Tolland has been no stranger to tragedy of late. For coach Scott Cady, the football field is at least a small respite from it.
Cady himself is fighting peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the abdomen.
“There’s no place I’d rather be, except for the ‘B’ on the field. I’d rather see a ‘T’,” Cady joked after Thursday’s 14-8 season-opening loss at Sage Park in Berlin, and who wouldn’t rather be home?
“You kidding me? This is my happy place, yeah, and everybody knows that. I don’t think about it. I just don’t think about it. I’m doing good. I feel good. Some days I’m weaker than others. I’ve got a great staff, I’ve got great kids, good parents, it’s great. Good town.”
It’s a town that has lost alumni, a teacher and another coach way too young this year. Track and field coach Corey Pusey died a week ago at age 40. Cady said several football players were throwers for Pusey.
“He and I worked very closely together,” Cady said. “The girls and boys throwing teams were in with the football team this winter, and it really added a great dynamic.
“He was a special man, and that one hurts. He really was everything that people are saying about him. He was a monster in the hallways, a great personality. The kids, he told it to them straight. He gave them both: the love and the reality of life. Coaches like that, they’re important. We’re going to miss him an awful lot.”
Cady said he’s proud of his team’s effort through it all. When he was diagnosed in May, he said, the players kept up their work ethic on their own.
And they were in Thursday’s game the whole way.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them as human beings, as young men,” Cady said. “They’re great kids. We just didn’t play good today. That’s all it is. I love them.”
The Eagles’ Ryan Carlson set up a gofundme page for Cady in May. As of Monday, it was about $1,500 shy of a $15,000 goal.
REUNION HELPS BOOST GUILFORD
The head football coaching job had opened up at Guilford after the 2018 season, and North Branford’s offensive coordinator was curious about the situation. Fortunately for that offensive coordinator, Anthony Salvati, he had a good source on the Indians.
“When Coach (Anthony) Avallone stepped down, I shot a message to Chuck, whether he thought I should apply,” Salvati said.
Somewhat unusually, Chuck wasn’t a former colleague, teacher, administrator. It was his former running back.
The reunion of senior Charles Walcott and Salvati paid quick dividends in the season opener Friday night, when Walcott’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns erased a 12-point deficit and got the Indians a 20-19 win over Branford.
“I’m happy and grateful he is my coach again,” Walcott said. “He basically started my career as a football player in high school. He always puts the best men on the field. I guess he saw something in me.”
Walcott played for Salvati at North Branford for two years before moving to Guilford before the 2018 season. He’s a captain this year.
“I saw the talent right from the start,” Salvati said. “We put him at slot receiver, running back, even used him as a Wildcat quarterback.”
Salvati and the Thunderbirds missed him last year, when he helped the Indians go 6-4. Then, after 15 years of coaching at North Branford, Salvati followed him.
“He helped get that little trust factor from the rest of the team,” Salvati said.
“The kids bought in because he is such a leader.”
Branford came into Friday’s game as the SCC Tier III team with a lot of buzz, but Guilford came back to open the season with a win. Their heart stood out, Walcott said.
“It’s a good win,” Walcott said, “but it’s on to the next (Friday vs. Hartford Public). That’s in the past.”
TWO AND TWO BETTER
— Steve Markie (@HallFootball1) September 14, 2019
The number was in Noe Ruelas’ mind, because he’d had to look it up before.
“Last season I kicked a 52-yard field goal,” the Hall senior said, “and people were wondering if it was a record. I had to look it up.”
He found out the state record for the longest field goal in a high school game was 54 yards, a number that had been achieved three times since 1987.
Ruelas was confident Friday night when he lined up for a 56-yarder against Simsbury, breaking a record held by Watertown’s Rico Brogna (the future Major League Baseball player) and Fermi’s Tyler Timion, who both kicked 54-yard field goals in 1987, and Pomperaug’s Matt Paola, who matched them in 2011.
Caden Lill’s field goal tied the game for Simsbury, and the Trojans beat Hall 9-3 in overtime at Hall’s Chalmers Stadium.
Ruelas said he grew up playing soccer but began kicking in his freshman year of football in Colorado. He moved to Connecticut for his sophomore year.
“I started going to camps last year, improved on (my technique),” he said. Now he’s talking with colleges around the northeast.
Kohl’s Kicking Camp introduced him to the “Kick-It” program, raising money for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
Literally, a terrible break for Berlin’s Zach Hrubiec: The all-state linebacker and running back announced that he suffered a broken fibula on his first carry of the second quarter in Thursday’s win over Tolland. His senior season is over.
The final word isn’t yet in on senior cornerback Tony Undercuffler’s injury, who was injured early in the second half.
The news seems better in West Haven after quarterback Andre Rentas rolled his ankle while being tackled in the third quarter of the Blue Devils’ 21-13 loss at Shelton. West Haven coach Rich Boshea expects Rentas back, though there’s no set timetable yet.
It is time to update the Week 3 football schedule ❗️@xfalconfootball will now play New London on Saturday, Sept. 28 at noon at New London High School. @GameTimeCT @CTVarsity @Erikd25 @MetalNED @SPBowley @SCCcommissioner #cthsfb
— Xavier Athletics (@athleticsXHS) September 16, 2019
Eastern Connecticut mosquitoes did not receive votes in the GameTimeCT poll this week, though no single team had a bigger impact on the Week 1 schedule.
With Eastern Equine Encephalitis detected in the eastern part of the state, schools avoided outdoor activities after dusk. That wound up suspending Friday night’s Montville visit to Stonington, which began at 4 p.m., after three quarters.
Stonington led 40-34 after three, but Montville came back in the morning to win 49-46.
Xavier’s first two games, at NFA and at Fitch, were both moved from Friday nights to Saturday afternoons. The same happened to New Canaan’s Week 1 win at New London.
Nine CIAC teams went 0-10 last year. Two of them won their openers on Friday.
Lewis Mills snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 46-0 win over Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver, one of the other winless teams. And South Windsor beat New Britain to end an 11-game losing streak (though the first of those was the 2017 Class LL semifinal, after a 9-1 regular season).
Woodstock Academy, meanwhile, returned to ECC football with a win over Ledyard. The Centaurs had been an independent for three years.
Coaching can be tough. Sleepless nights, criticism, pressure, etc. I’ll take it all for moments like this. pic.twitter.com/oBfgNVAf4N
— Sean Saucier (@SaucierSean) September 15, 2019
On the other side, Choate’s 48-game winning streak ended with a loss to St. Thomas More. If you subscribe to The Whistle, GameTimeCT’s daily newsletter, you already saw boss Sean Barker’s note that this is the second time in five years (Ansonia) that a state team has reached 48 wins in a row but failed to match Cheshire’s state record of 49.
Sean Patrick Bowley contributed to this report.