Platt Tech has hired 36-year old Chris Theriault as their next football coach, Athletic Director Sue Murphy announced today.
He replaces Vinny Camera, who started the program and coached six years before leaving to take over at Fairfield Ludlowe. This is Theriault’s first head coaching job.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Theriault said. “I’m expecting most of the staff will return and I’m looking forward to take what Vinny started and continue to build a strong program. Vinny left a good foundation and I’m looking to keep it going as best I can.”
An electrical shop teacher at Platt Tech for the past two years an an electrician for the past 15 years, Theriault played free safety at Bristol Central until graduating in 1995.
He said he coached football camps and clinics in New Hampshire –mostly defense and defensive backs — during the early 2000s but stopped and took a approximately a decade-long break due to “family commitments.”
During his brief tenure as a Platt Tech teacher, Theriault said he began to get an itch to coach again. “I realized I still have that love and that passion for the game,” he said.
Theriault was in discussions to join former coach Vincent Camera’s staff but, again, “due to family concerns, I couldn’t give 110 percent of my time,” he said.
He believes he’s ready this time. After discussions with Camera and assistant coach George Baglini, Theriault applied and got the gig.
He becomes the second head coach in the six-year history of the Platt Tech football program. Platt Tech is coming off its first winning season. The Panthers were 6-4 in 2012.
“We’re very excited,” Murphy said. “He’s totally as passionate about football as I am about softball. We can’t wait to get started.”
That brings the current coaching vacancies down to five.
A look as who did what on Thanksgiving Week 2012. Compiled by executive sports editor Gary Rogo and the Hearst CT sports staff.
Joey Zelkowitz, Staples: Ran for FCIAC-title game record 317 yards on 20 carries and scored three TDs, as Wreckers won the league championship for second straight year.
John Shannon, Bullard-Havens: Helped the Tigers finish off an 8-2 regular season with 274 yards and five TDs on 23 carries in a 49-24 defeat of Bassick.
Cooper Gold, Newtown: Torched two-time defending league champion Masuk for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns to propel the Nighthawks to a 21-14 victory in the SWC championship game.
Andrew Louis, Central: Gained 100 yards and scored three TDs on 11 carries as Hilltoppers hung on to beat Harding 30-22.
Arkeel Newsome, Ansonia: Ran for four TDs and caught a 9-yard pass from Jai’Quan McKnight for a fifth score in 48-27 victory over Naugatuck.
Collin Cioffi, New Fairfield: Stepping in for an absent Joe Pacheco, junior finished with 205 yards from scrimmage and a TD in 31-13 pasting of New Milford.
Sam Gravitte, Ridgefield: Ran for 158 yards and three TDs in 42-6 rout of Danbury.
Shaquan Howsie and Shawn Brown, Trinity Catholic: Howsie ran for 155 yards and a pair of scores while Brown added 131 rushing yards with three TDs, including one on a 76-yard pass from Danny O’Leary, as the Crusaders clinched a Class S playoff berth with a 42-32 defeat of Wilton.
Davell Cotterell, Westhill: Workhorse carried 32 times for 195 yards and one TD as the Vikings subdued city rival Stamford 20-6.
Kyle Jordan, McMahon: Broke free after slow start for 130 yards and TD runs of 20 and 61 yards.
Connor Cadrin, Foran: Scored five TDs, two on passes from Jake Kasuba, two on runs and one on a 66-yard kickoff return in a 56-29 defeat of Law. For good measure, he intercepted a pair of passes and forced a fumble.
Joe Piatnik, Bethel: Quarterback ran for 249 yards and three TDs on 25 carries and threw scoring passes of 39, 68 and 25 yards in a 48-28 defeat of Brookfield.
Nick Lombardo, Darien: Caught TD passes of 35, 30 and 30 yards from Henry Baldwin as the Blue Wave beat New Canaan for the first time since 2001.
Terrence N’dabian, Bunnell: Insertion of senior as starting QB turned the pass-happy Bulldogs into an option team. Responded with 224 rushing yards and two TDs on 30 carries. He also threw a TD pass and returned an interception 70 yards for a score.
