After covering 22 high school and college football games, what does a sports writer do on his first Saturday off of the fall? Go to another football game, of course.
A friend and I joined 50,932 of our closest friends at the Yale Bowl for the 130th renewal of The Game Saturday. It wasn’t much of a game as Harvard beat up on the Bulldogs 34-7 in a game that was over by halftime. But going to Yale versus Harvard isn’t just about the game, it’s about the experience.
First, it’s ridiculously inexpensive. We parked off Derby Ave., maybe a half mile from the Bowl for $20 and considering that the entire neighborhood was jammed when we arrived at 9:20, that wasn’t a bad deal. Then we bought two general admission tickets for $10 each from an “unofficial” street dealer. In the real world he’s called a scalper, but in the rarified air of Yale, he’s a venture capitalist.
Second, one of the joys of a Yale home game is that WPLR radio station has a tailgate hospitality tent. The radio folks hold raffles and give away free food to anyone with a game ticket. Breakfast pastries and muffins, pulled pork sandwiches, chili and beer. Free beer. Lots of free beer. Hey, it may have been 10 a.m. in New Haven, but it was five o’clock somewhere.
When you figure the two of us got refreshments, parking, and admission to The Game for a grand total of 20 bucks each, well, America’s a great country.
Besides the 51,000 in the Bowl, there had to be another 20,000 who never made it out of the parking lots as the tailgating was world-class. Heck, we left at the end of the third quarter and there were folks still coming into the Bowl.
No, it’s not exactly like Alabama or Florida State. Early in the game I overheard a conversation among some parents sitting behind us about their children’s SAT scores. I’m not sure there will be a lot of those discussions at the Alabama vs. Auburn game this Saturday.
Ivy League football can’t compare and the folks in the Bowl don’t treat the game as a religious experience. But then, Georgia and LSU send their players to the NFL. Yale and Harvard send their student-athletes to the White House.
COGINCHAUG TIGHTENS GRIP
The Coginchaug Blue Devils moved a step closer to a Class S playoff berth with their expected win over Haddam-Killingworth Saturday afternoon. The Devils are eighth — the top eight qualify — and would seal the deal with a win over Cromwell on Thanksgiving at Pierson Park in Cromwell.
I ran into Jack Granger, a very good running back for Coginchaug, at the Cromwell vs. North Branford game Friday night. We chatted for a minute and the kid is obviously excited about his team, which has won seven in a row.
I walked away thinking about how many really good kids you meet in high school athletics and the Granger kid, whom I got to know when he played Legion ball in Middletown in 2012, is one of those kids. You have to root for kids like him.
POWDER PUFF TONIGHT
One of the best and nicest charitable events a high school does takes place tonight when Middletown High stages its annual Powder Puff game between the junior and senior girls at 7 at Rosek-Skubel Stadium.
Admission is $5, but it drops to $4 if you bring a non-perishable food item.
There are 110 girls on both teams and 35 boys will dress in drag as cheerleaders. Adviser Nicole Charles reported that the boys will do a halftime dance routine to the song, “Man, I feel like a woman” by Shania Twain.
Teachers, administrators and coaches, all of whom donate their time, will coach and officiate. These include Nathan Briggs, Dan Lowry, Marco Gaylord, Bryan Hand, Pierre Khawaja, Ralph D’Amato, Kelvin Jones, Jason Serra, Dave Sytulek, Trevor Charles, Nicole Charles and Matt Quinn.
All the non-perishables will go the Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and monies raised will go to the Adopt a Family Charity. The concession stand will be open.
In the past the game has raised over $3000 and Lindsay Lowell, who is advising the Key Club in Nicole Charles’ absence for child-rearing, has an ambitious goal of $5000.
So get to MHS tonight for a wonderful cause. The kids have a ball, the girls take the game seriously and the band plays. Wear your woollies!
PLAYOFFS AND THANKSGIVING
The big game in the area is, obviously, the Middletown at Windsor game Thanksgiving Eve at 6:30 p.m. There is talk between the two schools of moving the game to Tuesday night because of the weather forecast for Wednesday, but as of Sunday afternoon no decision had been made. There’s a good chance a call will be made this morning.
For Middletown the game means everything. A playoff berth, a likely home playoff game, and a CCC division championship. Windsor still has playoff hopes, although it is a very long shot. Biggest game of the year for MHS, no question.
