Welcome back to SPB “Masterpiece” Theater, where tonight we recap Friday night’s Bunnell-Newtown game at Pomperaug.
The game, which was a critical piece in the ongoing SWC race, was won by Newtown 27-12 on the strength of a 107-yard, two touchdown rushing night from backup QB Dan Hebert (making his first start in place of injured senior Will Arndt) and a big-play Nighthawks defense that made four interceptions, forced a fumble, blocked a punt for a safety and stopped Bunnell on fourth down in several crucial situations.
Thanks to Hebert and the D, Newtown built 20-6 lead by the fourth quarter. But despite all of its setbacks, Bunnell gamely battled back, made a few big stops, forced a few turnovers and finally pulled within six points late in the game.
Its final two drives of the night, however, ended with pickoffs, the last leading to Newtown lineman and basketball forward Matt Datin‘s 74-yard interception return touchdown that iced the game with seconds left.
It was a somewhat sloppy game, with lots of turnovers and missed opportunities on both sides, but an exciting one with a quite wild finish.
So Newtown, which has suffered more season-ending injuries to senior starters than most teams, hangs in there at 5-1 in the SWC, keeping pace with Pomperaug (5-1) in the race for second place and CIAC Class LL playoffs.
Bunnell, meanwhile, dropped its second straight game and fell to 4-2. The Bulldogs are pretty much out of the SWC race, which isn’t too big a deal. They’re still kicking in Class L (just a few percentage points behind 5-1 New Canaan, actually). Long way to go. But for a team of mostly underclassmen, not bad.
This concludes the video features for the week. It’s on to Week 7!
St. Joseph's Quinn Irwin celebrates a third-quarter touchdown catch with teammates in the Hogs' 28-27 victory over New Canaan, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010.
Welcome back to SPB’s Masterpiece Theater (ahem), where for our Tuesday matinee we present to you our modest production of Saturday’s St. Joseph-New Canaan game.
You’ll see the media out in force for this Saturday FCIAC clash, but a late-arriving crowd. (Beginning of the game sounded like a mausoleum.)
You’ll see the triumphant return of senior back Tyler Matakevich from a foot injury and his first touchdown of the season, a 1-yard leap on St. Joe’s first drive of the game.
You’ll see St. Joseph senior Pat Mulligan pick off two New Canaan passes in the first half as St. Joseph takes a 7-0 lead at the break. You’ll see St. Joseph extend the lead to 21-7 heading into the fourth quarter on a pair of passes from Joe Della Vecchia to Joe Burns and Quinn Irwin. (You’ll also see Conor Hanratty get his hands on a Della Vecchia pass, with nothing in front of him but turf and the ball slipping through his arms on the last St. Joseph TD drive. Tough break.)
What you won’t see see is a tipped pass interception by St. Joseph’s Nick Adzima early in the fourth quarter (missed it). You won’t see New Canaan’s defense stiffen, keeping the Hogs from putting the game away (editing). You’ll only partially see the Matt Milano-to-John Brainard TD that pulled NC within 21-14 (I lost the play… yeah, this is hardly a masterpiece).
But you will see New Canaan rally to tie the game with a 5-minute drive late in the game. You’ll see the Rams set up for a 2-point conversion with 1:08 remaining, but call time out and kick the extra point.
You’ll see Mulligan return the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to put St. Joseph up 28-21 (and your cameraman getting swamped by delirious St. Joseph players). You’ll see New Canaan march right back, score and this time gofor the 2-point conversion pass.
You’ll see Jerry Kramer, victimized by a few passes on that drive, come up huge and bat the ball away from Patrick Newton at the goal line with 2.8 seconds left.
And, finally, you’ll see the onside kick recovery and one more New Canaan attempt to win the game.
Bizarre stuff. Great game.
We also have a few postgame interviews, including New Cananaan coach Lou Marinelli‘s explanation of the 2-point conversion at 28-27, not 21-20.
If you didn’t catch the replay elsewhere, see it now:
So, as well all know, St. Joseph’s season is taken off life support for the time being. Still plenty of toughies left, vs. Warde, at Norwalk vs. Greenwich, at Trumbull. But they’re sitting at No. 8 in the Class S playoff race.
Once ranked No. 2 in the state polls, New Canaan, now 5-1, finds itself in a precarious position in both the FCIAC and, more importantly, in the Class L race. The Rams are No. 12 in the Class L rankings but have a good shot at making up ground with plumbs like Greenwich, Central and, of course, Darien sitting behing next week’s game vs. Wilton.
