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ConVal football has new coach, new attitude

  • New ConVal football head coach Ray Puglisi looks to lead the Cougars to success in his first year. ConVal started practicing on Monday and opens the season at Kingswood on Friday, Aug. 31. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • New ConVal football head coach Ray Puglisi looks to lead the Cougars to success in his first year. ConVal started practicing on Monday and opens the season at Kingswood on Friday, Aug. 31. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • New ConVal football head coach Ray Puglisi leads the Cougars in warmups on Tuesday ConVal started practicing on Monday and opens the season at Kingswood on Friday, Aug. 31. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • New ConVal football head coach Ray Puglisi looks to lead the Cougars to success in his first year. ConVal started practicing on Monday and opens the season at Kingswood on Friday, Aug. 31. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 4:47PM

The ConVal football team hit the muddy practice field for the first time this week. They’re a young team, with only six seniors, and they’ve undergone a late-in-the-game coaching overhaul, with new head coach Ray Puglisi taking over midsummer. But if you ask the coach or the senior leaders, there’s an infectious attitude that should set them up for success.

“They seem to be more focused, more energized then they have in the past,” Puglisi said, “and for a young team, that’s great, having that energy and that willingness to work hard.”

Puglisi takes over for Paul Landau, who orchestrated a legendary turnaround, as 2013’s winless team became the winningest in school history in 2016, going 6-3 that year and finishing at 4-4 in 2017. Puglisi was JV and linebackers coach under Landau (who departed to become Belmont High School’s athletic director), and the team has high hopes that they can keep the mometum going.

“We have a totally new coaching staff, but everything that’s happened the past few years is still rolling over,” said senior linebacker Andrew Stockwell, who made 56 tackles and recovered four fumbles as one of ConVal’s top defenders last year. “We have lot of new guys, but a lot of older guys have that ‘keep-on-rolling’ mentality ... Everybody’s super eager to get out there and play. Great core group of guys, we’re just looking to play some football.”

Stockwell is a stud at linebacker, and with fellow senior Keenan Wilson back at quarterback, ConVal has two of their crucial positions locked down going into training camp.

“We’ve got those two anchors, basically the leader of the offense and the leader of the defense, in place,” Puglisi said.

Wilson was pressed into service at quarterback in both 2016 and 2017 when injuries to starter Dan Spezzaferri knocked him out of competition. Wilson performed admirably both years, and the baptism by fire gave him invaluable experience heading into this season.

“It was a really good experience for me to learn to read defenses, see what people are doing, make those passes and just kind of find a chemistry with the team,” Wilson said. “Getting thrown in there made me learn to be quick on my feet, you never know when or what’s going to happen so you’ve got to be ready for everything, you’ve got to prepare well.”

The Cougars will remain in the spread offense first implemented under Landau, which means the learning curve for Puglisi’s team isn’t as steep as it could be for a first-year coach who installs a brand-new offense. Still, as a relatively late hire, Puglisi said his team is a little behind schedule.

“That just means we have to work harder,” he said.

The Cougars have until Friday, Aug. 31 to prepare for the season opener at Kingswood (1-7) last year, and a win there would go a long way toward boosting the team’s confidence going forward.

“We’ve got to go out there, confident not cocky, and we’ve got to execute to that level and hopefully that will get us a win,” Wilson said.

Regardless of game outcomes, Puglisi said the team is focused on attitude this season.

“Our goal for this year is to go out and be competitive every game, play all four quarters. We’re not focusing on we have to have five wins, we have to have six wins, we have to go undefeated. That’s not what our focus is. Come out, play hard be competitive, be respectful and everything else should take care of itself.”