Jim Bransfield: Middletown, Xavier football have big weekend tests

MIDDLETOWN>>The headline game this weekend is an early season match between Bristol Eastern and Middletown. Not only is it the only game in town all weekend, it’s the first real test for MHS as both teams come in undefeated.

Some 20 miles or so down the turnpike, there’s another big game as Xavier takes on unbeaten Hamden. Highly-regarded Wesleyan University hits the road Saturday, taking on Hamilton in New York.

Bristol Eastern (2-0) at Middletown (2-0)

Rosek-Skubel Stadium

Middletown High School

Friday night at 7

Bristol Eastern comes in with wins over Berlin (21-14) and Hartford Public (17-7). Middletown has wins over East Lyme (41-14) and Wethersfield (28-0).

“The thing that impresses me most about Eastern is they come off the ball very well,” said Middletown High coach Sal Morello. “They mostly run the ball – they have a very good running back – and while they don’t throw a lot, they are very efficient throwing the ball.”

Morello said his team comes in healthy, but also said that the Blue Dragons have to improve on the performance they turned in against Wethersfield last week.

“We will have to limit penalties and take care of the football,” said Morello. “We can’t let their offense stay on the field with silly penalties. If we do, Eastern is a good team and they will make us pay.”

The pick: MIDDLETOWN

Xavier (1-1) at Hamden (2-0)

Hamden High School

Friday night at 7

Make no mistake, this is a pivotal game for the Falcons.

“Things can turn with this game,” said Xavier coach Sean Marinan. “If we show up and play the way we are capable, we can win the game. But we have to execute on both sides of the ball. They run a lot of option, so we have to know what our assignments are defensively.

“We have a lot of inexperience and I don’t think the kids appreciate how the little things add up to big things. We made too many mistakes against North Haven. If we lose here, things can fall apart.”

Hamden has wins over Danbury (26-10) and East Haven (45-0).

“Hamden is 2-0 for the first time in a while and they are feeling pretty good about themselves,” said Marinan. “Their tailback is pretty good, their receivers can fly and the quarterback is not bad. They’re improved. We’ll see how much.”

The pick: XAVIER.

Coventry (0-2) at Haddam-Killingworth (0-2)

H-K High School

Friday night at 6:30

“We’re young and inexperienced,” said H-K coach Dennis O’Rourke. “Last week [a loss at Nonnewaug] we played four sophomores and a freshman on defense. We have only four seniors and we’ve had injuries. So it’s been tough.

O’Rourke said that Coventry is very big.

“They run smash-mouth football, so we will need a great game from our kids to compete with their size,” O’Rourke said.

The pick: COVENTRY.

Cromwell (1-1) at Ellington/Somers (1-1)

Ellington High School

Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Ellington/Somers opened its season with a 46-14 win over Stafford/East Windsor, then lost a tough one, 14-6 to North Branford.

“(Ellington’s) big, physical and fast,” said Cromwell coach Chris Eckert. “That’s a bad combination for us. They are experienced at multiple positions, play good defense and run to the ball well.”

Having made Ellington sound like the Denver Broncos, he turned to his own team.

“We had a very good week of practice,” he said. “There was much more enthusiasm after our win and the kids know they can’t afford another hiccup if they want to be playing in December. We’re healthy and ready to play.”

The pick: ELLINGTON.

Vinal Tech/East Hampton (1-1) at Bullard-Havens Tech (1-1)

Bridgeport

Saturday at noon

The Bellhawks are in a much better mood after their win over Wolcott Tech in Torrington last Saturday. But in Bullard-Havens, EHVT is taking on a club that blanked Abbott Tech 24-0, and Abbott hammered the Bellhawks opening night.

The pick: BULLARD-HAVENS.

Valley Regional and Coginchaug have this weekend off.

Last week: 3-4. Season record: 7-7.

Further Reading

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