Killingsworth actually began his coaching career with Davis at Woodstock Academy when the program started eight years ago. This is a homecoming for the 33-year old coach.
“(Davis) said that it was a natural progression and he was excited for me and was ready to see what I could do here,” Killingsworth told The Bulletin.
And so the ECC is now down to just one coaching vacancy: St. Bernard/Norwich Tech.
No Vacancy at Rockville, after all
If you recall our lament about some of the CCC schools living behind some impenetrable anti-internet shield, you will recall we knew very little about an apparent coaching vacancy at Rockville. It existed, yes, because the job was posted.
But — short of actually acting like journalists and actually giving a call to fair Vernon (Why? Because: Vernon, you guys) — we knew precious few details due to the great ‘CCC Firewall.’
Undeterred we kept checking and, lo and behold, this tiny little item from March sprung up from behind the Manchester Journal-Inquirer’s paywall:
And there it was: Rob Scholtz had been re-hired as the head coach.
Apparently, Scholtz, a 27-year old Enfield corrections officer who graduated from Rockville in 2004, was under an interim tag last year and had to reapply for his job, hence the posting. He’s ready to get back to work:
“I see the toughest of the tough at work, and I don’t want to see our kids go down that path,’’ Scholtz told the J-I. “So I try to keep them headed down the right path, and while we’re at it, let’s win some football games.’’
The 35-year old UConn graduate coached freshman for four years at Law until he was married and had children. Last year, he returned to coaching as a volunteer assistant at Western Connecticut State under Joe Loth.
“I was never as happy doing anything as when I was coaching, and I missed it,” Larka told the Bulletin.
He’ll likely have a part-time job at Bacon Academy and expects to move to Colechester with his family.
Jared Levi and the Wreckers walk solemnly off the Ken Strong Stadium field following their stunning 30-28 loss to NFA in the Class LL semifinals
With big smiles, massive hugs, and emitting a cacophony of whoops and hollers that echoed across the state, the entire football team gathered in the southern end zone of Ken Strong Stadium for a photo. It could have been West Haven in August, gathering for its annual team photo.
But this was December. These were the state playoffs. And the photographers weren’t contracted shutterbugs from the local studio, they were equally happy and proud parents and inquisitive newspaper reporters. This wasn’t West Haven.
This was Norwich Free Academy.
Jubilant. Victorious. Posing below the scoreboard, emblazoned on it, their birthday gift to coach Jemal Davis.
This was supposed to be one of, if not the best Staples teams in the Marce Petroccio era. It was supposed to be invincible. It was going to take care of these upstarts from way out east and get a championship rematch with mighty Xavier.
Instead, junior back Marcus Outlow, quarterback Matt Paparelli and a massive and determined NFA front held the FCIAC’s best team in check, took command in the second half while Staples wilted with several critical second-half errors.
There was an errant punt that resulted in a safety (and gave NFA the lead for good), an option pitch at the goal line that was batted away and recovered by NFA with 7 minutes remaining and then, just when it looked as if the Wreckers would make a valiant comeback, the punt that fatefully bounced upfield and off a Staples player and recovered by NFA.
Staples’ offense, which didn’t score less than 42 points throughout the entire season yet uncharacteristically committed three turnovers and had just over 100 yards in the second half, never saw the ball again.
Their dreams were crushed.
“It’s awful,” stunned coach Marce Petroccio said. I’m going to try and pick up some of the greatest seniors we’ve ever had at Staples High School. But today was not our day.
“We just found a way to lose.”
NFA’s dreams lives on.
In retrospect, everything we heard about NFA ever since it hammered Stamford 51-0 back in October, and everything we saw from the Newtown game turned out to be spot-on. They were big, they were talented, they were determined.
“We know we can play with anybody,” Davis said.
NFA's Marcus Outlow falls through the Staples defense in a 30-28 upset victory over the Wreckers in the Class LL semifinals (Photo: Mike Ross)
And, my oh my, junior Marcus Outlow is legit.
Outlow has been a key player for NFA since getting significant time on the 2010 semifinal team that lost to Trumbull. This is confirmed: He has “full-ride” offers from Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State… you name it, since impressing a ton of scouts at an NUC combine over the summer. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, “he definitely passes the eye test,” said MSG Varsity’s Mike Quick.
