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Monday Musings: Wrapping up the fall

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Thanksgiving is over and it seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?

Friday’s boys soccer state final– a game Prep lost 2-0 to Norwalk– capped Fairfield’s Fall high school sports season.

There’s a lot to recap, including Thanksgiving football. So let’s start there.

In case anyone was unaware, Ludlowe football head coach Matt McCloskey reads my column.

He chided me for giving Warde a special teams edge, declaring: “Somebody

Fairfield Ludlowe's football team beat Warde for the first time since 2009.

said our said our special teams weren’t that good so we worked on them all week.”

The Falcons won all three sides of the ball– but claimed the special teams battle in particular. Ludlowe blocked a punt, made all four extra points and a field goal in its 31-13 rout of Warde.

Benjamin Brzoski also recovered a fumble and took it 92 yards for a score. Ludlowe scored a special teams touchdown, a defensive touchdown and turned a fourth-quarter Warde turnover into a touchdown.

I have to give Ludlowe football a ton of credit. I criticized the team when it was bad, and have to give it props when it is successful. Every team Ludlowe lost to was at least .500 — those five teams finished with a combined 35-15 record — and the Falcons won the games they were supposed to.

“The way we ended the year was amazing,” Ludlowe quarterback Matt White said. “We turned it around.”

This is an important coaching choice though. Whoever takes over is going to have some pieces to work with.

Meanwhile, on the Warde side, Thursday’s loss was a microcosm of the Mustangs’ nightmarish season.

The Mustangs had that punt blocked, fumbled three times and were intercepted on a first-half halfback option pass. Warde moved the ball, but

Mark Byrne was Warde's MVP, catching four passes for 115 yards on Thursday against Ludlowe.

two of those fumbles came inside Ludlowe’s red zone.

“Besides fumbling however many times and the blocked punt, I thought we played pretty well,” Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe said. “It’d be interesting to see what would’ve happened if scored all those times that we fumbled. That’s been our season, more or less. It’s not for lack of effort or lack of trying, it’s something I can’t explain.”

Should Warde have been better than 1-9? Absolutely. Could the Mustangs have won more than four games? Not likely. Warde’s schedule was monstrous– four of Warde’s losses came to state playoff teams and a fifth came to the last team out in Class LL, Ridgefield. Wilton was the only team Warde faced that did not finish .500.

Still, DellaVolpe was exasperated by this year, the worst of his coaching career. But he put a positive spin on Thursday’s result.

“I love my seniors because they’re good kids,” he said. “Otherwise I’m not sure how we would’ve handled the season. Nobody quit and we didn’t win games, but we’re a sustained program, I think.”

I trekked to Danbury for ND-Fairfield’s Thanksgiving eve finale at Immaculate last Wednesday.

Good job by the Lancers– which dressed just 26 players for the finale– for getting a 26-22 win over the Mustangs on Wednesday night.

“It’s been a long year,” ND coach Dawon Dicks said. “It was a team effort … I think for Thanksgiving, you couldn’t really ask for anything better.”

You can see that ND’s on the precipice of a breakout year. The Lancers got contributions from four freshman skill position players– especially running back Hakim Fleming.Junior quarterback Matt Moffat also looked good as the game progressed, a fact not lost on Dicks.

“I’m happy for him,” Dicks said. “He shows up first all the time … and tonight … he was poised in the pocket … it was good to see him lead out there.”

I’ll save Prep’s synopses for last, and I’ll start with American football.

The Jesuits were beaten by West Haven on Thursday, 24-7. Give them credit for competing with a top-flight SCC team for four quarters and for a 6-4 record.

There is certainly positive spin to this story. Prep had not been better than .500 since 2007.

But, I’m sure no one affiliated with that program is satisfied with the outcome.

Prep was 5-1 before losing three of its final four. I could’ve seen a loss to West Haven as the Jesuits’ lone obstacle, but losses to ND-West Haven and Amity doomed their renaissance year.

Meanwhile, Prep soccer was Fairfield’s best team this fall.

Norwalk's Nacho Navarro returned just in time to beat Will Steiner and Fairfield Prep, 2-0, on Friday in New Canaan.

The Jesuits were only squad to win an outright championship and also were the only team to reach a state final. Prep fell to Norwalk– arguably the state’s best team– on Friday.

This batch of Prep seniors exits as the two-time defending SCC champion, and are the only team to ever reach the state finals.

And the underclassmen are hungry and talented — and well-coached — enough to make a run next year.

Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper organization. Follow him on Twitter here.

Categories: General

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