There’s no room for error now, for both these teams.
Here are your FCIAC playoff standings with three weeks to go.
Unbeaten Darien and Staples are at the head of the table, with Trumbull, Ridgefield, Stamford, New Canaan all getting a seat.
We’ll take a quick look at scenarios below.
Unless we get another massive round of upsets, A team with two losses is almost assuredly out. So we’ll just focus on the 1-loss teams right now.
Here’s what the contenders have left:
DARIEN (5-0, 610, 122.0): vs. Bassick (0-6), at Westhill (1-5), vs. Norwalk 2-4. Synopsis: Very winnable games vs. Bassick and Westhill. Norwalk might decide to show up in that final game. Darien’s favored to win all three and clinch.
STAPLES (6-0, 720, 120.0): vs. Ludlowe (0-6), at Wilton (3-2), vs. Trumbull (5-1). Synopsis: Controls its own destiny. Favored to win all three games, but the Trumbull game is still pretty close. A loss there would muddle up the race for second place, depending how Trumbull fares against its remaining opponents.
TRUMBULL (5-1, 640, 106.7): at Danbury (2-4), at Ridgefield (4-1), at Staples (6-0). Synopsis: The toughest road of all the one-loss teams, but controls its own destiny. However, with two of the top contenders left on its schedule, winning out will almost assure the Eagles a spot in the playoff.
RIDGEFIELD (4-1, 470, 94.0): at McMahon (3-3), vs. Trumbull (5-1), vs. Wilton (3-2). Synopsis: Will probably have to win out and hope Trumbull beats Staples and maybe get somebody else to upset Trumbull. They’re longshots.
NEW CANAAN (4-1, 430, 86.0): vs. Wilton (3-2), vs. Greenwich (4-2), vs. Central (4-2). Synopsis: Yes, 4-2 Stamford is ahead of the Rams on point average because New Canaan’s four defeated opponents so far have just 4 victories between them (thanks Warde!). If they win out, that should change. But not enough to outpoint, 1-loss Ridgefield, Staples or Trumbull.
THE SWC PLAYOFF RACE
The SWC just takes the top two records for its league championship game, Nov. 18 at Brookfield. If there’s a tie, head-to-head and then CIAC playoff points points are used.
Here’s the breakdown.
MASUK (6-0) — Has Bethel (4-2), Oxford (4-2) and Immaculate (0-6) at home to finish up its schedule. They’d need to lose twice to miss the SWC title game. Two more wins will clinch it.
NEWTOWN (5-1) – Has New Fairfield (2-4), Barlow (2-4) and Stratford (2-4) left. If they win out they’d be close to clinching a title game, but might have to wait to see if it can outpoint Pomperaug in playoff points. (The two teams don’t go head-to-head).
POMPERAUG (5-1) – Has Barlow (2-4), Brookfield (4-2), New Fairfield (2-4) left. Will have to win out and hope to outpoint an 8-1 Newtown.
BROOKFIELD (4-2), BETHEL (4-2), BUNNELL (4-2) and OXFORD (4-2) are all long shots. Newtown and Pomperaug would both have to lose at least one game to give any of these teams a chance.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say, unless you have a death wish or are hoping to claim a No. 1 statewide ranking at season’s end, vying for this championship game is probably the least of your concerns.
To wit: You have the championship on Friday, Nov. 19 at Trumbull. Then you play six days later on Thanksgiving. But you’re also in the state playoffs and, five days later, you play in the CIAC quarterfinals. Win that, and four days later you’re playing in the semifinals. Win that, and seven (or six) days later you’re playing in the state championship game.
That’s potentially five games in 3 weeks. Ouch.
With just four state playoff divisions and three rounds to hoist the trophy, a state championship trophy means more than it ever has since the CIAC started hosting them. League title games are obsolete now, especially since these leagues are so large, it’s impossible to give competing teams equal roads to get there (never mind excluding the Thanksgiving Day opponent).
I have this dream where, say, Staples qualifies for the league title game and then declines to play in it. Imagine Marce Petroccio of Staples declining to play in the FCIAC championship, boldly stating, “We play for state championships here.”
If anybody remembers how beat up the Wreckers were coming out of last year’s 14-10 league championship win over Central, they’d understand that logic.
St. Joseph senior Tyler Matakevich runs for yardage against New Canaan in his first game back from a foot injury. The Hogs won 28-27.