Justin Schaffer, Weston: Ran for a touchdown and caught the winning TD pass in Weston’s state-tournament clinching victory over Barlow.
Jordan Vazzano, St. Joseph: Sophomore threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns as the Cadets clinched a state playoff berth with a 55-20 victory over Trumbull.
Jake Kasuba, Foran: Sophomore finished with 257 yards passes and four TD tosses, two each to Connor Cadrin and Nick Weissauer.
Tanner Kingsley, Woodland: Set a state record with 615 passing yards while throwing for eight TDs in a 62-26 rout of Seymour.
Tyler Hassett, Weston: Threw for 126 yards and two TDs in 21-14 victory over Barlow, earning the Trojans their first state playoff berth in 23 years.
Jai’Quan McKnight, Ansonia: Soph had TD runs of 65 and 59 yards in win over Naugatuck and added a TD pass to Arkeel Newsome.
Mark Piccirillo, Shelton: Soph threw a 38-yard TD pass to Kyle Drost, capping a four-play, 72-yard game-winning drive in 27-21 victory over Derby. Finished with 126 yards on 8-of-16 passing and 111 yards rushing and two TDs on 14 carries.
Brennen Diaz, Oxford: Completed 10-of-16 passes for 197 yards and two TDs — both to Chris Vankamerik — in 42-22 beating of Pomperaug. Capped effort with a late interception.`
Kyle Dammeyer, Jimmy Gasper and Benjamin Brzoski, Fairfield Ludlowe: Dammeyer recovered fumble and had 1 1/2 sacks in 31-13 victory over Fairfield Warde as the Falcons won their last four games to finish 5-5. Gasper blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Brzoski scooped up a Warde fumble and went 92 yards for a TD.
William Kelly, Notre Dame-Fairfield: Blocked a punt and returned it five yards for a score in Lancers’ 26-22 victory over Immaculate.
Justin DeVellis, Newtown: Picked off a pass to seal Newtown’s SWC Championship victory over Masuk.
Jack Hamilton, Weston: Made several late stops, including a batted down pass on 4th down to preserve Weston’s state playoff clinching victory over Barlow.
VALIANT IN DEFEAT
Marc Cesare, Trumbull: 137 yards rushing and two TDs in loss to St. Joseph
D.J. Smith, Harding: Went 74 yards for a TD on the Presidents’ first play and finished with 197 yards on 13 carries, scoring a second time on a 51-yard run in the third quarter.
Thomas Milone, Masuk: 165 yards of total offense and two TDs and an interception in a 21-14 loss to Newtown in the SWC championship game.
Alex McMurray, Greenwich: Scored three TDs on runs of 6, 1 and 4 yards in 48-30 loss to Staples in the FCIAC championship game.
Bullard-Haven's John Shannon turns the corner on his way to one of his five touchdown runs vs. Bassick in the first Thanksgiving week football game Tuesday night. Bullard-Havens won 49-24.
Perhaps it was the constant injuries, or that he and his teammates toil away in relative anonymity of the Constitution State Conference. But make no mistake, Bullard-Havens back John Shannon is a good football player.
Shannon ripped through Bassick’s defense, hitting corners hard and turning on the jets to finish with 274 yards and five touchdowns.
“We were so pumped to play this game,” said Shannon, who missed the final three games of last year’s 7-3 season and now has 1,417 yards and 25 touchdowns in nine games. “The line made some great blocks and we came to play.”
Shannon’s chiseled, 5-10, 200-pound frame and his running ability raised a few eyebrows from the few area coaches who were present. Asked, Tech coach John Johnson didn’t hesitate. “Put him behind any line in this state and he’d be up there with the top running backs,” he said.
We’re inclined to agree. Now some lucky team will get to see what Shannon and his teammates can do beneath the playoff klieg lights.
The Tigers finished 8-2, good for a tie for second place in the CSC behind champion Capital Prep/Classical, which took out 8-2 Prince Tech on Tuesday night. Now they’ll practice, eat Turkey and just wait for some results to make sure they’ve qualified for states.
It’s not decided yet, but they’re close. Bullard-Havens needs Ellington/Somers to defeat Coventry, maybe get Barlow to defeat Weston and or just hope Montville loses enough bonus games to clinch a bid.
