There are many more tragic things in life than ankle syndesmosis. Actually, there were infinitely more tragic things going on in the SCC football world last week.
But the sight of Notre Dame senior Cameran Tucker on the sidelines for Friday’s pivotal clash with Fairfield Prep was not for the faint of heart. On the first play of the contest, Tucker took a quick flare pass and was tackled by Prep’s Tony Fox for no gain. There was nothing unusual about it — it took me the rest of the series to even realize Tucker was no longer in the backfield for the Green Knights.
I turned and saw Tucker sitting on a table on the sideline, the Notre Dame training staff vigorously attempting to tape the bottom of his left leg as quickly as possible.
He bounced up, tried to run up and down the sidelines, but it was obvious that the left leg was in some serious pain and discomfort.
As Tucker went back to the trainer’s table for another attempt to change the tape, Stephen Walsh was intercepting an ND pass and Prep was grabbing a 7-0 lead through Nicholas Crowle.
Again, the Green Knights went three-and-out, and the second attempt to repair Tucker’s ankle also proved unsuccessful, leaving him sitting there. The ND student section — which had come out in large numbers for the big game — started a “Cam-rin-Tuck-er” chant, but even it had no magical healing effects.
Before Notre Dame could even adjust, Prep scored two more touchdowns in 15 seconds, one on offense and one on defense, making it 21-0. By then, Tucker’s helmet was off, and it appeared he might be done for the evening. Family members came down to console him, and when they did, Tucker couldn’t hold back the tears, at least temporarily.
The diagnosis of ankle syndesmosis is a familiar one to football players, better known to you and me as a high ankle sprain. But although common, it is still mysterious. While most players do not miss entire seasons due to it, the dreaded high ankle sprain has been known to linger for weeks and months, and at a position like running back that features all kinds of cuts and changes of direction, who knows what the future holds?
There is a finality about the senior year of high school athletics for most of the players we see week in and week out. There are no red-shirts, there are no fifth-years granted due to circumstances beyond the athlete’s control.
The Green Knights were given a quick burst of life when Drew Arciuolo ran an interception back for a touchdown to cut the Prep lead to 21-8, but by halftime it was 35-8, and 3 minutes into the second half, the Jesuits advantage had ballooned to a seemingly absurd 49-8. Even if Tucker, who had tried one more time late in the first half to re-tape the ankle and see if it just might work, were healthy, certainly he wouldn’t be used much at this point.
Of course, it’s absurd to think that one player could make a 41-point difference in a football game, no matter how talented Tucker is. Prep dominated the line of scrimmage from the opening kickoff, and appears to be taking a page from the Xavier playbook of a few years back, just using their sheer size and strength to overwhelm opponents. They didn’t complete a single pass, yet rolled.
Everyone hopes Tucker is back this Friday night for a big non-conference clash with Ridgefield. Everyone (at least the neutrals in the matter) wants Tucker at 100 percent for the second half of his senior season, his final one.
You’ll hear plenty the rest of the way about the most successful players in the SCC (and the state), even in the Internet world, there’s not enough time and space to give all the kids the proper due for the work they put in on a daily basis and on Friday nights. There are surely other less-heralded players than Tucker who are battling both nagging and season-ending injuries (in the preseason, I briefly mentioned K.C. Horton of Guilford, who can certainly identify).
Quite frankly, they stink. But so does life sometimes, doesn’t it?
RIP MATTHEW JACQUES
Devastating news out of North Haven last week, as 6-year-old Matthew Jacques died from complications of a heart transplant last month. Most of you reading this will know that Jacques was the child whom the North Haven football team allowed to participate in their spring game to bring attention to his plight (a congenital heart defect).
The Jacques family got its donor in New York in August, and Matthew seemed to be improving, but even with modern technology, transplanting the most major of all the organs can be extremely dangerous. Chip Malafronte of the Register covered all the major points of the inspirational young boy extremely well, but it’s yet another lesson about the role sports can play in bringing not only a community, but an entire region, together, even in the most tragic of circumstances.