On 9:30 on Wednesday morning at Stratford High School, math teacher Joe Della Vecchia watched the sweetest two words in the English language buzz into his mobile phone.
The message came from Tyler Matakevich, the all-state fullback and linebacker at St. Joseph High School, where Della Vecchia has been the head coach for 12 seasons. The senior was having his damaged right foot, which kept him from playing in the first five games of the 2010 season, examined by doctors again.
Most weeks, the news was sullen and discouraging.
This time, it was euphoric.
“…I knew he was back,” Della Vecchia said. “I was ready to leave school and go hang out with him for awhile. He just means so much to this team and the way we play emotionally with him is indescribable.”
Just like that, St. Joseph’s 2010 season outlook seemed to take a trip back to August, when the Cadets were ranked No. 3 in the state polls and everybody’s pick as top contenders for the FCIAC and state championship.
It was perfect timing, too. St. Joseph, its season already on life support after losses to Wilton and Darien, was about to face undefeated New Canaan in a game that essentially meant its season. It was a game Matakevich promised himself he wouldn’t miss.
Matakevich got a rousing applause from the St. Joseph fans as he trotted out onto Dalling Field for the pregame warmups. He played sparingly on offense, actually scoring his first touchdown on a 1-yard leap into the end zone, and made some plays on defense. But it was his presence in uniform that likely made the most difference.
“I’ve been playing football with Tyler since we were little kids and he’s always been that spark, that person who gets everybody riled up,” said fellow senior captain Pat Mulligan, who had two interceptions and returned a kickoff 91-yards for a touchdown to break a 21-21 tie with 49 seconds remaining. “Getting him back for this game was great.”
As everybody knows by now, St. Joseph defeated New Canaan 28-27 in a game that wasn’t over until Jerry Kramer batted down a 2-point conversion pass with 2.8 seconds remaining, a successful New Canaan onside kick, and a last-ditch rugby scrummage that ended in the hands of Trevor Dalling.
“He did a tremendous job. Just him being there made a big difference for St. Joes,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “You have to take your hat off, that’s a tremendous effort.”
Della Vecchia, Mulligan and Matakevich all agreed: The Hogs have their swagger back. They believe the pieces are coming together again to make this team close to what it was supposed to be.
“We needed a big game like that,” Della Vecchia said. “I don’t know if we were starting to doubt ourselves… but our confidence should be sky high right now. We just beat one of the best teams in the State of Connecticut over the last four years, won four straight championships, it doesn’t get any better than that.
“If I was everybody else, I’d be afraid to play St. Joes now,” Matakevich said.
Stamford players swarm Trumbull's Phil Terio during the Black Knights' 27-19 upset victory over the Eagles at McDougall Stadium Friday night.
Matakevich’s return, St. Joseph’s gutsy 1-point victory was just one of the many wild stories going on in Week 6, which — for the second straight season — turned the high school football season upside-down.
After 5 pretty dull weeks, we finally have ourselves a football season.
A recap of the insanity:
First, the best story of the night: Down 10-0 at halftime, SCC Division II North Haven rode the single-wing to victory over SCC Division I power and former No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven Friday night. How about North Haven, and not Notre Dame, looking like a playoff team in Class L.
At McDougall Stadium, Stamford shocked unbeaten Trumbull(for the second straight year), 27-19. After watching Stamford get manhandled by Ridgefield in Week 1, I thought they wouldn’t win a game. Now they’ve won four straight.
Red Lion Christian came to Darien a newsmaker worthy of ESPN’s Outside the Lines (which, in fact, featured the Delaware school a month ago): A 14-year old, eighth-grade USC commit, a program accused of recruiting violations in its home state, two Pennsylvania private schools refusing to play for safety concerns? Sounded pretty formidable. Down 20-7, Darien flipped the script, rallied and won, 21-20. Wow. What’s this really say about Red Lion? What’s this really say about Darien? They are most certainly a lock for the Class L playoffs (no chance of Darien losing two games the rest of the way. None).
How ’bout Newtown? Lost their top receiver and kicker to a knee injury. Lost their starting QB to a shoulder injury. So Newtown slotted in little sophomore Dan Hebert, last year’s freshman team quarterback and the kid dazzled in a 27-12 victory over Bunnell, which wasn’t final until captain Matt Datin, a basketball forward by trade, leaped, grabbed a rebound of a tipped pass and raced 70-some-odd yards the other way with seconds remaining. Is he a forward or a point guard?
