Jeff Bevino has now won 34 games in his eight seasons as the head coach at Foran but perhaps none were bigger than the Lions’ 34-6 victory over Hillhouse this past Friday.
The win helped Foran improve to 5-2 and stay in the hunt for a Class M playoff berth.
“It was our signature win since I’ve been here,” said Bevino, who guided the Lions to the SCC Division II East title in 2008.
The victory was an impressive one for several reasons. It was the first time that the Lions defeated Hillhouse under Bevino’s watch. The Academics won the previous three meetings over Foran during Bevino’s tenure.
Hillhouse, the defending Class M state champion, has one of the state’s best running backs on their roster in senior Harold Cooper. Foran, though, limited Cooper to just 14 yards on 17 carries.
Bevino credits his assistant coaches Jim Esposito, Mark Manning and Garrett Walker with getting the defense prepared to face an athlete like Cooper.
“They (the coaches) worked so hard and spent so much time on it,” Bevino said. “Our defense did a tremendous job of corralling that kid. It was a phenomenal effort on our part. I can’t praise them enough.”
While Foran has a potent offense led by quarterback Jake Kasuba and a slew of receivers, the Lions’ defense has steadily improved. Foran surrendered 57 and 35 points in losses to West Haven and Shelton, respectively, but has allowed just 14 points in its five wins.
Leading the defense has been senior linebacker Anthony Kopatch, senior lineman Anthony Melendez, senior defensive back Sam Olsson, senior lineman Colin Lydiksen and junior linebacker Dave McLenithan.
“It hasn’t been just one kid,” Bevino said. “All of them had a tremendous game (against Hillhouse). This was the first time in a long time that our defense was the difference. It was a tremendous win against a very good football team.”
Lyman Hall gets elusive first victory
When Rob Marone was hired as the head coach at Lyman Hall last season he knew it might take some time to turn the Trojans into contenders.
With a young and inexperienced team, Lyman Hall did not win a game last season, going 0-10.
“As a coaching staff, we knew who we were and we knew how it was going to be,” Marone said. “No one was predicting 0-10, but we knew we weren’t going to the state championship.”
Entering this season, Marone believed Lyman Hall would be improved due to a strong off-season and the on field experience gained by last year’s underclassmen.
The schedule, though, wasn’t exactly forgiving. The Trojans suffered a three-point loss to Fairfield Ludlowe in the season opener, the first of six straight losses to open the season. Lyman Hall also lost to SCC Division I programs Cheshire and Amity as well as to competitive SCC Division II teams Guilford, Hillhouse and Foran.
But Lyman Hall finally earned that elusive victory when it defeated East Haven 22-14 this past Friday to snap a 16-game losing streak. The Trojans last won against rival Sheehan on Thanksgiving in the season finale in 2011.
“Obviously it was an amazing feeling,” Marone said. “It was nice to get that first one out of the way. We knew it was going to happen, but when the losses were piling up, we just didn’t know when it would happen. It was a nice feeling for the kids and a feeling of relief for myself.”
The Trojans, though, remained optimistic despite their recent woes. Marone credited that to the strong leadership from senior captains Lucas Furgalack, a wide receiver and free safety and fullback/linebacker Dan Calcagni.
Despite averaging just more than 15 points per game, Lyman Hall has some talented skill players, including 6-foot-2, 200 pound junior quarterback Kyle Smith.
“He’s such a phenomenal young man,” Marone said. “He’s very mature. We don’t have a history of a 6-2, 6-3 quarterback coming through Lyman Hall so when you have a kid like that it’s special.”
Smith has completed 64 of 139 passes for 881 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s mobile, running for 156 yards and one score.
“He can throw a heck of a ball,” Marone said, “and it’s nice to have him be able to run the ball a little, too. We go as Kyle goes.”
Lyman Hall hired Ron Carbone, a former head coach at Derby, Ansonia, Hamden and Hamden Hall, as its offensive coordinator. But with just one returning starter on the offensive line, the offense is still a work in progress.
“We have a young offensive line,” Marone said. “The run just hasn’t been there this year. It’s been difficult to put it all on Kyle’s shoulders, but he’s done a great job.”
Junior Koby Mensah leads the team with 73 carries for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Justin Brown, who missed the previous three games, rushed for 86 yards in the victory over East Haven. Brown has also caught 12 passes for 119 yards this season.
Senior Jerry Rodriguez has a caught a team-best 22 passes for 414 yards and three touchdowns, while Furgalack has chipped in with 17 catches for 230 yards and one touchdown.
Lyman Hall’s schedule gets a bit easier with games remaining against Branford (0-6) on Friday followed by Hyde (4-3), Law (1-5) and Sheehan (2-5).
“I’m happy with the direction we’re headed in,” Marone said.
Lyman Hall recently raised money for The Sister’s Project, a Wallingford-based charity that supports local cancer patients and their families.
Prior to kickoff against Branford, the football team, cheerleading squad, and band will present a check in the amount of $2,000 to The Sister’s Project.
Last year, Lyman Hall raised $600 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.