MIDDLETOWN >> The high school football season is right around the corner and peeking at our local teams’ schedules we found that Xavier plays two games at West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium and none at their sparkling new on-campus field; the Coginchaug versus Cromwell Thanksgiving Day battle is no more; defending Class S champion Valley Regional/Old Lyme makes another triumphant return to Old Lyme High School; and Middletown plays three of their last four games at rockin’ Rosek-Skubel Stadium.
And that’s just for starters.
The Vinal Tech and East Hampton co-operative team, which is also joining forces with Goodwin Tech (New Britain) this season, will technically be the first team to kick off the season when the Bellhawks host Abbott Tech/Immaculate (Danbury) on Friday, September 11 at 6 p.m. at Palmer Field.
An hour later Middletown hosts Platt, while defending Class LL champion Xavier travels to West Haven in a Southern Connecticut Conference opener that is being broadcast live (7 p.m.) by CPTV.
The Falcons return to Strong Stadium two weeks later (Saturday, Sept. 26, 2 p.m.) to play Hamden. This is a home game for the Green Dragons while their new stadium is being built.
Xavier also has a pair of interesting “intersectional” road games against Massachusetts power St. John’s-Shrewsbury and Norwich Free Academy (Oct. 17, 1 p.m., CPTV taped). The game against St. John’s will take place at Assumption College (Worcester) on Saturday, October 3 at 7 p.m.
Xavier’s long-standing tradition of playing its home games at Palmer Field – in front of the rabid “Black Hole” student section – will continue this fall. There are home dates with Amity (Sept. 18), Notre Dame (Oct. 10), Shelton (Oct. 23) and Cheshire (Nov. 6.). The game against Shelton is a rematch of last year’s thrilling Class LL-Small championship game, won by the Falcons, 28-27, in overtime.
What’s perplexing is Xavier’s decision not to host any games at its brand new campus site: a story, perhaps, for another day.
Middletown plays three of its last four games – Newington (Oct. 30), E.O. Smith (Nov. 6), Bristol Eastern (Nov. 13) – on three consecutive Friday night’s at Rosek-Skubel Stadium. These contests could have major playoff implications for the Blue Dragons, who’ve emerged as perennial Class L contenders, and should attract some big crowds. It will be Friday Night Lights at LaRosa Lane.
Middletown then travels to Windsor on Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 25) in what has become one of the top games in the Central Connecticut Conference.
The Vinal/East Hampton/Goodwin co-op will host defending Class S-Small champion Capital Prep/Achievement on Saturday, Sept. 19 (noon). The Bellhawks home game against Cheney Tech on Saturday, Oct. 10 (noon) takes place at Goodwin Tech in New Britain.
Vinal will also have a rare Thursday night (Nov. 12) contest against O’Brien Tech at Shelton’s Finn Stadium before getting two weeks off to prepare for its second Route 66 Bowl battle against Wilcox Tech at Meriden’s Falcon Field (Nov. 25).
Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s home opener against Morgan on Friday, Sept. 18 (6:30 p.m.) is one of those games that every football fan in the Tri-Town area has circled. This is Warriors first game at Deep River’s Blythe Field as state champions. Valley’s inspiring 21-20 victory over Ansonia last December in the Class S-Large championship game still reverberates along the Route 9 corridor.
Valley hosts Granby Memorial on Friday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. This Pequot Conference clash will be broadcast live on CPTV.
One of the highlights of the Warriors’ championship season was a game against Old Saybrook at Old Lyme High School. This was the first high school football contest at Old Lyme in 70 years and featured World War II veteran George C. King (Valley coach Tim King’s father) and Tim Keenan, both of whom played on Old Lyme’s last football team, being on the field for the ceremonial coin toss. King and Keenan also received the game balls after the Warriors victory.
Well, Valley Regional returns to Old Lyme on Saturday, Oct. 31 (1 p.m.) for a Pequot contest against Coginchaug.
The Warriors annual Thanksgiving Principal’s Cup battle with Haddam-Killingworth has been moved to Tuesday, Nov. 24 (6:30 p.m.) at H-K High School.
H-K’s home opener is Friday, Sept. 18 against North Branford.
Former Thanksgiving Day rivals Cromwell, which is now a co-operative program with Portland, and Coginchaug meet in the season opener for both teams on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. at Coginchaug Regional Stadium in Durham.
Coginchaug and Cromwell/Portland will also be playing different Thanksgiving opponents for the first time in eight seasons, ending a series that saw the Panthers win six of the eight games. The Blue Devils, however, took the last two games, including a 50-0 shellacking a year ago.
Coginchaug travels to Winsted on Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 26) to play Gilbert/Northwest Regional. We’ll make sure to pack a turkey sandwich for this one.
Cromwell/Portland begins an interesting non-league series with neighbors Rocky Hill also on Thanksgiving morning. The game takes place at Rocky Hill High School at 10 a.m. (Rocky Hill, Cromwell, and Portland comprise the RCP Legion baseball team that has made back-to-back World Series appearances.)
Coginchaug’s game at Canton on Saturday, Oct. 24 (1 p.m.) will be taped by CPTV for later broadcasts.
John and Judy Clark, of Middletown’s internet radio WCNX, have announced an ambitious 17-game high school football slate for the 2015 season.
The following games will be broadcast live at wcnxradio.com:
Xavier at West Haven, Sept. 11, 7 p.m.; Cromwell/Portland at Coginchaug, Sept. 12, 1 p.m.; Amity at Xavier, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.; Capital Prep at Vinal Tech, Sept. 19, noon; Xavier at Hamden, Sept. 26, 2 p.m.; Enfield at Morgan, Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m.; Notre Dame at Xavier, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.; Woodstock Academy at Vinal Tech, Oct. 16, 6 p.m.; Xavier at NFA, Oct. 17, 1 p.m.; SMSA at Cromwell/Portland, Oct. 22, 6 p.m.; Shelton at Xavier, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.; Granby at Morgan, Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m.; Coginchaug at Valley Regional/Old Lyme, Oct. 31, 1 p.m.; Cheshire at Xavier, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.; Valley Regional/Old Lyme at Old Saybrook/Westbrook, Nov. 7, 1:30 p.m.; Ellington at Morgan, Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m.; and Cromwell/Portland at Rocky Hill, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.