Matt Paez did the same thing for Brookfield, albeit earlier in the Bobcats’ 41-19 victory.
Two crazy things stuck out in Fairfield Warde’s 41-40 comeback victory over Trinity Catholic. First, Trinity going for two points up 40-27 and 2:41 remaining. The other: How Warde managed to disrupt a kneel down, cause a fumble and score again with 2.9 left to win the game. Yikes.
Masuk’s first-team defense giving up its first score of the season after Weston caught the Panthers sleeping with a fake punt. Masuk went on to win 56-7, with Casey Cochran throwing for over 400 yards and three TDs.
Shelton hanging tough with Xavier at Palmer Field, which, coupled with Notre Dame-WH’s loss to North Haven has brought up some questions about Xavier’s No. 1 ranking.
We didn’t get this game called into our offices, but according to Jim Bransfield at the Middletown Press, Xavier’s coaches were none too happy with this performance. Shelton actually had the ball at the Xavier 32 with 6 minutes left and elected to go for the gusto, rather than punt and pin Xavier deep. But the pass fell short. Xavier took the ball and drove for the winning TD, 14-7.
Daniel Hand wiping out Wilbur Cross at home. Hard to figure, the Governors.
Fairfield Prep’s failed 2-point conversion and 14-13 loss to Amity, leaving the Jesuits still in search of their first SCC Division I victory since 2008.
East Haven breaking its 30-some-odd losing streak with a 41-14 victory over Platt Tech.
Did we miss anything?
So, given all of this, we’re going to have a massive, massive shakeup in the state polls and the Elite 8 rankings come tonight.
See that? Feel that? Taste that? There’s a chill in the air. Brilliant oranges, yellows and reds are blooming from the trees. The ground crackles and snaps beneath your feet. We’re knee-deep in autumn.
And those crowds on Friday night, they buzz just a little bit louder on the sidelines, don’t they? The cheers pack a little more wallop when something good happens. Those groans creak a little louder when something doesn’t.
We’ve reached the midpoint of the 2010 High School Football Season.
Can you feel it? The intensity is building.
Just five more weeks, and we’ll be scarfing down playoff scenarios with our Thanksgiving Turkey.
So what do we know? What have we discovered so far? Who’s up? Who’s Down? Who’s out?
Masuk's Jon Testani
Five weeks into the SWC season and nobody’s touched Masuk. Jon Testani, Anthony Calabrese and the first team defense hasn’t given up a point. The offense is explosive, with Casey Cochran and Colin Markus. The Panthers win by an average score of 45-3. I haven’t seen this much regular-season hype about a Masuk team since Wargo-Mish-Muniz-Cavanaugh-etc. in 2003.
The rest of the league has been competitive, but far, far behind the Monroe Panthers. It’s become a race for second place, with Bunnell, Newtown, Pomperaug and even Brookfield all jockeying for the second spot… for the right to get hammered by Masuk in the title game? It certainly looks that way. No worries. There’s always the state playoffs, and all are in contention.
Trumbull's Phil Terio
Five weeks into the FCIAC season, it’s not as clear-cut.
At the top, we have 5-0 Staples, which passed one test against Ridgefield and is biding its time until November, hoping to stay healthy and get one or two key players (read: sophomore Nick Kelly) back for the stretch run.
We have Phil Terio and 5-0 Trumbull, who have passed two huge tests vs. Central and Greenwich and is building confidence. We have 5-0 Darien, which is basically done with the competitive part of the FCIAC schedule and is waiting to see how the rest of the league shakes out. We have 5-0 New Canaan, which is just starting the competitive part of its schedule.
After that, Central (4-1) and Ridgefield are close behind, chasing their only losses of the season, waiting for the next round of big games. St. Joseph (3-2) is trying hard to stay afloat in the Class S playoff race, praying it can beat New Canaan Saturday and keep their season alive, praying senior Tyler Matakevich can return in time to make a difference in this, his senior season.
This league is just starting to heat up.
Who will reach the FCIAC championship? It’s a bottle neck right now, and there are worries we’ll have a three-team tie at the end of Week 9.
West Haven's Kevin Phillips
Five weeks into the SCC season, top-ranked Xavier and its bone-crushing defense remain the class of the league. Kevin Phillips and West Haven are 5-0, with an impressive victory over former No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven on its resume. But their schedule only gets brutal from here: at Cheshire, vs. Hand, at Wilbur Cross, at Xavier.
