‘About Last Weekend’ Week 9: Answered prayers in Stamford and other craziness

Darien celebrates its 26-20 victory over Trinity Catholic won in the final seconds | Photo by Lindsay Niegelberg

So that happened Saturday afternoon.

Nick Lombardo hauls in the winning touchdown pass from Henry Baldwin in Darien's 26-20 victory over Trinity Catholic Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 | Photo by Lindsay Niegelberg

It was delicious, poignant high-stakes moment in the narrative of the 2012 high school football season. As we endlessly discussed through two football-free weeks, Trinity Catholic needed to beat Darien and St. Joseph to stake a claim to the FCIAC championship and, by extension, tick off the guys in Westport and Greenwich hoping to play for the whole shebang.

They never got past phase 1.

But, oh man, if Trinity was going to go down, Darien showed everyone how to do it right.

Darien was all but dead going into the game and we were chiseling the Blue Wave headstone when all-stater Peter Gesualdi — who’s had somewhat of a nightmarish season, all things considered — fumbled the ball on the 28-yard line with just over a minute remaining.

The Wave held and, on fourth down, Trinity Catholic coach Peter Stokes declined to have New Canaan hero John Benalcazar kick what would have been a long field goal on the sloppy Alumni Field turf.

It all went to shreds from there.

Freshman (yes) Mark Evanchick sacked Trinity quarterback Danny O’Leary on fourth and long, giving the ball back to the Blue Wave with a minute left.

Gesualdi atoned for his fumble with a big catch down the sideline. Nick Lombardo followed that by leaping beyond three defenders, catching the ball and falling into the end zone with, perhaps, the greatest play of the 2012 FCIAC season.

Maybe even the entire year.

It’s gotta be top 10, at least in terms of the situation and the significance.

Darien 26, Trinity Catholic 20: It aligned the stars for a potential Staples vs. Greenwich FCIAC championship on Thanksgiving.

[I was, of course, at my best friend’s wedding on Avery Point in Groton. Anyone want to upload a video of the final play?]

And when they read the news via Twitter on the bus heading back from their 49-14 victory over McMahon, the Greenwich players rejoiced.

Seriously, watch them rejoice.

Did I hear a ‘Danbury’ in there? Yeah, someone remembered: Greenwich still needs to beat Danbury. Staples still needs to take care of Westhill and star back Davell Cotterell (338 yards, five touchdowns last week, yow!)

It’s not over yet.

But… still. It’s looking mighty good.

(By the way, these types of late-season shenanigans is a major argument in favor of holding league title games. Like I said, I don’t mind the games. This is why. We just have to fix that criteria nonsense.)

Moving on…

Meanwhile, in the SWC: Milone, Masuk ends Barlow win streak

In a not-so-carbon-copy carbon copy of the Trinity-Darien game, Barlow’s unbeaten season came to a climactic close with a game 42-23 loss to Masuk Saturday at Bunnell.

Because Benedict’s Field is a disaster area, Masuk was playing at Bunnell for the second time this season and it was the ninth time in the last five years Masuk was playing a home game on the road.

And, at least early on, it didn’t feel like a home game. Barlow and tricky triple-option actually had a 10-7 lead and Masuk on the run, no thanks to a myriad of penalties.

But, of course, Masuk has Thomas Milone and Barlow doesn’t. Didn’t help that standout quarterback Jack Shaban left the game with a shoulder injury, but nevertheless Masuk whowed it is still boss in the SWC and clinched a playoff of spot in the process.

One more week remains and, like the FCIAC, we’re close to having ourselves a legit SWC championship.

Newtown rolled Bunnell Friday night to keep its unbeaten season going. But the Hawks might have lost standout back Danny Hebert. The senior all-state senior was carted off the field and taken to the hospital after severely injuring his wrist.

No word (yet) on what Hebert’s status is as of Sunday, but it would be a devastating blow to Newtown’s title aspirations to be without their awesome senior leader.

Update: Hebert broke his arm and will have surgery. His outstanding football career at Newtown is over. Our best to Dan as he begins his recovery.

The Legend of Pacheco grows

In a game I actually attended Joe Pacheco went ape on Brookfield. He ran for two long touchdowns and then returned a kickoff 88 yards for a back-breaking score in New Fairfield’s 34-19 victory.

The two long touchdowns were typical Pacheco. He found the hole, made a juke and was gone. The second one came just seconds into the second half and put New Fairfield in control 21-7.

The kickoff return touchdown, which followed a 5-yard strike from Brad Westmark to Boeing Brown that made the score 21-13, was ridiculous. Brookfield had been attempting to kick away from Pacheco. But with Brookfield within 21-13, the senior and one-year wonder took the kickoff, zigged and zagged through a several defenders, got some key blocks from his teammates and danced into the end zone.

Why, oh why do we only get one year of this kid?

New Fairfield’s playoff hopes were carted off when the Rebels lost to Oxford a couple of weeks ago. So enjoy Pacheco while you still can. He’s easily one of the state’s best tailbacks, closing in on a 2,000-yard rushing season with two games to play, hoping to break the single-season school record of 2,156 set by Rich Comizio in 1982.

He took a good measure of joy squashing Brookfield’s playoff hopes, as well. “We’ve been battling these kids since we were little kids,” he said. “This feels amazing. I don’t want to get into it — because we might get out of control.”

Earth to Fairfield Prep. Come in, Jesuits.

Prep’s state playoff hopes were knocked silly with its second-consecutive loss, this time to struggling rival Notre Dame-West Haven.

Though the Class LL field is already packed with (unofficial) qualifiers and near-qualifiers, the final spot remains up for grabs.

The Jesuits still have a slight chance to qualify. It would help if West Haven loses to Xavier on Monday night. The Westies would drop back to the pack with a loss to Xavier. Then Prep would have to beat the Westies on Thanksgiving.

Then they’d have to get into a chapel and pray.

Plenty of other crazy stuff happened in and around Shangri-La. [Week 9 Schedule/Results]

Davell Cotterell, the FCIAC’s version of Joe Pacheco, ran for 338 yards and five touchdowns (!!!) as Westhill hammered Wilton to guarantee itself a .500 season. Pure insanity. …Trumbull outlasted archrival Central in a wild affair at Kennedy Stadium. …Bullard-Havens was no match for Capital Prep, which won the Constitution State Conference championship and clinched a Class S playoff spot. …Weston beat Bethel to keep its playoff dreams intact. …Oxford did the same with a 40-20 win over Stratford on Sunday. The 6-2 Wolverines will officially be a winning team for the first time in its short history. …Derby crushed Crosby to clinch its first winning season since 1996. …Staples hammered Warde to stay abreast in the FCIAC race. …Abbott Tech earned its first three-game win streak. …New Canaan won its sixth straight game, 35-0 over Stamford. … Jake Kasuba and Foran blasted Branford in the SCC.

Just outside the region, Wolcott bludgeoned Woodland 54-12, to clinch the first playoff spot in Class M. By the way, Woodland, not Wolcott, is playing Ansonia in the NVL Championship game this Thursday.

We haven’t crunched the numbers, but here were your state playoff qualifiers in Week 9 according to Kyle Brennan of the Republican-American:

Here are your playoff standings.

Xavier plays West Haven tonight. A win will clinch a spot for the two-time defending champs. West Haven needs this one badly.

See everyone at Palmer Field.

Sean Patrick Bowley