2015 Football Training Camp Tour Begins

Frankie Graziano will visit 20 camps in 10 days on this #TrainingCampTour! Follow along on social media to get involved in the discussion!

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CIAC Spring Championship Replays

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Game 1: Class M: Sheehan-Montville
Game 2: Class LL: Amity-Staples
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CPTV Sports Announces the 2015 Fall Broadcast Schedules

To view the most up-to-date version of the CPTV Sports television broadcast schedule, bookmark this page: cptvsports.org/broadcast-schedule

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#TrainingCampTour Day X: New London

HailMary
Our Final Stop…An Actual Camp

Coach Duane's team grinds all day at camp and then participates in team bonding drills by the campfire at night.

Coach Duane’s team grinds all day at camp and then participates in team bonding drills by the campfire at night.

Duane Maranda has spent 10 different offseasons at the Middlesex County 4H Camp in Moodus. He has coached at New London for seven years, but this year was the first time that he took the Whalers there.

There are a ton of whacky personalities at Whaler camp. This was perhaps the most fun group that I got a chance to spend time with during the #TrainingCampTour. Almost every kid asked to have his picture taken in some devilish pose. Kids were diving into the swimming pool left and right. An impromptu game of “four-square” broke out, led by quarterback Melquann Gomez. But when you ask the kids about football, their carefree nature fades into a focused attack.

New London literally limped into the playoffs with a 7-3 record (and some much-needed losses by fellow contenders) after suffering a tough defeat at the hands of arch-rival Norwich Free Academy, 63-40 LIVE on CPTV Sports, on Thanksgiving. They were eliminated by eventual CIAC Class M-Large champion Brookfield in their first playoff match-up, 46-14.

“It was a tough journey,” recalled tight end Major Roman. “We suffered some injuries before that game, but we worked very hard to that point and we would definitely like to see better results in the years to come, but we gave it our all.”

“We worked every day after lifting and we were here in the mornings running on our off-time, foot work, routes in the air, everything,” declared Gomez.

Melquann Gomez enters his first year as starting QB in 2015 as a junior.

Melquann Gomez enters his first year as starting QB in 2015 as a junior.

Gomez inherits the starting quarterback gig from all-ECC first teamer Danny Maranda, the coach’s son, who is currently a freshman signal-caller at Worchester Polytechnic Institute.

“It’s a great experience anytime you get a chance to coach your son, obviously being on the field with him and anytime you get to travel with him back and forth to practice and to games, I mean that was special,” recounted Duane Maranda.

“He really prepared me for these next two years coming up, being behind him,” stated Gomez. “He’s humbled me a lot. He helped a lot through out the season just to get used to coverages and the little things.”

The two years on the bench have allowed Gomez to work on his arm strength and accuracy, in addition to the time he took to study defensive coverages. The playbook will be opened up a bit more this season for Gomez, who’s speed and quickness allows him to be more of a dual-threat quarterback. Roman will be a tremendous asset for Gomez as he is a Division 1-caliber tight end standing at 6’6″, 210 pounds.

D. Major Roman is receiving looks from Yale and UConn, among other Division I programs.

D. Major Roman is receiving looks from Yale and UConn, among other Division I programs.

“He’s a big target!” exclaimed Gomez. I can throw him open, he can get open, and he can go up and get the jump ball.

Jelani Lucas is another big loss from the 2014 team. He collected 13 touchdown passes from Maranda and intercepted 7 passes on defense. He returned kicks and also punted for the team. Coach says that Lucas was so good that he will have to replace him with four or five guys.

Due to scheduling conflicts in the ECC, along with an abandoned game with FCIAC stalwart Stamford, the Whalers will not play during a 20-day stretch from November 6th to Thanksgiving. New London scrambled to find a 10th opponent after the FCIAC championship game controversy reared its head this summer. They were able to schedule Foran-Milford, but only during a previously appointed bye week on October 16th.

“It is going to give us the time to heal up and hopefully be in a position to be able to put a great team on against NFA who is going to be a very, very good team this year and then hopefully make a run at the postseason,” intimated Maranda.

Follow the #TrainingCampTour as it happens on Twitter. Please check in to cptvsports.org nightly for other team training camp recaps. For more on the Whalers, tune in to the 2015 High School Football Training Camp Special on September 4 at 7 p.m. Watch New London battle Bacon Academy on CPTV Sports, Tuesday, September 22 at 9 p.m.

These guys can talk some trash when they do one-on-ones in practice, but they are as united a bunch as it gets.

These guys can talk some trash when they do one-on-ones in practice, but they are as united a bunch as it gets.

#TrainingCampTour Day X: Montville

Montville coach Tanner Grove has gotten his message across to his players. It is almost time for them to execute against their opponents.

Montville coach Tanner Grove has gotten his message across to his players. It is almost time for them to execute against their opponents.


You Are Your Brother’s Keeper At Montville Camp…

The last two seasons at MHS have been shrouded in mediocrity. Tanner Grove’s teams have finished with identical 7-4 records, without a playoff berth to show for it.

