Though its season started with a loss, the seven-point defeat to Seymour last week was just the first step for a St. Paul program that has already shown some improvement this season and looks to show even more in the coming weeks.
“I was extremely pleased with our whole preseason,” Falcons coach Jude Kelly said. “I have a great group of kids that come to practice every day, have worked hard, have gotten better, and that’s the whole key with it now, is to just keep improving all the time.”
The Falcons made some big defensive plays and showed a solid running game, as usual, in their season opener. Now they’ll have to increase the defensive intensity tonight at Watertown, a team that beat Derby by a 55-20 score last week.
“Every time we’ve played Watertown, it’s been a close game. There’s never been a big difference between the teams and the score,” Kelly said. “They’re very good. They’re a big team, they’re an L team, and they’ve got a lot of good players.”
Over the next two weeks, the Falcons will have to face Naugatuck and Ansonia, which won their opening games by a combined 85-12 score last week.
“The key with (the coming tough stretch) is let’s just get better every week and eventually we’ll turn the corner a little bit,” Kelly said. “I’m very pleased with the kids, though.”
Watertown is led by do-it-all quarterback Xavier Powell, who threw two touchdown passes and ran the ball in three times himself in last Friday’s game.
“He seems to have some pretty good skills and (he’s) a tough kid,” Kelly noted. “He can run or pass. They have some big linemen. They play sound defense. You’ve got to beat them. It’s not like they’re going to give you anything.”
St. Paul’s biggest strengths are its effort and cohesiveness.
“The seniors are doing well and our juniors are filling up there pretty good,” Kelly said. “I think the team chemistry is our best (strength).”
He added, “This group has been great throughout the whole preseason. The numbers are smaller, but they’re getting tight together and they’re doing the right things.”
As a small school with a limited roster playing against mostly much larger schools, the task ahead for the Falcons won’t be an easy one.
“You’ve got to play to their level,” Kelly said.
Paul Angilly can be reached at 860-973-1800, or firstname.lastname@example.org