Jim Bransfield: Loss doesn’t hurt Middletown football

Bulletin: The world did not end with Middletown’s loss at New London Friday night.

In fact, MHS dropped just one spot, from second to third, in the CIAC Class L playoff ratings. But the loss — a 23-21 heartbreaker in which the Blue Dragons had three touchdowns called back, including a game -wrapping TD that would have given then a 28-14 lead with 6 minutes left — makes things much more interesting — and dramatic for the Blue Dragons.

There were a staggering 17 penalties called against MHS and while Morello would say nothing about the officiating on or off the record, let’s just say that some think it was a bit erratic. But 17 penalties is 17 penalties and as Morello has said, good teams can’t do that.

All that aside, the Blue Dragons, who are banged up, control their own destiny. A win at Simsbury Friday, which Morello said will not be easy, and a win over Windsor Thanksgiving Eve and MHS will not only be in the playoffs, but will likely play a home game in the first round on Dec. 3.

“We have so much to play for,” said Morello. “The playoffs, a home playoff game and a league championship. We lost a football game, but the sun came up Saturday morning and now we get ready for Simsbury.”

The loss showed just how hard it is to go undefeated in any sport. In Middletown’s three state champions, the Dragons were undefeated just once in 1984. When MHS picked up New London in the off-season, it was widely regarded as a very good pickup of a perennial power. Got that right, huh?

That New London has won five in a row and is now No. 8 in the Class L playoff ratings is just another addition to the powerful division Class L is this year. Besides their own team, Middletown fans need to pay attention to how Naugatuck, Darien, North Haven, New London, Bristol Eastern, Hand and Windsor do the rest of the way.

It looks like undefeated New Canaan and undefeated Platt — which interestingly plays almost an exclusively Class S and M schedule — will finish 1 and 2 in L. To get a home game, a team must finish in the top four.

PALMER FIELD MIRACLE

I thought Xavier looked about as dead as a team could look early in the fourth quarter against Shelton Friday night. Down 12-0, the Gaels looked in complete control in a game in which the loser could start planning for next year. But that’s what I thought when Xavier played Hillhouse in New Haven last year and we all know what happened there.

The comeback, an amazing, glorious comeback, gives the Falcons a chance to nail down a playoff berth this Saturday night when they play at Fairfield Prep (7-2). The Jesuits are in the same boat as the Falcons: must win the game.

That Xavier — or any high school team — could drive 98 yards in two and half minutes to win with 9 seconds left in the game with no times out may not really be a miracle. But it’s close. Great drive, great win.

Prep not only has Xavier at home, it hosts once-beaten West Haven on Thanksgiving. The permutations of the playoff system — which would challenge Stephen Hawking — is that even if Xavier loses Saturday, it still might sneak in. Without getting into all the possibilities, Xavier fans should pay attention to what Brien McMahon, Ridgefield, Staples and Trumbull do.

And then, they might have to sit home on Thanksgiving and watch and wait.

But first things first. A win Saturday night at a tough place to play, is crucial. For both Middletown and Xavier, it’s a lot of fun, isn’t it? Or is that feeling agony?

TRINITY: THE ROADBLOCK

Need more proof on how hard it is to go unbeaten? Take a look at what Trinity did to previously unbeaten Wesleyan Saturday. In case you’ve been visiting Neptune, the Bantams blasted the Cardinals 40-10 and yes, Virginia, it was that bad.

But in the longer view, what Mike Whalen has done in four years on the hill is remarkable. Wesleyan has been, at best, a middle of the road NESCAC team for a long time. Records of 3-5, 4-4, 2-6 were commonplace. Amherst, Williams and Trinity beat Wesleyan like the proverbial drum.

While the Cards haven’t figured out how to beat Trinity, they beat both Amherst and Williams this year to win the Little Three. With a boatload of players coming back, including MIddletown High’s Devon Carrillo, Xavier’s Kris Luster, and Coginchaug’s Alec Corazzini, Wesleyan figures to be better next year.

By the way, Whalen said that he will continue the Middletown Community Day game next year, this time with Amherst. And he plans to invite the Middetown High School band to perform at the game.

Just need to beat Trinity.

SPEAKING OF UNDEFEATED…

Xavier’s soccer team has reached the Final Four in Class LL undefeated. The Falcons play once-beaten Ridgefield in Newtown Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Interesting that Xavier is sent to play at Newtown, which is just across the street from Ridgefield.

But a soccer field is a soccer field is a soccer field. If Xavier wins, it will play for the state championship on Saturday. For that, I figure if they sent my team to the moon to play, that’s OK.

MERCY IN SEMIS TODAY

Mercy’s soccer team is also in the Class LL semifinals and the Tigers play undefeated Suffield today at 4 p.m. at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at Middletown High. Interesting also that while MHS is technically a neutral site, Suffield can’t be delighted in having to play in Mercy’s home town.

But, you know, a soccer field is a soccer field ….

MHS will host Coventry vs. Portland in a girls Class S soccer semi at 6 p.m. following the Mercy game. Middletown High will also host another semifinal game between Tolland and Waterford on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and a boys soccer semifinal between Suffield and Plainville Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at The Stadium.

Also on the 13th, Valley Regional’s boys play Bolton at 6:30 p.m. in Montville and Old Lyme plays Cromwell the same day at 6:30 p.m. in Guilford.