But it was quarterback Joey Paparelli, who carried the Wildcats in the second half. He scrambled for first downs. He found receivers, particularly Khaleed Exum-Strong, for third-down conversions. Staples’ strong defense eventually found a way to contain him, giving the offense a chance to rally. But that wasn’t until the Wildcats
had 9-point lead. His long run set up the eventual clinching touchdown late in the third quarter.
“To knock off the No. 1 team, we knew we had it in us,” Paparelli said. “We just went out and got the job done.”
Staples was just as good as NFA, but on this afternoon, in the state playoffs, it had to be perfect. It wasn’t.
Junior Airec Ricks made the biggest play of the game when he batted away an option pitch from Jack Massie at the goal line and recovered by NFA. Later, with Staples in full rally mode, he recovered the punt that bounded up the turf and hit Staples captain Kevin Kearney in the leg.
“You can’t win in a game like this playing the way we played,” stunned Staples coach Marce Petroccio said. “I’m just upset that we waited until today to play the way we did.”
So there will be no rematch. NFA ran out the clock to set up a date with No. 3-seeded Xavier at Rentschler Field. Staples, which has seen more than its share of crushing, state playoff losses of the last six years, goes home empty handed.
“Like I said earlier in the week, we were underestimated because we play in the Eastern Connecticut Conference,” Outlow said. “But people look at it and say, oh your conference is weak, blah, blah, blah. But we just come out here and we try to pursue what our coaches meant for us to do, we came out and we executed as well as we can, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Their talent and their efforts are now preserved forever, in record books and — more importantly for these players — in photographs. A moment frozen in time.
Fairfield County: Denied.
Michael DiCosmo picks up a fumble that he raced 76 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute remaining vs. Windsor. It turned out to be New Canaan's last gasp in a 27-21 loss.
Super Sunday was not a good day for Fairfield County football teams.
First Staples went down in a gutwrenching finale. Then New Canaan lost its first state semifinal game since 2005.
Those losses erased the last FCIAC teams from state championship contention — something that’s never happened in the 36-year history of the CIAC playoffs.
Weston and Masuk lost.
No one from Shangri La will be playing for a state title.
For the second straight season, New Canaan found itself down big. But visions of a season ago began dancing in the Rams’ heads in the fourth quarter. Cole Turpin’s long catch set up a Louis Hagopian touchdown run to cut a 27-7 defcit to 28-14.
Trying to run out the clock, Robert Quinn Fleeting fumbled and Michael DiCosmo returned it 79 yards with just under a minute remaining.
Not again? Nope. Not again. Windsor corralled the onside kick and hung on to win 27-21, ending New Canaan’s string of state championship games at six.
“It just goes to show the game’s never over,” Windsor coach Fleeting said. “The difference from last year is we didn’t panic. The kids have grown up.”
“They’re just a gutsy group of kids,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “They never gave up. We didn’t play well. We lost to a better team. They’re a team that deserves to go play in a state championship. We did not play well enough.”
Weston's Zach Cannon attempts to bat the ball away from Berlin's Tyler Bouchard in the Class M semifinals at Bunnell.
Down 14-0 after a half, Hassett pulled the Trojans within a touchdown. Later, with the score 21-7, just as the Redcoats appeared they would put it away, Erik Dammen-Brower picked off a pass and was headed for the end zone.
But he was chased down, fumbled the ball back and the Trojans were eventually eliminated. Berlin advances to face No. 4-seeded Hillhouse, a 48-26 winner over Montville, in the state championship. This is Hillhouse’s sixth state championship game in school history.
Little Weston, meanwhile, finishes 9-3, including a state playoff victory. This was their best season in 23 years.
“Our kids fought hard,” Lato said. “I’m proud of their effort.”
“This isn’t the finish line. We want to get here every year. It’s always toughest the first time you do something and now we’ve done this and got this far. The underclassmen gained experience and got to see what it’s like to play in playoff games. I’m really proud of what this team has done for Weston football.”
As for Masuk, they were never in it vs. top-seeded and top-ranked Hand.