Same goes for 4-1 Wilbur Cross. Speedster James Ward and the Govs earned an impressive victory vs. Cheshire last week, but their climb only gets tougher: at Hand, at Notre Dame, vs. West Haven… And Hand, and Notre Dame-WH and Shelton.
Will someone rise to the top, or will these teams just knock each other off until nobody’s left standing?
Say what you will, nobody faces a gauntlet like the SCC Division I schools. Nobody. 8-2 might not get some of these teams into the playoffs, but it seems like it should. (I’m not complaining, just wish some other leagues would adopt the SCC philosophy… although I’ve heard other interesting alternatives).
Five/Six weeks into the NVL season, and Ansonia is all growns up. Maybe not physically (still lots of underclassmen — and you know what that means), but as a team they’ve answered the call with crushing victories over Holy Cross, Wolcott and Watertown. Montrell Dobbs is tearing the league up. Freshman Arkeel Newsome is turning heads — and not just when he runs by you on a kickoff return.
On the other side, you have, possibly, the first legit Naugatuck team since 2000. Unless Torrington, or Jack DeBaise and Woodland show up (these teams play Friday night), the season will come down to a mega-Thanksgiving Day matchup at Jarvis Stadium between the old Rivals.
Cherish the thought, NVL fans.
Five Weeks into the Connecticut High School football season the Southwestern Connecticut teams are still king.
Is there anyone up north or east (excluding Xavier, an SCC school) that can challenge any of our boys?
Six weeks left until the end of the regular season and we begin the quarterfinals and the road to Rentschler…
A look back and look ahead at the 2010 season to date, compiled by the football staff at Hearst CT, me included. What about you? What’s were your favorite games and moments from the first half of the season? WRITE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW!
It’s quick and to the point. No grand introductions in this reel. But there is plenty of Andrew Reel… and Kellen Croce and Brett Gaughan and, of course, Willie Maxen, cast and all, making his debut at fullback for twin brother Kevin.
You’ll see Weston actually take a 7-0 lead on a blocked punt and return by senior Jake Spencer on Pomperaug’s first possession of the game.
You’ll see Kellen Croce tie the score with a 60-yard jaunt just a few plays later.
Then you’ll see Pomperaug pour on the points, two TDs by Gaughan, another from Maxen and a field goal by Eric Beatty to end the half with the Panthers comfortably in front 31-7.
You won’t see the second half. But you will see interviews with Reel, Maxen and the comedy stylings of Pomperaug coach Chuck Drury who was knocking his little small audience over with a couple of zingers in his postgame interview (Might have to post the full video of that to give you the full effect).
See it all now…
As we mentioned, Pomperaug, which has had more than its share of bumps, bruises and season-ending injuries, is hoping it can win out to return to the postseason in Class LL. The Panthers get Stratford next, then Barlow, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Oxford. Coaches from Xavier were in attendance on the off-chance Pomperaug pulls it off.
Weston, which surprised most by leaping out to a 3-1 start, just couldn’t get back Eddie Hutchins and its offense moving against the Panthers’ front. Hutchins had 21 yards on 17 carries in a game that started out well, but spiraled out of Weston’s control. The Trojans fall to 3-2 and gets a visit from unbeaten Masuk Saturday at 2 p.m.
This concludes the first half of our 2010 season.
Plenty more to come on this midseason high school football bridge week.
The Monroe Express to Brookfield (site of the SWC championship game) plowed through the Bulldogs with a somewhat deceptive, yet convincing 45-0 victory. Instead of a sterling finish to an uplifting upset, we got seven consecutive kneel-downs by the junior varsity while the Masuk student section cheered “Coch-ran! Coch-ran! Coch-ran!” over and over in the gloomy night.
And, no, they weren’t referring to the quarterback.
Regardless of the final, Bunnell came to play. It moved the ball on offense and got within the shadow of the Masuk goal line several times. But turnovers doomed the Dawgs early, midway and late in the game. What good things Bunnell accomplished were wiped away almost immediately, however A Joe Diaz pickoff TD here, Colin Markus a 60-yard run and TD there. Masuk just kind of bled Bunnell to death.
It wasn’t a vintage Masuk performance, but it barely broke a sweat in taking a 21-0 lead. Bunnell attempted to flood the passing lanes, which gave QB Casey Cochran some trouble (he was picked off three times and threw for 155 yards).