“It’s not good enough to not make it so after every season he {coach Grove} comes in and he’s like “guys we have to sharpen up!” said offensive guard Kevin Murtha. “We have to do this. We have to do that and we have to make the playoffs this year.”

The Indians finished 4-1 in ECC Medium play last year, but the one loss was a glaring one, 48-19 against “ECC Big 5” school Ledyard. They were 1-2 against large schools. Norwich Free Academy stomped Montville 47-14, while East Lyme disposed of them 37-14.

“Not every year can a school with 600 kids line up and play with a school with 1,500, 1,800, or 2,000 kids,” claimed Grove. “I understand that, but here at Montville, we have a very proud tradition, so we attempt to play every large school in our area year in and year out knowing that when we win enough games on our schedule, we are in the playoffs.

The schedule talk is an important issue to raise when discussing Montville because it shows that maybe the Indians could get in the playoffs if they did not play as many big school teams. It gives the Tanner Grove an excuse as to why his team is not in the playoffs. However, the important lesson, especially for Grove to teach his kids, is that there are no excuses. Accountability is the key to improving in the game of football, and more importantly life as we know it.

Which brings us to the oldest of life lessons. Kevin Murtha shouted out the Book of Genesis (Christian Old Testament or Hebrew Bible) when discussing how he and his teammates will be accountable for one another this season.

“We are our brother’s keepers,” announced Murtha. “That’s our big spring motto this year that we had come out during our spring football season. We are responsible for one another. It’s from the story of Cain and Abel from the bible. We have to be responsible for everyone.”

According to the Book of Genesis, Cain and his younger brother Abel were the children of Adam and Eve. The boys grew up. Cain was the farmer. Abel, a shepherd. The boys both offered gifts to the Lord. Abel’s was looked upon more favorably and Cain got jealous. The Lord prompted Cain not to act on sin. Cain ignored the request and murdered Abel. When Cain was approached by the Lord to explain his where his brother was, he asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain was subsequently damned and essentially reminded “yeah, you are your brother’s keeper, dummy.”

Kevin Murtha is a 6'2", 290-pound offensive guard. He is looking to go biblical on some defenders this season.

Kevin Murtha is a 6’2″, 290-pound offensive guard. He is looking to go biblical on some defenders this season.

Murtha is a believer. He has bought in fully to what his coach is preaching. Jonathan McCray, the other offensive captain on the team, has as well.

“We just kind of took it upon ourselves to keep each other going,” said McCray. “Me and Murtha come out here and try to push each other to do what we got to do so we can try to get better and try to return to the playoffs.”

The Indians are in a decent position to succeed in 2015 because these two captains are both all-state players from 2014. McCray collected 16 touchdowns as a dynamic playmaker, while Murtha blocked for an offense that scored 34 points per game.

Murtha will be blocking for McCray this season, who will play quarterback after the graduation of Tyler Quidgeon. Both players looked very strong during my time at practice, as Murtha commanded his line-mates to heed his every word (and they did) and McCray rushed untouched for several LONG touchdowns.

Jonathan McCray is listed as an "ATH" on the Montville roster. He is a dynamic play-maker with elusive quickness.

Jonathan McCray is listed as an “ATH” on the Montville roster. He is a dynamic play-maker with elusive quickness.

“We got a lot of seniors this year that are dedicated to what we are trying to do: trying to get back to states, and make Montville what it used to be,” stated McCray.

“We have a group of 16 seniors right now and 14 of them were around in 2012 when we were in the playoffs,” said Grove. “Some of them have siblings and guys that they were very close to, so I think this group understands the expectation a little bit better than our last two groups.”

That expectation is to win behind responsible leadership.

Follow the #TrainingCampTour as it happens on Twitter. Please check in to cptvsports.org nightly for other team training camp recaps. For more on the Indians, tune in to the 2015 High School Football Training Camp Special on September 4th at 7 p.m.

It was nice to be greeted by some nice folks at Montville practice!

It was nice to be greeted by some nice folks at Montville practice!

Young To Play For “The Old Ball Coach”

Chris Young Transfers To South Carolina

ChrisYoung

“Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the offers that I wish I would have at this point, but I’m going to keep grinding until those offers show up.”

That is what former Rocky Hill RB Chris Young told me back in November of 2013 when I interviewed him for a CPTV Sports story called: “Chris Young Wants To Go To College“. He had a 3.1 GPA at the time that we spoke and was a well-behaved kid. Young was finishing up a career in which he ran for 5,390 yards and 82 touchdowns.

Young ended up at Springfield College last fall, where he only received two carries in his freshman season. One of those carries resulted in a rushing touchdown.

His mother, Angela, e-mailed me on Sunday to share the news that Chris had officially made the team, thus completing his transfer to the University of South Carolina from Springfield College.

The move will force him to red shirt for his sophomore season.

Young did suffer some bad luck in practice Monday. The future Gamecock RB was taken down by a linebacker in practice and suffered a shoulder injury. I am told that he will not be able to practice this season, but will be ready to go for spring ball.