After its 1-4 start midway through last season that materialized into a strong 5-5 finish, the Guilford football team has plenty of optimism in believing that this campaign could start the growth of a powerful program in the SCC for years to come.
Head Coach Tom Unger pilots the Indians for his sixth season this fall and will be led by a strong 13-member senior class. Unger feels great anticipation to not only see this group truly blossom, but also help mold a bright future for Guilford.
“I am excited to see this senior class really develop,” said Unger. “I am excited to see them compete, want to get better, and help others get better in focusing on developing a consistently good program. I would like all of our guys in leadership roles to be great young men, yet additionally inspire the younger players to be great.”
Heading off that motivational baker’s dozen of seniors will be co-captains in quarterback Joe Nault (2012 All-SCC and Offensive MVP with 184 points, 769 ground yards, and 7 rushing TDs scored) and center Ian Robinson. With his knowledge that the duo can bring the correct combo of intangibles on the turf and off of it, Unger expresses he made the correct captain calls.
“Joe was already tremendous for us in so many ways as our starting quarterback and safety last year,” praised Unger. “He is a leader both offensive and defensively who really sets a phenomenal tone and example with his work ethic and ability. Ian also sets the tone for what our players strive to be with his enthusiasm. Both of them are outstanding young men on the field and in the classroom.”
Along with his deep returning senior cast that includes lineman/linebacker Ford Linell (All-SCC and Defensive MVP in 2012), running back Eric Zergiebel (15 rushing TDs for 2012), along with fellow backs David Knapp and KC Horton (All-SCC player who had 534 yards rushing, 12.71 yards per carry, 9 rushing TDs in only five games a year ago), Unger predicts big production from junior receiver/cornerback Nash Singleton following his diligent offseason.
“He played junior varsity as a sophomore, but then he really dedicated himself to training in the weight room,” said Unger. “He did track in the spring, along with getting up at 6 a.m. four times each week for strength training prior to further preparing himself in a passing tournament at New Canaan, too. “
In addition to its home opener on Thursday, Sept. 12 versus Wilton as a piece of the inaugural SCC-FCIAC Football Challenge, Guilford doesn’t hold any sort of “bye week” or easy matchup with duels against SCC Division II West foes Branford, Law, Lyman Hall, and defending Class M state champion Hillhouse, along with conference interdivisional adversaries of West Haven, Shelton, North Haven, and two-time reigning L crown holder Hand.
“Every game is a big one with no week off for us,” Unger said. “With every single matchup in the SCC, if you don’t physically and mentally prepare, you will get beat. We go right to the ringer off the bat with an explosive quarterback with Wilton. Shelton also has a great group of seniors with a dynamic quarterback, and plus we have all of our key divisional opponents.”
Nailing down his team’s targets this campaign, Unger clearly states that Guilford’s collective eye must not wander in the competitive football state of Connecticut, while it looks to steadily climb its personal ladder.
“Our goals are to go 1-0 each week and focus on what we are doing and not any other team is doing,” said Unger. “You read articles all over the state about other teams, yet what really matters is what we are doing in trying to get better every single day. Those will be the main things for us.”
Unger’s sideline staff will consist of Dave Esteban, Bryce Brown, Eric Mueller, Joe Cicarella, Dino Mancinelli, Ron Nault, Mark Devlin, and Jon Reinecke.