NEWINGTON - Itâ€™s another season and another wild-card matchup in Week 1 for the Newington football team.
Like last year, the Indians will open their season against a team they have never played before. In 2016 it was against Massachusetts' Chicopee High School. Tonight, it will be against Amistad High School from New Haven, which will play its first full varsity schedule this year.
â€śWe know what their record was and some of the teams they played, but we donâ€™t have a ton of information on them,â€ť Indiansâ€™ second-year head coach Jason Pace said.
The Wolves finished 2017 with a 1-2 varsity record. During the 2016 season and a majority of 2017, Amistad played at the JV level. Last year, the Wolves beat Vinal Tech before losing to Long Island Lutheran and Chaney Tech.
The Indians have seen some film, and picked out a few key players to watch out for, but other than that Amistad will be quite the mystery, until it is on the field.
â€śWe donâ€™t know much, we donâ€™t even have film on them from this year,â€ť said, Newington quarterback Nick Pestrichello who is starting his first varsity game. â€śTheyâ€™re a new program so we donâ€™t have much to expect but we canâ€™t underestimate them. We really need to work together. It wonâ€™t start with just me throwing touchdowns. It has to start from the line.â€ť
Defensively, Amistad will have to replace seven starters on defense, but has key players in safety Tyrone Moye and outside linebacker Jose Serrano returning. Both played well in the teamâ€™s three varsity games.
Although Newington doesnâ€™t know much about its opponent, and it usually likes to prepare a bit more before a game, the Indians are leaning their focus on coming together as a football program.
â€śI think at this point, this early in the year, we need to focus on the mistakes made throughout preseasonâ€ť Pace said. â€śIf we do that it will set us up to be successful.â€ť
Pace is looking forward to a game setting. He will then be able to gauge where him and his team are skillswise.
â€śThereâ€™s a lot of new starters on both sides of the ball and really just see their progress,â€ť the head coach said. â€śThis will give us an opportunity to measure where weâ€™re at.â€ť
But as the Indians take the field tonight, one player who was expected to make an impact will not be joining them. For the second year now, linebacker Brandon Kamansky suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Kamansky will be a huge loss for Newington, especially with Amistad appearing to bring back plenty of speed in running backs Jenuyn Harris and Moye, along with wideouts Johnnie McFadden, Michael Fletcher and Serrano.
â€śIt's unfortunate and our hearts go out to him,â€ť Pace said. â€śHeâ€™s committed himself to the team during the offseason. He was a leader and we were looking forward to having that senior leadership on the field. There arenâ€™t many returning starters and he was going to be one of our guys that we look to for that leadership, the experience.â€ť
With Kamansky out for the season, Julian Ortiz will be stepping in as linebacker.
â€śItâ€™s a very big loss for us,â€ť Newington defensive back Izayah Ciarcia said of Kamansky. â€śHe was one of our best key players. He was going to help us out a lot throughout defense and help us out on offense. I believe Julian can fill that spot, he just has to give it all he has.â€ť
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org