Benoit and the Easties Eager to Compete
Head Coach Scott Benoit and the Yellowjackets are looking forward to playing football this fall. The CIAC recently announced that the 2020 football season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Sept. 24. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Although it won’t get to play its full schedule as planned, the East Haven football team is still on track to return to the gridiron this year. After the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) recently released its plan to play fall sports in 2020, the Yellowjackets learned that their season will begin during the final week of September, instead of on Friday, Sept. 11 as originally scheduled. The CIAC’s plan features a set of ground rules for every sport in terms of practice schedules and the amount of games that could be played each week.
When it comes to football, the CIAC is implementing a six-game schedule that will tentatively begin on Thursday, Sept. 24 and run no later than Friday, Oct. 30. There will also be some type of postseason competition for each sport during the first week of November.
While Head Coach Scott Benoit’s third season at the helm of the Yellowjackets will be played under much-different circumstances, Benoit said the Easties are excited to put on their shoulder pads and get back to playing football.
“I’m just happy we’re playing. These kids have invested a lot of time,” said Benoit, whose team is coming off of consecutive 7-3 seasons. “Six games is better than no games. It’s a season, so we will make the best of it.”
East Haven could have started meeting as a team on July 6. However, Coach Benoit decided to wait, citing concerns over COVID-19 and a lack of information on whether a season would actually occur. Now that the CIAC has a plan in place, Benoit scheduled the Yellowjackets’ first meeting for Aug. 3.
Benoit said that he was planning to go over the logistics of playing this season with his athletes at the meeting, followed by an hour of conditioning. East Haven is planning to work out in four groups of 10 players.
“Our guys have been working out as a team together since the spring. They’ve been putting the work in on their own, which is great,” Benoit said. “We’ll see what we have, but we’re excited. The kids are excited, and the fans are excited. But there’s still a lot of issues. It is changing every day.”
On Monday, Aug. 17, football teams will be allowed to hold organized team activities to go over the safety requirements, review the playbook, and hand out equipment. Starting on Monday, Aug. 24, teams can begin working on the field with 30 minutes of non-contact skillwork. Then on Monday, Aug. 31, teams will be allotted 45 minutes of skillwork with 15 being contact-oriented.
Monday, Sept. 7 begins a period in which football teams will be allowed to hold two-hour practices with 75 minutes of skillwork, including 30 minutes of contact. Finally, on Friday, Sept. 11, teams will be able to gather for full practices.
Despite the various regulations, Coach Benoit said that East Haven is planning on attacking this season just like any other. Benoit will be relying heavily on his senior captains—quarterback Trey Garea and running back/linebacker Alex Durate—throughout a year that is going to feature a lot of question marks. Benoit is hoping that his captains and their fellow seniors can lead the Yellowjackets to another successful campaign.
With the Easties now having more of a sense of what’s ahead, Coach Benoit said that his athletes are eager to ramp things up in the coming weeks in preparation for their first game. The 2020 season is shaping up to be unlike any other, but the Yellowjackets are going to continue playing the same way.
“Our mantra is to finish, to be the most physical team on the field, limit mistakes, and win the game. It’s not going to change,” said Benoit. “I’m a football coach. We’re a football team. Our main concern has to be playing football. They told us we can play, so now we have to do it.”