Valley, already assured of a home Class M playoff game, will look to complete an undefeated season Wednesday evening with H-K. There are games all over the state Wednesday and Thursday that will impact the playoff fortunes of Valley, Middletown and Coginchaug. And Xavier still has a mathematical shot, but it’s a long one. Lots of folks will be checking the CIAC website Wednesday night and Thursday to see the final playoff standings.
It’s a fun time of year.
HERE AND THERE
Matt Colangelo, a Cromwell High alumnus Class of 2010, has been named to the first team of the Northeast 10 Conference at linebacker … Colangelo plays at Assumption College in Worcester … Paul LaFleur, the longtime PA announcer for the Bristol American Legion team and the team’s general manager, was inducted into the Bristol Hall of Fame Friday night … good for him … he is the mover and shaker behind the Bristol Legion team and a member of the State Legion Baseball Commission.
Kids in college … MHS alum Jason Woods caught 13 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns for Springfield College (8-3) which won the ECAC Atlantic Championship Division III Bowl 28-27 over Norwich University over the weekend … Xavier back Mike Mastroianni saw limited action with the Chiefs appearing in six games and scoring a touchdown … MHS alum and freshman Akeino Chamberlain had 15 tackles and assists for Springfield in six games … MHS alum Christian Outlaw is also on the team.
Xavier alum Will Tye, after leaving Florida State, had a good year for Stony Brook in New York, catching 45 passes for 520 yards and four touchdowns for the 5-6 Seawolves … former Xavier quarterback Pat D’Amato saw limited action with Stony Brook.
Craig Zimmerman, the State Legion Baseball Director and a Democrat, was the top vote getter in the recent election to the South Windsor Board of Education … early thoughts on Xavier and Middletown High boys basketball … Xavier has guards, needs size up front … MHS has size, guards are inexperienced … both play very tough schedules.
The MHS boys swim team has the best divers in the state in Adam Gauthier, Dan Kinney and Monica Marcello … kids are terrific … catcher Brian McCann nice pickup for the Yankees … now all they need is to sign Robbie Cano, find a left side of the infield, an outfielder with power, and one, maybe two starting pitchers.
Xavier’s football team will play St. Paul in Bristol Wednesday night in a scrimmage game … because the game was scheduled after the start of the season, it cannot be a game that counts towards playoff points … here’s the irony of the season … Xavier played only 10 games … if it played an 11th with Middletown on Thanksgiving and won, it might well have made the Class LL playoffs … if … big little word, huh?
Middletown Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner tickets are on sale … $50 each … go to the website middltowncthalloffame.com for information or call Johanna Bond at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce … the dinner is Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell … the Middletown Post 75 Baseball Awards dinner is this Friday at the Elks Club in Middletown … both junior and senior
teams will hand out awards.
Congratulations to the local kids you have been reading about who have signed National Letters of Intent to play in college … here’s a tease … look for a big splash in this area to come out of Middletown High shortly involving Division I Letters of Intent … can’t tell you yet, school not issuing info so nothing official.
I thought the Cromwell kids played very hard in their loss to North Branford Friday … the Panthers are without quarterback Mavric Pelletier, who has an injury … said it before, but the kid is going to be really good … MHS freshman football team finished 9-1 with 46-20 win over Windsor Thursday … Xavier’s frosh finished 8-3 with 35-0 win over Avon same day … after the Yale/Harvard game, my friend, a Penn State alumnus, wanted to catch the game with Nebraska … so we adjourned to Chicago Sam’s (used to be Rookies) … still the best sports bar/grille around … Penn State lost in overtime.
Saturday ended with my attendance at the 30th reunion of the MHS Class of 1983 … great to see my former students, including the football quarterback, Denis Newcomer, who graduated from Williams College, Janice Skene, a Middletown Sports Hall of Famer and Kelly Church, whose son Austin Rak is a good infielder for the MHS and Middletown Legion teams … saw many others. some more whose kids are at MHS now or recently graduated … just not enough space to mention them all … 30 years … seems like yesterday … we were all Tigers then … where has the time gone?
Some good readers ask about my legendary Florida aunts from time to time … Marion the Elder — she’s 95, her kid sister Marge is 91 — always says when I call each week, “We’re hanging in there.” … Marion fell the other day … no big deal … “Bruised my behind,” she said … going to hang with them a bit in January … can’t think of a better time to get the heck out of New England.
Condolences to our sports editor, Jimmy Zanor and his family, on the loss of Jimmy’s mom two weeks back … tough losing a parent. no matter what the age and no matter how.