By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Sponsored by Ed Choiniere, Stop & Go Transmissions
When the Amity football team opens its season Friday night at Strong Field in Madison to take on hosting Hand High, the defending Class L state champs, 2 major questions will loom in the mind of the Spartans’ third-year Coach Bert Mozealous. First, graduation took veteran quarterback Tyler Vallee and his more than 2100 yards of total offense. In his place will be senior Co-Captain James Sammonella (6-feet 1-inch, 195 pounds). While an experienced running back, Sammonella has never been under center before. While not the passer Vallee was, he is not being asked to be. Instead of the pass-oriented spread offense, Sammonella will operated out of a more ground oriented option offense, that stresses power more than passing.
According to Mozealous, “James isn’t a thrower like Tyler was, but he can put the ball into the air when we want him to do that. If he comes along and develops as our quarterback, we have a chance to be competitive. The offensive line is the other big question mark looking in Mozealous’ mind.
Senior Co-Captains Greg Purcell (6-0, 260 guard) and Dennis Flanagan (6-2, 235 guard) returns as do seniors Mike Vitale (6-4, 270 tackle) and Zack Toro (6-4, 235) are all veterans of the 2011 campaign. Joining them along the front wall will be senior center Nick Tudino (5-11, 255).
Mozealous added, “As our experienced offensive line goes, we go. Having 4 veterans up front gives us a chance to be decent.”
In addition to Sammonella and the offensive line, the remainder of the Amity offensive unit includes: Senior tight end Anthony DeMatteo (6-0, 195), wide receiver Nick Bottone (6-4, 165 senior) or Ben Feola (6-0, 180 senior.), Wing back Cory Ricks (5-7, 155 junior) wing back Joe Choiniere
(5-9, 160 junior) and senior Co-Captain/fullback Dave Addolino (5-10, 185).
Junior Lyle Luth (5-7, 165 junior) will be handling all of the team’s kicking chores. He was good on 5 of 7 field goal attempts in 2011.
Sophomore Tyler Burns (5-7, 140) will serve as a reserve QB/wide receiver/ defensive safety.
“We have to be able to throw the ball when we want to,” Mozealous said. “If we run the ball well, we should be in every game.”
Defensively, the Black and Gold will operate out of a 4-3-4 alignment. Defensive ends Toro and Flanagan will flank tackles Vitale, Purcell, or
Frank Cavanuagh (5-10, 230 senior). The Amity linebackers will be seniors Jordan Laugeni, Casey Grenier, Nic Walker (6-0, 175) and Connor Myatt (6-0, 215),as well as Dave Buono (5-10, 165 junior).
Mozealous added, “If Jordan stays healthy, he could lead our defense, which could be much better than it was last year, when it surrendered 292 points per game (while scoring 270).
Rick and Matt Attolino (5-7, 150 sophomore) will be at the corners. Feola
Choiniere and Burns will be rotated at the safeties slots. Junior Anthony Sanchez (5-9, 155) is a back-up wide receiver and defensive back.
Burns may also see action as a QB and as a wide receiver. Senior Zack Demirgian (5-10, 180 senior) is a reserve lineman/linebacker as is Joe Capela (5-9, 190 junior).
“Our defensive secondary must come of age,” Mozealous said.
In addition to its lid-lifer at Hand, Amity must also face traditional Southern Connecticut Conference Division 1 and 2-time Class LL champs Xavier. Shelton also appears to be very formidable Division I opponent. Fairfield Prep and West Haven are rated as “much improved”. Add on traditional Class M power North Haven , and it is obvious that Amity will have to work very hard to improve upon last year’s 4-6 mark.