The Surf Club is again open for business, and while (even with turf) it looked great, its tenants had an extremely lackluster first half, needing a trick play of sorts (hook-and-lateral) to grab the lead against Wilbur Cross before finally coming to life in the second half of a 35-19 win. Still, they know it will have to be much, much better this week against North Haven… As expected, North Haven rolled over East Haven 54-28 in a game that was 54-7 with 6 minutes remaining. Sabrina Fronte proved she is not perfect, missing the first extra point of the night, but recovered to convert on the next five, making her an impressive 17-for-18 of the season through three weeks… Hillhouse ran for 546 yards against Jonathan Law, with 341 of them coming from Harold Cooper (see Player of Week) as the Academics cruised to their first win of the season, 41-14… West Haven was in a bit of trouble against Cheshire in the first half, when Platt Tech transfer Zatrell Lyons made his first big impact on the Westies season, running a kickoff back 75 yards for a touchdown, and the Blue Devils never looked back, cruising to a 48-20 rout, one of many lopsided scores again this week in the SCC… Amity made it interesting against Shelton, but the Gaels, possibly the only SCC contender with a legitimate passing attack still won rather comfortably, 49-30. Junior Mark Piccirillo finished 16-of-22 for 240 yards, and the rushing attack followed suit, Jason Thompson running 18 times for 211 yards. Amity opened things up in the second half, allowing Fairfield Prep transfer David Ryan to put up some fairly gaudy stats: 24-of-44 for 330 yards and four touchdowns. That will help his SCC fantasy stats, certainly… Xavier had little trouble with Hamden, recovering from its North Haven loss with a 33-0 blanking of the Dragons, who finished with only 28 total yards… Foran and Sheehan disappointingly only combined for 55 points, which I guess means you have to give plenty of credit to the Lions defense. Jake Kasuba threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns in the victory… After some lightning and heat in the first week of the season, the weather has been gorgeous, and is expected to remain that way through next week. Surely, that might mean trouble for Thanksgiving and beyond, no?… If you haven’t yet, follow me on Twitter at currenscc.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Harold Cooper, Hillhouse — Cooper ran 15 times for 341 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-14 win over Jonathan Law and moved all the way up to sixth all-time in Connecticut history in career rushing yards, passing former Ansonia star Montrell Dobbs. It will take a while to catch fifth (Bloomfield’s Andrew Pinnock), but he still has at least eight games remaining. Remember, Cooper had to leave the opener against Darien, let’s hope Cameran Tucker has the same kind of speedy recovery.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
With all the talk of Fronte, it’s gone a bit unnoticed that the two highest point totals by kickers in SCC history were set last season, and both kickers are back in 2013. Hand’s Tyler Pham scored 68 points, including three field goals in Hand’s state championship run a year ago, while Amity’s Lyle Luth had seven field goals en route to his 57 points. They both could be factors by the end of this season.
GAME OF THE WEEK
North Haven at Hand, Friday, 7 p.m. — From the “new world order” section of the proceedings, the Indians will go to the new-and-improved Surf Club as prohibitive favorites based on the first three weeks of the season. But maybe that’s right where Hand wants them? I can remember covering a North Haven-Hand game in Madison not so long ago where I marveled at the room I had to wander the sidelines on the visiting side because the Indians had so few players. Won’t be the case on Friday night.
- 1. North Haven (3-0; Last Week 1)— How will the Indians handle the role of being the hunted? We shall see.
- 2. Shelton (3-0; LW 2)—Slightly concerned about defense in second half against Amity. Tests are coming soon.
- 3. Xavier (2-1; LW 3)—Had more points than Hamden had yards. That’s the old-school Falcons we knew.
- 4. Fairfield Prep (2-1; LW 5)—Look like they’re taking the Xavier approach of manhandling people.
- 5. West Haven (2-1; LW 4)—Should keep in mind that Westies always much better at end than beginning of season.
- 6. Hand (2-1; LW 6)—Right now, a massive drop between 5 and 6 here. Could change quickly on Friday.
- 7. Hillhouse (1-2; LW 11)—Like West Haven, may get better with time this season, but Xavier awaits.
- 8. Cheshire (1-2; LW 7)—A lot like last season, look decent, but not a heck of a lot for teams above them.
- 9. Amity (2-1; LW 9)—Was the second half a sign of Spartans finding something or Shelton letting up?
- 10. Hamden (2-1; LW 10)—Dragons were always going to have trouble, better tests for them coming soon.
- 11. Foran (2-1; LW 12)—Doing what they do against Division II, do they have in them to scare Shelton?
- 12. Guilford (1-2; LW 13)—Would say they might go on a run here, but trip to West Haven up next.
- 13. Notre Dame (1-2; LW 8)—Without Tucker things will probably be very, very difficult, starting this week.
- 14. Wilbur Cross (1-2; LW 15)—Good performance from Governors last week. Can they build on it?
- 15. Sheehan (1-2; LW 14)—Scored 60+ on Trinity Catholic in Week 1, but haven’t really found offense since.
- 16. East Haven (1-2; LW 16)—Cross next, have to survive the first half of the season to make headway.
- 17. Jonathan Law (0-3; LW 17)—Still might have some wins for them in Division II, had a tough schedule .
- 18. Branford (0-3; LW 18)—Speaking of tough schedules: Prep, Guilford, North Haven in the next three weeks.
- 19. Lyman Hall (0-3; LW 19)—Better days should be ahead for Trojans as well, tough opening schedule.
- State football beat: NFA thrilled with Week 4 test vs. Glastonbury
- SWC beat: Shaban, Barlow hope to reach next level
- FCIAC beat: Defense, run game key for unbeaten McMahon
- Ray Curren’s Inside the SCC: Tucker injury deals blow to ND-West Haven
- Mike Pucci’s football beat: Comeback has O’Brien Tech believing
- GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 poll
- Day of New London Top 10 coaches poll