BETHLEHEM-WOODBURY — In the off-season, the decision was made to keep the Nonnewaug football program at the junior varsity level despite a huge outcry from players and parents.
Officials deemed the number of athletes in the program as too low to try to sustain a competitive varsity level program this year.
There were several suggestions to become a co-op team with another school, as a dozen teams in the state already do in numerous sports, but that was voted down by the Board of Education.
So what was left this season was a sort of compromise. The team will play mostly a junior varsity schedule, with a couple of varsity games sprinkled in against varsity teams in similar positions to Nonnewaug.
Coach Zach Mihaly is back for his third season to lead the Chiefs, which last year, at the junior varsity level, finished with a 5-3 record.
The team has a strong nucleus of players that have experience that Mihaly hopes to build around.
The two senior captains are C.J. Fairbairn (offensive line, linebacker) and Austin Grant (wide receiver, defensive back).
Two other seniors that will also be counted on to lead are Matthew Stampp (offensive line, defensive line) and Hunter Owens (running back, linebacker).
Juniors include Jacob Hungerford (wide receiver, defensive back), Cody Kelsey (offensive line, defensive line) and Kellen Herman (offensive line, defensive line).
Sophomores making an impact are Ben Conti (quarterback, defensive back) and Colby Leonard (wide receiver, defensive back).
Newcomers to the team include sophomore Jacob Marques (running back, linebacker) and freshman Sam Scott (quarterback, defensive back).
Coach Mihaly’s take in the preseason is generally one of optimism.
“The majority of our skill positions are back,” he said.
“Our entire offensive line is back. Everyone is all in and working hard to obtain our goals.”
The Chiefs’ first game was a JV game on September 16 at Wethersfield.
The first varsity game is scheduled to be Saturday, October 12, at home on the new turf against Amistad.