And this wasn’t even that close. In a heavy fog, Caleb Ewald took a flat pass from Brendan Bilcheck and raced 74 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play. “They throw a screen, the kid that was supposed to cover it never saw the ball in the air,” Masuk coach John Murphy said. “But they took it to us on both sides of the ball in the first half.”
Hand rolled to a 35-0 halftime lead, piling up over 400 yards of offense to reach its second straight state championship game.
This was Hand coach Steve Filippone’s 200th career victory. “I didn’t win a game,” Filippone said. “I’ve never won a game. … I really take no great satisfaction in it. I take satisfaction in that this team has won 26 games in a row.”
Only some heroics by outstanding senior back Thomas Milone, who returned a free kick for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and also had an interception, kept the score from looking too lopsided.
But his career, which included a state championship in 2010, now shifts to baseball season and Hand will face Windsor in the state final.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Murphy said. “After what we lost last year, nobody said they could get back here. I’m proud of them.”
Newsome, Chargers roll into final
Ansonia was our only regional team to reach a state championship game.
As expected, there was no doubts about this one.
Newsome ran for 215 yards and four touchdowns and, in the process broke former Ansonia standout back Alex Thomas’ career state record of 115, as the Chargers reached their third-straight championship game and 27th overall with a 41-13 victory over Hyde. | [CPTV VIDEO]
The Chargers, who have won a state-best 27 consecutive games (Hand has won 26 straight), will play North Branford in the Class S championship.
The T-Birds hammered Woodland 62-27 to reach their first state final since 2001.
S-C-C! S-C-C! S-C-C!
Guess which conference will be playing for three state championships this weekend?
Look no further than Al Carbone’s official Southern Connecticut Conference Twitter account. The Commish’s nimble fingers quickly let everyone know that his league is dominating the proceedings thus far.
Xavier (11-1) will play for its third consecutive Class LL title. Hand (12-0) will play for its second consecutive Class L title. And now, joining the fray, is Hillhouse (10-2), which will be playing for its second Class M title in three years.
After spending the last two championship weekends on the sidelines, the CCC has two representatives. Windsor (11-0) plays Hand in Class L; Berlin (11-1) plays Hillhouse.
The ECC went 1-1 in the semifinals, sending NFA (12-0) to take on Xavier in the Class LL final.
The NVL-Pequot challenge ended 1-1 for each league. Ansonia (13-0), the NVL’s final representative, takes on North Branford (12-0), the Pequot’s last representative.
Overall, the NVL is 3-2 in the state playoffs. The Pequot is 3-3.
And of course, the FCIAC (0-2, 2-5 overall) and the SWC (2-3) will send no state championship representatives.
WATCH the full highlight reel from WFSB’s Friday Night Football crew
Start off with the two-time defending state champs, the FCIAC champions, the SWC champions, the ECC Large champs, CCC Division I’s best team.
It’s a division so good, one unlucky 10-0 team must hit the road in the state quarterfinals: All the way from Norwich to Newtown.
Since losing 42-7 to Xavier in last year’s Class LL final, this has been a season of destiny for Staples. The Wreckers haven’t trailed all season and made mince meat of the FCIAC. They’re stacked with talent up and down the roster. Eight state voters have deemed them the No. 1-ranked team.
They’re aligned for a rematch with Xavier. But first things first: The Wreckers must find a way to halt top tailback Ervin Phillips and West Haven.
The Westies have only lost to two teams this year, 10-0 Hand and Class LL No. 3 seed Xavier.
What do you say about Xavier? They’ve looked vulnerable this year? Have you seen Xavier lately?
Since being down 49-21 to Hillhouse in the fourth quarter in Week 6, the Falcons have scored 170 points, averaging just under two touchdowns in 13 quarters. Worse for this field, they’re healthy. Their starting linebacker unit has returned. Their offense, led by Boston College recruit QB Tim Boyle, is on fire.
The Falcon start off with FCIAC runner-up Greenwich, which is itching to redeem itself after last week’s FCIAC title-game loss.
Let’s not discount QB Stephen Barmore and No. 2-seeded Southington, or their quarterfinal opponent, No. 7 Glastonbury. The Tomahawks were yards away from winning their CCC showdown with the Blue Knights in October only to see an interception eventually turn into the winning touchdown of a 28-21 Southington victory.
The winner of the rematch might get to test Xavier’s championship meddle. Or maybe get an LL heavyweight match with Greenwich.
