Note: Middlesex County Sports will be touring practices throughout the preseason to glean a thing or two about the county’s teams ahead of their 2021 fall seasons. Saturday’s stop: Rosek-Skubel Stadium at MHS.
By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN — “Everyone is in the same boat,” Middletown coach Sal Morello said.
“Hey, we’re all in the same boat,” defensive coordinator Josh Rosek said a half-hour later.
The first football preseason in two years for Connecticut high schools is under way. “Same boat” means this: Teams’ upperclassmen likely have experienced little to no varsity football, and underclassmen who win roles might be playing football for the very first time.
At Middletown and elsewhere, at no other time has there been a greater sense of urgency to teach, instruct, prepare, study and repeat.
“I’ve told the tenth-graders (from two years ago), ‘Now you’re leading the team!” Rosek said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on leadership and how to lead. It’s going great.”
What We Learned
Middletown’s quarterback will be either senior Matt Steuerwald or sophomore Colin Skene. Both are good athletes and both will share the reps over the next two weeks of practice.
“And then some decisions will have to be made,” coach Sal Morello said.
Steuerwald, a guard on the basketball team, is on the football roster for the first time. Whether he’s behind center or not, Morello said Steuerwald will factor in the offense in some way. And he’ll also play defense.
Skene comes from a bloodline of athletic excellence that can be traced to the MHS Tigers of the 1970s. Whether the job goes to him or not, he should wind up being a three-year varsity player when it’s all over.
Names To Remember
**Senior RB/LB Shaun Gaskins: He led the 2019 Blue Dragons with 11 rushing touchdowns and averaged four years per carry.
**Senior WR/DB Chace Petgrave: After getting reps as a sophomore in a deep receiving corps, he should factor heavily on both sides of the ball. He also led the team in kick returns.
**Senior WRs Levar Cassanova and Jonathan Diaz: Both were lettermen in 2019.
**Senior linemen Terrence Jackson Jr., Lamarvis Wilson, Emmanuel Neale, Michaelangelo St. Paul and Jonah Smikle. All but Wilson lettered as sophomores. St. Paul tied for second on the team with three sacks.
**Aug. 28: Middletown holds a joint practice with Hall and Capital Prep on Hall’s field in West Hartford.
**Sept. 2: Middletown hosts Bristol Eastern for a scrimmage at 6 p.m. The teams do not meet during the regular season.
Sept. 10: At Berlin (Sage Park), 7 p.m.
Sept. 17: Home vs. Platt, 7
Sept. 24: At West Haven (Strong Stadium), 7
Oct. 1: Home vs. Newington, 7
Oct. 8: Home vs. Southington, 6:30
Oct. 15: Bye
Oct. 22: At New Britain (Veteran’s Stadium), 6:30
Oct. 29: At Manchester, 6:30
Nov. 5: Home vs. Enfield, 6:30
Nov. 12: At Wethersfield, 7
Nov. 24: Home vs. Windsor, 6:30
**Morello said his varsity roster currently stands at 55 players.
**Once Wednesday arrives, teams can practice in helmets and pads for the duration of the preseason.
**The Blue Dragons need a kicker. Morello has an eye on Griffin Ladd. The starting goalie on the soccer team last fall is now playing football.
**Fifteen juniors on the 2019 roster did not have a senior season.
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