MIDDLETOWN >> The unquestioned headliner this weekend is tonight’s Middletown at Wethersfield game. It’s an early-season matchup of two teams expected to be among the Central Connecticut Conference’s top Class L teams.
The game also carries statewide playoff implications.
Xavier opens its home slate tonight, hosting Amity at Palmer Field as the Falcons try to bounce back from an opening week loss to West Haven. Cromwell/Portland also has its home opener tonight as the Panthers look to go 2-0, and Coginchaug, Haddam-Killingworth, Valley Regional/Old Lyme and Vinal/East Hampton/Goodwin look to even their records after opening week losses.
Middletown (1-0) vs. Wethersfield (1-0), Cottone Field, Wethersfield HS, 7 p.m. >> Middletown goes into this one as an underdog. Wethersfield knocked off Middletown last season and finished the regular season unbeaten before losing to New Canaan in the Class L playoffs.
“Wethersfield is a lot like last year,” MHS coach Sal Morello said. “It’s a well-balanced team with no real weak spots. I watched them on film and I can’t find any weaknesses.
“But do we have a chance? Yes, we do. We have to take care of the football [Middletown had no fumbles against Platt] and we have to limit our penalties. If we have 100 yards in penalties, we’ll be in trouble. We have to win the turnover battle, play well on special teams and really play better than we did against Platt.”
Middletown showed a balanced attack last week, with 197 yards passing and 193 on the ground. Wethersfield had an easy time with Farmington, blasting the Indians 33-0. For the second year in a row — the vagaries of CCC scheduling — the game is at Wethersfield.
“I’m worried about our ability to make big plays like we did against Platt,” Morello said. “Both our offensive and defensive lines are works in progress.”
Look for WETHERSFIELD to win a close one.
Amity (0-1) vs. Xavier (0-1), Palmer Field, Middletown, 7 p.m. >> It’s been a long time since Xavier was 0-1. That makes tonight’s game — if the Falcons are going to make a playoff run — a must win.
“There will be a lot of must-win games this year,” Xavier coach Sean Marinan said. “This is a game we need to win.”
Marinan said that Amity, a 28-16 loser to Hand of Madison last week after playing the Tigers to a 14-14 draw through three quarters, has a running back with excellent speed, a returning quarterback and “is big up front on both lines.”
In the loss to West Haven, Marinan said that his club’s mistakes set up West Haven so that it’s speed hurt his club.
“We made some defensive mistakes and that’s due to our inexperience in game situations,” he said. “On offense I was very pleased with our running backs. Nate Snyder, Glenn Cunningham and Jalen Williams all played well.”
Marinan said he was happy with the performance turned in by quarterback Will Levis, but the kid was hurt in the West Haven game. “It will probably be a game-time decision as to whether he will play,” said Marinan. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”
Year in and year out, Xavier has beaten Amity like a drum. No reason to think otherwise.
XAVIER to win.
Stafford/East Windsor/Somers (1-0) vs. Cromwell/Portland (1-0), Pierson Park, Cromwell, 6:30 p.m. >> This looks like a match between big and bulky vs. athletic and quick.
“They have a height and weight advantage,” Cromwell/Portland coach Chris Eckert said. “And — hopefully — we will have the speed advantage.”
Eckert went on to say that the visitors, who beat Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton 22-0 last week, have an experienced quarterback who throws to a set of good receivers. The Panthers will counter with skilled players Nelson
Carlson and Kristian Sapp at running back and quarterback Jarius Bailey. Sapp is a three-year starter.
“Their quarterback will be challenge,” said Eckert. “And they are big and physical.”
But for the big and physical guys to prevail, they have to be able to bottle up the Panthers’ speed and/or catch the speedsters. Neither is going to happen.
CROMWELL/PORTLAND to go to 2-0.
Morgan (1-0) vs. Valley Regional/Old Lyme (0-1), Blythe Field, Deep River, 6:30 p.m. >> Morgan is coming off a wild 40-37 win over North Branford while Valley was shut out 13-0 by Hyde/Career/Whitney. So can the Warriors bounce back at home?
“The loss was a little bit of reality for us,” Valley coach Tim King said. “We’re a little young and we had some injuries. We hope to have some of the kids back this week.
“Morgan is a good team that put up 40 points on North Branford. Their running back, Gabe Erikson, is one of the best I’ve seen. And their quarterback threw the ball 40 times against North Branford.”
King said that while his offensive line is experienced, the team overall has to get better. The question is, can the Warriors put points on the board?
MORGAN to win.
North Branford (0-1) vs. Haddam-Killingworth (0-1), H-K High School, Higganum, 6:30 p.m. >> H-K coach Mike Baklik wasn’t discouraged by his team’s loss to Old Saybrook/Westbrook in its opener last week.
“We saw some good things,” Baklik said. “We gave up big plays, but what was good is our kids responded just one time too few. Old Saybrook did a good job after a tough season last year.”
Baklik said that some of his injured players are still out, but said he was encouraged that Robbie Mooney (WR/safety) will be back.
“North Branford is a lot like us in that lost a close one [to Morgan],” said Baklik.
NORTH BRANFORD to win.
Capital Prep/Achievement (0-0) vs. Vinal/East Hampton/Goodwin (0-1), Palmer Field, Middletown, noon >> It’s an old line, but it works in this case: Coach Joe Cefaratti’s team may well be leaping from the frying pan into the fire.
After playing one of the Constitution State Conference’s best teams in Abbott Tech/Immaculate last week, this week the Bellhawks get Class-S Small state champion Capital Prep/Achievement in Prep’s opener.
“It may be possibly be the best team we’ll face,” Cefaratti said. “They look like the same Capital Prep team as last year. They execute their offense very well and have a lot of team speed.
“But I told my kids that here is an opportunity to rise to the occasion. We’ve never played a state champion, so here is a chance we may never get again; a chance to pull off an upset against a state champion. It’s a real opportunity.”
Cefaratti said his team is healthy, save center Ryan Misorski, who will not play because of a foot injury. Next week the Bellhawks play another toughie in Prince Tech.
“Once we get by the first three [the Bellhawks play a nine-game schedule] then we’ll be competitive the rest of the way,” Cefaratti said.
CAPITAL PREP/ACHIEVEMENT to win.
Ellington (1-0) vs. Coginchaug (0-1), CRHS Stadium, Durham, 1 p.m. >> Ellington is coming off a 40-0 hammering of Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby, while Coginchaug lost its opener to an emotional Cromwell/Portland team, 20-14.
For the Blue Devils, a win would put them in a good position as the schedule breaks favorably the following three weeks. But Ellington is a program on the rise as it has sufficient numbers so it no longer is in a cooperative program with Somers.
COGINCHAUG to even up at 1-1.
Last week: 2-4.