Spring football: Two-time defending FCIAC champs look to reload
Published 10:55 pm, Friday, June 14, 2013
Having to overhaul nearly his entire collection of starters from last year in one offseason, Marce Petroccio realizes it will be difficult to put up the same staggering point totals come September.
Still, in midst of uncertainty, Staples' head coach insists the expectations remain high.
"I know we've got some tough kids who are going to compete," Petroccio said Friday evening as Staples concluded its 10-day spring practice schedule with its Blue-White Game. "How that all shakes out in the end, we're not sure."
In 2012, the Wreckers orchestrated one of their finest seasons in program history, winning 10 games and a second-straight FCIAC title. They rolled into the Class LL state semifinals ranked No. 1, but had their dream of a perfect season derailed in a 30-28 loss to Norwich Free Academy.
Just four starters return from that senior-laden team -- the program's most significant roster turnover in a "long time," Petroccio said.
"We had so many great players last year. We had a great time coaching them. It was hard for the whole thing to end. You know what, we're moving on," the 21st-year coach said. "We've got great young kids. They work hard and they're excitable."
Jack Massie returns for his senior year at quarterback, while running back Patrick Lesch, wide receiver Will Johnson and offensive tackle Nick Ward are also back for a final season. They'll be expected to again put a charge into an offense that averaged a state-best 49.1 points and 500.5 yards in 2012.
The Wreckers featured the same offensive line all last year, but with four of those starters graduating, Ward believes now's the time for others to develop.
"It's definitely a little different," said the 6-4, 290-pound Ward. "Will Patrick, Kyle Vaughn, Chris Speer and Burim [Trdevaj] were all great guys, great players. But it's time where you've got to bring in the younger kids, get them a chance to get a feel for the offense."
Massie (27 total touchdowns, 1,556 yards passing in 2012) has been sidelined with a back injury and said he hasn't set an exact time for his return. The signal-caller stressed the importance of offseason workouts, especially given the significant roster turnover.
"Every practice is important when you've got new guys filling new spots. They need as much work as they can get," Massie said. "It's kind of a work in progress right now trying to get in as much as we can in the time frame we have."
Lesch, who rushed for 716 yards (15.5 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns last year is also sidelined after undergoing offseason hip surgery, Petroccio noted. The coach hopes to have his full team healthy in time for the UConn football camp on June 25.
"For us this is a developmental time, and that's just how we're going to treat it," Petroccio said. "We're going to watch some kids compete."
Petroccio explained that the spring practices are always crucial for Staples in determining players' roles and preparing for the season. The Wreckers open at three-time defending LL state champion Xavier on Sept. 11.
"I don't know how you can not do spring football," the coach said. "If I was doing this in the fall, I'd be pulling my hair out. ... I think you have to do it. It's a great time. We're not playing Xavier in a week."
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