Eric Babarito coached Hillhouse High to a pair of football state championships in 2002 and 2006. So he is a part of the fabric of a long history of terrific athletic programs in the Elm City.
Barbarito is also the resident historian when it comes to the city series between Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross — and not just in football. The long history of this Elm City rivalry celebrated its centennial anniversary last year.
Year No. 101 is the first time that Hillhouse and Cross — the No. 1 and 2 teams in CIAC state championships won (Hllhouse with 24, Cross with 14) — didn’t play one another due to COVID-19 quarantine situations.
“We have a storied history people didn’t know about. So I started looking into the schools and seeing how successful we were through the years,” said Barbarito, an assistant principal at Hillhouse. “In college football, you see the media guides with the program’s entire history. Why can’t high schools have that?”
Hillhouse (2-5) was forced to miss five regular season games due to being in COVID quarantine twice. Both times, the quarantine period started right before both scheduled games against Cross (7-3). The first was on Feb. 22, and that game was eventually canceled.
Then, Hillhouse had to not only cancel its regular-season finale against Cross on Monday, but also withdraw from the SCC Division I tournament beginning this week.
Wilbur Cross opened as Commercial High for the 1920-21 school year. According to Barbarito, the two schools have played 227 games — several during the postseason — with Hillhouse leading the series 121-106.
Commercial was renamed Wilbur Cross for the 1949-50 school year.
Barbarito, 51, said the process didn’t take long to compile since the school yearbooks have many of the boys basketball results. Whatever he was missing he got from the local newspaper at the city’s public library.
That’s a good thing because Barbarito said his laptop computer was stolen in 2013. He had written down a lot of his information so he was able to redo the basketball series rather quickly.
Barbarito said the two football programs played every year except 1943 (no reason given) and 2020 (COVID pandemic canceled the season). Outside of a few games here and there, Barbarito said he has every high school football score since 1950.
Another project Barbarito is working on is the Hillhouse Wall of Fame. He intends to have newspaper clippings of every single state championship Hillhouse has won in every sport along the walls outside of the school gym. The pandemic set him back, so completion of that project may not happen until 2022.
“ When you walk down the hallway, you will see a nice history, like the banners in our gym.”