Perhaps still overlooked despite going 10-0 for the first time in 16 years and winning its first SWC title in 15 years, Newtown is anxious to prove it’s among the elite. Their first game at Blue and Gold Stadium matches up with back Marcus Outlow and unbeaten Norwich Free Academy. Winner gets the Staples-est Haven winner.
We know Newtown would love another chance at Staples after letting slip a 14-0 least in last year’s semifinals.
Most observers like Staples-Xavier II. But anything can happen. This division just might prove it.
What do you think?
Class LL preview
Previews and predictions by the Hearst CT sports staff: Doug Bonjour: Staples-West Haven; David Fierro: Greenwich-Xavier; Sean Patrick Bowley: Glastonbury-Southington. Stats provided by teams via MaxPreps. Some statistics may not include Thanksgiving Week.
No. 8 West Haven at No. 1 Staples
WHERE – Staples High School, Westport RECORDS — West Haven 8-2 (SCC Division I East second place); Staples 9-0 (FCIAC champions) PLAYOFF RECORD — West Haven 6-6; Staples 11-8 LAST APPEARANCE — West Haven 2010 (Lost to Xavier 28-7 in LL quarterfinals); Staples 2011 (Lost to Xavier 42-7 in LL final). PLAYERS TO WATCH — West Haven: Sr. FB Eddy Williams (855 rushing yards, 16 TD), Jr. RB Ervin Phillips (957 rushing yards, 22 TD), Jr. LB Jesse Ridgway (61 tackles). Staples: Sr. RB/DB Joey Zelkowitz (954 rushing yards, 14 TD), Sr. RB/S Nick Kelly (507 rushing yards, 10 TD), Sr. WR/DB James Frusciante (658 receiving yards, 11 TD), Jr. QB Jack Massie (1,189 passing yards, 12 TD, 549 rushing, 9 TD), Sr. DE Pieter Hoets (73 tackles, 7 sacks), Sr. LB Lance Lonergan (74 tackles, 4 INT, 1.5 sacks). YOU SHOULD KNOW — The teams last met in 2006 in the semifinals of the Class L state playoffs, a game Staples won 24-7. … West Haven’s two losses this season came against teams with a combined 19-1 record, 21-20 against Daniel Hand and 42-7 against Xavier. … West Haven is averaging 41 points in its eight wins. … Staples leads the state with 52 points a game, and has scored no fewer than 48 points in its nine wins. … Staples is third in the state with 4,573 total yards of offense. … Running back Joey Zelkowitz rushed for a record 317 yards in a 48-20 win over Greenwich in the FCIAC championship game on Thanksgiving. … Staples is fifth in the state in rushing with 3,356 yards. … Offense has allowed just five sacks this season. … Senior linebacker Lance Lonergan has returned three of his four interceptions for touchdowns. … Staples has not trailed at any point this season. DOUG’S PICK – Staples 31, West Haven 17 SPB’S PICK – Staples 35, West Haven 20
No. 5 Norwich Free Academy at No. 4 Newtown
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 WHERE – Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown RECORDS — Norwich Free Academy: 10-0 (ECC Large champions); Newtown: 10-0 (SWC Champions) PLAYOFF RECORDS – Norwich Free Academy 2-3; Newtown 4-8. LAST APPEARANCE — Norwich Free Academy: 2010 (lost to Trumbull 21-6 in LL semifinals; Newtown: 2011 (lost to Staples 44-20 in LL semifinals). PLAYERS TO WATCH –Norwich Free Academy: Sr. QB Joey Paparelli (580 yards, 11 TDs passing; 702 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs); Jr. RB Marcus Outlow (954 rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs, 2 TD catches); Soph. RB Khaleed Exum-Strong (592 yards, 8 TDs rushing); Sr. WR Ryer Caruso (6 TD catches); Sr. LB Anthony Gomes (6 sacks). Newtown: Jr. QB Andrew Tarantino (98-for-162, 1,675 passing yards, 23 passing TDs, 3 interceptions); Jr. RB Cooper Gold (815 yards, 16 TDs rushing); Soph. WR Julian Dunn (565 yards, 9 TDs receiving); Sr. WR/DB Justin DeVellis (5 TD catches, 4 INTs); Soph. LB Tim Krapf (70 tackles); Sr. OL/DL Pat Thornberg (3.5 sacks); Jr. OL/DL Josh Krapf (3.0 sacks). YOU SHOULD KNOW – Sr. WR Dan Hebert has been out of action since breaking his arm against Bunnell on Nov. 9. …Newtown won its