WHERE/WHEN – Veterans Stadium, New Britain, 11 a.m.
TICKETS – $10 Everyone
ON THE AIR/WEB – NFHS Network (Subscription required) | WELI-AM 960 | Livestream WELI on Facebook | WINY-AM 1350 & WINY-FM 97.1
SEEDS/RECORDS – No. 3 Killingly 11-1; No. 5 Weston 11-1
COACHES – Killingly: Chad Neal, 16th year (88-86); Weston: Dan Hassett, 3rd year (24-8)
PROGRAM ROSTERS | LIVE STATS (TBA)
1981-M def. Hand 14-7; 1994-MM lost to McMahon 53-16; 1996-M def. New Canaan 27-13; 2017-M def. Barlow 41-14.
1989-S lost to Ansonia 44-0.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jr. OT/DE Jacob Galarza (6-4, 260), Sr. NG/OT Connor Leduc (5-11, 265), Soph. RB/LB Jack Sharpe, Sr. RB/S Jackson Lopes, Sr. QB Jacob Nurse.
Sr. OT/DE Francis Okine (6-1, 185), Sr. WR/LB Brendan Sawyer, Sr. WR/LB Jack Sawyer, Sr. QB/FS James Goetz, Sr. RB/LB Tyler Bower.
There aren’t many teams to have two different nicknames rejected within six months, but Killingly has found a way. First “Redmen” was discarded, deemed insensitive to Native Americans. “Red Hawks” was adopted, then on Wednesday turned down. So at the moment, they’re just Killingly.
And hey, that’s plenty. The team might be unbeaten here if not for an utterly bonkers Norwich Free Academy 27-21 victory on Nov. 8 that required two NFA touchdowns in the last three minutes, the second on a hook-and-lateral at the buzzer to break the tie.
Killingly’s road to the championship game this year included a 28-0 Class M quarterfinal win over New Fairfield, the only team to beat Weston, 29-6 on Nov. 1.
That, though, was one of four games missed by Weston all-state quarterback James Goetz, a three-sport standout; an all-state lacrosse midfielder, he helped the Trojans to the Class M final in June. He was, as usual, in on everything in the Trojans’ semifinal win Monday, throwing for two touchdowns, running for one, picking off a Rockville pass.
Brendan Sawyer took snaps when Goetz was out. He, twin brother Jack and Goetz were all Class M all-state players on defense, Goetz at defensive back, the Sawyer brothers at linebacker. Lineman Francis Okine got a nod on offense.
There’ll be an all-state lineman on the other side, too; two, in fact, big junior Jacob Galarza and senior Connor Leduc. They’ve helped continue the Killingly tradition of a powerful running game, symbolized by coach Chad Neal’s joke that “RPO” stands, in Killingly, for “run people over.”
They’ve cleared room for sophomore Jack Sharpe, who got limited time last year and started with 272 yards in the first four games of this season. He’s unofficially about 30 yards short of 2,000 now after running for better than 145 yards in each of the past eight games. Monday’s semifinal win over Waterford was his third 200-plus-yard rushing game of the year. Senior Jackson Lopes has run for 633 yards, too.
But Killingly will throw the ball, too. Senior Josh Heaney caught seven of senior Jacob Nurse’s 14 touchdown passes, and Killingly threw the ball late in the first half of the semifinal to spark the offense.
After going 19 years without a playoff berth, Killingly has been in the Class M tournament each of the past five years. It won a championship in 2017. It lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion in each of the other three seasons before this year.
SPB’S PICK – Killingly
PETE’S PICK – Weston
FORNO’S PICK – Killingly
CALPREPS PROJECTION – Killingly 28-26