‘About Last Night…’: FRIGHT NIGHT!


The insanity started early Friday, with Hillhouse laying the wood to former No. 1 Xavier, 49-21 with mere seconds gone in the fourth quarter.

Read that again: 49-21!

And you bet the snark was a-flyin from these fingers.

Yea, that score was nutty. But it was nothing compared to what happened next.

Xavier must have finally got off the bus and replaced those imposters in black. It was 49-28… then 49-35…

Then 49-42.

Hillhouse, which had smacked mighty Xavier around for a little over three quarters, suddenly looked as if it had never seen a football before.

What was going on here?

Xavier coach Sean Marinan had a theory: “We have all of these big kids, these 300-pound linemen and they weren’t hitting anybody,” he said. “I was screaming at them: Go out there and HIT somebody.”

Like switch, they did. The pendulum had swung — violently — back the other way.

Suddenly, Hillhouse was reeling. It couldn’t move the chains as effortlessly as it once had. Yet the Academics received one, last chance to run out the clock. If they allowed Xavier to get the ball back, there was never any doubt Xavier would score.

Well, Hillhouse fumbled a snap that leaped out of quarterback Je’Vaughn Moore’s reach. Chidi Broderick recovered and Xavier was business on the 27-yard line.

Just a few plays later, DeAngelo Berry scored on a short run. Marinan raised two fingers in the air.

“We had the momentum on our side,” he said later. “There was no doubt we were going for two.”

Berry was barely touched on his way to the end zone for the 2-point conversion. Xavier 50, Hillhouse 49, 50 seconds remaining (see video, top).

Sure, Xavier had to stop Hillhouse one more time. But, again, there was never any doubt. Xavier, which was playing without standout linebackers Max Tylki and Carlos Ortega and, later, lost linebacker McNeil Finnegan, had gone from the funeral parlor to dancin’ on Broadway. Hillhouse had no chance. Moore’s 4th-down pass was batted away by Max Shumann (video above).

Xavier 50, Hillhouse 49: Final.

Game of the Year, easily.

It tied the state record for biggest comeback. You had to see it to believe it.

“I’m glad you guys finally got angry,” Marinan told his team. A few of them were in tears. But these tears never felt so good. “I can’t tell you how proud I am.”

Count the rest of us blown away.

And this continued throughout a wild, wild, wild Friday night that saw upsets and near-upsets galore. Some teams survived. Some didn’t.

Amity smacked Fairfield Prep 24-21, putting the Jesuits’ once-certain playoff hopes in jeopardy.

The Jesuits weren’t alone. Ridgefield joined Prep’s misery after a 22-14 upset loss to McMahon.

Derby was behind Torrington 39-0 in the first half, yet almost pulled off an even more incredible comeback than Xavier. Derby rallied to within one score twice in the second half — 45-37 and then 52-44 before Torrington recovered an onside kick with a half minute remaining.

Even Ludlowe, which just hours before learned that its coach, Matt McCloskey, would step down after the season, reared and bit Stamford 7-6.


Oh, but there’s SO MUCH MORE to go. A majority of the teams in Shangri-La play Saturday. Staples-Darien is our headliner, but — based on Friday night’s results? — who the heck knows what’ll happen.

Here are your Friday night results. Read all the stories on the High School Football page.

  • Friday night’s high school football roundup
  • FCIAC: Fairfield Ludlowe 7, Stamford 6 | McMahon 22, Ridgefield 14 | Trinity Catholic 49, Bassick 26 | Trumbull 28, Danbury 14
  • NVL: Ansonia 61, Crosby 20 | Seymour 23, Wilby 14 | Wolcott 28, Watertown 14 | Holy Cross 52, Sacred Heart 20 | Woodland 56, Naugatuck 30 | Torrington 52, Derby 44
  • SCC: Notre Dame-West Haven 53, Wilbur Cross 12 | West Haven 43, Cheshire 20 | Amity 24, Fairfield Prep 21 | Shelton 57, Hamden 30 | Sheehan 48, East Haven 6 | SCC: Guilford 41, Branford 14 | Jonathan Law 35, Lyman Hall 34 | Xavier 50, Hillhouse 49 | Hand 24, North Haven 7
  • SWC: Brookfield 24, Pomperaug 15 | Newtown 37, Bethel 14
  • CCC: Glastonbury 47, East Hartford 6 | Simsbury 21, New Britain 12 | Wethersfield 43, Bulkeley 8 | Bristol Eastern 40, Maloney 13 | Middletown 49, Bristol Central 0 | Windsor 34, Farmington 14 | Berlin 34, Plainville 14 | Rocky Hill 42, Weaver 0 | Platt 45, Bloomfield 20
  • CSC: Capital Prep 56, Wilcox Tech 8
  • ECC: Ledyard 26, Montville 21 | Plainfield 29, Killingly 8 | Stonington 28, Griswold 7 | Fitch 56, Windham 46 | Waterford 41, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech 7
  • PEQUOT: East Hampton/Vinal Tech 26, Lewis Mills 0 | Haddam-Killingworth 20, Morgan 7

Full schedule here

Sean Patrick Bowley