Greenwich Country Day School

Greenwich Country Day School football team getting ready for its second varsity season with 7-on-7 competition

Photo by David Fierro: Jesse Ripka is the starting quarterback on the Greenwich Country Day School football team.

Like all first-year squad’s, Greenwich Country Day School’s varsity football team’s inaugural season last fall was an eye-opener for its athletes, who adjusted to playing at the varsity level, while building that all-important chemistry with each other.

Season two begins in less than two months for the Tigers and they’re expecting much more from themselves in their second year as a varsity team.

“Last year was about establishing the roots of our program and really focusing on player development,” Greenwich Country Day football coach Kevin Avery said. “I think our team grew an unbelievable amount in Year 1, given the fact that we only played with one senior and we started a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors across the board.”

Photo by David Fierro: Zach Powell is a wide receiver/defensive back on the Greenwich Country Day School football team.

The 2021 season saw Greenwich Country Day compete in the Metropolitan Independent League and it finished with a 1-6 record, though it was competitive in all of its games. The Tigers’ victory came against Newark Academy from New Jersey, a 50-22 win and they had several close losses, two of which came against Montclair Kimberly Academy (27-20) and The Pingry School (28-25).

“We were in every game and with a whole year under our belt we will be able to finish games,” said Greenwich Country Day School starting quarterback Jesse Ripka, a rising junior, who is coming off a solid sophomore season as the Tigers’ signal-caller.

Season No. 2 will have a different look to it for GCDS, which has made the move to the NEPSAC Evergreen League, which includes St. Luke’s School, Canterbury School, Kingswood-Oxford School, Portsmouth Abbey and Proctor Academy. Greenwich Country Day opens its season with a home game against non-league foe King School from Stamford on Sept. 10 and will also face Hamden Hall Country Day School and New Hampton School.

“We want to go out there and show that we belong in the new league,” said Zach Powell, a rising senior who will lineup at wide receiver and defensive back during the upcoming season. “The competition will be better, which is great.”

Photo by David Fierro: Cooper Edwards is a receiver/defensive back for Greenwich Country Day’s football team.

Before practice begins in late August, the some of the Tigers’ players are sharpening their skills by competing in 7-on-7 passing camps/competitions like a lot of teams are doing during the offseason.

On Monday to Wednesday this week, Greenwich Country Day School’s Tiger Football Academy held its training camp for rising fifth to ninth-graders in association with the Simms Complete Quarterback Camp, which saw former NFL Quarterbacks Phil, Matt and Chris Simms visit GCDS for three days to lend football expertise to youngsters. They will return tomorrow, as the camps will be once again, be held from Monday-Wednesday.

Following the camps this week at Greenwich Country Day, some members of the school’s varsity football team played in 7-on-7 games against Rye Country Day School and Pearl River High School.

“7 on 7s are huge, it’s not actual football, but it’s great practice to work some of your concepts and new route combinations,” said GCDS rising junior Cooper Edwards, a wide receiver/tight end/defensive back. “This is the time to work with your quarterbacks and the timing of things and build a chemistry and a bond.”

Ripka has received coaching at the Simms Complete QB camp.

“I trained with them down in Jersey, they are great people and the knowledge they shared with the kids is something special,” Ripka said. “Everyone that came here to this camp this week learned a lot of great technique mechanics and it’s been fun. My progress from training at Simms Complete QB in New Jersey has been great.”

Kevin Avery is Greenwich Country Day School’s varsity football coach.

Ripka is looking forward to being a significant part of Greenwich Country Day’s improvement during their second varsity season – one in which they will face different opponents than its 2021 campaign.

“We had a COVID year, so we were playing 7-on-7 football my ninth- grade year, so high school tackle football, 11-on-11, was a new experience for me,” Ripka said. “Last year was a great experience. “We’re all coming back, we only had one senior last year, so we’re excited to compete this year.”

Our offense is pretty complex,” Ripka continued. “We would obviously like more wins than we had last year, that comes with time. I think we’ll be a lot stronger and we’ll have a better product on the field than last year.”

Said Powell, who should be one of the Tigers’ main receivers this fall: “We have a bunch of incoming freshmen from the middle school and we have a lot of players returning, so we’re ready to go. I’m really excited about our offense, we have good chemistry.”

Greenwich Country Day also competed in 7-on-7 competitions at Mahopac High School and Monmouth, finishing fourth out of 44 teams at Monmouth.

“We learned a lot in year one about who we are and what we want to be as a program,” Avery said. “Our kids have bought into our system and our culture. We want to build from the middle school up and it’s a really exciting time for us right now.”

Edwards added: “The goals coming into a new conference are to hold our own, be established and be respected by other teams. We are looking forward to what the receiving corps can do and what our team can do in the second year. I think we can go out and make a run toward the playoffs if we execute and play well.”

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