Return of Football Signals Win Over Pandemic: After One-Year Wait, Shawn Stanco Takes the Reins

SAM’S CLUB - Senior quarterback Sam Weidemier will be the man behind center when Watertown High School makes it’s long-awaited return on Friday, September 10 against Waterbury Career Academy at the Mills Complex at 7 p.m.

WATERTOWN - After a one-year delay, a new era in Watertown High School football will officially begin when the Indians take the field at the Mills Complex to face Waterbury Career Academy on Friday, September 10 at 7 p.m. Nineteen months ago, Shawn Stanco was announced as the sixth head coach in the program’s history, replacing Luigi Velardi.  

Stanco, himself a WHS player, had his scheduled debut season canceled due to the COVID pandemic, so he, as well as his coaches and players, are chomping at the bit to begin their 10 games in 11 weeks schedule, which will run through (hopefully) the annual Thanksgiving duel at Torrington High School.

“So far everyone has shown up everyday at practice and they have been prepared to give 100% and do whatever needs to be done to get the job done,” said Stanco. “We aren’t going to accept anything less.”

However, first things first, and that first thing is the game with the Spartans, who play in the NVL’s Brass Division, which is one team smaller this season with the closing of Sacred Heart High School.

“It’s great to be back,” said Stanco, who want his team to remember not to take anything for granted.

“We won’t let a single play pass by,” said the WHS graduate. “One thing the past 19 months have taught us all it is that time on the high school football field is limited and cannot be taken for granted.

Play every play like it’s the last. If we keep those two things in mind, we can have a successful year. 

OFFENSE

The Watertown machine will be run by senior quarterback Sam Weidemier, who’ll be throwing to a pair of sizeable targets in fellow senior wideouts Matthew Doolan and Cameron Guerrera.

Although the WHS program has always carried plenty of depth at running back, there is always a number one guy, and for Stanco that guy will be senior John Kozar, backed by junior Tobias Koval, behind a line led by senior Sebastian Tamburrino.

“We win the battles in the scrimmage pit, we win games,” said Stanco.

SPECIAL TEAMS

When the offense sputters, Stanco feels that he and the Indians will have a tactical advantage in the field position game.

“Of course, we won’t welcome have to punt on fourth down, but if we have to, we’re very lucky to have the leg of Joe LaChance, who has the potential to be a top punter in the state, ready to kick us either out of trouble or the other team into trouble,” said Stanco.

“We also want our coverage units to be getting down the field on kickoffs and punts and making our opponent drive the entire length of the field.

“On the other hand” said Stanco, we want our return units to produce as many yards as possible to put our offense in the best position to score, which is how you change momentum and win games.”

DEFENSE

“Our staff is preaching getting to the ball and putting 11 Watertown jerseys and helmets to the ballcarrier,” said Stanco.  

Up front, junior lineman Giovanni Hurdle and senior end Joseph Leclerc will anchor the line; right behind in the second wave will be senior linebacker David Gugliemetti and senior linebacker Tobias Koval. In addition to his kicking duties, LaChance, a senior will be ballhawking in the backfield, as will sophomore newcomer Aiden Arline.

“Play every play like it’s the last and noth take anything for granted,” repeated Stanco. “If we keep those two things in mind, we can have a successful year.” 

HAIL AND FAREWEWLL

Among the players who lost their senior seasons to the cancelation of the 2020 year were John Biolo, Nicholas Daponte, Jacob Gambee, Anthony Lattanzio, Mateo Raidhii, Joshua Rinaldi, and Richard Serna.

COACHING STAFF

Joining Stanco on the sideline will be a staff of assistants who possess a wealth of football knowledge in all aspects of the game; they are: Jerry Valentino – Defensive Coordinator; Robert Rose – Offensive Line/Defensive Line; Edwin Esson – Running Backs/Linebackers; Keith Borkowski – Freshmen Coach; Robert Graziano – Quarterbacks/Defensive Backs; Andrew Consalvo - Offensive Line/Defensive Line; Brian Consalvo - Offensive Line/Defensive Line; Travis Reilly – Linebackers/Running Backs; Bill Arline – Defensive Backs; Mike Lombardi - Offensive Line/Defensive Line; Dean Bundy - Offensive Line/Defensive Line.

NOTES: Stanco’s successors as WHS head coach wree in order: Jim Krayeske, Bill Gargano, Roger Ouellette, Mike Veronneau and Velardi.

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