By Jim Bransfield
As most readers know, former Middletown High football coach John Skubel passed away in August.
About 20 minutes before kickoff of the East Lyme at Middletown High game last Thursday night, assistant coach Jason Coleman came to the door of the press box.
He called me over and said, “Just so you know, Coach Skubel always used to run the 248-buck sweep for his first play from scrimmage. In memory of coach, we’re going to run it on our first play tonight.”
East Lyme had first possession and moved the ball to the MHS 29-yard line before being stopped by the MHS defense. On first down, the Blue Dragons ran Skubel’s favorite, the 248-buck sweep.
Dario Highsmith ran it 71 yards for a touchdown.
Somewhere The Coach is smiling.
MEOLI THE LATEST
Xavier High always has a featured running back. Always.
Against Staples in the Falcons’ opener last week, Andreew Meoli ran for 198 yards on 19 carries as Xavier, in a bit of an uneven performance, won 30-22.
“Meoli is picking up where he left off last year,” said Xavier coach Sean Marinan. “He’s a very good back, has good vision — a slasher type back.”
MHS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Middletown, despite still being in what coach Sal Morello called a pre-season mode, showed a punishing ground game Thursday/Sunday, piling up 410 yards against East Lyme. The Blue Dragons didn’t pass much, but were 4-for-5 in that department.
Dario Highsmith is the real deal. The kid ran for 185 yards on 17 carries and didn’t play much in the second half.
After an opening drive of 45 yards by East Lyme, the MHS defense held the Vikings to a total of seven yards until they had a 41-8 lead. The rest of the 128 yards were picked up against the Dragons’ second and third string defense.
NOT A FUN NIGHT
The Vinal Tech/East Hampton football season got off with a thud Friday night at Palmer Field as the Bellhawks lost 46-13 to Abbott Tech and suffered a slew of injuries besides.
VTEH — or is it EHVT? — moved the ball on the ground to the tune of 222 yards, but could not throw the ball. Once the Bellhawks fell behind, they were in big trouble. Tailback Ryan Fazzino, who had a very good first half, didn’t play after suffering an injury just before halftime.
MIDDLETOWN HOME, WESLEYAN TOO
For local fans panning to stay home this weekend, there are two football attractions in town. Middletown hosts Wethersfield Friday night at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Wesleyan University opens up with its first-ever night game under the portable lights at Andrus Field hosting Tufts.
It is Middletown Day at WesU , no admission is being charged and local teams with alumni on the Cardinals’ roster — Middletown High (Devon Carrillo), Xavier (Kris Luster) and Coginchaug (Alec Corazzini) — have been invited to attend in their team shirts to root for the Cards and their own.
Game time is 6 p.m. and will cap a day that will feature men’s and women’s soccer games, a field hockey game, and kids’ activities at the Freeman Center on Cross St.
ON THE ROAD
On Friday, Xavier goes on the road to North Haven, which crushed Bridgeport Central 42-8, Coginchaug, a 48-38 winner over SMSA/University, is at highly-toured Valley Regional, a 34-0 winner of Hyde, and Cromwell, a 34-27 loser to Gilbert/Northwestern, is at the cooperative program at Coventry.
On Saturday, Haddam-Killingworth, which trails North Branford 39-0 in a weather-suspended game, is at Nonnewaug and Vinal Tech/East Hampton is at Wolcott Tech in Torrington.
UCONN IN TROUBLE
I and 40,000 or so of my closest friends took in the UConn/Maryland game at The Rent in East Hartford Saturday night. Some observations.
UConn can’t run the ball at all. Not a lick, not a little bit, nothing there.
UConn had no one on the field that could match the athleticism of the Maryland skilled position players.
UConn fans still seem to regard football as a curiosity. They arrive late, sit on their hands for much of the game, and leave early. But heck, Connecticut is a basketball state. For visiting teams, the Rent hardly seems like a tough place to play.
It was disappointing that former Xavier star Graham Stewart was injured early and former Falcon Tim Boyle is a backup quarterback who didn’t play.
Looks like a long autumn for the Huskies with Michigan, Cincinnati and Louisville on the schedule. Hey, ought to be easy to get tickets as the season groans on.
OK, I have concluded that parents, teachers, or whomever have, at least in part, given up teaching kids how to behave during the performing of the National Anthem.
Last Thursday night, while the terrific 200-piece Middletown High band was performing the Anthem, some nine kids — I assume MHS students as I recognized one as a member of what ought to be a great boys swimming team this winter — walked along the aisle in front of the press box, paying no attention to the 1,000 or so standing in respect for the nation’s Anthem.
On top of that, they were chatting as they went. So here’s the deal children:
When the Anthem starts, stand still
Put your hand over your heart.
Look at the flag, the symbol of a nation for which untold thousands have died in far-off lands so you can have the freedom to act like a jerk.
And shut up.
HERE AND THERE
Middletown High’s boys and girls soccer teams are 1-1 as is Mercy’s. Xavier’s boys are 1-0-1 … congrats to Middletown High’s Kelvin Jones, the new girls volleyball coach on LaRosa Lane who won his first game the other day over New Britain … not quite sure I ever remember seeing — and hearing — Xavier coach Sean Marinan as angry as he was after his team’s win over Staples last week.
Normally we sportswriter types hang away from the post-game huddle, then when it breaks up we seek out the coach … but there was no way to avoid hearing Marinan rip into his charges for what he thought was an, ahem, less-than-stellar effort … bet a nickel the Falcons will be much more crisp this Friday against North Haven.
The Blue Dragon Invitational, one of the classiest big-time early-season high school cross-country events, has had its issues with nature … one year a swarm of bees set up shop on the course and kids got stung … another year a deer panicked at the horde of kids coming through her territory and ran into a fence and killed herself … and this year a bear was sighted near the course near Spencer School.
The race went off without a hitch, bear or no bear.
Chalk up one long time coach and one AD who agree that the high school football season is much too long … “A lot of people agree something has to be done,” said one of them … former Xavier star Amari Spievey, cut by the Detroit Lions, is trying to hook on with the Chicago Bears I’m told … former XHS star Will Tye left Florida State and is now with Stony Brook.