first SWC championship since 1997 with a 21-14 victory over Masuk. Gold was the MVP with 222 yards rushing and 2 TDs. … Paparelli threw two TD passes to Caruso and Outlow ran for two scores as NFA beat New London on Thanksgiving in the 151st meeting … Both Newtown (Masuk) and NFA (Fitch) have each played just one team that qualified for the state playoffs. … Newtown outscored its opponents 372-106, while NFA out-scored its opponents 393-91. … This is the first time in the brief history of the quarterfinal round that two undefeated teams are meeting … When Newtown won its last state title (1992, Class MM), it was playing in the now-defunct Western Connecticut Conference, its mascot was the Indians and Blue and Gold Stadium was still named after Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner. RICH’S PICK — NFA 28, Newtown 21 SPB’S PICK – Newtown 21, NFA 14
No. 7 Glastonbury at No. 2 Southington
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE — Fontana Field, Southington RECORDS — Glastonbury 9-1 (CCC Division I East champion); Southington 10-0 (Division I West champion) PLAYOFF RECORD — Glastonbury 5-4; Southington 5-6 LAST APPEARANCE — Glastonbury 2011 (lost to Xavier 34-6 in LL quarterfinals); Southington: 2007 (lost to Shelton in 21-19 in Class LL semifinals) PLAYERS TO WATCH — Glastonbury: Sr. QB/WR Ben Berey; Jr. QB Jalen Ollie; Sr. DE/TE Joshua Hill; Sr. OL/DE Matthew Hill; Sr. RB/DB Charles Wooding; Sr. RB/DB Tyler Janssen; Southington: Jr. QB Stephen Barmore (1,819 yards, 18 TDs passing; 325 yards, 10 TDs rushing); Jr. RB Jarrid Grimmett (646 yards, 9 TDs rushing); Sr. Anthony Bonefant (40 catches, 610 yards, 5 TDs); Jr. WR Corbin Garry (33 catches, 598 yards, 6 TD); Jr. DE Zach Maxwell (8 sacks); Sr. LB Justin Rose (8.4 tackles/gm); Sr. LB Nick Spitz (8.7 tackles/gm) YOU SHOULD KNOW – This is a rematch of an Oct. 20 game, won by Southington 28-21 on Grimmett’s TD run with 34 seconds remaining. … is Glastonbury’s fifth straight state play playoffs. …This is Southington’s first state playoff appearance since losing to Shelton in the 2007 LL semifinals. …This is the second time these programs have met in the state playoffs. Glastonbury defeated Southington to win the 1984 LL title. …Southington coach Mike Drury is a Bristol native and the son of former Pomperaug championship coach Chuck Drury, who is an assistant on the staff. …Ollie is the son of UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie. …Southington has allowed just 98 points, the sixth least in the state and second-least for an LL school (behind NFA’s 91). Both teams average approximately 35 points per game. ….This is Southington’s second game on its new turf field. SPB’S PICK – Southington 34, Glastonbury 21
No. 6 Greenwich at No. 3 Xavier
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 WHERE — Palmer Field, Middletown ON THE AIR — CPTV Sports (check local listings) | WGCH 1490-AM RECORDS — Greenwich 8-1 (FCIAC runners-up); Xavier (SCC Division I West champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Xavier 8-4; Greenwich 16-5 LAST APPEARANCE — Xavier: 2011 (defeated Staples, 42-7, in LL finals); Greenwich: 2007 (beat Shelton, 28-14, in LL final) PLAYERS TO WATCH — Greenwich: Sr. RB Alex McMurray (628 yards, 17 TDs rushing, 3 TDs receiving); Sr. QB Liam O’Neil (1,134 yards, 17 TDs); Sr. TE/DE Joe Kelly (24 receptions, 602 yards, 12 TDs); Sr. FS/WR Taylor Olmstead; Sr. DL Alex McGee (team-high 8 sacks); Sr. RB/LB Mark Bernstein (483 yards, 7 TDs); Sr. WR Vincent Ferraro (23 receptions, 492 yards, 5 TDs); Xavier: Sr. RB/DB DeAngelo Berry (1,275 yards, 27 TDs); Sr. QB Tim Boyle (1,612 yards, 15 TDs); Sr. WR/DB Kris Luster (47 receptions, 930 yards, 6 TDs); Jr. RB/DB Andrew Meoli (304 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. LB Max Tylki (6-1, 207); Sr. LB Charlton Ortega; Jr. DB/WR Nate Gonzalez (64 tackles, 6 INT); Sr. OL/LB Matt Manzione (62 