This would be Bullard-Havens’ third trip to the state playoffs since 2007. Their playoff games — like most schools from the CSC — typically hasn’t gone well. Bullard-Havens lost to Tolland 47-14 in 2007.
When these players were freshman, the traveled by coach to Montville and lost, 49-12.
Those were pretty good Bullard-Havens squads. How about this team? “Honestly, top-to-bottom, it’s the best team I’ve had,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve earned it.”
Just being on a state qualifier was an experience Shannon’s never forgotten.
“It was like going to Disney World,” he said. “Ever since then we’ve worked hard and dreamed of getting back to states.”
We’re just getting started.
A bunch of local and state-wide games will be played tonight, including the SWC Championship between Masuk and Newtown.
Masuk (left) and Newtown knock heads in last year's SWC Championship game at Blue & Gold Stadium. One year later, they'll do it all over again -- same time, same place -- Wednesday night.
It’s that time of year again… the Greatest Sporting Day of the Year in Connecticut.
Rivalry Week. Thanksgiving Week.
A day where every game means something — be it pride, a winning season, a .500 season, precious playoff points, bragging rights — and it’s played in front of, most likely, your largest crowd of the year.
For most of you seniors, it’s your last game. Go out in a blaze of glory.
For a few others, it’s an unofficial playoff game. You win or go home.
And for a select precious few, it’s the start of what you hope to be a glorious championship season.
And for everybody, it’s time to tell us who’s going to win the games.
Pretty straightforward. Just read the preview, and pick ‘em. (Most of the statistics provided are via teams on Maxpreps.com, many teams do not provide statistics.)
To get you started, we’ve published previews for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games. The full Thursday breakdown will be published before noon on Tuesday.
Here we go…
Bullard-Havens at Bassick
WHERE/WHEN –Kennedy Stadium, Bridgeport, 6 p.m. RECORDS — Bullard-Havens 7-2, Bassick 1-8 T-DAY SERIES — Bullard-Havens 5-2 LAST YEAR — Bullard-Havens 20-0 KEY STATS — Bullard-Havens has allowed just 99 points all year in the CSC, Bassick has allowed 3 1/2 times that amount in the FCIAC. …Bassick QB Vochan Fowler is 4th among reported FCIAC passing and rushing leaders. He has thrown for 1,107 yards and 7 TDs, run for 831 yards and 7 TDs. …Behind John Shannon’s 1,143 rushing yards, Bullard-Havens averages almost 300 rushing yards per game. …Tech sophomore Chris McNamara has accounted for 500 yards of total offense and 6 TDs since taking over for injured QB Equan Brooks vs. Capital Prep on Nov. 10. …After a 5-0 start, Bullard-Havens is 2-2 in its last four games. …The Tigers average 38 points per game, Bassick averages 16.9. AT STAKE — A shot a qualifying for the Class M playoffs for Bullard-Havens. The Tigers need to win and get some help. Bragging rights.
Oxford at Pomperaug
WHERE/WHEN –Edward Arum Athletic Complex, Southbury, 7 p.m. RECORDS — Oxford 7-2, Pomperaug 4-5 T-DAY SERIES — Pomperaug 4-0
LAST YEAR — Pomperaug 10-7 KEY STATS — At 7-2, Oxford is having its finest season since its varsity program began in 2008. Seven wins is a school record and the the school’s first winning season. …Pomperaug is trying to avoid its first losing season since going 4-6 in 1995. The last time Pomperaug was 5-5 was in 2005. …Oxford QB Brennan Diaz is No. 9 in the SWC in total yards with 1,746 and has accounted for 10 TDs. Teammate Chris Vankamerik leads SWC in receiving yards with 903 and 9 TDs. …Pomperaug averages 21.8 points per game and has won two straight. Senior RB Dylan McAllister is the grandson of former Ansonia coach Bill McAllister. AT STAKE — A (razor-slim) shot at the school’s first state playoff berth for Oxford. A three-game win streak and a 5-5 season for Pomperaug.
