SIMSBURY – It wasn’t just hitting and practice for the Simsbury High football team during its preseason workouts. There were plenty of opportunities to play. The Trojans scheduled five scrimmages. Head coach Jeff Osborne wants his team to learn from their mistakes.
“We want to correct our errors,” he said as Simsbury prepares for a season opening game with Farmington on Thursday, Sept. 12 at Holden Field at Simsbury High.
Simsbury has been running its triple option veer offense for years under Osborne, who is entering his seventh season. The quarterback makes a read of the defense at the line of scrimmage and must decide quickly to keep the ball and run, hand it off or pitch it to a teammate. It’s a precision offense that takes time to learn and perfect.
For Osborne and the Trojans, practice makes perfect and there is nothing better than scrimmages to work out the kinks. “They’re a smart club, highly intelligent,” he said. “They are cohesive and have the ability to adapt and overcome.”
After two losing seasons, Simsbury returned to its winning ways a year ago with a 6-4 season, finishing second in the CCC Division I Western Division behind Southington. The Trojans return 15 seniors but they lost some experienced offensive players including QB Steven Steijn, who ran for 471 yards and threw for 407 yards and six TDs, and a pair of All-Conference running backs Christian Martinez (team-high 680 yards rushing, 5 TDs) and Blair Zentek (315 yards, 1 TD).
Brad Helmkamp, who earned All-State honors playing fullback and linebacker, returns. He ran for 538 yards and four TDs. But with a new quarterback – senior James Hermsen – and new receivers, it will take time to get back into synch running the triple veer.
“We run it on the freshman and junior varsity level but it is so much faster as the varsity level,” Osborne said.
Defensively, Simsbury had a fine season a year ago, led by Helmkamp, who led the team with 121 tackles and four caused fumbles. Defensive end Noah Lemothe returns along with nose tackle Justin Gray, linebacker Adam McLlveen and corner back Nick Albergo.
“It’s one game at a time,” Osborne said. “Last year our mission was dominate. This year, it is climb. We just go step by step by step. We’re taking incremental steps every day.”
Osborne didn’t address Simsbury’s hopes of winning a conference title nor qualifying for the CIAC Class L playoffs for the first time since 2009. Aside from Division I West games against Hall, Conard, New Britain and Southington, the Trojans will face challenging games with Middletown, Manchester and Glastonbury in November.
Coach: Jeff Osborne, 7th season (33-30)
Last year: 6-4, 3-1 CCC Division I West (2nd)
Key losses: Twenty-two seniors including All-CCC RB Christian Martinez, lineman Christian Kaljulaid, LB Cormack Mulshine, RB Blair Zentek, LB Eddie Novak
Top players: All-State FB/LB Brad Helmkamp, TE/DE Noah Lemothe, LB Adam McLlveen, CB Nick Albergo, QB James Hermsen, G Justin Gray
Outlook: With 15 seniors, Simsbury does return some experienced players on the defensive side of the ball and on the offensive line. It will take time to get its triple option veer into synch. It’s an offensive formation that can be difficult to stop, especially for teams who see it just once a year (against Simsbury). All-State linebacker and running back Brad Helmkamp returns for the Trojans.
Of note: Simsbury faces Farmington on opening day for the first time since 1941. … Osborne will be the defensive coordinator as well this season.
September – 12: FARMINGTON, 6 p.m.; 20: EAST HARTFORD, 7 p.m.; 27: at Southington, 7 p.m.
October – 5: at Hall, 2 p.m.; 11: CONARD, 7 p.m.; 18: NEW BRITAIN, 7 p.m.; 26: at South Windsor, 1 p.m.
November – 1: at Manchester, 6 p.m.; 8: NEWINGTON, 7 p.m.; 15: MIDDLETOWN, 7 p.m.; 23: at Glastonbury, 6:30 p.m.