DANBURY — The perfect 4-0 record is nice, and Saturday’s 50-12 victory over Abbott Tech/Immaculate was certainly impressive, but coach John Johnson has bigger aspirations for his Bullard-Havens Tech football team — aspirations which include not only reaching the state playoffs, but winning once it gets there.
The Tigers have qualified for states two of the last three seasons, and been out-scored by a combined 80-8 in two first-round losses. Johnson’s mission is to prepare his troops now to be ready to win in December — and that includes not letting up on the gas pedal and allowing late touchdowns like the two ATI scored in the fourth quarter.
“For three and a half quarters, the kids answered the challenge on defense, and I just spoke to them about finishing,” Johnson said. “We have bigger goals than just winning conference games. When you get to the playoffs and you’re playing public high schools, every single down is a battle, and they have to get in that mode and that mind-set. That’s why I wasn’t happy about that last drive right there where we kind of fell apart a little bit and let them in for a final score.”
All things considered, Bullard-Havens couldn’t have scripted a better start to the season: four straight dominant wins by a combined score of 242-32.
And the Tigers are hungry for more.
“We don’t want to get big-headed,” said senior quarterback Tyrese Wright, who rushed for four touchdowns and passed for two more. “We’re working hard, and we’re going to keep working hard every week.”
THE WRIGHT STUFF
Wright’s performance Saturday — 18 carries for 211 yards, 3-for-8 passing for 85 yards with no interceptions — was just more of the same pick-your-poison attack scheme he has used to frustrate opposing defenses since his freshman season. Last year, he rushed for 1,395 yards and nine touchdowns and passed for 1,687 yards and 24 scores.
“He’s a special kid who’s been starting for us since he was a freshman,” Johnson said. “Since he was a sophomore, he’s been calling plays during passing leagues and things like that. He knows the offense better than some of the guys on the coaching staff. That’s important, when you have another coach on the field as your quarterback, and he knows why we’re running plays, where guys need to line up and what exactly we’re reading in our keys.
“He’s a dual threat, and he can be a headache for some defensive coordinators,” Johnson continued. “When he pulls the ball, you don’t know whether he’s going to throw off the run or just tuck it and go.”
Wright scored on runs of 16, 11, 76 and 37 yards. Edward Holmes chipped in with 111 rushing yards, including a 70-yard scoring run, along with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Wright. Tomas Montilla caught a 22-yard scoring strike from Wright.
ATI got on the board with two quick scores in the fourth quarter. Jordan O’Brien rumbled into the end zone with 10 minutes remaining to put the United on the board, and after the Tigers fumbled the ensuing kickoff, ATI quarterback Jake Payton hit Anthony Frasier with a 21-yard touchdown pass.
A long afternoon for ATI was made even longer with several more key injuries. Injured quarterbacks Jimmy Fahey and C.J. Cianflone were sidelined to start the game, forcing Payton — a talented receiver who led the United with 1,061 all-purpose yards last year — to call the signals.
“It’s tough,” ATI coach Rich Holmes said, shaking his head. “We have six linemen, and we lost three of them today.”
The game remained scoreless for much of the first quarter as the teams traded punts. The Tigers seemingly got just the spark they needed when Lon-lovell Dunbar recovered a fumble on the ATI 11-yard line. Three plays later, Wright rumbled into the end zone from 16 yards out to break the scoreless stalemate.
ATI went three plays and a punt on its ensuing drive, and on the first play after the punt, Wright hit Holmes with a 43-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0. Marcus Johnson recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Tigers to set up Wright’s touchdown pass to Montilla on the first play of the second quarter.
In a span of less than four minutes, Bullard-Havens erupted for its first 20 points.
BULLARD-HAVENS TECH 50, ABBOTT TECH/IMMACULATE 12
BULLARD-HAVENS TECH14 14 14 8 — 50
ABBOTT TECH/IMMACULATE0 0 0 12 — 12
BH—Tyrese Wright, 16 run (Keith Gathers run).
BH—Edward Holmes, 43 pass from Wright (run failed).
BH—Tomas Montilla, 22 pass from Wright (run failed).
BH—Wright, 11 run (Wright run).
BH—Wright, 76 run (Holmes run).
BH—Holmes, 70 run (run failed).
ATI—Jordan O’Brien, 20 run (run failed).
ATI—Anthony Frasier, 21 pass from Jake Payton (run failed).
BH—Wright, 37 run (Holmes run).
Records: Bullard-Havens Tech 4-0; Abbott Tech/Immaculate 1-2.