The stage is set for the city’s biggest football weekend of the year.
The headliner is undefeated Farmington (7-0) at undefeated Middletown (7-0) Friday at 7 p.m. at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at MHS. Both teams took care of business Friday as Middletown clocked Maloney 47-16 and Farmington dispatched Bristol Central 35-0.
Middletown is ranked No. 2 in the CIAC playoff ratings behind New Canaan, and Farmington is ranked No. 3. A loss would not be fatal to either team’s playoff hopes, but a win would go a long way not only towards solidifying a playoff spot, but also towards nailing down a home game in the first round on Dec. 3.
It’s arguably Middletown’s biggest regular season game since the last state championship year in 1992, and that, my friends, is before this crop of Blue Dragon players was born.
The other headliner is the Xavier at Hand game, which will be played at the Surf Club in Madison Friday night. Since having its head handed to it by New Canaan in the season opener, Hand has ripped off six in a row, including a dramatic 44-41 win over Shelton Friday.
The defending Class L champions handed Class LL champ Xavier its only loss last season, a fact that certainly is remembered on Randolph Road. Xavier is 5-2, and bounced back brilliantly from its crushing 35-34 loss at West Haven by beating up Notre Dame 54-13 Friday night.
This game is a desperation one for both teams. Xavier is ranked 10th in the Class LL ratings, and must win. The Falcons would not be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but a loss would make it a very long shot.
Hand is fifth in Class L and a loss would almost certainly knock the Tigers out of the top eight in L and put its playoff hopes in trouble. As an aside, bet money that Middletown, out of self-interest in Class L, is rooting for Xavier.
AND UP ON THE HILL
History is about to be made at Wesleyan. The undefeated Cardinals, who spanked Bowdoin Saturday 34-14, can win the Little Three Championship with a win over Williams. Wesleyan has not won the Little Three title outright since 1970. For the past three years, Wesleyan has been building towards the future. The future has arrived.
Not only would the Cardinals win the Little Three with a win on Homecoming, it would clinch no worse than a tie for the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown. That would set up a grand finale at once-beaten Trinity in Hartford on Nov. 9, a place where the Bantams haven’t lost since 2002.
MHS alum Devon Carrillo was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season, but he played and had two tackles and two assists from his safety position and ran back two kickoffs for a total of 50 yards. Xavier’s Kris Luster also saw action on special teams for the Cardinals.
THE FIGHT GOES ON
It was heartwarming to see the efforts by local high school teams in observation of breast cancer awareness month. Middletown High, Mercy and Xavier teams did all kinds of things to raise concern and raise money.
Parents of players at MHS, Mercy and Xavier were involved and certainly other schools were involved, too.
I have written of other cancers that affect young people and those are testicular cancer and leukemia. Right now there are kids in the local school system who are fighting leukemia. Testicular cancer is the most common form of solid tumor cancer in males aged 15 to 35.
Talking about testicular cancer in public may not be the easiest thing to do — and I suspect dads talking to their teenage sons about the illness might be a tad uncomfortable for some — but we need to get over that. Heck, it wasn’t long ago that we didn’t talk about breast cancer in polite company, either. So I’ll be frank right here, right now.
Every young man who has begun puberty should inspect his testicles from time to time. The best place is in the shower as the hot water causes the scrotum and testicles to descend. Roll each testicle in your hand. If you feel a lump, get to a doctor. Now.
The illness is highly curable if caught early; it’s not if you wait. Yes, the treatment usually involves removal of the diseased testicle, but medical science has develop substitutes so if appearance is important — and I know, to guys it is important — then you’ll look perfectly normal.
And know what? You only need one to be a father. It’s one of those rare systems in our bodies that is redundant. One works just fine. So dad, if talking to your kid about this is uncomfortable, clip this and give it to your kid. You might save his life.
NEW H-K ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
Lynne Flint, the new director of athletics at Haddam-Killingworth, loves her new job. “The job keeps me busy, but in a good way,” she said. “One of the great things about H-K is the board and administration are very supportive of athletics. They value athletics and they value me.”
Flint, in her second year in the school system, replaced longtime AD Dick Dupuis. She did her undergraduate work at Western New England and got her Masters Degree at Springfield College. Hers is a full time job, which it should be. School systems that try to do it on the cheap with part time ADs for a few crumbs, are out of their minds. I am amazed anyone does that job under those circumstances.
HALLS OF FAME
The East Hampton Hall of Fame dinner is this Friday at the Blackledge Country Club in Hebron. The inductees are Shaun Russell, the AD, girls basketball and softball coach at East Hampton High, and high school and collegiate cross-country and track star Lindsay Holmes.
Call Mike Vasquenza for ticket information at 860-267-7405.
The group of inductees for the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame is an impressive one. I was especially touched by the nomination of the late Karina Lago. Lago, who died in a motor vehicle accident while in graduate school at Tufts, was a brilliant student and an equally brilliant athlete at Middletown High.
Her death was an unspeakable tragedy. A local man said to me recently that Karina was one of those kinds of people you expect to be President of the United States. As one of her teachers and as one who advised her on the student newspaper, Blue Prints, I can tell you that yeah, she was that special.
The local Induction dinner will be Jan. 31 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.
SOCCER, VOLLEYBALL, FIELD HOCKEY, SWIMMING
There are all kinds of league playoffs this week in the area. Middletown High’s girls soccer team, fresh off its terrific last second win over Hall, the Mercy soccer and volleyball teams, the Xavier soccer team (assuming it beat Fairfield Prep Sunday evening), and Mercy and Middletown swimmers all see postseason action this week.So do teams from other area towns.
There are teams in action today, so check your local schedules.
By the way, the Middletown High boys soccer team didn’t make the CCC playoffs, but down the stretch there was no hotter team. The Blue Dragons were undefeated (8-0-2) through their final 10 matches. MHS might be a very tough out in the state tournament.
HERE AND THERE
Condolences to the family and colleagues of MHS business education teacher Cathie Wright who passed away suddenly last weekend. I was an aide in her class for a time in my retirement job. The class was called called “On Your Own,” one of those nuts-and-bolts classes that help kids with the realities of life they will experience in the real world, something of which I think high schools should do more … a classy lady who loved her kids and the high school athletes lucky enough to be in her class.
Sometimes good hot dogs come out of the blue … after the Xavier game Friday night, Xavier parents set up a grill behind the field house to feed the players … as I was walking by, the good folks gave me a dog … it was terrific and vaulted into second place behind the unconquerable Palmer Field hot dog in the fall hot dog competition … of course, I’ll need another one after the Shelton game, for confirmation purposes you understand.
Congratulations to West Haven coach Ed McCarthy on his state record 322nd win Friday night … Coach Ed is a good man, always tells the truth in postgame interviews … MHS is going to offer club lacrosse in the spring … the opinion going around is that the Class M football playoffs are really the St. Joseph of Trumbull Invitational … but don’t count Valley Regional out … the Warriors, currently No. 1 in the Class M playoff points, annihilated previously unbeaten Morgan Friday which showed that coach Tim King’s team is for real.
The local Internet radio, cnxradio.com reported that 2,460 listening devices were tuned into its broadcast of the Xavier/Notre Dame game … included were listeners in Poland, France and Mexico, plus 12 USA markets … the station is auctioning off two Xavier footballs autographed by Andrew Meoli and Joe Carbone with proceeds going to the Susan G. Koman Breast Caner Foundation … go to the website www.wcnxradio.com for information … Bristol Eastern is 6-1, its latest win 24-22 over Windsor Friday … Eastern’s only loss was 40-0 to Middletown.
The CIAC state basketball championships will be March 22 and 23, a Saturday and a Sunday, at the Mohegan Sun Arena … I knew that Mohegan wanted to get the high school games out of Friday night and it did … and yes, this is a week later than usual … everything is driven by high school football’s Thanksgiving Day games … when Turkey Day comes late, everything gets moved back a week … another reason to shorten the much too long football season.
Vinal Tech/East Hampton’s football team (4-3) is home Friday night with undefeated Prince Tech (7-0) at Palmer Field … H-K (0-7) goes to Canton (4-2) Saturday, Ellington (4-3) is at Valley (6-0) Friday and Cromwell (4-2) is at Enfield (3-3) Friday night … Coginchaug (4-2) is scheduled to play at Housatonic Regional/Wamogo (0-6) Saturday, but Housy, citing injuries and a small number of players, forfeited its game Saturday, so stay tuned.