tackles); Jr. ILB Derek Jones (5-10, 207) YOU SHOULD KNOW — Greenwich and Xavier are facing each other in the postseason for the first time since the Cardinals beat the Falcons, 24-8, in the Class LL semifinals. … Two-time defending Class LL champion Xavier is 22-1 in its last 23 games, its only loss coming to Daniel Hand last month. … Boyle will play at Boston College next year. … Greenwich has won seven state championships, its most recent coming in 2007. … Xavier has captured five state titles. … The Cardinals are averaging 46 points per game, while the Falcons are scoring 44 points per contest. … Boyle and Berry are ranked among the top 20 in the state in passing and rushing, respectively. … Greenwich is 16-3 the last two seasons with two of the losses coming against Staples in the FCIAC championship game. … Berry has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game twice so far this season and has had three or more touchdowns in all but two games. … The teams representing the SCC have fared well in the state tournament recently. Xavier and Hand won their respective class titles a year ago, Xavier and Hillhouse won in 2010, while Cheshire and Notre Dame-West Haven claimed state titles in 2009. SPB’S PICK — Xavier 48, Greenwich 28
Finally, we talked state playoffs on the Laxworm High School Football show on Sunday. Hear Kyle Brennan of Re-Am, Ned Griffen of The Day and myself break it all down. Special guest was coach Rob Fleeting of Windsor.
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.
Norwich Free Academy preempted the CIAC football committee’s pending ‘Score Management’ decision by suspending football coach Jemal Davis one week for defeating Stamford 51-0, according to our own Dave Ruden.
Dave caught up with Stamford athletic director Jim Moriarty and NFA’s Gary Makowicki to get the details of the deal.
“He told me he didn’t like the way the game was handled and they were going to suspend him for a week,” Moriarty said. “We are going to accept it. …(Makowicki) told me (Davis) is getting carried away and they were embarrassed by what he did.”
“We weren’t looking to take the CIAC off the hook, we did what we thought was right,” Makowicki said. “We met and we support all the CIAC’s efforts to promote sportsmanship. There was no intent to embarrass anybody in the way the game transpired.”
So this is where we are now as a society? The coach of the team that lost 51-0 is quoted as saying “He’s not really OK with the 51 points scored? He is “annoyed” at the other team. Hey buddy here is a wild thought. If you don’t like getting 51 hung on your a** maybe you should get better?
Hooboy. Well then…
Couple things on the ruling:
1. This was a good public relations move by NFA and athletic director Gary Makowicki (if it indeed happened this way). Why wait for the CIAC committee to make a move when you, as an administrator and a boss, can make the move yourself? That’s brilliant PR. Well done, NFA.
2. This preemptive strike deflates any further outrage against the misguided and stupid ‘Score Management’ policy over this particular case. The CIAC appeals committee didn’t need to make a decision. They’ve skirted enforcing the policy again.
We’ve entered new territory with the new and improved 50-point score management policy.
What to do about Norwich Free Academy coach Jemal Davis following his team’s 51-0 victory over Stamford?
According to The Day of New London’s Mike DiMauro here’s what went down: Stamford coach Bryan Hocter declined a running clock, NFA kept its starters in throughout a majority of the second half, starting tailback Marcus Outlow scored a touchdown to make it 49-0. NFA went over 50 points when a player blocked a punt for a safety with three minutes remaining.
These developments toe the ‘Score management’ policy’s guidelines in a way I haven’t seen since the policy’s inception in 2006.
But should Davis sit next week?
I say yes.
