[aesop_character img=”http://www.gametimect.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Cj6Cu_YUoAEJ0gQ.jpg-large.jpeg” caption=”DEREK TURNER” align=”right” force_circle=”on”]
It was the game heard ’round Connecticut last year and one of the wildest high school football games this state had seen in recent years, too. Glastonbury QB and current UConn freshman Keyion Dixon ripped the Chieftains’ heart out with an incredible, last-minute drive to steal a victory 50-49 with no time on the clock.
So when the 2016 schedule came out and had Glastonbury visiting Conard in the first game of the season, Sharpies could be heard circling Sept. 9 on calendars in West Hartford, Glastonbury and by high school football fans all over Hartford County.
It’s easy to imagine both teams working extra hard in the off-season, if only to get back on the gridiron and play this game again.
This time, the Chieftains pulled out a 21-14 victory that wasn’t all too different than its predecessor.
“It was opening night,” Conard coach Matt Cersosimo said. “We had an unbelievable environment, atmosphere at our stadium. After going almost a month of practice there’s nothing like being able to play your first game.”
Conard struggled early on defense, allowing Glastonbury to take a 14-0 lead.
“We had struggled stopping their running game early in the second quarter,” Cersosimo said. “Then one of our defenders [Chris Chukwura] made a real nice interception as they were driving down the field and was able to flip the field on the interception, get the ball at their 20-yard-line and we scored with about 30 seconds to go in the half.”
That cut Glastonbury’s lead to 14-7. Out of halftime both defenses began to step up, unlike last year where it seemed both teams could score whenever they wanted.
“This one was for our defensive enthusiast fans out there,” Cersosimo said. “Both defenses were really sharp and they were just like every Glastonbury team we’ve ever faced, well-coached, hard-nosed, physical kids.”
The second big defensive play Conard made set up the game-tying score.
After taking over in Tomahawks territory, quarterback Jack Moore — filling in for injured starter Declan Flaherty — completed two long passes to Huy Pham and Ryan Orlowski, the second of which went for a touchdown and made it 14-14.
Jaeshawn Wilson scored the go-ahead touchdown.
But Glastonbury had time left on the clock and Cersosimo had a familiar feeling in his stomach.
“It was just like last year’s game,” Cersosimo said. “I was joking with a couple coaches afterword, we scored to go up and then kicked off and in the back of my mind I said ‘Here we go again.'”
And it really almost happened again.
The Tomahawks returned the kickoff to the Conard 40-yard-line. But as they were driving towards the end zone the quarterback just fumbled the ball and the Chieftains’ Brendan Connors was able to fall on it. Conard ran out the clock.
The win was the first for Conard over Glastonbury since 2011.
“We have a ton of respect for Glastonbury,” Cersosimo said. “We haven’t beaten them in a long time, so if we have the opportunity to beat them and we want to challenge to be at the top of our league and the CCC, Glastonbury’s one of those teams that we have to play with and beat.”
And it could be another good one in week two for Conard when it travels to Wethersfield to play East Hartford(East Hartford’s stadium renovation is not yet complete) . The Chieftains did to the Hornets last year what Glastonbury did to them, so they expect another battle.
E.O. Smith opened some eyes last season when it shut out Bristol Eastern 21-0 on opening night.
Well, the Panthers did it again, beating the Lancers by the exact same score on Friday. In fact it was their third season in a row with a shut out in week one. E.O. Smith has now won four straight opening night games.
…Southington scored 53 points in a shutout of Enfield, playing its first varsity game since the Fermi merger, to raise its average points per game in its last 11 regular season games to 50.2. The last time the Blue Knights scored less than 30 points in a regular season game was Nov. 1, 2014 in a 27-0 win over Newington. Will Barmore, cousin of former Southington QB and current Yale Bulldog Stephen Barmore, completed seven of seven passes for 177 yards and three TDs.
…South Windsor surprised some with a 28-14 win over Maloney. It was the Bobcats first week one victory since 2004.
…Windsor shut out Bristol Central 47-0 for its fourth shutout in its last nine regular season games.
…For the first time since 2008 the four public schools from Meriden (Platt and Maloney) and Bristol (Eastern and Central) are all 0-1.
…Bloomfield has the longest win streak in the CCC at 14 games. That includes the 2015 state playoffs and the forfeit win it was granted after Berlin had to surrender a victory after the CIAC penalized the Redcoats for the 2015 recruiting scandal.
Player of the Week
Jevin Frett, Manchester
Before the season even started Manchester head coach Roy Roberts expected his offense to be more explosive this year.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to showcase that big-play ability. Frett, a junior wide receiver, caught five passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns as Manchester beat Simsbury 32-13 on Friday.
“Jevin is one of the best players in the state,” Roberts said. “He goes full speed all the time and he showcased himself tonight.”
Week 2 vs. New Britain is a step up in competition for Manchester. But a win could prove a lot and give the Indians the confidence they need.
Game(s) of the Week
Wethersfield at Middletown, Friday, 7 p.m.: Middletown has had the hype surrounding it since the preseason and Wethersfield is out to prove that it can remain a top team in the conference despite heavy graduation.
The Blue Dragons showcased their dynamic offense — led by QB Tyshaun James’ 141 yards and two TDs — with a 49-24 win over Platt week one. Wethersfield did it differently. The Eagles — who graduated its quarterback, No. 1 wide receiver and running back — had to come back against an improved Farmington team. They trailed 14-6 at halftime, but shut out the Indians in the second half and won, 20-14.
That second half defense will have to show up sooner for the Eagles to slow Middletown, but if they can hang on this could be an eye-opener for both teams.
Rockville at Berlin, Friday, 6:30 p.m.: This is the home opener for Berlin, but it means so much more than that.
The Redcoats will unveil the memorial honoring late teammate Nick Zuk who died of Leukemia on June 25.
Zuk was preparing for his fourth year playing a varsity on Berlin’s offensive line when his cancer came back earlier this year.
In addition to the memorial that will be displayed at Scalise Field in Sage Park between the locker room and the field, Berlin football will honor their teammate by playing the first offensive down of this game and every game this season with 10 players on the field, leaving Zuk’s right tackle position vacant.
The Berlin football team will be collecting donations for the Nick Zuk Scholarship Fund throughout the game as well.
— Nicholas Zuk Scholarship Fund, c/o Frank and Michelle Zuk, 138 Main St., East Berlin, CT 06023 or to CT Children’s Medical Center, Department of Oncology, 282 Washington St., Hartford, CT 06106.
The Super 6
- Southington (1-0) — New quarterback, no problem. The Blue Knights destroyed Enfield leaving no question they are still the class of the conference…for now.
- Windsor (1-0) — Typical Windsor defense posting another shutout, against what is hoping to be an above average Bristol Central team nonetheless.
- Middletown (1-0) — The athletism was on display and will be fun to watch this year.
- Conard (1-0) — Is this finally the Chieftains year? They past the first test by coming back to beat Glastonbury.
- Bloomfield (1-0) — The Warhawks took care of business. Now to see if they can keep flying.
- Glastonbury (0-1) — The Tomahawks didn’t have the ultra-athletic Keyion Dixon this time to break Conard’s heart, but they did lead most of the game.
On the outside: East Catholic (1-0), Manchester (1-0), New Britain (1-0), Rocky Hill (1-0).