The local football weekend was as advertised. Middletown High won a grinder of a game against previously unbeaten Farmington 21-7 before the largest crowd yet at Rosek-Skubel Stadium, a gathering conservatively estimated at 2,000. The win set up another big one for the Blue Dragons at New London (5-2) Friday night.
Xavier exacted a measure of revenge for last year’s loss to Hand by beating the Tigers 28-14 at the Surf Club in Madison, a notoriously difficult place to play. In the process the Falcons kept their playoff hopes alive and set up Friday’s home game with Shelton as another must-win game.
Wesleyan capped off the glorious local weekend by hanging on to beat Williams 16-14, in front of more than 6,000, the largest crowd at a Wesleyan game in decades. That win, which won the Little Three crown for the first time in 43 years, set up the showdown at arch-rival Trinity this Saturday at noon. Trinity hasn’t lost at home since 2002. Get there early.
Way to go
Xavier High’s soccer team opens tournament play this week after completing an undefeated season at 15-0-4, including winning the Southern Connecticut Conference championship.
Tournaments should be seen as rewards and they are often crap-shoots. A fluke goal here, a bad bounce there and you’re done. No matter what happens in the state playoffs, the Falcons had an undefeated season, one of the true rarities in any sport.
That can never be taken away from you gentlemen, no matter what happens in the tournament. For an unbeaten season, coach Brian Fitzgerald and his Xavier Falcon soccer team win this week’s Way To Go Award.
Speaking of soccer….
As terrific as the local football season has been, the soccer season, both boys and girls, has been every bit as spectacular. The local postseason action begins today as the Middletown High girls, runners-up in the very tough Central Connecticut Conference, open Class L tournament play with Bunnell of Stratford at Rosek-Skubel Stadum at 4 this afternoon.
If MHS wins, it will play Wednesday against the winner of the Fermi/Woodstock Academy game also at home.
The Middletown High boys, unbeaten in their final 10 games, open up with Masuk of Monroe in the L tourney Tuesday at 4 at The Stadium. The winner of that game goes to Naugatuck.
The Mercy girls (14-4-1) drew an opening round bye in the Class LL tourney and are at home Wednesday at 2 p.m. against the Ridgefield/Hand winner.
Xavier opens Tuesday with Bridgeport Central at home and if the Falcons get by that one, will host the winner of the Wilby/Newington game on Thursday. All that ought to keep the city’s soccer fans busy, huh?
Take a look at the Class LL football playoff race. All you need is a glance to realize that Xavier, Shelton, Fairfield Prep, Staples and Trumbull are locked in a death struggle for a berth in the Elite Eight that will fight it out for the Class LL championship. The beauty of this? Xavier plays both Shelton and Fairfield Prep in the next two weeks.
Plain and simple, they are Xavier playoff games. The possible combinations are mind-boggling, but here is the Cliff Notes version. Shelton is No. 8 with a rating of 107.50. Xavier is No. 9 with a rating of 106.25. Staples is No. 10 with a 102.50 rating. Trumbull is No. 11 at 98.75 and Fairfield Prep is No. 12 with a rating of 97.50.
The ratings are the number of points gained for each win, plus 10 points for each win a defeated opponent has, divided by the number of games played. A team gets zero points for a loss.
Bottom line? If Xavier wins Friday, it will jump into the top eight because there are 160 points to be gained from beating Shelton. But that will likely not be good enough. Xavier would then have to beat Fairfield Prep – which has six wins – at Prep a week later.
Now let’s complicate it. Shelton still has to play West Haven. So does Fairfield Prep. Staples has to play Greenwich and Trumbull has to play St. Joseph.
Could it all come down to the Thanksgiving Day games, a day in which Xavier can only sit and watch? Yep, just might.
But first things first. Friday night’s game with Shelton is the biggest of the season. Shelton is 6-2 and lost a 44-41 shootout to Hand two weeks back. This week the Gaels took out their frustrations on Hamden 32-7. The game will be carried on the local Internet radio station cnxradio.com.
And in Blue Dragon land
Middletown (8-0) jumps out of the CCC and travels to dangerous New London (5-2) Friday at 6:30. New London is a perennial power and has won four in a row after a slow start. Last week it beat up on Fitch 49-20. The game, at Canamella Field, will also be televised live on the computer.
Just go online to www.theday.com, the website of the Day of New London newspaper for the broadcast. It will begin with a preqame show at 6:15. The operation features six camera locations and I’m told there are graphics packages and all is of high quality.
