NORWALK — High school football coaches will take as much time with their teams in the preseason as they possibly can.

It is there the team’s identity is formed, teams bond and the minutia of the game is refined in preparation for the season ahead.

At the 5th annual FCIAC Football Media Night held at Colony Grill in Norwalk, players and coaches from all around the league mingled and ate pizza while discussing the importance of this time of year.

“With our team, especially I am looking at how they come together and (jell) because last year there was a lot of separation within our team,” Danbury coach Alex Trasacco said. “It is the enthusiasm I am looking for right now and we are getting it, so far.”

Team chemistry may be more important in football than any other sport and building that takes time — whether you are coaching one of the best programs in the state or not.

Several teams held non-football bonding exercises or excursions for their players prior to formal practice beginning.

“You have to be able to come together,” Trinity Catholic coach Donny Panapada said. “What we do is something called Camp Crusader which is not a football thing, it’s a team bonding thing. A lot of the programs in the FCIAC do different stuff like that. They have to come together as a family because you are stronger together than you are separate.”

Teams are also evaluating players not just in terms of talent on the field, but also on their work ethic and intangibles that could make a difference in season.

“We are looking at who our leaders are,” Greenwich coach John Marinelli said. “The X’s and O’s part is probably the easiest. Right now, we are looking at who we can give the ball to on third down, who will be your key special teams guy, who do you expect to make big plays. A lot of times you don’t find that out on the field, you learn that in the weight room, who is running extra sprints after practice, who is putting in the work.”

Even the best players have flaws in their games. The players and teams that correct those deficiencies are generally the ones left standing in December.

“Everyone makes mistakes this time of year,” McMahon coach AJ Albano said. “The good teams are able to correct them and be coachable and that is how you get better. If the kids keep making the same mistakes they will never get better. This time of year, you have to correct as many mistakes as you can.”

Correcting mistakes takes time, but one thing all of the coaches are looking for is players to come to practice every day ready to work harder than they did the day before.

“We just want guys to be consistent,” Bridgeport Central coach Michael Farrell said. “You really just want kids to come out and give a consistent effort on a daily basis. After that, you are looking for players who might be able to break a game open for you with a big play and then build around those kids and form the team.”

sericson

@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports