It’s the era of the spread offense across the state. Just don’t tell McMahon that.
The Senators did not attempt a pass in a 49-21 victory over Stamford this past Friday. McMahon rushed for 383 yards, led by senior Kentrell Snider, who scored on runs of 75 and 61 yards.
“It’s no secret what we do,” McMahon coach A.J. Albano said. “We’re going to run the ball. It’s what we’ve done for a long time. We’ve always had good running backs at Brien McMahon. Obviously our line is doing their job. If you don’t block, you’re not going to beat anybody.”
The victory was even more impressive coming against a highly-touted Stamford squad that had won four straight entering the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Central Division clash.
Stamford took a 14-0 lead, but the Senators scored 49 straight points, ignited by Tyre Holman’s 90-yard kickoff return touchdown.
Entering the contest, most pundits couldn’t help but gush about Stamford’s potent passing game. Albano thought this was a perfect time for his team to make a statement.
“If it caught the attention around the state, then it’s great for our program,” Albano said about the victory. “A lot of people put us on the back burner. When everyone was talking about Stamford, we were quietly winning games.”
The Senators, who run out of the Wing-T, are loaded in the backfield. Snider, Holman, senior Timmy Hinton and sophomore Jordan Smith have all contributed.
The offensive line is comprised of junior left tackle Theo Wilson, junior left guard Spencer Wellen, sophomore center Jonathon Benjamin and senior right tackle Zack Ceme. Seniors Ryan Restivo and Henry Limon rotate at the right guard spot, while senior David Daniel and junior Kyle Davis are the team’s tight ends.
McMahon (5-1) won its fifth straight since suffering a 29-14 season-opening loss to Wilbur Cross. In that game, the Senators turned the ball over three times and committed several costly penalties. But McMahon vowed to improved.
“I’ve been telling a lot of reporters this past week that this team has done a great job of improving every week,” Albano said. “We made too many mistakes to win a football game (against Cross). They got back to work, corrected those mistakes, and we did an outstanding job from Week 1 to Week 2.”
The victory over Stamford is hopefully the start of something special for the remainder of the season according to Albano.
“It’s a great win, a big win,” Albano said. “That win has put us in a position to play more big games. It gives us an opportunity to try to win more big games and, hopefully, playoff games.”
It’s a position McMahon has been in before. The Senators started last season at 7-0, but dropped two of its last three games, which eliminated them from playoff contention.
McMahon has a bye this week before back-to-back home games against Fairfield Ludlowe and Ridgefield. The Senators are then on the road against St. Joseph and rival Norwalk to finish off the regular season. McMahon is in search of its first playoff berth since 1994.
“We realize we haven’t won anything yet,” Albano said. “It’s a big step, but we haven’t reached our ultimate goal yet. We have to keep rolling. We have some games with some big boy teams left, so we have to keep working.”
Naugy on the rebound
Naugatuck rebounded from its first loss of the season to post a 44-13 victory over Barlow last Friday in a game part of the NVL-SWC Challenge. As it turned out, it was the NVL’s only victory of the 12 games played.
“I feel a lot better this week,” Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno said.
The Greyhounds improved to 4-1, but key games against Woodland (Friday), Derby (Nov. 7) and Ansonia (Nov. 27) remain.
“We’re in a good position, with a long way to go,” Bruno said. “But I’m happy with where we are.”
Naugatuck lost a 45-38 heartbreaker to Wolcott on Oct. 10, a result that seemed to surprise many, but not Bruno. The Greyhounds defeated Wolcott in overtime last season.
“Everyone was telling me what a big upset it was,” Bruno said. “I knew how good they were. I don’t think anything happened except that they beat us. They’re a good team.”
Naugatuck has been led by senior quarterback Jason Bradley, who’s in his third season as the team’s starter.
“He’s been awesome,” Bruno said. “He’s having a great season. He’s a wonderful kid. Good player.”
“Definitely his athleticism,” Bruno said. “And his awareness. He has real good pocket presence, and a lot of experience.”
Senior Bryan Coney has been Bradley’s top target, while junior Antoine Sistrunk has led Naugatuck’s ground game.
Senior linebacker Patrick Murphy leads the team in tackles and fellow linebacker, senior Chris Quarles, has also contributed on defense.
The Greyhounds were the only NVL team last week to defeat an opponent from the SWC, which won the Challenge with an 11-1 record.
“It was certainly a lop-sided night,” Bruno said.
Bruno formerly coached at SWC member Bunnell, leading the Bulldogs to two state titles.
“I’ve coached in both leagues, and I think the leagues are very similar,” Bruno said. “I don’t think some of those (NVL) teams are going to lose to some of those teams over a stretch of time. Things change so much from year to year. Even including the other night, I don’t see that much difference between a lot of the programs.”