This game will be in a beach town, but promises to be no day at the beach for Middletown. It is a key game for Middletown’s playoff hopes and its hopes for a home game on Dec. 3.
No question Wesleyan hired football coach Mike Whalen so there would be days like Saturday. The raw emotion of Wesleyan’s win over Williams and the Little Three championship was palpable. The celebration on the field went on for a long, long time as well-wishers poured onto the field to congratulate Whalen, some with tears streaming down their faces.
Devon Carrillo, the Middletown High alum who has played so well for the Cardinals his freshman year and who made the first tackle of the game on the opening kickoff, had a hard time finding words to describe what it was like to win a championship and play college football at Wesleyan. Running back LaDarius Drew, from Texas, said he was overwhelmed by the moment. “I felt like we were playing not just for ourselves, but for all the students, for the university and for the alumni. It’s the most amazing feeling of my life.”
Next week, at Trinity at noon. The Bantams haven’t lost a home game in 11 years, or better said, since this crop of Wesleyan players was in elementary school.
Portland Panthers going to nationals
The Portland Panthers 12-13u football team, which was undefeated, has been invited to Richmond, Va., to play in the national championships in December. A fundraising effort has begun and those interested should send donations to Portland Panthers Youth Football, P.O. Box 204, Portland, CT 06480.
For information, call 860-796-1671 or contact email www.Panthersyouthfootball.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here and there
Time out from sports for a minute … tomorrow is election day … towns and cities are electing officials and one of the sad things is these elections usually produce the lowest turnouts. That’s stupid.
Local government affects us the most directly … schools, school sports programs, roads, parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, property tax rates, fire and police protection are all local government stuff… show your kids how important it is and vote.
The MHS freshman football team remained undefeated (8-0) with a 34-6 win over Farmington Thursday … Xavier frosh are 5-3.
Mercy’s volleyball team, the SCC runner-up, opens tournament play Thursday hosting the Wethersfield/Masuk winner in Class L …Pete DeRita, the founder of DeRita Construction Co. which has built many athletic facilities in the area, including Palmer Field and Rosek-Sklubel Stadium at MHS, is a member of my MHS high school class which held its 50th reunion (yes, we are both still alive!) last week.
Pete served in Vietnam and survived an attack in which his position was overrun. There is a documentary film about that horrific battle entitled Honor. Pete doesn’t talk much about it, so I will … Pete DeRita, great supporter of kids’ sports, a man whose finger prints are all over this city’s athletic facilities, is a genuine
Bad loss for Cromwell at Enfield … the Panthers are No. 12 in Class S, mathematically still alive, but it’s hard to see how they can make a serious run … the last two losses were killers … Vinal Tech/East Hampton lost to unbeaten Prince Tech, but no shame there … at 4-4 the Bellhawks are having a good year … the Valley juggernaut rolls on … the Warriors are very, very good … Coginchaug, alive in the Class S playoff race at No. 11, can pick up 130 points with a win over Granby this weekend.
MHS’ Dario Highsmith gets a lot of ink and deservedly so as he is a marvelous high school player … but the Dragons have a terrific defense and the offensive line is outstanding … one of the key players is Yaamal Jackson and he was big in the win over Farmington, rushing for nearly 60 yards, scoring two touchdowns and playing excellent defense at linebacker.
It’s much the same with Xavier … Andrew Meoli is an excellent running back and quarterback Joe Carbone can run and throw, but the offensive line, the unnamed guys up front, make the holes that Meoli and Carbone run through … The Falcs might be without Nathan Gonzalez, who was ejected Friday night … the rule, which I think is silly, says a kid has to sit out the next game … always thought that was double jeopardy.
Dust-up off the field in Madison Friday night … the local Internet radio station, cnxradio.com, was going to broadcast the game, but it never happened … CNX President Judy Clark said on the station’s website that the station ” found that the athletic director of Daniel Hand High School [Craig Semple] was not very accommodating to WCNX Radio Inc. An executive decision was made by me, as President of WCNX Radio, to call the game off the broadcast schedule due to the lack of cooperation.”
Semple said he was baffled. “We set aside a place for them in the press box and we tried to be cooperative,” he said. “But their guy [John Clark] called us arrogant and drove off. My facilities guy and I were left standing there wondering what was going on.”
The dinner honoring the Middletown American Legion baseball team will be Friday, Nov. 29 – not the 30th as previously announced by the Legion – at the Elks Club on Maynard St.
Finally, I was glad the Red Sox won. I know, heresy from a Yankee fan, but in this year, with the Marathon horror, it just seemed, well, right.