Ridgefield at Danbury
WHERE/WHEN –Crotty Field at Clapboard Ridge, Danbury, 6 p.m. RECORDS — Ridgefield 7-2, Danbury 2-7 T-DAY SERIES — Ridgefield 7-3
LAST YEAR — Ridgefield 56-14 KEY STATS — Danbury has lost six straight games since beating Central 36-30 on Nov. 29. The Hatters have been outscored …Elijah Duffy has played quarterback the last three weeks due to injury to starter Anferny Ith. …Ridgefield’s Connor Rowe is ranked No. 3 among FCIAC passers with 1,216 yards. He leads the Tigers in total yards with 219 yards per game… Rowe and LB Andrew Barton are committed to Bryant. …Sr. WR/RB Sam Gravitte has scored 20 touchdowns, Aiden Mauro has made 7 interceptions. …Danbury hasn’t won in Thanksgiving series since 2007. AT STAKE — An outside shot at a state playoff berth for Ridgefield (the Tigers need Prep to beat West Haven and then major bonus help). Danbury’s third victory.
Woodland at Seymour
WHERE/WHEN–Woodland Football Field, Beacon Falls, 6 p.m. RECORDS — Woodland 6-4, Seymour 5-4 T-DAY SERIES — Seymour 6-4
LAST YEAR — Woodland 28-7 KEY STATS — Tanner Kingsley is one of the NVL’s elite passers. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards and 34 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. Anthony Scirpo is his top target with 45 catches for 624 yards and 15 TDs, followed by Brian Reiss (40 catches, 6 TDs) and Ramhil Rountree (34 catches, 87 TDs). …QB Mike Conlon leads Seymour, averaging 134 total yards per game. RB Jim Vartelas lead team in rushing and scoring. …Woodland averages 383 total yards a game, Seymour 274. …Seymour hasn’t had a winning season since its last playoff appearance in 2008. …The Hawks lost last week’s NVL title game to Ansonia, 56-26. AT STAKE — A Class S playoff spot for Woodland. A win and some help get Hawks into the field. Seymour’s first winning season under coach Tom Lennon. Bragging rights.
Notre Dame-Fairfield at Immaculate
WHERE/WHEN – Westside Athletic Complex, WCSU, 7 p.m. RECORDS — Notre Dame 0-9, Immaculate 0-9 T-DAY SERIES — Notre Dame 11-5 LAST YEAR — Notre Dame 57-16 KEY STATS — Notre Dame hasn’t won since edging Immaculate a year ago. The Lancers have lost nine straight. Immaculate has lost 35 straight games dating back to 2009, when it beat Barlow 28-21 on Oct. 10 of that year. It hasn’t defeated Notre Dame since a 22-18 victory in 2008. AT STAKE — First win of the season for either team.
Stratford at Bunnell
WHERE/WHEN–Bulldog Field, Bunnell High School, Stratford, 7 p.m.
RECORDS — Stratford 2-6, Bunnell 2-6 ALL-TIME SERIES — Bunnell 36-20
LAST YEAR — Bunnell 50-19 KEY STATS — Bunnell has won five straight in the series and 11 of the last 12 dating back to 2000. Stratford’s only win during that stretch was a 40-8 victory in 2006. …Bunnell quarterback Bryan Castelot has thrown for 1,600 yards and 14 TDs vs. 14 interceptions. Teammate Devante Teel has 676 receiving yards and 6 TDs. …Bunnell has allowed 35.7 points per game, while scoring just an average of 24.3 points. …Stratford averages 23.3 points per game and allows almost 30 per game. AT STAKE — The Manning E. Harvey Trophy; Bunnell’s sixth straight series win. Stratford’s first win since 2007. Bragging rights.
St. Joseph at Trumbull
WHERE/WHEN–McDougall Stadium, Trumbull, 7 p.m. RECORDS — Trumbull 4-55-4, St. Joseph 7-2 T-DAY SERIES — Trumbull 21-6
LAST YEAR — St. Joseph 35-24 KEY STATS — Trumbull has dominated the series, but St. Joseph has won three of the last five meetings. …QB Jordan Vazzano is second in the FCIAC in passing with 1,804 yards and 23 TDs against 9 interceptions. …13 TD throws have gone to leading receiver Jake Pelletier. …St. Joseph averages 39 points per game, giving up an average of 18. …Trumbull has been outscored by opponents by an average score of 36-26. Its 325 points allowed is the second-worst in the FCIAC. …Trumbull earned a fifth victory with Westhill’s forfeit. AT STAKE — A Class M playoff spot and possible home quarterfinal for St. Joseph. The Hogs must win to clinch their third playoff berth in four years. The Jerry McDougall Thanksgiving Trophy. Bragging rights.
