CANTON >> For most of the season, the Canton High football team has played on tiny West Field in the shadow of its new home only a few hundred feet away. The center of the West Field is worn out and dirty. But it has been home for the Warriors since 2008.
Canton plans to play its home finale on Friday night against Lewis Mills on the new artificial turf surface at 6:30 p.m. It will the first-ever night football game in town and Canton will use portable lights to illuminate the field.
Should someone go wrong, the game can be played at West Field. But school officials are hopeful that Canton (5-3, 3-1 Pequot West) can play Lewis Mills (2-6, 1-3 Pequot West) on Friday night on the new field.
Friends of Canton Football, which funds the football and girls lacrosse program, will be paying for the rental of the lights and portable bleachers. They have secured a portable scoreboard from Ethel Walker School in Simsbury for the game.
The $3.6 million project to reconfigure the school’s parking lot and construct the multi-sport artificial turf field and an eight-lane track and field complex did not include funds for a scoreboard or any bleachers. Construction began in June on the facility.
The parking lot was complete in time for the beginning of school in August but it was taken most of the fall to complete the field and track.
According to the Canton Patch, the town will be using surplus funds from the project to install a scoreboard. Fundraising will need to continue to construct permanent bleachers at the site.
It will be Senior Night on Friday for the Warriors with ceremonies beginning at 6 p.m.
After getting off to a 4-1 start, Canton has lost two of its last three games against tough competition. Tony Ortiz ran for a career-high 297 yards as Gilbert/Northwestern beat the Warriors, 28-15 three weeks ago.
After a dominant 41-6 victory over winless Haddam-Killingworth, Ellington/Somers earned a hard-fought 26-14 win over the Warriors last week. Canton had hopes of earning a spot in the Class S tournament but that loss will make it difficult.
Teams need to finish in the top eight of the playoff rankings and Canton has slipped to No. 16. Even if Canton can win its final three games to close out the season, the Warriors would need a lot of help.
Against Ellington/Somers, Canton took an early 6-0 lead on a 63-yard drive with Dan Delos scoring from the 1-yard line. In the second quarter, Ellington tied the game on an 86-yard drive, converting three times on fourth down. Christian Schneider scored on a six-yard TD run.
Canton took a 14-6 lead with 2:29 left in the second quarter with seven-yard TD run. Cam Daley returned a kickoff 31 yards and caught a 54-yard pass from QB Eric Scott on the next play to set up the scoring opportunity. Scott scored on a two-point conversion run.
Ellington scored with seconds left in the half on a four-yard touchdown pass from QB Joe Lesile (11-of-18, 100 yards) to Mark Hickman. The conversion run failed, giving Canton a 14-12 halftime lead.
It was a tough second half for Canton, who fumbled the ball away twice. When Scott was stripped of the ball at midfield, Hickman scored three plays later on a 30-yard run to put the Purple Knights ahead, 20-14.
Early in the fourth quarter, Canton drove the ball to the Ellington 28-yard line but was stopped just short on a fourth down pass play from Scott to Daley.
Trailing by six, Canton had one more opportunity late in the fourth quarter. Facing fourth down and 1 on its own 36, Delos was stopped for no gain. Ellington took over and scored a few plays later to ice the contest.
Lewis Mills has won two of its last three games but one was a forfeit win over Housatonic/Wamogo. Max Stone is the catalyst for the Mills offense. The senior ran for 97 yards in a loss to Granby and 111 yards and three TDs in a win over Stafford/East Windsor. Sophomore QB Lucas Lanning has thrown for over 500 yards and 8 touchdown passes.
Final home game for Avon, Murphy
AVON >> The stellar football career for All-State linebacker Jimmy Murphy and 12 other seniors at Avon High are coming to an end. The Falcons will play their final home game of the season on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Cromwell.
The young Panthers (4-4) have lost three straight games. Valley Regional/Old Lyme dominated in a 49-2 decision a week ago but Cromwell dropped a 20-7 game to Enfield and was upset by Sport Medicine Science Academy, 36-19.
In the first six games of the season, sophomore QB Mavric Pelletier threw for over 1,200 yards with eight touchdown passes. The leading rusher was freshman Kristian Saap and sophomore Jarius Bailey. The leading tackler is Mersad Zilkic.
Avon (6-3) had little trouble with Haddam-Killingworth a week ago, winning 41-24. Murphy ran for 166 yards and two TDs while senior QB Noah Hahn threw three touchdown passes. Senior John Burdick made two field goals (28, 21 yards) and scored 11 points in the game with five successful extra points.
Murphy has rushed for 19 touchdowns this season while Hahn had thrown 19 touchdown passes. Dylan Marquis has caught 7 TD passes while Justin Reichler has pulled in six TD receptions.
Avon’s last game against Cromwell was in 2009 and it was one of the most exciting games in school history. Avon Football Online called it the most exciting game of the decade.
The Panthers were the defending Class S champions and Avon scored two touchdowns in the final 1:15 for a 37-31 victory. The game-winning score came with no time left on the clock, a 57-yard run from Ross McDonald (26-208, 3 TDs). Avon never led until the final gun.