SIMSBURY, September 5 – For years, Simsbury High’s football team was known for their running game. Not anymore.
The Trojans have embraced the pass under fourth-year head coach Dave Masters. Simsbury threw for more than 2,300 yards and a school-record 19 touchdowns a year ago. A year earlier, Simsbury threw 13 TD passes.
Simsbury fans haven’t seen this many touchdown passes flying through the air off the arm of a Trojan QB in 50 years since Doug Cramphin threw 27 in two seasons (1967 and 1968).
Simsbury (7-3, 3-1 CCC Division I West) will have to replace five All-Conference players including QB Jackson Masters, All-State WR Ralph Gilliard, running back Raf Nieves, center and defensive end Jackson King and Jake Taddio.
Jackson Masters set new single season school records by completing 189 passes for 2,305 yards and 19 touchdowns. Gilliard set single season school records by pulling in 89 passes for 1009 yards and nine touchdowns. Nieves ran for 1,346 yards, including three games over 200 yards, and six touchdowns while Taddio caught 21 passes for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Simsbury finished 7-3 with their first winning season since 2012 and the most victories in a single season since 2009. And the Trojans did it after beginning the year with a 1-3 record, winning the final six games of the season.
Simsbury does return a pair of All-Conference athletes in receiver Jackson Butler (55-737, 6 TDs) and kicker Kory Zall (5-5 FG, 34-35 PAT). But this year, Butler will behind center playing quarterback.
“Jackson can throw but he also has good tools with his legs,” Masters said. “He gives us more options. He can run.”
Masters is optimistic about the season but hesitates to predict what his team can do this season. The Trojans do play in the CCC Division I West with Southington (8-2) and East Hartford (9-2).
“We have a lot of talent but we’re really young,” he said. “We will have to wait and see what comes out of it and how quickly they get up to speed (against varsity competition). I am anxious to see what happens when we play Hall.”
Simsbury opens the season on Friday night when they host the Warriors at 7 p.m.
Six-foot-7 Colby Chase (6-99, 0 TDs) will be starting at wide receiver and present a big target for Butler. Sophomore receiver Jeffrey Coleman has looked good in the preseason and will probably play on both sides of the ball at cornerback. Mark Bedson (37-185, 1 TD) will get the start in the backfield at running back.
Six-foot-2 junior guard Tommy Guilfoyle along with senior center Cole Hermsen and junior tackle Austin Taylor look to anchor the offensive line. Hermsen should start at linebacker with senior Joey Matteo at defensive line and senior Spencer Meace at strong safety.
Unlike many area schools, Simsbury has a large turnout of players for their varsity, junior varsity and freshman programs. There are more than 120 players in the program – the largest in Master’s four years as the head coach.
NOTES: Simsbury beat Hall in the season opener, 42-7 a year ago. The Trojans are 52-48-3 on opening day and own a 21-20 edge over Hall in the series that began in 1974.
Simsbury football 2018
|Friday, Sept. 7: HALL, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Sept. 14: SOUTHINGTON, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Sept. 21: at East Hartford, 6:30 p.m.|
|Friday, Sept. 28: at New Britain, 6:30 p.m.|
|Friday, Oct. 5: at Conard, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Oct. 19: SOUTH WINDSOR, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Oct. 26: at Enfield, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Nov. 2: MANCHESTER, 7 p.m.|
|Friday, Nov. 9: GLASTONBURY, 7 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Nov. 20: Valley Gridiron Classic at Avon, 6 p.m.|
|CCC Division 1 East|
|xy-South Windsor 4-0 10-2|
|y-East Hartford 3-1 9-2|
|Glastonbury 2-2 3-7|
|Manchester 1-3 3-7|
|Enfield 0-4 1-9|
|CCC Division 1 West|
|x-Southington 4-0 8-2|
|Simsbury 3-1 7-3|
|Conard 1-3 5-5|
|New Britain 1-3 5-5|
|Hall 1-3 2-8|
|x-clinched division title|
|y-qualified for CIAC state tournament|