But no worries, Masuk merely picked its spots and punched back with Markus, who broke free for several long runs to set up easy touchdowns. It was 21-0 at halftime. Hardly a wipeout. But the casual fans had already seen enough, and fled the field and the rain.
Then Diaz returned the second half kickoff for a TD. That was pretty much ballgame, although there would be more Markus to come.
Highlights of football action between Pomperaug and Weston in Weston, Conn. on Saturday October 16, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
We took the show to Weston on Saturday morning (Pomperaug 38, Weston 7) and the general consensus among SWC coaches in attendance was that nobody was touching Masuk (hardly new news). We drifted to other topics, such as who might be Masuk’s unfortunate opponent in an SWC title game, a potential Pomperaug-Brookfield showdown for that spot next month, a Bunnell-Newtown showdown this week, and, of course CIAC playoff possibilities for everyone. (It’s getting to be that time of year. Some of Xavier’s coaching staff was in attendance checking out Pomperaug, which stands to qualify in Class LL if it wins out.)
Oxford’s 14-7 loss to New Milford might have taken the Wolverines out of the race permanently. We also learned that Oxford QB Alex Miller broke the pinky finger on his non-throwing hand during practice before the game. He had surgery and will miss significant time, if not the rest of the year.
Tom Pauciello, # 5 of Trumbull High School, takes one in for a touchdown Friday night at Greenwich High School, Oct. 15, 2010. Photo: Bob Luckey
Not only did Staples struggle to take out McMahon, the Wreckers learned that outstanding sophomore Nick Kelly might have seriously damaged his knee in the process. The injury has yet to be sufficiently diagnosed. We should learn more soon.
So that leaves four undefeated teams left in the FCIAC.Darien’s scheduleseems to give the Blue Wave an inside track to the FCIAC Championship game at McDougall Stadium on Nov. 19. Staples’ schedule looks manageable until if faces Trumbull in decisive Week 9. Trumbull’s schedule is tough, with both Staples and Ridgefield remaining.
As for New Canaan, the Rams are back from their first-half cruise and join the race this week. First up, a massive grudgematch with wounded St. Joseph at Dalling Field — will Tyler Matakevich, who has been testing his injured foot on the sidelines during games, make a triumphant return?
The Rams then comes home to Dunning Stadium to face, in order: Wilton, Greenwich and Central. Undefeated should get them close to an FCIAC berth. Whether they play Darien for the championship on Thanksgiving or somebody else at Trumbull on Nov. 19 remains a question.
Here are the FCIAC playoff points through Week 5:
In the NVL, Ansonia shocked everybody by running roughshod over preseason favorite Wolcott in a crucial Copper Division battle at rainy Jarvis Stadium. Montrell Dobbs ran for 305 yards and freshman Arkeel Newsome continued to impress with a 72-yard kickoff touchdown. So Ansonia holds serve in the Copper, with only Watertown (this week) and Derby/O’Brien Tech (next) and Seymour (Week 9) standing it its way of an NVL title game berth.
On the other side, it’s Naugy in front, Woodland and Torrington nipping on their heels. Both Woodland (2-0 Brass) and Torrington (2-1) face off this week in a key division game. Woodland controls its own destiny (it faces Naugatuck in three weeks).
In the SCC, Notre Dame-West Haven kept its playoff hopes alive by crushing Hand. Cheshire all but dropped out of the Class LL race with an 18-14 loss to Wilbur Cross. ND and Cross play in two weeks. West Haven is 5-0 and in decent shape in Class LL, but begins a brutal stretch of games beginning this week — at Cheshire, vs. Hand, at Wilbur Cross, at Xavier then vs. Fairfield Prep.
Xavier dominated Fairfield Prep and continued its inexorable march toward that West Haven showdown in Week 9. …The rest of the league has its eyes on Lyman Hall, now a surprising 4-1, and in the thick of the Class M race; North Haven, 4-1 and in the mix in Class L; and Hand, which is also 4-1 and in the Class L playoff race with West Haven and Wilbur Cross among its remaining games.
