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Football Bye weeks coming at the right time for many teams

October 11, 2018

Coming off the biggest win of the season, the Greenwich football team is feeling good after trouncing New Canaan 42-14 last week.

While the No. 2 Cardinals would love to ride the momentum from that important victory into a game this week, the team is instead spending their time lifting weights, watching game film and doing yoga as part of their bye week.

For Greenwich coach John Marinelli, the bye could not have come at a better time for his squad.

“If you asked me last year when our bye came early in the season, I’d say ‘I don’t like it,’ but this year, it is coming at the right time and I really like it,” Marinelli said. “Sure, we want to play because we are on a roll, but if you use this time the right way, it is really productive. We are using it to work on fundamentals and work with younger guys who may not get as much work in during a regular practice during the season.”

The state-mandated bye weeks were met with some hand wringing when introduced in 2015, but after a few seasons, teams are figuring out how to use the time off to their advantage.

The moaning by coaches in 2015 that the bye week would somehow ruin the sport locally have never proven true with most now embracing the break.

The CIAC implemented the bye-week rules to help prevent serious injuries, most notably concussions and to give players a respite during the season.

During the bye weeks, teams are not permitted to practice in pads or conduct full-contact drills.

The bye coming at essentially the midpoint of the season has let coaches hit the pause button, take a breath and work on little things which may get glanced over during a normal practice week full of game-planning for opponents.

“You lose a lot of individual time during a normal week and this time gives us time to do a lot of individual drills and get back to fundamentals. It’s a good time to catch up on techniques,” St. Joseph coach Joe DellaVecchia said. “This is really a good thing. We have so many guys out hurt and this gives them time to recuperate without missing valuable practice time or time in games.”

Most teams in the SCC and SWC had their byes last week while the FCIAC is in its bye week currently.

That time off allows players battling injuries to recover without missing further game action and for those with the usual bumps and bruises associated with football to have a week without physicality.

“For us, we haven’t had our captain Chris Comizio since Week 1 when he got hurt. This gives him an extra week to get healthy. He won’t be ready this week, but hopefully the game after. The bye coming for us last week means he is missing one less game,” Brookfield coach Rich Angarano said. “I agree with the intent of the week. It is good to have this week off in the middle of the season. Football is a contact sport and there is no contact this week, but that really has allowed guys a good chance to get healthy and recharged.”

With the SWC and SCC both having byes last week, coaches have been able to witness a renewed energy in players returning to full-throttle practice Monday.

“I can see it in the kids, the time off really helped. Monday was a really good day of practice for us,” Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern said. “The point at which the bye came this year really helped guys get healed up. We used it for chalk talk, extra film work and giving some kids a chance to concentrate on fundamentals. This was a good week to take stock of where we have been and where we want to go and stay focused on our goals.”

Going into the bye coming off a win is always nice, but coming off your first win as a head coach, gives teams time to enjoy the victory while still leaving time for preparation.

Westhill coach Joe DeVellis won his first game as a head coach 32-12 over Capital Prep/Achievement last weekend.

As a first-year head coach, DeVellis is still trying to figure out how best to use the time during the bye week, but said he is glad it came after a win rather than a loss.

“This is my first season, so everything is trial by error for us, including how we spend our bye,” DeVellis said. “We gave them Monday and Tuesday off and we are looking at this as a time to get some guys right who are a little banged up. This will hopefully be more of a mental week for us. Coming off a win has helped because spirits are up and the kids want to be at practice this week. If we were 0-5 coming into this week, I think it would have felt a lot longer than two weeks.”

The bye weeks are here to stay and as more coaches come around to finding good use of the time off, the complaints about the week with no games is fading into the night.

sericson@StamfordAdvocate.com; @EricsonSports

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