Spring football a hit for Trumbull coach Marce Petroccio

Trumbull High captains’ Cole Smith, Matt Delaney, Coby Levinson, Kyle Atherton and Nolan Shea get together before Friday night’s Black and Gold game.
Photo: Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — Trumbull High football coach Marce Petroccio’s Eagles capped a 10-day spring with a Black & Gold game at McDougall Stadium on Friday night. 

We let the kids draft,” Petroccio said. “If the first pick was a tackle, then the other team gets a tackle. If he then gets a quarterback, they get a QB. Tonight, there is no tackling. It is what they are doing all over the countryAny good programs in the FCIACthey are not hitting every day, that’s not what you do. You want to teach good tackling form, wrap them up, and get people to the ball. It’s what we’ve done the last 27 years. 

Petroccio, starting his second season at Trumbull, sat down to talk about his Eagles and spring football in general. 

Why spring ball instead of choosing an extra week of pads in August? 

“I’ve always pretty done spring ball. In the past (Staples High), I may have skipped it three times. But there the lacrosse and baseball teams were mostly made up of football kids, so it was hard to practice. Here with a bigger population, we go for it. If we have to coach (some) younger kids than that is what we do. Quite honestly, I can’t imagine doing the things we did these past 10 days on Aug 23, that’s impossible. 

What were the main points of emphasis? 

Pretty basic. The things you have to teach and reteach again. Coming in last year, the players were faced with a different systemdifferent coaches and different techniques. These kids are excited and are just starting to understand all the little tiny things it takes to be successfulThere is so much teaching that needs to get done, and we need this time to do it. 

What is the most important thing accomplished? 

“Teaching fundamentals, really. Indoctrinating kids into the program. It’s not worrying about playing an opponent. But that is a double edge sword. The good part is you don’t have a game to prepare for so you can take your time in practice. The bad part is you are chomping at the bit to really go out and play someone.” 

Is having extended time with position coaches important? 

“It is huge. What happens is that the younger kids, most especially, don’t usually get to have the individual attention at this level. But, with spring practice they do.” 

What is the feeling now that it is over? 

It’s good to get everyone jumpstarted. We’re ready to go now for the season. That doesn’t mean we’re ready to line up and play Greenwich. What it does mean is that when we meet again, the kids know the drills, the kids know the expectations, and the kids know the coaches again. All the equipment is out. All the little nuances of practice are taken care so we can hit the ground running in August.” 

What was the winter like for the players? 

“We spent a lot of time in here (weight room). We got bigger, we got stronger. The younger kids put on weight, put more weight on the bar. Our overall strength has gone up from a year ago when we got here. I think to be able to have an entire winter, spring, as a team is important.” 

Summer plans? 

“For the linemen, there was a linemen camp that we went to in the spring. This summer the big kids will work on footwork, lift, and watch film. We have some big kids and they are young. Hopefully, they will keep getting better. 

“We’ll be in 7 on 7 (skill drills) and have other coach’s coach our kids. We’ll be at St. Joe twice a week— and then Grip It and Rip It. We have a good quarterback competition between Hunter FitzGibbons and Riley Simpson. This is a chance to evaluate. 

“Our five captains — Matt Delaney, Cole Smith, Nolan Shea, Coby Levinson and Kyle Atherton — are great leaders. Chosen by the kids, they know what my expectations are on field, in the locker room and off the field. They have done a tremendous job 

We have 68 kids, not 80-or 90. You can’t really gauge it by numbers, but they are the right 68 kids. We’re very happy. They are excited. They want to go out and compete.”