But if the season ended today (and thank God it doesn’t)…
Class LL – 8. Southington at 1. Trumbull; 7. Glastonbury at 2. NFA; 6. Hall at 3. Xavier; 5. West Haven at 4. Staples Class L – 8. Hand at 1. Masuk; 7. New Canaan at 2. Darien; 6. Naugatuck at 3. Wethersfield; 5. Bristol Eastern at 4. Fitch Class M – 8. Wolcott at 1. Berlin; 7. Cheney Tech at 2. New London; 6. Platt at 3. Waterford; 5. Enfield at 4. Plainville Class S – 8. Woodland at 1. Ansonia; 7. North Branford at 2. Valley Regional/Old Lyme; 6. Montville at 3. Hyde; 5. Sacred Heart at 4. Coginchaug.
Resist the urge to go bonkers over these midseason pairings. Lots of season left.
We’ll have the State Polls, the Elite 8 tonight and, tomorrow, video of Bunnell-Masuk and Pomperaug-Weston.
Also, we will be publishing a Midseason Report Friday both in our papers and in this space.
If all goes well, we’ll have a first-half video collage of all the first-half 2010 action.
It was deja vu all over again for Central and Trumbull in this prime time FCIAC clash at Kennedy Stadium last Friday.
You’ll see a pretty hard-fought first half, a quick Central touchdown and then two defensive stops inside their own 5-yard line.
You’ll see Trumbull take an 8-6 lead at the break on Phil Terio‘s 21-yard interception return (Btw, quite a player, Terio. The Trumbull catalyst made about 75 percent of the big plays in this one, including a few clutch catches).
You won’t see the crazy 2-point conversion, but you will see Central QB Deon Wiggins pull a rabbit out of his helmet to produce a 12-8 Central lead late in the third quarter.
You’ll starting QB Ian Milne take some pretty big hits and, ultimately, give way to senior QB Brian Gallo in the third quarter.
You’ll see Gallo overcome a slew of Trumbull penalties and direct the go-ahead touchdown drive. Following a Central fumble with over 6 minutes left, he’ll direct another with a huge third-down conversion and his 38-yard scoring run.
And, finally, you’ll see Central’s offense and special teams — after a night full of miscues — finally collapse with another interception return and a fumbled kickoff return.
See it all now:
Just like last year, Trumbull improved to 4-0. The Eagles are now ranked in all of the Top 10 polls as they head to Greenwich Friday night in what I’m sure is being billed as Revenge Tour 2010 in the Trumbull locker room.
(Quick note: According to Brett Rosen of the Trumbull High School student paper, the Eagle’s Eye, it Looks like Gallo will be Trumbull’s QB for the foreseeable future. Milne separated his shoulder and will at least miss this week, maybe two.
Just like last year, Central limps into Week 4 wondering if it can fix its ills before the stretch run. The Hilltoppers get Westhill Saturday afternoon.
SIDE NOTE: I absolutely love Central coach Dave Cadelina‘s pregame soundtrack selection.
Cadelina’s a big movie buff. You know it when you arrive at Kennedy Stadium before a game. Some of his favorite inspiring and menacing movie scores blare across the PA while the teams warm up.
For starters, it has a 14-year old eighth-grader, David Sills V, playing quarterback. Said eighth-grader has (get this) verbally committed to USC — as in, the University of Southern California.
It gets worse.
His father, David Sills IV, has had a strong hand — as in hundreds of thousands of dollars strong — in creating a high-profile football program in which his son can thrive on his journey to USC while providing scores of Delaware kids an opportunity to get a Christian education at Red Lion.
But he has done so under dark clouds of suspicion.
The elder Sills, a commercial developer and contractor, used his own money and company to build the Lions’ stadium, practice field and wrestling facility. He also is co-founder of The FOCAS [Financially Obedient Christians Assisting Students] Foundation, which gave financial assistance to 60 Red Lion students last year, including several football players. In March, the DIAA (Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association) began an investigation into whether the private school used an ineligible player and improperly recruited players. Kevin Charles, executive director of the DIAA, said his organization’s inquiry is awaiting results of Red Lion’s internal investigation.
This whole mess spawned a revealing ESPN Outside The Lines feature, which hinted at some shady motives beneath the surface of Mr. Sill’s proclaimed religious mission of educational charity.
With his son committed to USC (he can’t officially sign until 2015), and Red Lion adding Trojan offensive terminology to their game plans, is Sills merely bringing in the best players to surround his high-profile son at the expense of DIAA rules and, worse, under the guise of being a Good Samaritan?
He says no. But, for me, it’s hard to get past that idea.
