Football: Romeo, WHS put focus on consistency

With all that’s new facing the 2015 Wilton High varsity football team, it is not surprising that Head Coach Bruce Cunningham early on should identify consistency as a major focus for his Warriors.

The realigning of the FCIAC into two instead of three divisions, the departure of Bassick and Harding from the conference, the shortened nine-game schedule that does not include Ridgefield — these factors by themselves loom as potential pre-season distractions, not to mention the loss of 12 seniors, 10 of whom began or wound up as starters.

After spring training activities and summer camp, the squad has completed just a few practices in preparation for its new season that will not begin until an historically late Sept. 18 game against Brien McMahon at home.

“We’ve got a long way to go. There’s so much inexperience out there. We have to look at a lot of people. Since we’ve had no contact, there’s not much to go on, but I know everybody’s working hard,” said Cunningham.

Because he does have a young team, Cunningham will rely heavily on his co-captains, seniors RJ Romeo at quarterback and defensive/offensive line standout Brennen Ryan, to mold a club that will compete successfully in the new FCIAC.

Last year, Romeo came in as a rookie signal caller and suffered growing-pain ups and downs. He is aware of his head coach’s assessment that “better consistency” for the team in general and “more consistent play from the quarterback” in particular will be necessary to win games.

With a year under his belt and as a senior, Romeo has matured at the position.

“The game has slowed down for me a little,” he said. “It’s easier to understand and fix mistakes.”

His awareness of and belief in his experience will serve him well as he embarks on another portion of new — as in Cunningham’s assertion that “we’re doing some new things on offense.” Read that as the spread offense, at least certain elements of it.

The spread is and does just that. It is an offensive alignment that peppers the line of scrimmage with receivers almost all the way across the field. The linemen also take larger gaps, spreading the whole offense and in turn stretching and putting pressure on the defense.

“I think it’s a lot simpler. There’s a lot going on, but it’s easier to understand,” Romeo said. “There are more options for the quarterback. There is more breathing room and I think it makes it easier to read defenses. Experience probably has the most to do with that.”

The outside turbulence of scheduling change, conference realignment, and new offense doesn’t appear to jiggle Romeo’s equilibrium, nor that, unlike a year ago, he might be getting a little pushback for his job.

“At the end of the day, you need to focus on each practice, each game and leave it at that. You’ve got to make do with what you’ve got,” he said referring to the 2015 schedule.

“Right now, I just want all these guys to come together. We have a lot of sophomores and the better we work together, get along together, the better we’ll play.”