Quinebaug Valley Pride football team gears up for season

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Aug. 29, 2011
Jesse Alexander breaks through for a big gain for the Pride. Photo by D. Coffey.
Jesse Alexander breaks through for a big gain for the Pride. Photo by D. Coffey.

Coach Shane Szydlo and his crew of assistant coaches got into the thick of the Quinebaug Valley Pride football team's scrimmage with Woodstock on Aug. 28.

The controlled scrimmage let each team run 10 plays in a row before the ball was handed off to the opposite team. Coaches could get close to their offensive and defensive players as they lined up to play. They could also stop the scrimmage in order to give their players pointers or correct their positions.

“It's called, ‘checking it down,’” Szydlo said. “If a coach says, ‘Check,’ we stop the play and go in and coach.”

The QV Pride team is a cooperative team made up of players from Ellis Tech, Putnam High and Tourtellotte High. Each school contributes players in order to make up a full football squad. The team lost 13 seniors from last year, seniors whom Szydlo called “big pieces to the puzzle.”

This year's team is a young one, but Szydlo is expecting his juniors and seniors to step into the holes last year's veterans left.

“Because we're so young, we're stressing fundamentals,” Szydlo said. “We talk about ASA: alignment, stance and assignment. Those are the first three rules of any play. It's a learning curve with the younger guys now.”

The Woodstock Centaurs were able to score three times during the scrimmage. The QV Pride, not once. Still, Szydlo stressed the positive. “Today was a pretty good mental day,” he said. “When a kid goes down and gets hurt, we stress that even though you're in a lot of pain, we don't want any bad words coming out. Sometimes bad words can come out, so we talk about that. We talk about walking away when the whistle is blown. We call them walk-away drills. They get used to not getting involved in anything after the whistle.”

Szydlo was happy with the boys' ability to keep their heads up. “They didn't get down on themselves,” the coach said. “I don't like it when I see kids pointing fingers at each other or throwing their hands in the air.”

Szydlo has less than three weeks to get his squad ready for their first opponent, Capitol Prep. He intends to make use of every bit of available time. He has five coaching assistants. Garrison Rose coaches defensive and offensive lines. Brian Germain coaches tight ends and wide receivers on offense, and outside linebackers on defense. Defensive coordinator John Lamons takes care of the secondary. He also coaches linemen on offense. Chris Hehir is the head coach for the freshman team, and Daryll Brown is Szydlo's right-hand man on offense.

“We'll mentally condition them with drills,” Szydlo said. “We tell them its 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. We're just going to keep working each day to get better.”

The QV Pride football team takes on the Capital Prep Trailblazers on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m.


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