Pictured: Coach Kevin Sullivan works on tackling technique with players at a recent practice. Sullivan comes to his first head coaching job after having been the co-offensive coordinator at Newington. (Photo by Marc Silvestrini).
By Marc Silvestrini
CLINTON — When Kevin Sullivan was named to replace Peter Nye as head football coach at The Morgan School, he knew he would be facing a few challenges.
Maybe more than a few.
For one thing, the program has had little success in the immediate past, having produced a 4-26 record between 2017 and 2019, the last three seasons in which high school football has been played in Connecticut.
What We Learned
But the cupboard Sullivan inherited is not quite as bare as one would expect given the fact that the Huskies have not had a winning record since 2016, when they were 6-4.
Sullivan’s first team at Morgan is buttressed by 16 seniors, including quarterback Drew Nye, the former coach’s son. A starter as a sophomore in 2019, Nye figures to be one of the top returning quarterbacks in the Pequot Conference, if not in all of Class S.
“I was very impressed with Drew’s arm and his accuracy just watching him on tape and in seven-on-seven drills,” Sullivan said. “But now, after having spent some time with him, I’m even more impressed by his maturity and his leadership skills. Those are the things that excite me the most.”
In all, Sullivan said he has about 40 players in the program, including 11 freshmen. The problem with the Morgan program is not so much the total number of players but the spread between the classes. Sixteen seniors and 11 freshmen means that there are only about 13 juniors and sophomores currently participating in the program.
“Ideally, you’d like to see it spread out a little more evenly between the four classes,” he said.
A graduate of Holy Cross in Waterbury where he played on the school’s 2006 state championship team, Sullivan comes to his first head coaching job after having been the co-offensive coordinator at Newington High. He said he is installing a spread offense similar to the one Coach Nye employed, but with a “few new looks and variations.”
“We’ll be moving people around, hoping to create some mismatches to get our better athletes out in space,” Sullivan said. “Once they’re out there with the ball they can hopefully do some damage with their athletic abilities.”
Though he has yet to see his players perform in a full-contact environment, making talent assessment a difficult and volatile proposition, Sullivan said he expects seniors Alex Fratamico and Garret Garbinski to be among his top pass catchers, senior Jordan Armstrong to anchor his offensive line at center and also play a major role on defense from his linebacker position, and junior Seamus Staunton to be one of his top running backs.
Nye and Fratamico were key components of Morgan’s undefeated Shoreline Conference basketball team last winter, a winning experience Nye believes will readily translate onto the football field.
“I think the commitment and hard work that it takes to win a championship in basketball translates well to football,” he said. “I think you definitely can bring a winning attitude from one sport to the other.
“Alex and I are always kidding around, saying stuff like football is just basketball played on grass. You have to have the same all-out commitment to winning.”
The first test of their commitment will come on Friday night, Sept. 10, when the Huskies kick off their 2021 season against Cromwell/Portland at the Peters Complex.
**Aug. 28: The Huskies will participate in a jamboree at Bristol Eastern High School
**Sept. 1: Morgan will visit St. Paul of Bristol for a pre-season scrimmage.
Regular Season Schedule
Sept. 10: Home vs. Cromwell/Portland, (Peters Complex), 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 17: At Haddam-Killingworth, 6:30
Sept. 24: Home vs. CREC Coop (Peters Complex), 6:30
Oct. 1: Home vs. Valley Regional (Peters Complex), 6:30
Oct. 15: At SMSA Coop, site TBD, 6
Oct. 22: Home vs. Coginchaug/East Hampton/Hale Ray (Peters Complex) 6:30
Nov. 5: At Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial, Coventry High School, 6:30
Nov. 12: At North Branford, 6:30
Nov. 19: At Ellington, 6:30
Nov. 24: Home vs. Old Saybrook/Westbrook (Peters Complex), 6:30
Please consider a donation to help sustain coverage of the community’s teams and athletes. Venmo: @middlesexcountysports. Or, email email@example.com for more information. Thank you!