Masuk at Newtown
WHERE/WHEN–Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown, 7 p.m. RECORDS — Newtown 9-0, Masuk 9-0 T-DAY SERIES — Masuk 9-6-1
LAST YEAR — Masuk 46-7 KEY STATS — Masuk the No. 6-ranked team in the state, outgains Newtown in total yards per game 515-327. It also averages more points: 49-38. …Newtown, the No. 10-ranked team in the state, is undefeated heading into Thanksgiving for the first time since 1996, when it eventually lost in the Class LL semifinals. Masuk coach John Murphy was in his final year an assistant on that team, coached by Bob Zito. …Masuk’s Thomas Milone, a UConn baseball commit, has amassed over 1,600 yards of total offense and is tied for third in state with 29 TDs. …Masuk QB Malik Cummings has thrown for 1,800 yards and 19 TDs vs. just two interceptions. …Masuk is No. 1 in the state in total offense with 500 yards per game. …Newtown QB Drew Tarantino has thrown for 1,387 yards and 19 TDs vs. just two interceptions… Cooper Gold has run for 727 of Newtown’s 1,534 rush yards. …Soph. WR Julian Dunn leads the team with 515 yards and 8 TDs. …Senior WR/DB Dan Hebert was lost for the season with a broken arm vs. Bunnell two weeks ago. …Masuk has won two straight since Newtown’s 2009 upset that knocked Masuk out of the playoffs. AT STAKE — The SWC Championship: Newtown’s first since 1997; Third-consecutive for Masuk. Class LL seeding for Newtown: Hawks can get a home game with victcory. Class L seeding for Masuk: a win gives Panthers a ‘home’ game and the No. 3 seed.
Greenwich players celebrate a recovered fumble in their 54-8 FCIAC and state playoff-clinching victory over Danbury Thursday. The Cards will face Staples for the FCIAC championship on Thanksgiving.
Through rain, snow, gale-force winds, hurricanes/superstorms, Nor’easters, you name it we’ve been through it this high school football season. We’ve also seen the attack of the creatures from the pits, those typically downtrodden clubs who suddenly rose from the wreckage of it all to produce some memorable moments this year.
Barlow, Trinity Catholic, Weston, Westhill, Derby, Oxford, New Fairfield…
But in the end, the more things changed around here, they all wound up the same.
Meanwhile, our small-school underdogs and heroes are fading fast.
St. Joseph's defense swarms over Trinity Catholic's Randy Polonia in their 49-14 victory Thursday night. St. Joseph kept its Class M playoff dreams alive in Class M, while Trinity Catholic must beat Wilton on Thanksgiving to grab a berth in Class S.
Trinity Catholic has now lost two straight since beginning the season 7-0. The Crusaders were hammered by determined St. Joseph, 49-14, and now must(m-u-s-t) beat Wilton to reach the state playoffs for the first time since the 1993 championship season.
St. Joseph, meanwhile, stayed in the Class M playoff race with this eye-opening effort (600 yard of offense!). The Hogs must beat Trumbull to qualify in a Class M field that would be pretty upset to see them there. (Unless I’m Hillhouse, I wouldn’t want to play the Hogs).
Barlow, the Trojans’ Thanksgiving Day rival, fared better Thursday night. Alex Lockwood ran for 175 yards and a pair of scores as Barlow knocked off Brookfield 29-22 to keep its dreams of a first state playoff berth alive.
But the Falcons (8-1) remain in a precarious spot, especially now that we understand sterling junior quarterback Jack Shaban is lost for the remainder of the season thanks to a shoulder injury suffered in last week’s loss to Masuk.
Both teams must win on Thanksgiving Day or their playoff goose is cooked.
