NORWALK, Conn. Everyone on the Brien McMahon High football team knew last season's record did not reflect the talent the Senators had.
McMahon went 3-7, but suffered five heartbreaking losses by a touchdown or closer. That included last-second losses to eventual Class L state runner-up New Canaan and conference champion Staples.
Third-year head coach A.J. Albano said the team is fully focused on this season and not last season's bad luck. The Senators lost a lot of veteran leadership, however, and will have to get up to "varsity speed," as Albano said, in order to compete this season.
Eric's Take: Many thought McMahon would be the Norwalk team to make the leap to contender in 2011, but it was the Senators' cross-town rivals at Norwalk High who authored a storybook season. McMahon had its heart ripped out over and over last year, including games they could have won against powerhouses New Canaan, Staples and Ridgefield.
"Those teams at the top always find out ways to win close games," Albano said. "Unfortunately we couldn't find a way to win those games and they did."
The Senators have a quarterback battle between two players who have yet to see their first varsity action, so expect McMahon to lead heavily on its run game this season. Running back Kyle Jordan will be the key cog for the Senators if they hope to improve on last year's record.
Worst Case: Inexperience and arguably the toughest schedule in the conference derails McMahon's chances at a winning season. Jordan turns out to be the Senators' only weapon and opposing defenses smother his potential in an identical 3-7 year but the losses aren't nearly as close.
Best Case: McMahon's corps of running backs shines and Matt Downey or Tre Newcombe emerge as a solid option at quarterback. The Senators are able to win a few of those close games in their grueling schedule to finish above .500 and reshape the conference playoff picture.
Key Players: Kyle Jordan, RB, Danny O'Brien, LB/FB, Trayvon Forney, RB, Andre Rodriguez, OL, Ryan Davis, WR/FS
Big Games: 9/14 (Opening Day) vs. Fairfield Warde, 9/28 at Staples, 10/5 at New Canaan, 10/26 vs. Ridgefield, 11/22 (Thanksgiving) at Norwalk