AP NEWS

High School Football

June 16, 2018

DANBURY — He said it, his players said it too. Two words sum up the path to revival the Danbury football team and new coach Augustine Tieri will attempt to undertake.

Mental toughness.

The first on-field barometer took place Friday afternoon as the Hatters hosted the blue-white spring game. Three months of work have already gone into the fall season for Tieri and his group, who hope to turn the program around brick by brick.

“I feel like we’ve come a long way in a short period of time,” Tieri said. “I’m proud of how hard everyone has worked top to bottom; the kids really bought into everything I’ve asked of them and then some. My coaches are phenomenal and working relentlessly to make these guys better.”

Tieri took over the position in March after two seasons at Kennedy High in The Bronx. The Hatters have had one winning season since 2014 but will bring back several intriguing pieces this fall. Following the game Tieri named a pair of captains in Kile Jackson and Juan Jimenez.

“We’re exciting for the season,” said rising senior RJ Hopkins. “Last year we had a rough season, but we’re excited to show Connecticut what we can do.”

The season began immediately with weight room regimen and strength and conditioning program, one that will continue into the summer months before practices finally begin in August.

“It’s intense and a lot of hard work but the coaches get us through it,” said Jackson.

The first-team offense played the second half in blue jerseys; quarterback Malachi Hopkins ran, threw and handed the ball off to DJ Donovan and Jack Pompea.

“We already saw that (improvement) today,” Jimenez said. “Everything was different, we’re all stronger, faster and better, and we’re getting ready for the season.”

The squad hopes the approach will lead to improvement with the summer months ahead. Schedules were recently finalized, and Danbury — which went 1-9 in 2017 — will host Trinity Catholic Sept. 7 in the opener.

“The mantra all offseason has been mental toughness; every single day that’s what we’ve preached,” Tieri said. “Everything we’ve adapted from the weight room and the strength and conditioning program, running Hatter Hill, everything has gone into that attitude.”

rlacey

@bcnnew.com; @ryanlacey11