Stonington took advantage with eight straight wins in the series, many by one-sided scores, from 2007 to 2014. But under veteran coach Chad Neal, Killingly is back. Playoff Redmen squads handled Stonington 35-0 and 34-14 the last two seasons.

Stonington finished 6-4 last season and shared the ECC Division II title. Killingly is somehow a D-III team.

“From their running game, their physical line play and experience, Killingly is a very strong football team,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. “They will be a tough opponent for every team they play this year.”

Killingly has offensive horses aside from Lockwood and can hurt teams with play-action passes, Massengale said. The Bears will try to control time of possession with their traditional double-wing offense. Top runner Hayden Parrilla (507 yards, 6 TDs) returns for his senior year along with junior Riley Burnside in the backfield. Sophomore Marco Tedeschi takes over at quarterback.

The Bears also feature quality size, led by center Jon Humphrey (6-2, 260) and tackle/defensive end Jack Corley (6-3, 220).

Massengale said the team is as prepared as possible after a strong preseason.

“We have made an effort to focus on the type of mistakes a team is prone to make in Week 1 by simulating different situations in practice so we can learn/evolve without the benefit of a Week 1 contest,” Massengale said. “Teams learn a lot in their first game and then they have a week to do better at the things they came up short on in the first week. This never stops for the whole season.”


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