The SWC held an 8-6 advantage during last season’s Challenge. This year, the league obliterated its rivals 11-1. Naugatuck was the only NVL team to win with a 44-13 victory over Barlow.
A recap of the carnage:
As mentioned by Ned Griffen of The Day, four losing SWC teams won over winning NVL teams, New Milford, which was 2-3 going in, defeated then 3-2 Kennedy 48-8 on Thursday. Pomperaug, which was 2-3, rallied with 22 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Holy Cross (4-1), 29-28. Bunnell, which was 1-4, hammered Torrington (3-2) 48-9.
And finally, Notre Dame-Fairfield scored 20 unanswered points to defeat Crosby 34-27 for its first win under coach Teddy Boynton and its first since a 2012 Thanksgiving win over Immaculate.
Overall, the SWC outscored the NVL 352-175, an average of 32-16. Six NVL teams scored just 8 points or less (Woodland, Seymour, Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech, Wilby, Ansonia and Watertown) with Wilby and Seymour getting shut out.
The SWC, meanwhile, saw five of its schools score 41 points or more.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the guys in our league for putting together the amount of wins that they did,” Newtown coach Steve George said. on ‘The Show.’ “I think we showed the caliber of football we’re capable of playing in our league. The NVL has good teams and coaches too, but I think it was just our year. …Our league’s been pretty good this year and I think that was a reason for the lopsided victory.”
–SEAN PATRICK BOWLEY
Ecke ‘wasn’t disappointed’ with Ansonia loss
It was a nice weekend for first-year Danbury coach Mark Ecke. Not did his Hatters shut down Staples in the second half to win 35-24 for the school’s first win over the Wreckers in at least 11 years (maybe more), but Ecke’s status as the coach of a state-record 49-game win streak preserved when Ansonia lost to Newtown.
Ecke, who coached at Cheshire throughout the streak and was the head coach during the final two seasons of the run, said he ‘wasn’t disappointed’ to see Ansonia lose.
“I know (Ansonia coach) Tommy (Brockett) and those guys work hard. But I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed to see them lose,” Ecke said on Laxworm’s weekly High School football show Sunday. “What we did in the 90s was unbelievable. I know how hard it is to win that many games. And they won 48 games in a row and that’s impressive.
“But I was excited for Newtown and I’m happy we’re still on top of the mountain.”
–SEAN PATRICK BOWLEY
News and notes…
According to the Norwich Bulletin, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech is looking to move its football program to the CSC. The program would make Norwich Tech its host school and St. Bernard would tell the ECC it’s dropping football and then join Norwich Tech as a co-op. Wheeler has also been contacted to possibly join the co-op. The CSC recently added Bridgeport’s Harding and Bassick for the next school year …With Avon moving into the CCC next year, the Falcons would be placed into the CCC Division II West Division alongside Maloney, Bristol Eastern, Newington, Bristol Central, Wethersfield and Platt. The CCC is realigning in all sports beginning in the 2015-16 season.
WEEK 6 GAME BALLS
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- Ledyard’s Jo Jo Shumaker: Ran for 292 yards and six touchdowns as Ledyard defeated Montville 48-19 in an ECC Medium battle.
- Bristol Eastern’s Gerry Ouellette: Rushed for 326 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries in a 21-20 win over Maloney.
- Granby’s Connor Field: Rushed for 300 yards for the fourth straight game, setting a state record, in a 24-0 victory over Nonnewaug. Field finished with 312 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
- Masuk’s Zach Kaufman: Completed 12 of 14 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries in a 55-25 victory over previously unbeaten Wolcott.
- Platt’s Tyzhan Leatherwood: Ran for 259 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in Platt’s 41-28 victory over Bloomfield.
- Morgan’s Gabe Eriksen: Had 303 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries in a 31-7 victory over Canton.
- Newington’s Jake Hedberg: Completed 16 of 23 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-14 victory over South Windsor.
- Southington’s Alex Jamele: Caught 7 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns as No. 1 Southington crushed Hall 48-0.
- Danbury’s Anfreny Ith: Completed 16 of 26 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns as Danbury rallied to beat Staples 35-24.
- Stonington’s Jack Riordan: Ran for 248 yards on 17 carries in the Bears’ 35-0 win over Killingly.
- Xavier’s Mike Scherer: Completed 25 of 38 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown, also caught a touchdown pass in Xavier’s 27-7 win over West Haven.
