— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) November 28, 2018
ENFIELD —Each piece of game footage that crossed his path in the last couple of days only increased Stafford/East Windsor/Somers football coach Brian Mazzone’s respect for Cromwell/Portland receiver Nick Wright and increased his own anxiety level.
Mazzone reached out to some coaching colleagues about how to slow down the dynamic Wright and they told him to keep things simple.
That direct approach worked wonders with a sack on the first offensive play, then more huge defensive plays were to follow in the 41-6 Class S quarterfinal victory at Enfield High on Tuesday.
“We were worried about 5 [Wright] and 12 [quarterback Bryce Karstetter] and what can we do?” Mazzone said. “First drive, let’s bring pressure. We got that sack and all of sudden my confidence jumps, I can’t imagine what it did for the kids.”
Senior linebacker Cody Gebo chased the elusive Karstetter down from behind to set the tone in the game. Two first-half fumbles by the visiting Panthers, including one near the goal line, three interceptions in the second half and a blocked punt helped the Bulldogs pull away.
“We wanted to put him out of his comfort zone a little bit, pressure him in the pocket,” Gebo said. “With pressure in the face, that is what we wanted to do the whole time, we knew he was a good receiver and we wanted to lock him down.”
Wright came into the game ranked seventh on Connecticut’s single-season charts with 1,425 receiving yards. He did finish with 70 yards on seven receptions, but was kept from making a significant impact in the game and that all started by making life uncomfortable for Karstetter.
With the defense taking care of business, quarterback Colton Engel delivered a series of physical runs for the Bulldogs’ offense. Engel ran for 143 yards, including scoring runs of 1, 1 and 2 yards.
“We never really got to get to ball back, they chewed up the clock,” Cromwell coach Randell Bennett said. “I don’t know if the stage was too big for us tonight, this is a team that has been here. You could see the difference, I think we were nervous to make a play at first.”
The first score was set up by a 24-yard reception at the 1 while Caleb White was on the ground. The second one came immediately after Karstetter appeared to be on the verge of scoring the tying touchdown before the ball squirted out of his hands
A blocked punt by Will Spellman gave the Bulldogs a rare short field in the third quarter, resulting in Julien Rivas’ 3-yard scoring run to make it 27-0.
Cromwell answered right back on Karstetter’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Pepe.
Scoring runs of 2 yards by Jeff Kology, 6 yards by Gebo capped the scoring.
STAFFORD/EAST WINDSOR/SOMERS 41, CROMWELL/PORTLAND 6
CROMWELL/PORTLAND 0 0 6 0 — 6
STAFFORD/SOMERS/EAST WINDSOR 7 7 13 14 — 41
- S-Colton Engel 1 run (Luke Phillips kick)
- S-Engel 1 run (Phillips kick)
- S-Engel 2 run (Phillips kick)
- S-Julien Rivas 3 run (Kick failed)
- C-Matthew Pepe 18 pass from Bryce Katstetter (run failed)
- S-Jeff Kology 2 run (Phillips kick)
- S-Cody Kebo 6 run (Phillips kick)
Records: C 9-2, S 11-0