TRUMBULL -- The last time Bryan Boderick put on pads and a football helmet, it was last November for Stamford High's annual Thanksgiving game against Westhill.
Nearly eight months later, Boderick and 27 other players from Fairfield County will return to the field for Saturday's 16th annual Hall of Fame Classic against the New Haven County All-Stars at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
"I'm pretty rusty and trying to get the hang of this new offense," said Boderick, the former Black Knights quarterback who will be playing next year at Monroe Junior College in New Rochelle, along with his twin brother, Barry, another Fairfield County All Star. "It's like freshman year all over again."
Fairfield County won last year's game, 34-14, though New Haven leads the summer series, 10-5.
Fairfield County coach John Svatik of Stratford said that he was unconcerned by losing 12 of his original 40 players to various conflicts and illness.
"It's not a problem when you have good kids," Svatik said. "The kids here are the ones that are important. They've been willing to do what we ask. They are real football players."
Boderick had two solid seasons starting for Stamford and is hoping to make a strong impression playing with many of the best recently graduated seniors in the state.
"I want to make a big statement," he said. "I've been picking things up pretty quickly. I'm a fast learner when it comes to football."
Some of Fairfield County's other top players are former Brien McMahon defensive end Zack O'Connor and quarterback Damien Vega, and former Greenwich defensive lineman Kyle Camacho, whose last appearance was against Staples on Thanksgiving.
"It hasn't been too bad getting into it," said Camacho, who will be prepping for a year at Milford Academy. "The heat's a little crazy, but it is never too bad putting the pads back on again. That's why you work out. We are the best and we have to prove we are the best. That's why we are here. That's why we were selected."
Camacho said the rigor of playing under the summer sun has been offset by the humor that comes when former opponents become teammates.
"The first two or three days here I was talking to some of the McMahon guys," Camacho said. "They remembered me and said that I talked a lot of junk. I'm a talker. We reminisced about plays we could have made here or there. It's fun."
Sometimes the game allows for an unheralded player to step into the spotlight. That is the case of Dylan Moye, a wide receiver and defensive back who played for a Westhill team that went 0-10 and lost just one game by fewer than 21 points.
Moye went largely unnoticed, but he said he will spend a year at UConn-Stamford to get his grades up before transferring to play at Hampton University. Moye played wide receiver and cornerback for the Vikings, and will play in the defensive backfield for Hampton.
"This game is a good opportunity for me," Moye said. "It was definitely a struggle at Westhill. It was frustrating knowing you have the potential to do more but the offense struggled. You know you have the talent and that you are better than the record says. I just want to play well. At this level the game is mental."
Svatik said he remembered Moye from when his Stratford team scrimmaged Westhill in the preseason.
"The kid makes plays," Svatik said. "Sometimes the kids who get the publicity are the ones that play for the good teams. There are a lot of good players who don't get as much attention because their team's records are not as good. He is well known to us."
While the perception by some is that the Hall of Fame game is really more of a showcase than a competitive rivalry, Svatik said that is in conflict with the nature of the sport.
"All games are big," Svatik said. "That's the very spirit of the sport. We've already had eight practices and the guys are really working hard. They play the game for pride. Self pride. They have a lot of it."
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