STAMFORD, Conn. – Shaquan Howsie’s return to the Trinity Catholic backfield might be the most important development for the Crusaders as they get ready to kick off the high school football season.
The Stamford school opens its season Saturday at home against Westhill.
Howsie, a senior, rushed to a promising start in the first two games last year before a knee injury ended his season. He had 344 yards, two touchdowns and averaged 7.17 yards per carry before being injured. Trinity tried different approaches to replace Howsie after he went down, but could not overcome the loss of its top rusher.
“It’s tremendous to have him back,’’ said Trinity coach Pete Stokes, who begins his fourth year at the helm. “It’s great to see him back not only because of his ability to run the football. The boys feel more confident with him out there.”
Trinity returns some other key veterans as well. Quarterback Danny O’Leary returns for his second year as a starter. Riley Kinahan, David DeLeo, Michael Palomba and Cody Zaro are some of the other returning players who Stokes is counting on to improve last year’s 3-7 mark.
“Our entire defensive line is returning,’’ Stokes said. “I’m happy with the guys we have. If they play for the guy to the right and to the left of them, we’ll be OK. We have a good mix of veterans and newcomers.”
The other new wrinkle that Trinity will unveil is a spread offense. The Crusaders have been known forever their ground-and-pound style, but Stokes wants to get his best athletes more playing time.
“We felt that if we want to play with the big teams, that’s what we had to do,’’ said Stokes, who was the quarterback of the 1984 Trinity team, then known as Stamford Catholic, which won the league championship. “It’s tremendous. It opens up the field.”
Trinity’s three wins last year were against Westhill, Harding and Bassick, which had two wins combined. With Howsie back, the Crusaders figure to be better. The heart of Trinity’s schedule could determine its success. In consecutive weeks in October, Trinity plays Norwalk, Stamford and Fairfield Warde, three games that appear evenly matched. Trinity’s complete schedule is available online.
“I expect them to play Crusader football,’’ Stokes said. “I want them to play tough football. I expect us to be in every game. Right now, I’m not looking past Westhill in week one.”