Devon Carrillo’s first collegiate football game was, using his word, awesome. The former Middletown High star led Wesleyan in tackles – he made the first tackle of the game on the opening kickoff return – returned a punt and two kickoffs.
He started at free safety as a freshman on what is expected to be a good, maybe very good, Wesleyan team. He did all this is front of friends and family and by Wesleyan standards, a blockbuster crowd of 5,000 at ancient Andrus Field, which remains one of the most beautiful settings for a football game there is.
The night game was the brainchild of coach Mike Whalen, as was the whole notion of Middletown Day up on The Hill. The hope was to draw members of the Middletown community and with three area high school stars on the Cardinals’ roster – Kris Luster from Xavier and Alec Corazzini from Coginchaug are the others – Whalen thought it was time for the university to be aggressive in its outreach to the area.
Whalen was right and it worked.
After hitting the road at Hamilton next week, the Cards come home with Colby and Bates on successive Saturday afternoons. It will be interesting to see if the big crowds are repeated. No reason why not. The city high schools play on Friday nights and there is very little competition for fans’ attention on Saturday. Now there are reasons to go to a Wesleyan game. The Cards are good and local kids are playing.
“The crowd was amazing,” said Whalen. “Hopefully people will buy into us and come and see us again. Normally we don’t draw well until Homecoming (with Williams). But we want that to change and tonight was great.”
EVERY DAY, SOMETHING NEW
I never saw a soccer game end the way the Cheshire vs. Xavier game did last Tuesday. If you missed the game story, here’s what happened.
Xavier took a shot as the clock was winding down in this 0-0 contest. As the ball was I the air, headed toward a certain goal, the clock ran out. Unlike basketball, the ball must have crossed the goal line before the clock runs out. It didn’t make it … by a split second. No goal.
The rule makes sense. So often in soccer, a ball will be headed goalward and is tipped and slightly redirected just before it crosses the goal line. It would be an official’s nightmare to try and figure out if that tip did or didn’t happen and whether or not to award the goal.
In basketball, it’s simple. The refs can see the ball in the air and can determine if it left the shooter’s hand before the horn went off. But in the melee in front of the net that often characterizes soccer, the official would be hung out to dry.
XAVIER, MHS FOOTBALL
The Xavier loss to North Haven was a bit of a stunner, but not a drop-dead stunner. The Falcons didn’t play well against Staples – a team many figured to be down this season – the week before and with so many new players, there was a thought that the Falcons might be a tad overrated.
Turned out they were.
But heck, no team can maintain the kind of high level that Xavier has enjoyed the past three years. That’s unfair. That the Falcons have come back down to earth a bit is OK. Bet the Falcons still put together a good season starting at Hamden Friday night..
Middletown looked very good in the first half against Wethersfield. And looked terrible in the second half. Yeah, I know, 28-0 at the half and it’s tough to maintain momentum. But if this is a top ten team, which the polls say it is, the Dragons have to play better than that awful second half they played against Wethersfield.
Things get tougher with Bristol Eastern Friday. The Lancers come in at 2-0, their latest win a 17-7 decision over Class LL Hartford Public Saturday. Then MHS goes on the road for six of its last eight games.
Among those are games with New London, Simsbury and Windsor (Farmington and Hartford Public are the only remaining home games after this week). Don’t start planning for playoff games just yet.
That Xavier is putting money into its on-site athletic facilities is long overdue. The outdoor facilities on Randolph Road are simply far below standard for any modern high school’s athletic program, let alone a premier Class LL one.
Athletic Director Tony Jaskot said that the current main field will be redone with synthetic turf and that the plan is to put lights on the facility.
He also said that major work will be done on Xavier’s baseball field. He said a retaining wall will be built to the south of the field, then filled in. That will enable the field to be moved south and be rebuilt.
There will be dugouts, the field will be enclosed with dimensions of 315 down each line and 360 to center with a warning track in the outfield. That’s a smallish park, but acceptable for high school. The left field fence, which today is right behind shortstop and has seen many a pop fly ball go over it for home run a Little Leaguer wouldn’t own up to, will be a memory.
Also, a new track will be installed on the main field, one that will have the straightaway for sprints in front of the grandstand, not opposite the grandstand as is the case now.
Good for Xavier. The Falcons’ facilities have fallen far behind, so much so that the soccer team is now playing its home games in Portland.
Jaskot said there are no plans to take the football team out of Palmer Field. He said that the field at Xavier will be used for soccer, lacrosse, Frisbee, JV and frosh football. It will be used for varsity football only when weather makes the use of the natural turf at Palmer inadvisable.
“We also still plan to play May baseball games at Palmer Field,” he said.
Speaking of Palmer, long overdue work has begun on the infield. This cannot be just cosmetic stuff. The bad hops in the infield were embarrassing in the Legion Regional. And the city is under the gun to get this done fast.
People are saying they want it to be perfect for the regional. Uhhh, the high school season opens on May 1 at Palmer and the high school championships are scheduled for June. This field has to be ready to go in the spring, not mid-summer. Hope everybody from the Mayor on down gets that.
HERE AND THERE
The Middletown High girls soccer team is off to a 4-1 start … after dropping its first game when goalkeeper Desiree Hinton was out, the Blue Dragons have ripped off four in a row, the latest a 3-1 win over Bristol Central Friday at Rosek-Skubel Stadium … Mikaela Coady had two goals and Sam Fletcher the third as the Dragons peppered the goal with 25 shots … team is home Tuesday with Platt of Meriden at 7.
The boys team wasn’t so fortunate, losing 5-1 to Central in Bristol and is at Platt Tuesday … Xavier’s soccer team is 2-0-2 and after playing at Hamden Monday, is home with North Haven Wednesday at Oakwood Park in Portland … Mercy’s soccer team is 3-1 after its 5-2 win at Hamden Friday … the Tigers are home with East Haven Wednesday … the Mercy volleyball team is 4-1 and is home with North Haven Friday at 5:15 … the MHS volleyball team is 1-4 and is at Platt today.
One of the few remaining contests between a local Catholic school and MHS takes place Wednesday afternoon when the Mercy swim team visits Middletown for a 4 p.m. meet at the Baldwin-Parmelee pool … Internet radio WCNX.com reported that over 3,100 devices were tuned into its broadcast of the Staples vs. Xavier game two weeks ago … “Very impressive,” said owner Judy Clark.
The MHS band/dance team/flag corps halftime show this year is special … saw it Friday night and it’s as good as it gets … even if you don’t like football, you should go and see the kids in the band … band is going to Disney World in April … were I a band parent, I would mortgage the house to find money for my kid to go … chaperoned a number of the trips and it’s an amazing experience.
Saw the Portland High band at the Big E in Springfield on Connecticut Day … while the MHS band is the acknowledged Gold Standard for area bands, the PHS band is very good … thought it was the best in the parade, which included a number of bands from much larger state schools.
The Vinal Tech/East Hampton football team went to Torrington and beat Wolcott Tech 19-12 to even its record at 1-1 Saturday … Cromwell also got a road win, 20-14 over Coventry to even its record at 1-1 Friday night … Haddam-Killingworth was not so fortunate, losing at Nonnewaug Saturday 26-6.
This week’s games, other than the aforementioned MHS, XHS and WesU games, include Coventry at H-K Friday at 6:30, Vinal/East Hampton at Bullard-Havens Tech in Bridgeport Saturday at noon and Cromwell at Ellington Saturday at 1:30 p.m. … Coginchaug and Valley, which played each other Friday with Valley romping, are off this week.