SIMSBURY, Sept. 13 – The Simsbury High football team hopes to get back to running its veer option offense this fall. Injuries crippled the Trojans a year ago as its top two quarterbacks were hurt in the first two weeks of the season, forcing Simsbury to run the seldom-used single-wing offense.
Simsbury took its lumps, winning just three games (3-7) and going winless in the CCC West Division I (0-4). But sixth-year coach Jeff Osborne is hopeful that the Trojans will be able to compete for a league championship with 23 seniors returning and plenty of experience in the skill positions.
The Trojans’ leading rusher from 2011 returns with running back and linebacker Christian Martinez, who rushed for 642 yards. RB Cormack Mulshine (70-293) returns along with receiver Blair Zentek, who ran for 243 yards in the single wing last fall.
After Simsbury’s top two quarterbacks got hurt, Osborne and Simsbury turned to the single wing to eat up time on the clock, control the clock and get the ball into the hands of his most dynamic playmakers. Created by Glenn “Pop” Warner, the single wing formation has three players lined up on one side in the backfield. The center directly snaps the ball to a tailback, fullback or quarterback, who is frequently called upon to block. A wing back lines up near the end of the line. There are no wide receivers or tight ends.
It nearly worked in the third game of the season, a 22-16 loss to Manchester. Simsbury build a seven-point halftime lead but in the second half, Manchester controlled the game with its own running game and didn’t allow a first down as the host Indians scored nine points in the final 3:13 to earn the win.
It did help Simsbury earn two wins. Martinez scored 2 TDs and ran for 116 yards on 22 carries in a 40-0 win over East Hartford. At Rentschler Field, Simsbury forced five turnovers in a 28-7 victory. Mulshine, Martinex and Stephon King ran for TDs while Zentek (16-69) and Mulshine (13-69) ran well for Simsbury.
The Trojans will have to do a better job keeping their hands on the ball. Simsbury committed 34 fumbles last season, losing 12 of them. Simsbury does return four of its top four tacklers in Helmkamp (102 tackles, 2 sacks), Mulshine (68 tackles, 2 interceptions) and Martinez (50 tackles).
Simsbury At A Glace
Last year: 3-7, 0-4 CCC Div. I West
Coach: Jeff Osborne, 6th season (28-25)
Key losses: DE/TE Zach Wilkins, DE/OT Garrett Crowe, RB/DE Stephon King
Top players: OL/DL Christian Kalijulaid, RB/LB Christian Martinez (642 yards rushing, 55 tackles), RB/S Cormack Mulshine (293 yards rushing, 70 tackles); FB/LB Brad Helmkamp (108 tackles); WR/DB Blair Zentek (22 tackles)
Outlook: With 23 seniors and experience in the skill positions, Simsbury hopes to contend in the rugged CCC Division I Western Division with Southington, Glastonbury and New Britain. The Trojans hope to avoid the devastating injuries that took the steam out of the 2011 campaign.
Of note: Kaljulaid, Mulshine, Martinez and Stephen Steijn are the team captains. … Kalijulaid is a two-year All-CCC Div. 1 West selection. King and Helmkamp were also All-CCC Division West All-Stars.
Simsbury High 2012 football schedule
Fri. Sept. 14: at Newington, 7 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 22: at Conard**, 1 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 28: MANCHESTER, 7 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 5: SOUTH WINDSOR, 7 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 12: at Windsor, 7 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 19: HALL**, 7 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 26: at New Britain**, 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 2: SOUTHINGTON**, 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 9: at East Hartford, 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 17: GLASTONBURY, 6 p.m.
**CCC West Division I game