Two teams enter. One team leaves.
Forget Greenwich-Staples. Masuk-Newtown.
Barl0w-Weston IS the biggest Thanksgiving Day game in Shangri-La.
(Does this game have a name? Somebody come up with one quick.)
Beyond the region, Platt Tech couldn’t do a favor for teams like Woodland, Derby, Oxford, even Trinity or themselves. They had a 14-12 lead, but lost to Prince Tech, further tightening the Class S playoff race.
Fairfield Prep set up a big Thanksgiving Day showdown with West Haven by beating up on Branford. The Jesuits snapped a 2-game skid. …Ludlowe (Ludlowe!) won its third straight game by nipping Norwalk 21-20. The Falcons haven’t lost since coach Matt McCloskey announced he’d be resigning at the end of the season. Master Motivator. …McCloskey’s old haunt, Jonathan Law, buried Plainville 60-27.
Oh, by the way New Fairfield fans! Your Rebels, who play Pomperaug tonight and finishe with New Milford, remains very much alive and kicking in Class M. Could we possibly see Joe Pacheco in the playoffs? Two wins, and enough help from above (the standings, and the clouds) could make that a reality.
Finally, we leave you with the NVL Championship. Arkeel Newsome is back, baby, and the Chargers warmed up for their Thanksgiving Day clash with Naugatuck with a 56-26 victory over Woodland.Newsome, who’s been injured for a majority of the year, looked like his old self, chugging 222 yards and scoring four times to win the MVP award and Ansonia the title for the second straight season.
With Newsome back and the rest of the gang making their usual plays, Ansonia is just chugging along as normal.
It is the first and only team to reach 10-0 (this doesn’t count in the playoff standings, though, kids). They’ll host a state quarterfinal game. They’re the favorites to win it all in Class S.
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.
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
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:
Between Superstorm Sandy, Monday Night Football at Seymour, Election Night in American, and the postponing and re-postponing and rescheduling of the FCIAC, we’ve been pretty busy with local concerns here in Hearst Connecticut Football Bunker.
Meanwhile, colleagues and football friends Ned Griffen (of The Day) and Kyle Brennan (of the Republican-American and NVL Football Blog) have been diligently keeping tabs on on where we stand in the CIAC playoff picture through Week 9.
We thank them for that, saves us some trouble. But expect to see the mad scientist in action come Thanksgiving Week. For now, just look at the cool graphic above. We think it gives you a reasonably cool look at what’s what.
Kyle Brennan was the first to project that Ansonia, Hand, Avon and Windsor have all clinched state playoff spots.
We’ll just deal with (unofficial) qualifiers and our local teams here:
In Class L, Hand (8-0), Windsor (8-0) and Avon (8-0) have all clinched berths.
There are five spots remaining. Locally, Masuk (7-0) and New Canaan (7-0) are in good shape heading into their final two games. Platt Tech (5-2) can get in by winning its final two games, but one of those games includes CSC power Prince Tech.
In Class S, The Ansonia Chargers (8-0) have clinched.
Seven spots remain. Locally, Trinity Catholic (7-0) will clinch a playoff spot with one more victory. They finish with Darien, St. Joseph and Wilton. Oxford (5-2) is a longshot.
Nothing has been decided in Class LL or Class M yet.
In Class LL, Staples (6-0), Greenwich (6-0) and Newtown are in good shape and will likely qualify. West Haven (7-1) will come close to clinching if it defeats Xavier on Saturday (the game was ppd. due to the Nor’easter), but might have to beat Fairfield Prep (5-2).
The Jesuits are in trouble. They have no margin for error and must win all three remaining games vs. Notre Dame-WH, Branford and West Haven to have a chance. They should win the first two, so it looks like Thanksgiving is going to be huge.
In Class M, Barlow (7-0) is in with one more victory. Even if Barlow loses to Masuk or Brookfield (5-2) the Falcons might still make it. They play Weston (6-1) on Thanksgiving. Weston will need to win at least two more games. They finish with Bethel, Masuk before playing Barlow.
Once, again Thanksgiving will be huge for both teams. (When could we ever say that about Barlow-Weston?)
