How hard the 2012 Weston High varsity football team worked in the off-season could have a big bearing on how it performs on the field this fall.
The Trojans put in a lot of time into weight training and conditioning, not just in the pre-season but in the rest of the year. They will soon see how much this has paid off as they open the season this Saturday when they host Notre Dame at 1 p.m.
Weston will not be too large in terms of numbers. Between the varsity and JV teams it will sport about 37 players. But the Trojans have dealt with this and other situations in recent seasons.
“They handle adversity well,” said Weston head coach Joe Lato, now in his seventh season with the team. “They’ve overcome it.”
Weston still has some talented players, many of whom are back from last season’s team. Finishing with a 7-3 record, the Trojans placed first in the Patriot Division of the South-West Conference and nearly qualified for a spot in the state Class S tournament.
It also graduated a few since then, including Matt Keeney, JD Simons and Austin Delaney, all of whom were starting players.
Keeney, an All-SWC selection, was a defensive end and Simons (All-SWC second team) was a receiver and defensive back who also handled the kicking duties. The former led the team in total tackles with 87 and the latter had the most yards in receiving with 313. Delaney (All-SWC honorable mention) was a tight end and linebacker and second on the team in total tackles with 75.
Weston will also miss Ryan Savage and James Furbee on the offensive and defensive lines. Also gone are receiver Connor Jonsson and linebacker Sebastian Valin.
The Trojans also lost running backs Dan Rogers (All-SWC) and Pat Rogers. The former was the team’s leading rusher with 788 yards and scorer with 13 touchdowns. Both transferred to Daniel Hand High of Madison.
A number of experienced players will have to step up this season, particularly from a large senior class. The Trojans have nine in all.
They will have a seasoned quarterback in Tyler Hassett, an All-SWC selection last year who rushed for 569 yards. Aaron Pomerance will see action on both offense and defense as a runningback and linebacker.
Zach Cannon, who will do the kicking, also has experience as a runningback and as a defensive back, as does Justin Schaffer (All-SWC second team), who is also a punter. Senior newcomer Mickey Smith will also see time in these capacities.
On the offensive and defensive lines the Trojans have Jack Hamilton and Austin Gomar. At receiver is Tom McGlone and Jim Brasco will be on the line.
Experienced juniors include Erik Dammen-Brower (All-SWC), a linebacker with 71 total tackles last year. He is also a receiver while on offense. Classmate Adrian Gutkowski will be on Weston’s front line.
“We’ll see who gets out this season ready to go,” said Lato. “The kids worked really hard.”