By DOUG CHAPIN
SOUTHIINGTON — The last high school football game played on a field in Southington was Week 9 of 2010 when the Wildcats lost to Mathews on the way to an 0-10 season.
After two years as a team with no home the Wildcats are looking forward to the first game at their refurbished stadium — Sept. 13 against Waterloo.
“We know Week 3 is just around the corner, but we need to make sure we’re looking out for Week 1,” third-year coach Ryan Slone said. “The new facility means a lot to the kids and the program in general. It means a lot to everyone.”
Among key graduation losses from a 4-6 season are all-NAC first-teamers Jordan Dickey and James Boyce, plus all-league honorable mention picks J.C. Comella and Mike Barton.
Austin Casper (5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Sr.) returns at quarterback with third-year starter Brendan Baugher (5-10, 180, Sr.) at fullback. Dillon Nezbeth (5-6, 150, Sr.) and John Mazzola (5-7, 145, Sr.) are back to share the tailback position.
“Casper knows our offense so well, he is our leader on and off the field,” Slone said. “Baugher is our toughest runner and he doesn’t care who is in front of him, he will block them and push them five yards back. He is strong, has an unbelievable work ethic and is a great leader.”
Returning receivers are third-year starter Justin Len (5-9, 155, Jr.) and Jerry Barker (6-0, 160, Sr.) on the outside and Chris Warnick (5-8, 160, Sr.) as a tight end-fullback hybrid.
Tyler Regal-Sullivan (5-8, 170, Jr.) is the one returning lineman at right guard. Carl Cascone (6-1, 185, Sr.) will be the center after filling in there a season ago.
Up front Josh Scholten (5-10, 220, Jr.) returns and Cascone will play end after starting at outside linebacker last year.
In the Wildcats’ 3-5-3 formation Baugher anchors the linebackers from the middle with Warnick and Nezbeth also inside. Travis Lehman (5-8, 160, So.) will play outside.
The secondary returns intact with Mazzola at safety and Len and Casper at the corners.
“Len and Casper are our two best athletes so we can play some man-to-man and we don’t have to swap sides,” Slone said. “Each has the ability to cover the other team’s No. 1.”
The Wildcats have return game options in Nezbeth, Len and Mazzola.
“We have high expectations. We have kids with the ability to help us reach those high goals,” Slone said. “I’m not one to say how many we might win, but I think we will be competitive in all our games. If we can do that, we can meet our goals.”