There will be no surprises when the St. Joseph football team plays host to New Canaan in the season opener at Dalling Field on Saturday at 1:30.

Coach Joe Della Vecchia’s Cadets won the Class M championship a year ago to cap a 12-1 campaign. They return the nucleus from that club and are ranked third in the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register preseason high school football poll.

Coach Lou Marinelli’s visiting Rams are the preseason number one. New Canaan, 9-3 a year ago, returns four players that have committed to play at Division I schools next fall.

“This is a typical New Canaan team,” said Della Vecchia, who has led the Hogs to five of their 13 state titles. “They are loaded with athletes and size. They are highly competitive and well prepared. It is a tall task.”

David Summers will quarterback the Cadets. A Maryland University commit, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior earned All-State honors as a junior after he passed for 3,227 yards and a school-record 49 touchdowns. He was intercepted five times.

“David has improved zip on the ball,” Della Vecchia said. “There isn’t a throw he can’t make and he always makes the right decision (on where to go with the ball).”

All-State choice Phil Pasmeg caught 51 passes, good for 856 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Will Diamantis had 45 receptions for 591 yards and nine scores.

Jesse Bike caught 35 passes for 503 yards and found the end zone five times.

Jaden Shirden will be in the back field. As a sophomore, he ran for 1,080 yards and 19 touchdown and caught 19 passes for another 225 yards and four more scores.

“Jaden is strong as an ox,” Della Vecchia said. “He goes full speed at everything he does and that is very impressive.”

St. Joseph returns two starters to its offensive line.

“Rob Mihaly is back after missing last year with an injury and that is huge,” Della Vecchia said.

Rich Licursi, Chris Kiley, Nick DiIorio and Dennis Elrod will also man the o-line.

Luke Kirby will be the placekicker for the third year. As a junior he accounted for 94 points, with 76-of-77 PATs converted along with 6-of-8 field goal attempts.

The defense will be led up front by three juniors, Mike Morrissey (3.5 quarterback sacks), Cayden Porter and Kyren Jones.

Jesse Lawson, who had 81 tackles and two QB sacks, will be at outside linebacker with Alex Pagliarini (63 tackles) on the inside.

Ace Luzietti, Darren Warren and Jack Wallace are in the secondary.

Luzietti had a team-high five interceptions to go with 42 tackles as a junior. Warren made 53 stops.

Della Vecchia acknowledged that the journey — with three FCIAC foes in the top 10 — won’t be easy but that fact hasn’t changed his expectations.

“We want to make another run at it and play for a state championship,” he said. “We have the experience and the drive to do it. Our goals won’t change.”

New Canaan’s offense will be led by quarterback Drew Pyne (Notre Dame commit), with Quintin O’Connell his main target.

Jack Conley (Boston College) and Jack Stewart (Michigan) will do the blocking up front.

Pyne threw for 2,355 yards with 25 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

Schedule

Sept. 8 — New Canaan 1:30

Sept. 14 — at Warde (Taft Field) 7

Sept. 22 — Darien 1:30

Sept. 29 — Wilton 1:30

Oct. 5 — at Ridgefield 7

Oct. 20 — Stamford 1:30

Oct. 26 — at Central 7

Nov. 2 — at Staples 7

Nov. 10 — McMahon 1:30

Nov. 22 — at Trumbull 10