The New Britain High football program has never been at a loss for talent at the skill positions.
The list of former Hurricanes with flashing feet, soft hands and gridiron intuition is lengthy and impressive. The challenge for coaches over the years has been aligning enough tough kids with big bodies dedicated to winning the line of scrimmage.
Standing atop the list of skilled players whose hearts are enveloped in a sheath of maroon and gold is Tebucky Jones. Jones ran roughshod over the competition during his scholastic years, earned a scholarship to play at Syracuse and made a transition from offense to defense brilliant enough to play for pay on Sundays for seven seasons.
Now in his second year of giving back, resurrecting the program from a gradual deterioration that resulted in the Disaster of 2010, Jones has an ample mix of veterans and youngsters preparing for the next step forward.
“We have more older kids and more younger kids than we had last year,” he said. “The biggest thing is we’re farther ahead than last year.”
Jones said a bountiful sophomore class will be getting a lot of playing time and the junior class is thin, but he does have a senior core that helped the Hurricanes recover from the 1-9 mess in 2010 to post a 6-4 mark last fall.
Jones’ son Malique will again lead the offense from his quarterback slot. Tailback Lamar Bowsky has been logging varsity time since he was a freshman. Young Jones has a talented receiving corps in Fitz Ingram, Daequone Clark, Juan Usuga, Waterbury transfer Brian Gray, former backup quarterback Marc Colon and tight end Cam Lytton.
Tebucky said Malique prepared diligently for his senior campaign, but Tebucky leaves the offensive decisions to assistant and former Hurricane teammate Arnie Delio. One of the strengths of Tebucky’s regime has been to stow egos at the door and relegate specific duty to those most equipped to handle it.
“[Malique] worked out, trained and threw more,” Tebucky said, “but I don’t coach him. I don’t deal with offense. Arnold and the others put together the game plan.”
Bowsky generally was the second choice to run the football behind DeVante Gardner last year.“Hit him high and he’ll run over you,” Tebucky said. “He’s a strong kid.”
Dylan Krivickas will fill the fullback role when the offensive set dictates.
When it comes to the trenches, New Britain has long relied on the gritty and the rugged rather than the biggest and strongest. Linebacker Geovanni Medina is the perfect example. Medina, perhaps the best wrestler to ever come out of New Britain with a season remaining, makes up for his 5’9, 150-pound stature with intelligence, maturity, leadership and toughness. He’s the heart and soul of the defense and a leading candidate for postseason recognition.
“He’s a rah-rah guy,” Tebucky said. “No nonsense. He’s not that big but he’ll come up and hit you in the mouth. Everybody gets amped up when they see that. Pound-for-pound, he’s the toughest.”
Krivickas and Ben Fischbein line up alongside Medina.
Defensive end Jonathan Semidey is somewhat bigger than Medina at 6’2, 190 pounds, but his ability to impact a game doesn’t come from overwhelming size.
“He’s my motor man,” said Tebucky, who primarily remembers his players through the nicknames they earn. “He’s non-stop. He just goes and goes and goes.”
Lytton and sophomore Alex Swaby join Semidey up front. Twins Josh and Luis Rivera will also see time.
Tebucky’s method for arranging his defense takes the pressure off the individual players and applies it to their technical ability to interpret and execute it as a team.
“It’s all in the scheme,” he said. “We were the smallest team against everyone, but they really couldn’t run with us. It took time for us to start believing. [In 2010] we lost by an average of almost 30 points. Even last year, we could have been 9-1 if it wasn’t for some little things here and there.
“When I was playing (1990-92), we didn’t have size. The linemen had that quickness. It’s all in the heart. A lot of big kids are what I call ‘pudding pops.’ I don’t want soft, I want tough.”
The Hurricane linemen leave the custard in the cupboard. Senior center Michal Filipkowski brings toughness and experience to a key position.
“He’s been starting for three years. He’s the brains of the offensive line,” Tebucky said.
The Rivera brothers will flank him. So will senior Tyler Ounthongdy.
“The main advantage the other teams have is height, but we can get underneath them,” Tebucky said. “You have to have leverage playing the line.”
The ’Canes have no shortage of athleticism in the secondary.
Marcus Torres, the quarterback for the undefeated freshman team last year, will be a cornerback and deep man on kick returns. Mike Robinson possesses all the skills that defensive backs require, including a great vertical leap. Gray and Ashon Anderson is also in the mix.
The quarterbacks of the future currently stack up as junior Toby Taradeina and freshman C.J. Gaskin.
The ’Canes open on the road against Glastonbury (Friday, 6:30 p.m.) before hosting Southington (Sept. 21, 7 p.m.) in the home opener at Veterans Stadium.
Coach: Tebucky Jones (2nd year, 6-4)
Last Year: 6-4, 2-2 CCC Div. I West (tied for 3rd); ranked 16th in Class LL
Key Losses: DeVante Gardner, Larry Garcia, Kyree Largent, Garrett Shaw, Giovanni Viven, Lamont Priest, Jared Boddie, Mason Whistnant, Jose Gonzalez, Brandon Baskerville, Jose Palma, Axel Rosado
Key Returnees: Malique Jones (sr. QB), Daequone Clark (sr. WR/DB), Lamar Bowsky (sr. RB), Fitz Ingram (sr. WR/DB), Geovanni Medina (sr. LB), Michal Filipkowski (sr. OL/DL), Brian Gray (sr. WR/DB), Ben Fischbein (sr. LB), Juan Usuga (sr. WR/DB), Jonathan Semidey (sr. DE), Tyler Ounthongdy (sr. OL), Josh Rivera (jr. OL/DL), Luis Rivera (jr. C/DL), Cameron Lytton (jr. DE/TE), Mike Robinson (jr. CB), Dylan Krivickas (jr. FB/ILB), Toby Taradeina (jr. QB), Marcus Torres (so. CB/KR), Ashon Anderson (so. S), Alex Swaby (so. DE), C.J. Gaskin (fr. QB)
Of Note: NBHS football began in 1892, making this season No. 121. … Since the implementation of the CIAC playoffs in 1976, NB has won four titles – 1992, 2001, 2003, 2004. Coach Jones played for the 1992 team that clubbed Greenwich in the ‘LL’ final before moving on to Syracuse University and the NFL. … NB played in the Tri-Angular League with Hartford Public and Hillhouse from 1915-54 and then the Capital District Conference through 1983 before the formation of the Central Connecticut Conference the following year.