NFL: THUGS ARE US

I’ve had it with the National Football League and the macho garbage that goes with it. Mike Golic on the ESPN Mike and Mike in the Morning Show went into a rant about how, essentially, ya gotta stand up and fight, saying that is what Jonathan Martin should have done with that creep Richie Incognito.

Nonsense.

No one should ever put with the race-baiting, insulting, threatening garbage that Incognito passed out. I thought Shannon Sharp’s emotional condemnation of Incognito and his ilk on the CBS NFL Sunday morning show was right on point. Everybody, everywhere, should be safe in their workplace. Miami Dolphins’ coach Joe Philbin’s pathetic, stone-walling TV appearance the other day was almost nausea-producing.

Enough of this manly-man stuff. Fighting is wrong. Insults about one’s race, religion, orientation are always wrong, all the time. Bullying and hazing are idiotic at any level.

What makes a man? Being responsible. Obeying the law. Providing for those who depend on you. Respecting all persons despite differences. Raising children, if you are a husband, with love, caring and affection.

My son is a man’s man and is setting a wonderful example for his children..

Anderson Cooper, the brilliant news reporter on CNN, who risks his life by going to where the wars and dangers are, is an openly gay man. He is 9000 times the man Richie Incognito ever thought of being.

Too many Richie Incognitos. too many Ndamukong Suhs, too many players getting arrested — nearly 40 in the off-season of the NFL — for my tastes. The big-time football college factories are just as bad. If the guy can play football, too many schools look the other way so they can win games, fill their stadiums, and make zillions of TV money. Too often they take players with terrible histories and who have trouble writing their names. Gotta win games for, well, you can fill in the college’s names.

Enough. Give me the high schools, give me Wesleyan and Yale football. You can keep the NFL, its college minor-league system and its manly-men.

HERE AND THERE

Xavier alumnus Tucker Landy is co-captain of the Dickinson College basketball team … he was co-captain of the Xavier team and his Dickinson team will play in the Herb Kenny Tip-off tournament at Wesleyan this Friday and Saturday … Wesleyan will play the Coast Guard Academy at 6 p.m. Friday and that will be followed by the Dickinson vs. Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts (MCLA) at 8 … the two losing teams will play Saturday at 1 p.m. with the winners playing at 3 p.m. …B.J. Davis, a teammate of Landy at Xavier, plays for Wesleyan.

Middletown High will host two state championship soccer games Saturday at Rosek-Skubel Stadium … the State Open girls diving championships will be held at the Baldwin-Parmelee pool at MHS on Friday… MHS AD Mike Pitruzzello said that the school has also been chosen as the site for a semifinals football playoff game Saturday, Dec. 7 and two, and perhaps three, state championship track meets this spring.

“This events are an economic benefit to us,” said Pitruzzello. “The CIAC rents the facility, plus they pay all our workers. But the best thing is the money from the concession stand goes to our kids.” … 2,610 devices were tuned into the cnxradio.com broadcast of the Xavier vs. Shelton game.

Coginchaug, now 6-2, is very much in the Class S playoff picture … coach John Bozzi’s team is No. 8 in he Class S ratings and has a huge game with North Branford this weekend … it just might be that Coginchaug’s playoff bid will come down to its Thanksgiving Day game with Cromwell … undefeated Valley Regional is a lock for the Class M playoffs and will likely end up being ranked No. 1.

David Sonsky, the senior at Xavier who is the team’s statistician, took himself out of the on-field pre-game introductions on senior night Friday night at Xavier … he told me 30 minutes before the game he’d rather take a pass … but he’s not getting away without recognition here. The kid does as good a job as any statistician from any high school I’ve seen … he’s as cool and unflappable as they come and more than once has saved me by telling me who carried the ball and how many yards were gained … he never gets caught up cheering for the Falcons … does his job like a pro … David Sonski, you’re No. 1.

I feel bad for Tim Boyle, the former Xavier quarterback now playing for the God-awful UConn football team. His numbers are not good, but he is surrounded by guys who can’t play … it’s called being thrown to the wolves.

Finally, and much more important than any sport or sporting event, today is Veterans’ Day. Without what the women and men who have done in defense of our country, this column — nor any column, nor any free newspaper — would be possible.

Our veterans sacrificed parts of their lives — and some gave their lives — so they and we could be free to say what we wish, to write what we wish, to live where we want, to love whom we wish (at least in 16 states) and to select our leaders. .. we take so much of this for granted, but we shouldn’t … let’s take a minute or two to remember what this day is about and thank those people who helped to preserve our freedoms and who protected our system so that we can work to make it even better for all Americans.

Link to original article

Comments

  1. James says

    Middletown plays three so called tough games. Farmington let’s get serious new London oh brother and windsor who was humiliated in last year final. Put southingtin and glastonbury on your schedule middletown Also there has to be more to why thanksgiving game was cancelled before Xavier could even pick up another game to make up for it. Both ad agree to it sounds fishy to me. Why would x stop playing a game they dominated every year.?

  2. Tom Ryan says

    Disagree. The loss hurts! Second place ranking (Class L) is important. The only hope of defeating New Canaan (in the playoffs) is to have a full week of preparation! This Ram team is like no other I have seen (40+ years as a college & high school coach) in this State!

    • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

      @Tom Ryan – this is very, very true. Now gotta hope Platt loses to avoid potential NC semifinal matchup.

  3. Tom Ryan says

    Opps! Actually my reasoning was incorrect (discovered in a “debate” with my wife). If either the #2 or the #3 seed wins out, that team would have a full week to prepare for the NC juggernaut.

Leave a Reply