BROOKFIELD — For the first time in 633 days, Danbury and Brookfield football shared the field with another team.
On Saturday morning the two programs continued a longstanding tradition of combining for a conjoined practice at Brookfield.
“It was just good to get back out here with other people,” Brookfield coach Bryan Muller said. “In the last year and a half we have spent so much time with ourselves, it was good to get other competition.”
The three-hour conjoined session was structured so that players could re-familiarize or begin to adjust to realistic game speed and begin putting plays into action.
This season, more than others, comes with far more questions and inexperience that coaches will need to navigate.
As the first week of practices wrapped up, both Brookfield and Danbury have seen growth as questions begin to be answered.
“Our kids work really hard in the offseason so it isn’t as if they are just coming together now,” Danbury coach Augustine Tieri said. “There has been a lot of progression from the first day to now, in such a short period of time. We talk a lot about using failure as growth and learning from mistakes, we are really fulfilling that in a lot of ways and that was evident today.”
Danbury finished the 2019 season with a 5-5 record, and though inexperience is plentiful, Tieri likes what he has seen early.
“I was really happy with the effort that our guys put forth today,” Tieri said. “The kids were eager, it has been a long time since we got to go against someone else so it was great to get that work in.”
One of the biggest questions entering this season for Danbury was who will take over at quarterback, which has proven to be a pleasant surprise in the first week of practice.
“Quarterbacks do so much seven-on seven, and if anything that creates more bad habbits than good,” Tieri said. “So it is good to get them out there against the live rush and be able to work on timing and execution of throws and the run game.”
The projected starting quarterback for Danbury, freshman Darnell Bronson was given a rest day, giving sophomore John Bardin reps.
“Our freshman starting quarterback was resting today so we saw sophomore John Bardin today and he did an excellent job,” Tieri said. “We have been joking around that no matter who we throw out there, they have been stepping up and doing a good job.”
Tieri also tried out senior Artez Taft against the Brookfield defense.
“He didn’t skip a beat.” Tieri said. “I think he ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass and caught a touchdown today. He’s a dynamic athlete.”
It’d been 633 days since both Brookfield and Danbury football had shared a field with another team. That number is now 0 after this morning’s conjoined practice, a tradition between the neighboring schools to prepare for opening weekend #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/rj2ZPVP4Ya
— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) August 21, 2021
Both Danbury and Brookfield are returning players who saw significant playing time in the 2019 season, an advantage that few teams have entering the fall.
“We have some sophomores who played in 2019 and those are the guys that I’m leaning on,” Muller said. “Guys like Drew Martin, Matt Destefano, Thomas Guido, Ethan Almonte and Michael Reardon. Last time we played we were really young, so it is good to have those guys with a full year’s worth of experience.”
Muller is entering his second season at the helm of the Brookfield program and earned his first win in the Bobcats final game of 2019, 633 days ago.
“We are getting them used to a different speed, and I saw some positive things early,” Muller said. “The negative is that our numbers are down a little bit so we got tired. That is bound to happen but we have to fight through that and keep conditioning.”
As intended, the conjoined practice shed light on potential weak spots for both teams, but both coaches understand it will take some time to re-acclimate to peak performance.
“Early on we were flying around and our legs were underneath us,” Muller said. “This being the first time we’re out here in full pads in over a year and a half and you just can’t make that time up in a few days.”
While September inches closer, Saturday marked a big step forward in preparation for opening weekend.
“Coach Tieri and I, we talk all the time and we are both out here looking to compete,” Muller said. “We know it’s not about coming out and thinking who won that, but more about getting quality reps and making sure our players are prepared.”
“Brookfield is a great program and is a really well run program so it was great we were able to enhance our practice atmosphere,” Tieri said. “We have a great relationship and coach Muller is a personal friend.”
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