Stamford coach Bryan Hocter was not happy with the blocked punt, though he qualified his displeasure by saying he wasn’t sure it was intentional. Davis says his player made a mistake.
Iffy, especially since Hocter declined a running clock, but Davis went over the 50-point barrier. That’s strike one.
Hocter wasn’t as diplomatic about NFA’s use of Outlow and the offensive line late into the game.
“I’m a little annoyed that No. 21 (Outlow) was in basically the whole entire game and so was most of the offensive line,” Hocter told DiMauro. “At this point in time, I’m not really OK with it. I thought it was a little classless on his part to do that. … Stuff like that comes back to bite you. You can’t embarrass a team. I thought he was trying to embarrass us. If he did, he did. We’ll go back and lick our wounds and try to get better.”
OK, so opposing coach disapproves of the offending coach’s method, calls him ‘classless’: Strike two against Davis.
Davis wasn’t exactly contrite when asked to explain himself.
“I don’t think we did anything inappropriate,” Davis told The Day. “It’s a product of the game and performance of our players. I can’t be upset at my kids. If I have to sit, that’s fine. Our job is to prepare them.”
His position is arguable, absolutely. But there were no apologies, nor any intent to keep the score down? That’s strike three.
So, CIAC Committee, whaddya got?
If ‘Score Management’ is truly the law of the land, Davis should be suspended. There’s a barrier, Davis crossed it, didn’t seem to care that he crossed it and Stamford coach Bryan Hocter agreed he didn’t care.
Davis can lecture about getting his kids ready for the playoffs until he’s pink, blue, green and red in the face. The policy strictly forbids his late-game actions.
I hate the policy. I believe Davis is well within his right to coach his team as he sees fit, and Hocter is within his right to be ticked about it. But the rules are the rules. This didn’t follow it. End of discussion.
So, what now CIAC Football Committee? If you don’t suspend Davis, the rule loses all credibility and should be scrapped ASAP. But, hey, 51 points, 50 points… what’s the difference? It wasn’t a gross violation, right? After all, Hocter refused a running clock.
And was it any different than Newtown scoring on a short pass with a minute left in its 47-21 victory over Oxford?
I’ll argue no, it’s all semantics at that stage of the game. If Davis is suspended, now it looks hypocritical and misguided.
We’ll see how this plays out come Monday.
Either way, this is how I believe the CIAC should proceed: Scrap the damn policy.
New Canaan's #4 Ryan Minaglia carries the ball, during boys football action against St. Joseph in Trumbull, Conn. on Saturday October 20, 2012. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
“Good teams find ways to win. That’s what we did. We never gave up.”
Fairfield Prep’s Chris Golger uttered that well-worn phrase Saturday night. It’s a worn phrase for a reason because, well, it true for many high school football teams.
Davell Cotterell carries the ball as Danbury High School plays Westhill High School at Danbury Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Photo: Michael Duffy / The News-Times
It was especially true Saturday for the Golger’s Jesuits, who survived a surprising challenge from Hamden, 27-20. It was true for Masuk, which beat back an early challenge by Brookfield to win 42-14. It was true for Westhill, which dug deep to beat Danbury.
But sometimes the dice have to roll your way, too.
That was true for Hand. As good as the Tigers are, they were fortunate West Haven back Ervin Phillips dropped the potential, game-winning, 2-point conversion late in their 21-20 victory over West Haven.
That was true for New Canaan, which was all out of sorts in falling behind St. Joseph by nine points. Admittedly, the Rams didn’t play their best, even in the second half. But they had just enough to rally and then hold off St. Joseph, 27-21. “I liked the way we just kept fighting and kept fighting,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said.
As for the Hogs, they seemed to deflate when the breaks failed to go their way. Star quarterback Jordan Vazzano left the game in an ambulance (quick tip, St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia says Vazzy is fine), and St. Joseph, which couldn’t miss in the first half, suddenly couldn’t connect in the second.
It’s a long, long season. And keeping players at a high level of intensity and motivation is one of a high school football coach’s greatest challenges. Rare are the teams that can barrel through a season sharp and honed until they host a trophy at Rentschler Field. Proud and determined opponents await every week, even (maybe especially) the ones who are given little-to-no shot.