The private school didn’t have football in 2002, and, in 2007 was 1-9. But last year, it reached the Delaware Division II playoffs for the first time. This season, with the 6-0, 160-pound Sills at Quarterback and a line that averages 260 pounds, schools from Maryland and Pennsylvania forfeited their games with Red Lion, citing safety reasons. Red Lion’s latest opponent, another private school called Cardinal O’Hara from Springfield, Pennsylvania, said it had no intentions of forfeiting.
It went out and crushed Red Lion 35-0 last weekend.
Red Lion’s next opponent, before traveling up here to face Darien, is Allegheny High School of Cumberland, Maryland.
There’s so much more to peel back on this story, but it already reeks with the age-old story of misguided and overzealous sports parents going to great lengths to provide extraordinary opportunity for their kids, including bending (breaking?) rules to their absolute limits. We’ve seen it far too many times, including here in small-time Connecticut.
It’s a situation as shady and suspect as the notion of any school becoming ‘national high school football powerhouse.’
To me, that’s an idea that spits in the face of what high school athletics is all about.
Yet, national high school football is celebrated and exploited by fans, big-time universities, and sports/entertainment media like USA Today, ESPN, MaxPreps, Rivals and Scout.com… maybe even us to a lesser extent.
What’s Darien got to gain from playing this team? Nothing, except bringing its opponent’s troubling story to our attention, which might be a good thing when you think about it.
What does it have to lose? A possible spot in the Class L playoffs (this game counts, by the way) if the Blue Wave loses and then loses to New Canaan on Thanksgiving.
With Masuk grinding (or, more to the point puréeing) its opponents into mush, the 2010 SWC season is fast becoming a race for second place.
Heading into Week 4 only two other teams besides Masuk were undefeated. Bunnell emerged 4-0 after surviving a strong upset bid by New Fairfield Friday night. That left Oxford, the third-year varsity, quasi-Valley program (whose coaching staff includes Joe Stochmal, Seymour’s Bob Kelo and Ansonia’s John Hunt Jr going into a big game at home vs. 2-1 Newtown.
Newtown, meanwhile, limped into the game having lost a shocker to Bethel in Week 2 and, while whupping up on Immaculate the follwoing week, saw a host of star players go down for the season. Captain, four-year starter at WR and K Rory Noonan, and receiver Ryan Korth were among their biggest losses. What did Newtown have left?
We took the Connecticut Post High School Football bandwagon up the Housatonic River banks to find out.
Newtown won, 41-27 in a pretty wild game that saw the two teams trade haymakers in a 20-20 first half. But in the second, Newtown’s defense — led by bruising seniors Louis Fennarolli and Max Nacewicz – held serve while QB Will Arndt and his new cadre of receivers piled up points.
Among the many Newtown newcomers with big plays were sophomore tailback Dan Hebert, who torched Oxford with two TDs and set up another with a big reception in the second half, junior WR Chris McNamara who caught a TD pass and set up another with a big reception, and Justin DeVellis (wait, another? You got a DeVellis factory up there, Newtown?) had a huge pick-off of an Oxford option pass to set up another TD and an insurmountable 34-20 fourth-quarter lead.
So Oxford falls from the ranks of the unbeaten, but their next three opponents before Masuk are a combined 0-12. Newtown (3-1) rights its ship somewhat for Notre Dame this week. They get Bunnell in Week 6.
Only Bunnell (4-0) and Masuk (4-0) remain. These two arch-rivals will face off Friday night.
SIDE-NOTES: I absolutely love Oxford High School, especially in autumn. It’s cut into the woods of the steep Housatonic-Naugatuck Valley hillside off scenic Route 188. From New Haven, I trekked up Route 34, where hundreds attended the Head of the Housatonic Regatta, and turned north up into the Oxford hills.
As a football school, it could really become something special.
But … that field, that field. Coach Joe Stochmal has long clamored for some kind of legit football facility and, four years into its existence, this patch still looks more suited for youth soccer than varsity football. There are no bleachers whatsoever, so the fans are basically two- and three-deep around the perimeter, sometimes just inches from the playing field.
It can get pretty dangerous in spots. If you look close, one guy got knocked off his chair during one of Oxford QB Alex Miller‘s west end zone scrambles. Refs tried their best to push all of the spectators back. The fans sitting on the east end, separated from the field by a cord, kept screaming at me, “Down in front!” while I walked the sidelines.
To which, I say, get the town to kick in some extra dough, hold a charity car wash or bake sale. Do something and get this field some bleachers, at least. I’ll get you started, here’s a link to an aluminum bleacher site.