Bullard-Havens (7-1) is sitting pretty at No. 5, but the Tigers will have to win out in order to secure a berth. The Tigers play Capital Prep for the CSC Championship on Saturday. They finish with Bassick.
St. Joseph (5-2) must win out to qualify. The play Bassick, Trinity Catholic and Trumbull.
Brookfield (5-2) has New Fairfield, Barlow and Bethel remaining. If they win out, the Bobcats should qualify.
John Commune was a 17-year old junior at Seymour High School in 1968 when new football coach Dan Heffernan asked him to compile statistics for the team.
Commune, who had served as team manager under previous coach Joe Gesseck, accepted and, for 45 years, spanning two more coaches, four state championships, not to mention a lifetime of memories, he never left the Seymour sidelines.
Commune, whose name adorns the Seymour press box just below that of the football field’s namesake John T. DeBarber, added up his final rushing and passing totals and called the games into the local newspapers for the final time from Seymour High School.
The 62-year old Commune, affectionately known as ‘The Raven’ since high school, has decided to hang up his clipboard after the season.
He has two more games as Seymour statistician. After the Cats play at Woodland on Thanksgiving, he’s officially retired.
“I’m getting old,” said Commune, who owns the Norwood Athletic Club in Ansonia. “It’s time to pass it off to a younger generation.”
Commune witnessed several generations of athletes walk in and out of the doors at Seymour. He served under Heffernan for 12 years and a state championship in 1979. He saw Seymour win three more state championships under his former Seymour classmate and good friend Paul Sponheimer. Commune also helped the Seymour baseball and basketball teams with their statistics, as well.
All told, Commune says he’s only missed two games during his time as statistician.
“This is the end of an era of Seymour athletics,” said Sponheimer, who has been friends with Commune since their Biddy basketball playing days. “Behind the scenes, John Commune is Seymour. And we’re all going to miss him.”
For his years of service, The Raven received a short and sweet send off before the Cats hosted Derby in a Monday night NVL game.
Seymour coach Tom Lennon told the crowd Commune “exemplifies everything it means to be a Wildcat. He’s probably the best gift Coach Sponheimer left me.”
The two friends didn’t go out without getting in a few jokes.
“Now I can tell you, all of those flags thrown at this sideline didn’t always belong to me,” Sponheimer said.
“They were all his,” Raven said.
As for the game, Seymour had a 21-12 lead over Derby early in the third quarter. But the Red Raiders rallied behind a monster day by Tyrae Small, who ran for 273 yards (just four yards off of the school record) and four touchdowns.
Derby (5-3) is now all fired up about being one victory away from its first winning season since 1996, back when coach George French was a sophomore.
The Red Raiders play Crosby and then finish off with Shelton. They haven’t beaten the Gaels since 2002.
Elsewhere, Week 8 finally came to a close. We delve into Week 9 with a few playoff clinchers and teams close to reaching the promised land.
Foran and North Haven clashed Sunday evening in a relatively big game with playoff implications, not to mention the SCC Division II East title.
While Foran fought the good fight, North Haven used heavy doses of Ethan Suraci in the second half and got a key fumble recovery for a touchdown to post a 28-7 victory at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex.
North Haven (5-3) wins the SCC D-II East title and keep its faint Class L playoff hopes alive. Those hopes, however, had already taken a crushing hit when Fitch defeated New London on Saturday.
Foran drops to 4-3, well back in the Class M playoff race.
Staples' James Frusciante attempts to catch a pass over Darien's Brian Weigand in Staples 63-28 victory Saturday.
It was exactly one year ago when snowpocalypse belted our region on a football Saturday morning. I was in Westport at the time, where Darien held a 17-7 halftime lead over Staples.
We all remember what happened next: Big flakes, a snowstorm and then an avalanche of 28 third-quarter points from Staples in an eventual 42-23 victory.
Staples grew a few inches that snowy, October day. It grew from an unknown into a legit FCIAC contender. The Wreckers, mostly juniors a year ago, transformed into an FCIAC champion and a state championship participant.
As we all knew at the time, this group was a year away.
