With the Eastern League season over and the Rock Cats tucked in for the offseason, I've swung back to high school sports coverage.
The first hurdle is the largest -- previews.
When done correctly, previews make a lot of readers happy and serve as a great reference for me for the course of the season and even into the next season. Doing previews gives me a great chance to talk to coaches. Some of them are hard to reach because they're so busy so I usually end up spending a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring.
That's why they're no fun. As soon as you step out, the phone starts to ring. But our coaches are generally great folks who dedicate so much time toward the development of our student-athletes with very little financial gain.
In recent years, I've previewed boys and girls soccer along with a couple of football teams. In football, I've talked extensively with Southington coach Bill Mella and New Britain's Paul Morrell. Both guys are terrific people with nothing but the best interests in mind for their athletes. Both have a chance for tremendous seasons.
Southington has a chance to strike a blow for much-maligned CT HS football when the Blue Knights travel to Giants Stadium to take on Bergen Catholic. Mella tells me that Bergen draws students to the school from all over the country. Aficionados of national HS football know that Bergen ranks right up there with the best. The Knights have their hands full. It's a very ambitious challenge.
New Britain has a massive front line, an experienced quarterback and plenty of speed, including Tebucky Jones Jr. Morrell has also secured a grant under the Play It Smart program to help address his players' academic issues. Keeping his kids on the field by educating them about the importance of studying and earning good grades is vital to New Britain's success. Last year, grades came out before the big game against Southington and the Hurricanes were just a shell of what they could have been. Hurricane super-booster Craig Johnson is on the job, aiding the players with their studies.
On the soccer scene, excitement reigns.
There are so many fabulous female soccer stars in the area: Blair Ferry of Berlin; Jewel Robinson and Bonnie Boornazian of Farmington; Annie Freer, Alexis Braziel and Shauna Edwards of Southington; Heather Lyhne and young Alex DeCaro of Wethersfield. All of those teams are capable of making deep tournament runs.
On the boys side, kudos to Farmington coach Steve Waters, who will be honoring local soccer legends at his home games. More to come on that. The Indians move to the CCC and their schedule is very difficult. Imagine, starting with Glastonbury and Simsbury.
Look for major improvement at Plainville. Tim Brown is in his second year there and he has the program on solid ground. The Blue Devils have a chance to leave years of struggle behind them and should make the tournament this year.
Wethersfield coach Rob Jachym has some rebuilding to do but he's got some talented players in the middle of the field. His team is already iimproving in leaps and bounds as the preseason plays out.
Other sports will be interesting, too. Volleyball, field hockey, swimming, cross country. Get out there and see some games. These kids deserve your support.