WEST HARTFORD – The atmosphere was new and the stakes were high but the result was familiar when Hall and Conard got together to battle for West Hartford supremacy Friday night.
Tom Honyotski threw three touchdown passes and Javonne Bellamy ran for two scores as Hall maintained its stranglehold on the Mayors Cup and locked up a Class LL playoff berth with a 35-7 victory over Conard at McKee Stadium.
It was the first time in its 58 years rivalry game was played under the lights but it didn’t change the Warriors’ recent run of success against their West Hartford rivals. Hall (9-1) has won three straight in the series and is headed back to the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
“We played really well and I am very proud of our kids and what we have accomplished,” Hall coach Frank Robinson said. “We made plays, especially in the second half.”
Hall led 14-0 at the half and it could have been an even bigger lead had the Warriors not hurt themselves with drops and penalties. The one constant was the Hall defense that smothered the Conard offense most of the night.
Cole Souza, Matt Houpert and Jason Gilbert keyed the effort up front, controlling Conard quarterback Ryan Bell in the running game and getting after him in passing situations. Bell was Conard’s leading rusher and entered the game with over 1,600 yards passing but was never able to get in a rhythm Friday night.
“Our defense starts up front and they did a great job,” Robinson said. “They have been playing together for a while and we ask them to do a lot of things and they really start things for us on defense.”
With the Warriors D constantly keeping the Chieftains from mounting any offense, Honyotski, Bellamy and the offense got going in the third quarter.
After a three-and-out by Conard, Hall took over at its own 38 and marched down for a score. An 18-yard pass from Honyotski to Rob Parra started the drive and then the Warriors pounded the run. Bellamy and Jordon Bell both ripped off nice runs and Bellamy blasted into the end zone from three-yards out to make it 21-0 with 6:14 left in the third.
The Warriors defense held once again and on the first play of the next drive Honyotski connected in the flat with Parra, who broke a tackle and raced 64-yards for a TD to extend the lead to 28-0 with 3:24 to play in the third.
Honyotski tossed his third TD pass of the game, a 23-yarder to Bell early in the fourth and it was 35-0. The only thing in doubt was whether or not the Warriors might manage to get a home quarterfinal when the state playoffs start next month.
“Honestly I can say I don’t look at the playoff standings, we just take it one game at a time,” Robinson said. “Tonight we left some plays out there in the first half but we regrouped and certainly made enough plays in the second half.”
The game started with a great atmosphere and a charged up crowd of somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 jammed into the bleachers and three to four deep around the fence. The 57th edition of the Mayors Cup was the first played under the lights and the Warriors provided a memorable opener.
Hall struck first and it came fast. On the first play from scrimmage Honyotski lofted a perfect ball down the Warriors sideline and hit Neil Kelley in stride for a touchdown just 14 seconds into the game.
The quick scoring strike gave Hall the momentum, but the rest of the quarter lacked fireworks and the teams played tight with the Warriors plagued by drops and a fumble and the Chieftains unable to sustain anything on offense.
“I’m proud of our kids and the effort they gave,” Conard coach Rob Cersosimo said. “Hall is a very good football team, an excellent team. They aren’t 9-1 by accident.”
The Warriors held on to the lead and then doubled it about midway through the second quarter. Hall started a drive at the Conard 44 and had a first-and-10 at the 17 after a personal foul on the Chieftains. Javonne Bellamy finished the drive going untouched up the middle for a 17-yard TD run to make it 14-0 with 6:46 left in the half.
“We came out and were able to get the lead and we made plays when we needed them,” Bellamy said. “In the second half we came out and were able to jump on them. The line blocked well, the defense got the ball back for us and we made plays.”
Hall 7 7 14 7 35
Conard 0 0 0 7 7
Hall – Tom Honyotski 65-yard pass to Neil Kelley (Honyotski kick)
Hall – Javonne Bellamy 17-yard run (Honyotski kick)
Hall – Bellamy 3-yard run (Honyotski kick)
Hall – Honyotski 64-yard pass to Rob Parra (Honyotski kick)
Hall – Honyotski 23-yard pass to Jordon Bell (Honyotski kick)
Conard – Ryan Bell 11-yard pass to Sam Hogan (Caleb LaRosa kick)