By Gerry deSimas Jr.
SIMSBURY >> Simsbury High had grabbed the momentum in its season opening contest with long-time rival Farmington at Holden Field. But then, the rains came and washed it away.
Thunder, lightning and heavy rain suspended last week’s game with 13:53 remaining forcing the two teams to return the next afternoon to decide the contest.
Refreshed and focused, Farmington gave up just one first down to Simsbury, made a huge stop on a fourth-and-one play on the Indian 36-yard line and had Ivan Guadalupe run back an interception 32 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 remaining as Farmington prevailed, 26-14.
“We’re resilient,” Farmington coach Chris Machol said. “We’ve been that way for a few years now. We’ve turned ourselves into a big play team. I love big plays. As soon as it turned into a big play game, I knew we would have the edge.”
Farmington has its offensive weapons in Guadalupe, who ran for a team-high 130 yards, quick receiver Kenny Jones, who scored two TDs including an aerobatic catch in the end zone, and QB Jeremy Buck. But it was the Farmington defense that made big plays to decide this game.
“A few plays were the difference in this game,” Simsbury coach Jeff Osborne said.
It takes time and practice to perfect the triple option veer, which Simsbury has been running offensively for years. Senior quarterback James Hermsen ran for 37 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Simsbury hosts East Hartford on Friday night before hitting the road on Friday night, Sept. 27, to face Southington, which is ranked among the top 10 teams in the state in the New Haven Register’s high school football poll.
Against Farmington, Simsbury had a 14-13 lead when the game resumed thanks to a 10-yard touchdown run from Brad Helmkamp and the extra point from James Dougherty late in the second quarter. Helmkamp ran for a game-high 183 yards on 21 carries.
Farmington scored on Buck’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Jones, who made a leaping catch with 53 seconds left in the third period. The two-point conversion run failed, leaving Farmington with a 19-14 lead.
Trailing by five, Simsbury began a drive on the Farmington 46-yard line with 6:59 remaining in the game.
Helmkamp gained eight yards to the Farmington 36-yard line, setting up fourth down and inches for a first down to keep the drive alive. On fourth down, Helmkamp went up the middle but was stopped just inches short and Farmington took over with 5:13 remaining.
Simsbury got the ball back with 1:53 left on its own 26-yard line. The drive ended when Guadalupe intercepted a deflected pass and ran it back 32 yards to clinch the contest for the Indians with 1:16 left.
It was the first win for Farmington over Simsbury since 1965. The two schools first met on the gridiron in 1923 and played each other every year from 1948-68. Since then, there was just a pair of games in 2008 and 2009 won by Simsbury.
Farmington 26, Simsbury 14
Farmington (1-0) 7 6 6 7 – 26
Simsbury (0-1) 7 7 0 0 – 14
F: Kenny Jones 8 run (Wyatt Queirolo kick)
S: James Hermsen 1 run (Kyle Dougherty kick)
F: Jeremy Buck 1 run (kick blocked)
S: Brad Helmkamp 10 run (Dougherty kick)
F: Jones 20 pass from Buck (run fails), 0:53
F: Ivan Guadalupe 32 interception return (Queirolo kick), 1:22
RUSHING: Famington – Ivan Guadalupe 21-130, Jeremy Buck 7-28; Simsbury – Brad Helmkamp 21-183, Eric Bedson 3-37, James DeMaio 4-34, James Hermsen 12-37
PASSING: Farmington – Buck 10-20-1, 86; Simsbury – Hermsen 2-10-1, 15
RECEIVING: Farmington – Kenny Jones 4-52, Anthony Carpenter 4-22, Ben Rossetti 1-6, Elijah Johnson 1-5; Simsbury – Bedson 1-8, Dougherty 1-7