- Harding’s Taisaun Phommachanh: Completed 29 of 36 passes for 392 yards, two touchdowns and ran for a touchdown in the Presidents’ win vs. Ridgefield.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- Brody Labbe, Windham: Made three interceptions in Windham’s 28-0 victory over Griswold in an ECC Small Division battle.
- Bullard Haven’s Geovanni Ortiz: Scored on a 45-yard interception return in a 21-14 victory over previously unbeaten Prince Tech.
- Coginchaug’s Josh Smith: Scored on a 51-yard interception return in a 52-15 win over Enfield.
- Hillhouse’s Corey Maddox: Scored on a 40-yard interception return in a 40-21 victory over Sheehan.
- Newtown’s Tim Krapf: Made 16 tackles and two sacks in a 14-8 victory over Ansonia.
- McMahon’s Ju Ju Snider: Returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown (also ran two for two long touchdowns) as McMahon rallied from a 14-0 deficit and defeated Stamford 49-21.
- Cheshire’s Tyler D’Errico: Had 13 tackles and a sack in Cheshire’s 36-13 victory over Hamden.
- E.O. Smith’s Andre Wade: Returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in Smith’s 48-12 victory over Bulkeley/HMTCA.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- McMahon’s Tyre Holman: Kick-started the Senators’ comeback over Stamford with a 90-yard kickoff return.
- Glastonbury’s Jake Madnick: Returned a blocked punt 42 yards for a touchdown in Glastonbury’s 21-0 victory over East Hartford.
- North Haven’s Cole Pecora: Returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in a 53-7 win over Branford. Pecora also scored on a 34-yard run and tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass.
- Shelton’s Chris Kanios: Scored on a 93-yard kickoff return in a 58-22 win over Wilbur Cross.
- Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Chris Jean-Pierre: Scored on a 55-yard punt return in a 41-12 win over Gilbert/NW Regional. He also threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 80 yards and two more scores.
- Xavier’s Andrew Verre: Kicked a 47-yard field goal and kicked two extra points in a 27-7 victory over West Haven.
TEAMS OF THE WEEK
- McMahon: Rallied from 14-0 down without throwing a pass to defeat Stamford 49-21.
- Newtown: Defeated then No. 4 Ansonia 14-8 that snapped the Chargers’ 48-game winning streak.
- Notre Dame-Fairfield: Rallied to defeat Crosby 34-27 to earn its first victory of the season and first under coach Ted Boynton. Notre Dame’s last win was vs. Immaculate on Thanksgiving 2012.
- Pomperaug: Rallied to defeat Holy Cross 29-28 with 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
- Platt Tech: Billy Scalzi scored twice to lead the Panthers to their first win of the year, a 13-7 victory over Wilcox Tech.
- SMSA/University: Earned its first win of the season in a 12-6 victory over Old Saybrook/Westbrook.
- Danbury: Defeated Staples behind Anfreny Ith’s 387-yard passing day.
PLAYS OF THE WEEK
ON THE AIR
- Xavier at Notre Dame-West Haven, Friday, 7 p.m.: WELI 960-AM | GoGreenKnights.com
- Brookfield at Newtown, Friday, 7 p.m.: CPTV Sports
- Woodland at Naugatuck, Friday, 7 p.m.: WATR 1320-AM
- Greenwich at Fairfield Warde, Friday, 7 p.m.: WGCH 1490-AM
- Staples at New Canaan, Friday, 7 p.m.: Hanradio | WWPT 90.3-FM
- Ledyard at Killingly, Friday, 6:30: WINY 1350-AM
- Fitch at New London, Friday, 6:30: WJJF 94.9-FM
- Griswold at Woodstock, Saturday, 1:30: WINY 1350-AM
GET OUT AND GO
- Bristol Eastern (4-2) at Windsor (6-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: A 21-20 victory over Maloney last week put the visiting Lancers back into the mix for the CCC Division II West title.
- Fairfield Prep (4-2) at Cheshire (6-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: Cheshire looking to stay unbeaten, Jesuits trying to stay in Class LL hunt.
- Shelton (6-0) at Hand (2-4), Friday, 7 p.m.: Despite its record, Hand is still dangerous, especially at the Surf Club.
- Xavier (6-0) at Notre Dame-West Haven (4-2), Friday, 7 p.m.: Notre Dame seems to be peaking at the right time.
- Brookfield (6-0) at Newtown (6-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: Newtown with another huge test, this one to determine the South-West Conference’s top dog.
- Berlin (6-0) at Northwest Catholic (6-0), Saturday, 10:30 a.m.: There’s just 16 unbeaten teams left in this state. Two meet here in this CCC interdivision clash.
- Valley Regional/Old Lyme (6-0) at Coginchaug (6-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Two more square off in this Pequot Conference Sassacus Division contest.