Last season was a rare misstep for the New Fairfield football team, a squad that’s used to competing for a spot in the postseason after going 34-12 from 2013-17.
But the one positive from a 1-9 mark from last year was a series of growing pains involved with an inexperienced roster, one that returns most of its starters and all its playmakers.
A leap forward could take place in a wide open SWC Division II.
“Last year we fell into the trap with a 1-9 record, and that doesn’t look good,” Rebels coach Anthony Fata said. “But we had three or four games that we led going into the fourth quarter. I think with the amount of kids we have returning they learned lessons from mistakes on those games.”
New Fairfield struggled to score in 2017, but a year of experience could pay off in a big way. Four losses were by a touchdown or less, and a fifth the Rebels led in the fourth quarter. Fata noted his offense was ahead of its defense as the season is set to kick off Friday.
Senior Will Enright will begin his second season behind center this fall, and will guide an offense that’s looking to become more explosive in the air. Liam Ford will lead the receiving corps that could test opposing secondaries, and Zach Buffington will return for his third season in the backfield.
“Will is a very talented athlete,” Fata said. “Not only can he throw the ball, he’s got the ability to get himself out of trouble and use his legs to help in the run game. He was thrown into the fire as a junior; hopefully with a year under his belt he’s more comfortable in what he’s doing. That spreads to other players and it’s nice to see.”
Fata said a lack of size up front is a concern, as is the usual depth issue of being one of the smaller schools in the SWC.
The Rebels will be thrown right into the fire, though, putting their outside hopes at a Class M playoff spot in major jeopardy. New Fairfield visits Newtown — a team it nearly upset after leading after three quarters — on opening night before drawing Hand in the SCC-SWC crossover series next week. The Rebels will also host Bunnell in September.
“We have a tough schedule with Newtown and Hand right off the bat,” Fata said. “I like where we are; I like the energy of our team, I think they’re focused and ready to go but we’ll see.”