GRANBY – A year ago, the Granby High football team received plenty of big plays from quarterback Curtis Field, who threw for 1,578 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year, the Bears plan to be moving it on the ground.
To help take advantage of the talents of junior quarterback Dom Pagano, the Bears have modified their offense. Granby will be running the triple-option veer – an offense formation that relies on the quarterback to read the defense and quickly choose the most effective option.
Simsbury has been running the triple option veer for years under coach Jeff Osborne. “It is a tricky defense to defend,” Southington All-State linebacker Zach Maxwell said after the Knights beat Simsbury last fall. “It is all about assignment defense. If you can stop the football in the backfield, you can clog up the holes.” That may easier said than done.
Pagano ran for a school record 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago for Granby. He can throw the ball, too. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 88 yards and two TDs. Pagano is one of the quicker runners on the team, capable of breaking free for a big play. “We know we can run the ball,” Granby coach Rich Gadoury said.
Granby, which posted its first winning season (6-5) in the team’s four-year history last fall, returns 14 starters. Thirty-five of the 41 members on the team played on the squad last year. There are just four seniors on the roster.
“We’re responding very well to the new blocking scheme,” Gadoury said. Senior Samy Ahmad, Keith Marlor and juniors Vincent Lucca and Mark McDermott anchor the offensive line.
Gadoury said the Bears may ever better on defense. “We’re hoping to hang our hat on our defense,” he said. Pagano and junior Logan Strain will be at linebacker with WR/DB Connor Field in the secondary.
A year ago, Granby lost its first three games of the season and went 6-2 the remainder of the season to finish 6-5 and tied for second in the Pequot Conference West Division. With Housatonic/Wamogo dropped its varsity squad, the Pequot went back to a pair of 10-team divisions with Granby moving back to the Uncas Division.
“Our focus is one winning the day,” Gadoury said. “We’re focused on beating Windsor Locks (on opening night).” Granby hosts Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby on Friday, Sept. 12 at the high school. They host Avon a week later.
Traditionally, the top teams in the Uncas Division have been Avon, Gilbert/Northwestern, Ellington/Somers and Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton. Canton is returning a solid team.
“We have high expectations,” Gadoury said. “We want to surpass what we did a year ago and put two winning seasons together.”
Granby will play six of their 11 games under the lights including four at home. They close out the season on Thanksgiving morning at Canton playing for the old milk jug.
Coach: Rich Gadoury, 3rd year (10-11)
Last year: 6-5, 4-2 Pequot West (tied 2nd)
Key losses: QB Curtis Field (112-225-9, 1,578 yards, 11 TDs), TE/DE Jake Largay, WR Ian Downey (45-768, 7 TDs receiving), DB/WR Matthew Holmes, OL John Brucker, OL Matt Selander. Downey, Brucker, Selander and Largay were Pequot Western Division All-Stars
Top players: Jr. QB/LB Dom Pagano (177-1004, 11 TDs rushing), Jr. WR/DB Connor Field (36-619, 5 TDs receiving), Jr. OL Vincent Lucca, Sr. OL Samy Ahmad, Jr. OL Mark McDermott, Sr. OL Keith Marlor, Jr. LB Logan Strain
Outlook: With 35 of 41 players back from last year, the Bears have experience all over the field. Granby will switch its offense to the triple-option veer to give Dom Pagano more options to make plays. Pagano ran for 1,004 yards and 11 TDs a year ago.
Of note: Granby will host four night games on Friday night on the turf behind the high school. … Last year’s 6-5 record was the first winning season in team history. Granby won three of its final four games.
Fri. Sept. 12: WINDSOR LOCKS/SUFFIELD/EG, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 19: AVON, 7 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 26: at SMSA/University, 6 p.m.
Thur. Oct. 2: at Enfield, 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 11: COVENTRY/WINDHAM TECH/BOLTON, 3 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 18: at Nonnewaug, 2:30 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 24: at Stafford/East Windsor, 6:30 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 1: at Ellington/Somers, 1 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 7: OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK, 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 14: GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN, 7 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 27: at Canton, 10:30 a.m.