CANTON, Sept. 13 – For the second time since it has been resurrected as a varsity program after a 43-year absence, the Canton High football team is coming off a winless season. It was a young team filled with juniors, sophomores and several freshmen that went 0-10.
New head coach Paul Philippon hopes to turn the program around. It won’t be easy but Philippon isn’t deterred.
He built a winning program in four years at Bristol Eastern, winning a pair of CCC South championships in 2007 and 2008 and helped construct two playoff-caliber teams in Glastonbury. A year ago, he was a defensive backfield coach at Trinity College.
“One of the more encouraging things is that we’re growing and moving into a new direction with each practice and every game,” Philippon said. “It’s a race against time to break as many bad habits as they can and to do things in a more technical and sound way. You can see it in their eyes when they realize that they’ve done it the right way.”
The Warriors have about 40 players out for the squad and they will be young again. A handful of juniors chose not to play this fall but Philippon is impressed with the character and determination of the young men on the team.
Canton will have three captains as voted on by their teammates – senior running back Kyle Mullins, junior quarterback Eric Scott and sophomore back Dan Delos. “I told the kids they should vote for their leaders,” Philippon said.
Scott will start at quarterback again this year. He completed 33-of-96 passes for 548 yards, six TDs and 10 interceptions as a sophomore. He is a year older, a year stronger and wiser after 10 games at the varsity level.
Mullins ran for a team-leading 718 yards and four TDs a year ago and will be part of a rotation of running backs that should include Delos (30-85) and senior Jesse LaChance (35-110, 1 TD). A crew of four players will rotate at the receiver positions.
Senior tackle Kyle Murphy will be the anchor of a new offensive line.
Defensively, sophomore Henry Bonini has been impressive on defense along with senior defensive tackle Nick Latvis and sophomore cornerback Cam Daley, the team’s leading tackler last year with 71 tackles.
Canton will probably be outmatched in some games but they should be competitive in most of them. The Warriors open at home against defending Pequot Uncas Division champion Ellington/Somers on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Canton will also host home games with Avon, Enfield, Coventry/Windham Tech and Granby on Thanksgiving morning, the first Turkey Day game in Canton since 1936. The Warriors’ lone night game will be Saturday night, Nov. 17 at Dillon Stadium in Hartford against Sports Medicine Science Academy, who has former Canton coaches Graham Martin, Dante Boffi and Roger Pearl on their staff.
Philippon said the strength of the team will be its discipline, the ability to play its assigned scheme on both sides of the ball and their teamwork. The challenge is to overcome their youth and inexperience.
Canton at a glance
Last year: 0-10, 0-10 Pequot Uncas
Coach: Paul Philippon, 1st year (0-0, 31-19-2 career)
Key losses: All-Pequot LB Erik Latvis, most of the offensive line, Conner Gavin, Josiah Durbois, Ryan Glynn
Top players: QB Eric Scott (33-96-10, 548, 6 TDs), RB Kyle Mullins (162-718, 4 TDs), RB Dan Delos, T Kyle Murphy, RB Jesse LaChance (35-110, 1 TD), LB Henry Bonini, DT Nick Latvis, CB Cameron Daley (team-high 71 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries)
Outlook: Canton has another young team on the field this year but with a disciplined, hard-working team, Philippon hopes to help the Warriors earn some victories. There is plenty of teaching going on from Philippon and his staff. “We will be conditioned and more disciplined. And we’ll do our talking with our pads,” he said earlier this year.
Of note: Canton is hosting Granby in a Thanksgiving morning game in town for the first time since 1936, when the Warriors hosted their alumni team. … Delos had a good season punting, averaging 31.2 yards on 25 punts. … Daley led the team in punt returns with 441 yards on 28 returns.
Canton football 2012
Saturday, Sept. 15 ELLINGTON/SOMERS, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 22 at Windsor Locks/Suffield/EG, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29 at Housatonic/Wamogo, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 6 AVON, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 ENFIELD, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 COVENTRY/WINDHAM TECH, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27 at Gilbert/Northwestern
Saturday, Nov. 3 at Stafford/East Windsor
Saturday, Nov. 17 at Sport Medicine Science Academy,
6:30 p.m. (Dillon Stadium)
Thursday, Nov. 22 GRANBY, 1 p.m.