Sean Marinan enjoyed a relatively stress-free football season in 2011 as far as coaching goes. His Xavier (Middletown, Conn.)
team mulched everyone in its path en route to another unbeaten season, another CIAC Class LL title, and the top rankings in both the New London Day state coaches and New Haven Register media polls.
This season, Marinan has already found things to be a little different.
"It's funny — in a scrimmage, I was telling a kid to get in the middle of the field," Marinan said. "And he's standing at the hash and didn't move. As I'm walking across the field, I'm yelling at him to get to the middle. He moves from the outside of the hash to the inside of the hash.
"I said to him, ‘At what point are you going to move?' He didn't...A lot of the people in the stands were cracking up."
The Falcons may not mash everyone in their way this fall, but they still figure to be one of the state's dominant teams as the 2012 season gets underway this week. They will open ranked No. 1 in the state preseason media poll and have a legitimate chance to become the first team in Connecticut history to win three straight LL championships, the state's largest classification. They also open with a 26-game winning streak.
In addition, Xavier is ranked No. 10 this week in the CBS MaxPreps Northeast Computer Ratings
, joining such regional prep luminaries as Bergen Catholic, St. Peter's Prep and Paramus Catholic (New Jersey), Gilman and Good Counsel (Maryland) and Orchard Park (New York).
All other CIAC fall sports officially opened on Tuesday throughout Connecticut.
"We're trying to get (the players) to understand what has gotten us there twice (to the title), that desire, that hunger, and not to be complacent," Marinan said. "That's our big concern, that we're not too complacent. So we've been really stressing that, and stressing that they are a different team than the previous year.
"It's their turn to write their own history," he added. "Hopefully a similar history."
A big positive for Xavier is that quarterback Tim Boyle
returns for his third season. He had been part of a platoon the past two seasons, but this year the job is all his. He completed 64-percent of his passes in 2011 and threw eight touchdowns. He ran for four more, and has given an oral commitment to Boston College.
"He's right where we thought he'd be," Marinan said of Boyle. "His leadership has really come out of him, starting with the offseason. I'm happy with the way he took control of things and led the kids and directed the kids.
"We're pretty happy that we've got two running backs. One is D'Angelo Berry
, who's got real legitimate speed, and the other is Andrew Meoli
Marinan is excited about the offensive line, which will be bigger than last season's, one that's as large as some Division II college lines. Most of the this year's line is new and have things to learn, but Marinan likes its potential.
The defense is Xavier's primary concern. It graduated nine starters from a group that allowed seven points or less in 12 games.
Senior outside linebacker Max Tylki
(69 tackles, three sacks) will be one of the defensive anchors. Cornerback Chris Luster
and nose guard Zack Creeron
(6-1, 300) are also veterans.
"We've been moving the kids around," Marinan said. "We're still not quite sure what we have defensively. Unlike last year when we knew, that part is still kind of a work in progress."MaxPreps/American Volleyball Coaches Association player of the week
With the Connecticut girls volleyball season having started this week, coaches are reminded to enter their stats with CIAC media partner MaxPreps.com so that players may be eligible for the MaxPreps/AVCA Player of the Week Award
. Volleyball coaches who are new to the process and don't have their MaxPreps account login may email email@example.com
Griffen has covered high school, college and professional sports in the
Northeast since 1992. A 2003 New England Associated
Press News Executives award winner, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.