Notre Dame-West Haven will visit West Haven on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ken Strong Stadium on the campus of West Haven High in the annual renewal of one of the state’s best rivalries.
The game is normally intense despite each team’s record entering the contest. West Haven (3-1) has won three straight since losing to Greenwich in its season opener. The Westies shook off a slow start against Guilford by scoring 35 points in the second half en route to a 42-14 victory. West Haven trailed in that contest 14-7 at halftime.
“We didn’t play real well (in the first half),” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “That kid (Guilford quarterback) Joe Nault is a good player. They’re a good team offensively. We thought we were ready to play but tip the hat to Guilford, they do a lot of good things, and they’re going to win a lot of games in (SCC) Division II.”
Senior running back Ervin Philips and senior quarterback Duane Gary combined to rush for 259 yards and four touchdowns in the win, while senior linebacker Jesse Ridgway returned an interception for a touchdown.
McCarthy collected his 319th career victory, and needs just two more wins to tie the state record set by former Ledyard coach Bill Mignault.
Notre Dame (1-3), meanwhile, is coming off an overtime loss to Ridgefield. The Green Knights hope to have senior running back Cam Tucker back after Tucker missed that contest with a sprained left ankle, but it’s still uncertain if Tucker will return at this point.
Still, expect the game to be highly competitive.
“This is my 31st year at West Haven, and we’ve played a lot of tough teams, but every single year the most physical game is this game,” McCarthy said. “It’s a real rivalry game. It’s going to be another battle. We know we have to play extremely well to win.”
The leadup to the game has been more about football, though.
Both teams held fundraisers to promote the recently established Soderman Bowl, the name now given to the annual game. The teams collected donations for the Wounded Warrior Project, and proceeds from advanced ticket sales will go toward programs that assist local vets.
The bowl game is also named after well-known West Haven soldier William Soderman, who won the Medal of Honor for his service in Belgium in 1944, and is the brain child of the West Haven Football Alumni Association, according to a press release sent by the city. Athletes and the alumni association hope the game will not only raise funds for vets, but also bring awareness to the Wounded Warrior Project and challenges soldiers face when coming home.
A “fill the helmet” fundraiser conducted by the alumni association, the Blue Devils and Sikorsky and Bank of America employees, who are assisting with the entire effort, raised more than $2,500 last month. The donation will be made to the Wounded Warrior Project in the name of hometown soldier Army Spc. Sean Pesce.
West Haven High cheerleaders also sold shirts and hats to benefit Pesce. Pesce, a city native and 2011 West Haven High School graduate wounded in action in Afghanistan nearly a year ago, has spent the past 11 months recovering. His family is looking to make renovations in their home so it can accommodate Pesce’s wheelchair when he comes home.
For more information on the veterans initiative or to donate, contact email@example.com.
LAW CHARITY DRIVE
Law is hosting a toiletry drive for the military at its home game against East Haven on Friday at 7 p.m. Members of the military will be in attendance to present the colors and to participate in a pre-game ceremony. Law will be wearing special camouflage uniforms.
Suggested personal size items include toothpaste, razors, soap, shampoo, sanitizer, towelettes, bug repellent and moisturizer. In addition, comfort items, such as playing cards, crossword books, candy and freeze dried coffee are also suggested.
Any fan that donates one or more items will receive a $1 discount on their game ticket. Members of the military can enter free with a military ID.
For more information, contact Law coach Mark Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.