A North Haven Team In Transition
31-6. This is North Haven’s record the past three seasons, each of which marked CIAC playoff campaigns. The Indians reached their zenith last December, clinching their first championship game berth. They would fall to New Canaan, 42-35, and finish the season 12-1.
If you are new to CPTV Sports or Connecticut high school football, North Haven coach Tony Sagnella may be America’s foremost purveyor of the ancient “Single-Wing” offense that could involve a direct snap to a tailback or fullback, while a quarterback’s main function would be run or block.
Sagnella said goodbye to 18 seniors following last season, so he has major roles to fill on the roster after losing “quarterback” Mike Montano and fullback Conner Suraci. The Indians will also be looking for a new wingback. All told, 10 of 11 starters graduated on offense.
“Personnel-wise, we are fortunate to have replacements on the roster,” commented Sagnella. “Tommy Dodge will take Mike’s spot.”
Montano carried the ball 149 times for 1,892 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. He also threw for 482 yards and seven touchdowns. Dodge completed three passes and picked up just 11 carries behind Montano.
“During practice last year, I took a lot of reps behind Mike, but he’s such a great player that was hard to get on the field,” reported Dodge.
Sagnella faces a playing time quandary, even though he is eager to replace last year’s production. Jack Steinman, a 6’3”, 210-pound pocket-passing enigma for North Haven, is entering his senior year and somehow threw 11 touchdown passes in 2015 for a run-heavy offense that averaged 375 rush yards per game.
“It’s pretty interesting that I’m kind of the guy who gets to change the offense up a bit so that it is not just running, running, running,” stated Steinman.
Coach says that the offensive play selection should change from week-to-week. It will be an interesting start for the Indians when they line up against Cheshire on Sept. 9 and then play a newly-minted SCC Division I slate this fall, following a year in which the team averaged 47 points per game with an average victory margin of 31 points.
“I think we are what we are and we are a single-wing team,” announced Sagnella. “We do want to run the ball and we feel comfortable in that. We are fortunate and blessed to have an athlete like Jack Steinman in our program right now so we are trying to make best use of him.”
A Genuine Hamden Family Tradition: Glenwood Drive-In
Glenwood Drive-In has been a Hamden institution since 1955 and the Stone family has operated the restaurant for all but Glenwood’s first six months of existence. In that time, the family has supported area sports, including Hamden youth football and Green Dragons athletics. They sponsor New Haven area icon George DeMaio’s ESPN Radio 1300 endeavor to honor top athletes.
Wayne Stone has been led the Hamden establishment since his father passed away in 1959. I was very privileged to share his company and meet his wife Sheila, and daughters Karen and Kelly Friday. Located in downtown Hamden on Whitney Ave, the eatery is packed during all seasons with patrons who enjoy classic American fare.
Here is what was on the menu for CPTV Sports during the Training Camp Tour: footlong Hummel hot dogs, cheeseburgers, “frings” (hand-cut onion rings and fries), clam strips, and a succulent, buttery lobster roll. I was deeply appreciative of being able to sample the entire menu and I was certainly filled up by great football food for the final day of the tour.
Kelly’s Cone Connection shares the building space with Glenwood Drive-In. It is a handmade ice cream parlor owned and operated by Wayne’s daughter Kelly. I can confirm that the ice cream is indeed handmade, as I saw Kelly bake cookies, then crush the cookie dough and freeze it! Their motto is “Save Room for Dessert”. Despite being in a food coma, Kelly implored me to sample her flavors in a tremendous waffle cone dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. One unique flavor is a Twinkie-inspired treat–a delicious lick filled with creamy Twinkie accompaniment.
–Frankie Graziano, CPTV Sports