Season fatigue is beginning to set in and the season is more about survival for the state’s best teams as we creep inexorably toward the homestretch.
Here’s the quick recap of all the scores, and game story links on this glorious Sunday. Bullard-Havens lost its first game of the season. Foran beat Notre Dame-West Haven for the first time. Trinity Catholic is still 6-0. Westhill survived Danbury. Bassick won its first game of the season.
Beyond Shangri-La, Southington rallied to defeat Glastonbury in a key CCC Class LL game.
The earth moved under our feet after a pretty wild week 2.
Among the wreckage affecting the Top 10 vote: Hillhouse lost to Hand in a battle of Top 10 teams. New Canaan was nipped by Trinity Catholic in overtime. New London crushed Montville. Brookfield shocked Bunnell. Ansonia blitzed Woodland.
Hillhouse and New Canaan were the biggest casualties. As it is, they have been voted off the Top 10 island for now. Berlin, which spent two weeks in the Top 10 and hasn’t lost yet, has nevertheless been supplanted as well.
Leaping into the vacuum are three regional teams. Masuk, Darien and West Haven entered the fray for the first time.
In the media poll, little has changed in the Top 6. The usual suspects are all in attendance, in order.
In the coaches poll, Masuk and West Haven join as co-No. 6. Hand and Staples are tied at No. 3.
NHR State Media Top 10
Dropped Out: Hillhouse (7), New Canaan (8), Berlin (10). Other teams receiving votes: Berlin (2-0), 267; Glastonbury (2-0), 216; Southington (2-0), 211; New London (2-0), 160; Hillhouse (1-1), 136; Newtown (2-0), 114; North Branford (2-0), 113; Cheshire (2-0), 89; Holy Cross (2-0), 73; Manchester (2-0), 39; Cromwell (2-0), 28; Norwich Free Academy (2-0), 25; Middletown (2-0), 24; Farmington (2-0), 17; New Canaan (1-1), 14; Wolcott (2-0), 12; St. Joseph (1-1), 9; Fairfield Prep (2-0), North Haven (1-1) and Trinity Catholic (2-0), 7. The following voted: Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin; Bob Barton, New Haven Register; Bill Bloxsom, Hersam-Acorn; Sean Patrick Bowley, Connecticut Post; Don Boyle, Sporting News CT; Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press; Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American; Chris Brodeur, Danbury News-Times; Bryant Carpenter, Meriden-Record Journal; George DeMaio, WELI; Mike DiMauro, The Day of New London; Matt Doran, MSG Varsity; Tom Evans, Norwalk Hour; Noah Finz, WTNH-8; Ned Griffen, The Day of New London; John Holt, WFSB-3; Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American; Ken Lipshez, West Hartford News/New Britain City Journal; Mike Madera, Elm City Newspapers; Joe Morelli, New Haven Register; Dave Phillips, Shore Line Newspapers; Mike Pucci, New Haven Register; Dave Ruden, Stamford Advocate; Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant; Mike Wollschlager, New Haven Register; Jimmy Zanor, Shore Line Newspapers.
Day Coaches Top 10
Dropped out: New Canaan (8). Also receiving votes: Ledyard (2-0), 108 points; Darien (2-0), 94; New London (2-0), 75; Middletown (2-0), 62; Holy Cross-Waterbury (2-0), 55; Southington (2-0), 54; Tie, Hillhouse-New Haven (1-1) and Norwich Free Academy (2-0), 52; Newtown (2-0), 48; Cheshire (2-0), 42; St. Joseph-Trumbull (1-1), 18; Tie, Cromwell (2-0) and Fairfield Prep (2-0), 16; Tie, New Canaan (1-1) and North Branford (2-0), 12; Tie, Brookfield (2-0) and Derby (2-0), 11; Tie, Avon (2-0) and Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (2-0), 7. The following coaches voted: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Jim Buonocore, Ledyard; Craig Bruno, Bunnell-Stratford; Steve Filippone, Hand-Madison; Rob Fleeting, Windsor; Tanner Grove, Montville; Jude Kelly, St. Paul-Bristol; Tim King, Valley Regional-Deep River; Sean Marinan, Xavier-Middletown; John Murphy, Masuk-Monroe; Marce Petroccio, Staples-Westport; Bob Zito, Maloney-Meriden.