Spring Preview: Local boys golf teams must replace top talent

Published on Tuesday, 4 April 2017 22:44
Written by MICHAEL WOOLFSON

STAFF WRITER

The local boys golf teams feature two different tiers in terms of where the programs are and what to expect from them this season. There are six area schools that have boys golf teams and three of them are coming off of great seasons, while the other three are coming off of seasons which they would like to forget.

Southington, Berlin and Newington are in the former tier, while New Britain, Plainville and Goodwin Tech are in the latter tier.

The Blue Knights were one of the top ranked teams in the state a season ago but lost many of their top golfers. This season the team is inexperienced and may take a slight step back but it is still loaded with some top notch talent.

The Redcoats are in a similar situation as they were excellent last season but expect to regress a little bit with the loss of a few top golfers.

Newington is in a different situation that Berlin and Southington, in that it only lost one golfer from a season ago. That one golfer, Mike Strong, was important but the team is still expected to be among the best in the conference and state again this season.

New Britain took a minor step forward last season with a two win increase but will have to replace some key golfers, while Plainville and Goodwin Tech both tech big steps back and will look to get back on the right track this season.

Here is a closer look at the local teams:

NEW BRITAIN

Head coach: Bob Zadrozny (12th season)

Last year: 6-11

Key losses: Pat Adamczyk, Justin Flis

Key returnees: Kevin Merkle (Senior), Niko Fusco (Senior), Jack D’Alfonso (Senior), Jake Levesque (Senior), Tim Carrier (Junior)

Outlook: Two seasons ago the New Britain boys golf team won just two matches. Last season, with conference realignment and a more favorable schedule, the Hurricanes took a step forward and won six matches compared to eleven losses.

In the 2016 season New Britain was able to overcome the loss of its top player and this season the team will once again have to deal with some key losses. Pat Adamczyk and Justin Flis have both graduated so there are some holes to fill.

Even with the losses though, the Hurricanes return some key players as well. Kevin Murkle and Jack D’Alfonso are two seniors who should lead the team this season along with fellow seniors Niko Fusco and Jake Levesque and junior Tim Carrier.

“Merkle should have a good year and Tim Carrier is much improved from last year,” New Britain head coach Bob Zadrozny said. “I hope were competitive in our division. We just have to be consistent and be able to play the game intelligently.”

The Hurricanes also have plenty of youth on the roster with nine golfers that have yet to play a round of golf, yet along a serious one.

“They have to be taught from scratch,” Zadrozny said. “You get them before they develop any bad habits, but they have to go out and play every day. If I get three or four out there by the middle of May, I would be thrilled.”

Overall, the head coach’s goal is to win more matches than last year.

New Britain seems to be on the right path to building a successful program but the growth is happening gradually. A four-win increase is a good start and with the talent returning from last season it seems like more progress could be in the cards this season.

BERLIN

Head coach: John Line (10th season)

Last year: 18-7-1, Division II runner-up

Key losses: Paul Choma, Will Friday, Brandon Funari, Justin Park, Nick Perrone, Chris Robitaille.

Key returnees: Rick Nappi (Senior), Spencer Duke (Senior), Mike Califiori (Senior), John Downes (Sophomore), Matt Czerepuszko (Sophomore), Mike McCarthy (Junior).

Outlook: The Berlin boys golf team is coming off of an excellent season in which it finished well above .500 and placed second in Division II. This season, the expectation is be closer to .500 because the team doesn’t have all that much varsity experience. The Redcoats though, will field five golfers that could shoot a low round any given day. Ricky Nappi is the standout returnee for Berlin as he will be a three-year starter that has a good shot at all-conference this year. Spencer Duke, Mike Califiori, John Downes, Matt Czerepuszko and Mike McCarthy are all players capable of having a breakout season.

NEWINGTON

Head coach: Jayson Barbarotta (2nd season)

Last year: 18-3, tied for 12th place in Division I

Key losses: Mike Strong

Key returnees: Noah Hedberg (Senior), Max Turgeon (Senior), Ben Weyman (Senior), Matt Roberts (Senior)

Key newcomers: Kevin Russell, Mike Hamill

Outlook: The Newington boys golf team is coming off of an excellent season where it finished 18-3 and tied for 12th place in Division I. Mike Strong was a key piece to that team and has since graduated but he is also the only player from last year’s team not back this season. Noah Hedberg, Max Turgeon and Ben Weyman lead a senior-heavy team this season. All three golfers were named All-Conference a season ago and are in line for another great year. Among the newcomers looking to help fill the void left by Strong, who is now golfing is Springfield College, are Kevin Russell and Mike Hamill. Overall, this figures to be another successful season for the Newington boy’s golf team.

SOUTHINGTON

Head coach: Jim DiNello (11th season)

Last year: Tied for 12th place in Division I

Key losses: Ryan Burrill, Andrew Szandrocha, Jacob D’Allessandro, Andrew Rogaski

Key returnees: Nathan L’Hereaux, Cam Zegzdryn, Mike Zera

Outlook: Southington boys golf is coming off of an outstanding 2016 season in which entered as the second ranked team in the state and ended up as the CCC divisional champs. The Blue Knights did graduate their top three golfers from that team so living up to last season will be tough. Head coach Jim DiNello is embracing the underdog role, however, and hopes his younger players know what it takes to be successful.

“The team should be hungry as the past few seasons have built on the trend of not just qualifying for states but entering the tournament as a high seed,” DiNello said. “We will be extremely inexperienced this season though, so just making states this year would be a tremendous accomplishment.”

PLAINVILLE

Head coach: Brendan King (4th season)

Last year: 1-13-1

Key losses: Wolfgang Maier, Jacob Nilson

Expected key returnees: Zach Bartolini (Junior), Zach Gelt (Sophomore), Collin Martin (Junior), Brendan Mullan (Sophomore), Christian Zamudio (Junior)

Outlook: The Plainville boys golf team was coming off of consecutive 6-9 seasons entering the 2016 season but took a major step back. The Blue Devils were able to win just one match and may not be headed for much more success this season.

Plainville will be without two of its top golfers in Wolfgang Maier and Jacob Nilson and 38 percent of last year’s roster as three of the eight players from a season ago graduated.

It isn’t all bad for the Blue Devils though, as there really is nowhere to go but up. The team does have some young players that gained some valuable experience a season ago and that includes Zach Gelt and Brendam Mullan who were on the team as freshmen last year.

GOODWIN TECH

Head coach: Jeff Bemis (13th season)

Last year: 4-11

Key losses: Samantha Johnson James Kalisz, Paul Colangelo

Expected key returnees: Jackson Collin (Junior), Jared Cote (Sophomore), Josh Donaghy (Junior), Hunter Holley (Sophomore), Sengthavanh Ketkeorasmy (Junior), Farrell Leardi (Junior), Sebastian Wolfe (Sophomore)

Outlook: Coming off of a highly successful 14-5 season in 2015 the Goodwin Tech golf team took a major step back last season as it lost many of its top performers. This year figures to be no different as three key seniors have graduated.

The Gladiators are expected to enter this season with an extremely young group that features zero seniors. Goodwin Tech won just four matches last season but with a team loaded with juniors and sophomores it may be tough to match that this year.

Head coach Jeff Bemis will look for some of his young players to step up so that the team doesn’t suffer a major setback for the second straight season.

Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or mwoolfson@centralctcommunications.com

On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General Sports, Goodwin Tech, New Britain, Newington, Plainville, Southington on Tuesday, 4 April 2017 22:44. Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2017 22:47.