Teammates become foes in inaugural Military Bowl all-star football game
Updated 12:26 am, Saturday, June 29, 2013
With the talent assembled in Middletown the past two weeks, a group that will be on display Saturday at Rentschler Field, practices have reminded Chris Silvestri more of college football than the leadup to a high school senior all-star game.
"With all the coaches, all the players together, we've jelled really nicely. It's surprising, the camaraderie in just eight days." said Silvestri, an assistant at New Canaan and for the National Guard team at Saturday's Military Bowl and Hall of Fame Football Classic.
"The game's going to be competitive. We want to win. We've got competitive kids, competitive coaches. It's going to be a great game."
Practices started last week, the National Guard team at Xavier, the Marines team at Middletown.
The game, presented by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, used to pit Connecticut's best against Rhode Island's in the Governors' Cup. That game, as well as the New Haven County vs. Fairfield County Hall of Fame Classic, were disccontinued and replaced with this new format.
The coaches, Windsor's Rob Fleeting for the Marines and Ledyard's Jim Buonocore for the Guard, drafted their teams from the pool of players.
Nine schools have at least one player on both sides, including St. Joseph, West Haven and Woodland. It has been a fun twist.
"You look at Twitter, everybody's talking smack with each other," said Bassick's Derrick Lewis, an assistant for the Marines team, "especially the Hillhouse and West Haven guys. It's all in good sport. It's a tremendous game for a tremendous cause."
Fairfield Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe, another assistant on the National Guard team, has gotten a kick out of the Windsor players on his side, who'll go up against not only seven teammates but a couple of their coaches.
"We're trying to figure out as much as we can about the personnel on the other side," DellaVolpe added with a laugh.
Coaches and players have been learning not just about the opposition but about their own new teammates, and learning from each other, too.
"It's been impressive to see the Xavier kids in person. I never get to see them too much," DellaVolpe said. "Timmy Boyle, that's a heck of a quarterback UConn's got.
"It's good to see (St. Joseph receiver) Jake Pelletier against this kind of competition. He's been lights-out for us."
Southwestern Connecticut, the FCIAC in particular, isn't as well-represented as these coaches would like.
"I really think the buzz we'll gain from this, we're going to bring back the Fairfield-New Haven game," Lewis said.
"This is not going to be enough. ... Once (young players) see this game, they're going to wish they had a chance to play in it."
Silvestri has enjoyed coaching players from around the state. He has especially enjoyed being on the same side with Windsor defensive back Terrell Huff, whose team faced New Canaan in the past two Class L playoffs.
"It's been fantastic. They're all all-stars, right?" Silvestri said. "They're the best Connecticut has right now."
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