Last year, the Wreckers came from behind to win five games. This year, aside from their opening 42-28 victory over St. Joseph, they’ve essentially removed all doubt before halftime.
As always, the Wreckers have ripped through the FCIAC this season with exceptional offensive balance. Four players have each amassed over 300 yards rushing this season. Joey Zelkowitz and Nick Kelly did the honors on Saturday, each running 10 times for 138 yards in the Wreckers’ spread option.
And with big, dominating, exhilarating, overwhelming victories, comes the inevitable transfer of praise.
“In my 34 years, this is the best high school football team I’ve ever seen,” a shell-shocked Darien coach Rob Trifone told our own Doug Bonjour. “We played Masuk back in 2010 and we played Hillhouse in the state semifinals, and they were some phenomenal team back in 2008. This team is bigger and faster collectively than anyone I’ve ever played.”
Hyperbole from an awestruck vanquished foe? Perhaps. Trifone’s been known for it.
Regardless of whether you subscribe to those sentiments, Staples has gone beyond establishing clearly one of the top teams in the state. As of right now, the Wreckers are looking like the favorite in a Class LL field that got turned on its head with Fairfield Prep and Ridgefield losing on Friday.
As for its more immediate goals, Staples finishes with (and is favored to beat) Fairfield Warde and Westhill to clinch its spot in the FCIAC Championship game. Should Staples continue its torrid course, the only thing left is determining who will face them.
Will it be a rematch with Greenwich? The Cardinals certainly looked the part by dismantling Westhill 63-22 on Saturday. The Cardinals face upset-minded McMahon and then wrap the FCIAC regular season against Danbury.
Or will it be (gasp!) Trinity Catholic? The Crusaders wiped out Bassick and now dive right into the defining moment of their 2012 season: Back-to-back games vs. Darien and St. Joseph.
Should Trinity Catholic beat Darien, its finale vs. St. Joseph will decide when/where the FCIAC championship will be played. Another Trinity Catholic win, and it’ll be the Crusaders vs. Wreckers at Trumbull for the prize. A Trinity loss, and we will once again hone our focus on Thanksgiving: Cardinals vs. Wreckers.
The latest standings are above, right. Top two teams in average points reach the FCIAC championship. The only possible way New Canaan squeaks in is if they win out and both Greenwich and Trinity lose at least once (to force a three-way tie), or twice.
Oxford's Chris Vankamerik eyes a touchdown pass as New Fairfield's Collin Cioffi gives chase during first half action on Saturday Photo: Mike Ross
Meanwhile, in the SWC, things got busy.
There was excruciating drama Saturday afternoon, where Weston and Oxford won two thrilling games thanks to some late heroics by their do-it-all quarterbacks.
Tyler Hassett, still hobbling from a groin injury suffered against New Fairfield, came off the bench to lead the Trojans past Stratford with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Justin Schaffer with 29 seconds remaining. Weston 20, Stratford 15.
Up in Oxford, Brennen Diaz orchestrated a late-game comeback over Joe Pacheco and New Fairfield. Just when all seemed lost, he hit Chris Vankamerik with a 55-yard touchdown pass with a minute remaining and then found Jeff Haney for the winning 2-point conversion. Oxford 22, New Fairfield 21.
Both games were huge in terms of state playoffs. With Masuk looming, the Trojans needed to win to keep their Class M hopes kicking. They’ll need to win at least two more games and finish 8-2 to get into decent position. Any more losses, and they’ll be scrambling.
As for Oxford, is there any hope in Class S? The Wolverines are sitting at 5-2, but all the way back in 15th place. They’ll have to win out — Bunnell, Stratford, Pomperaug — and pray enough happens.
As far as the SWC Championship is concerned, it’s a three-horse race between favorites Masuk (Weston, Barlow remaining) and Newtown (Immaculate, Bunnell remaining). Barlow is statistically in the race, but must win out.
And that means beating Brookfield and Masuk, back-to-back.
Lots of luck, gentlemen.
Elsewhere on Saturday:
Of all the teams to show the CSC how it’s done against invincible Prince Tech, about ’bout them Abbott Tech Wolverines? That’s the way it’s done. Wow.
Anyway, here are your Saturday results and game story links.