Hillhouse is one victory away from achieving a bit of history. The Academics have already qualified for the Class M state playoffs, but Hillhouse (8-1) can clinch a home game for the quarterfinal round with a victory over crosstown rival Wilbur Cross (5-4) on Thursday in the annual Elm City Bowl Thanksgiving Day contest.
Prior to lights being installed at Bowen Field this season, the Academics used another site for home playoff games, like East Haven High in 2012 and 2006. If Hillhouse can knock off the Governors, it would be the first state tournament game for the Academics played at historic Bowen Field.
“It would be very exciting,” Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. “We’ve played all night games this year, which was exciting, just being at the field at nighttime. Now, we’re going to try to keep adding to history.”
Hillhouse will clinch at least the No. 3 seed with a win over Wilbur Cross. The Academics will become the No. 2 seed with a win and a St. Joseph loss to Trumbull. If Hillhouse loses, it could sink as low as No. 7 and play the first round on the road.
The Academics have won six straight games since losing to Fairfield Prep (6-3) on Sept. 23. Hillhouse faces a Wilbur Cross team that has lost three of its last four after starting the year at 4-1, but Lytle is aware of just how dangerous the Governors can be.
“They’re just as athletic as we are,” Lytle said. “They have speed, just as we do. Their line is bigger. It’s always a tough game, but we’re extremely happy with how the season is going. We started it and we want to finish the task. We’re up for the challenge and ready to play.”
The Academics like to run the ball behind their physical and aggressive offensive line. Hillhouse’s backfield features senior running backs Matt Brehon, David Harris and Shawn Ogarro and junior quarterback Quintus Reid. Brehon (100 carries, 1,222 yards, 13 touchdowns) has been the featured player of the running back corps, but all three are equally as talented.
“Brehon, he’s very important to us,” Lytle said. “Coming into the season we had a three-headed monster at running back, but Matt has stood out.”
Reid took over at quarterback three games into the season and has completed 39 of 82 passes for 541 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. Reid has also rushed for three scores.
“He (Reid) has started since the third game,” Lytle said. “He held it and has started ever since. He’s athletic; he can run the ball. He gives added depth to the offense.”
Milford Academy went 11-0 this season in the program’s 100th year of existence. Located in New Berlin, New York, the school plays a schedule comprised of Ivy League and service academy junior varsity teams as well junior colleges.
“It was great to have this kind of year in the 100th year of the program,” Milford Academy coach Bill Chaplick said. “It was just a great year, they were a good team. I knew when I had them back in May that it was a bunch of guys who wanted to ball out and that it was a priority to play football.”
In the process, Chaplick earned his 150th career win. Chaplick is 151-44 in 17 seasons.
Student-athletes can attend Milford Academy for one semester (August to December) and then they usually enroll in a college or university in January with four years of eligibility remaining.
There were several players from Connecticut on the roster this season, including Woodbridge native and Amity alum Wilson Goodwin, a 5-foot-10, 220 pound linebacker.
“He did a real good job for us on special teams, and he was in on the defensive rotation,” Chaplick said.
Andrell Pinnock, who played at Bloomfield, split time at linebacker and at running back, while Jake Herman, a former standout at Greenwich, saw action at linebacker and on special teams.
Chaplick believes Windsor alum Isaiah Huff has the tools to earn Huff a scholarship to a Division I program. Huff recorded 20 tackles and five interceptions.
Alessio Diana, who played at Southington, rushed for 97 yards and caught a touchdown pass. He was also named the team’s special teams player of the game three times and the most improved player of the game once.