Welcome back to the GameTimeCT Top 10 Plays (and moments) of the Week.
With Halloween behind us, we look back at the wild, wacky and dramatic Week 8 before heading into the November homestretch of the 2015 football season.
In this week’s Top 10, you’ll see the offensive onslaught that was Wolcott vs. St. Paul. You’ll see two defining moments from the epic Windsor-Wethersfield showdown. You’ll see some valiant-in-defeat performances from Morgan and Pomperaug. You’ll see some athletic interception returns. Big-time touchdown catches. Key defensive stops.
And, perhaps, two of the best plays of the entire 2015 season courtesy of East Catholic and St. Joseph.
If you thought yours should have topped any of these, chances are you didn’t send it our way. That’s your fault. Not ours. Get those plays in before Tuesday 6 p.m.
As always, our honorable mentions will be posted below the main reel.
There’s so much to do as we prepare for Week 9. So without further ado, the best of the Week 8 Plays … of …THE WEEK!
The Scene — Wolcott, in the hunt for a Class S playoff berth, played host to St. Paul in an NVL clash at Monroe Field.
The Plays — Where do we start? It was NVL version MACtion at its best (or, if your a fan of defense, worst). It was a tour de offensive force. Or maybe it was just that the defenses took the night off. You make the call.
The teams combined 1,140 total yards, including 913 rushing yards, and 16 touchdowns. The 121 combined points were the third-highest in modern CT high school football history, 12 behind the nutty 84-49 St. Joseph-Ledyard Class M final in 2013, and last year’s 75-57 Torrington win over Crosby.
We’ve seen no box score on this particular game (this is the best recap we could find), so we can’t give you a blow by-blow account. We can show you just about every touchdown per team, so we’ve shown two separate reels.
St. Paul’s Ben Pryor did almost all the damage to help the Falcons keep pace for three quarters, running 18 times for 352 of his team’s 509 rushing yards and scored seven of his team’s touchdowns. Pierce Piana also ran 18 times, but had a paltry 145 yards rushing. We show Pryor’s reel first.
(By the way, is St. Paul actually wearing guardian caps in games? Awrighty.)
Meanwhile, Wolcott rolled up 404 yards rushing and 601 yards total and 10 touchdowns. Back Nate Filippone ran for 231 yards and five scores. Ray Iorio added 57 yard and a touchdown. Chris Maisto — because, what the heck — ran for 65 yards on one carry: A fake punt touchdown somewhere in the game.
That there even was a punt attempt in this one boggles the mind. That it went for a touchdown for the punting team doesn’t.
The Result — Also mind-boggling is the fact that Wolcott’s defense actually held Pryor and St. Paul scoreless in the fourth quarter of the 69-52 victory. Guess defense showed up, after all.
Wolcott improved to 6-1 heading into a huge game with Class S playoff implications vs. 6-1 Seymour this week. St. Paul fell to 4-3.
The Scene — No. 4 Windsor, which had already committed a few turnovers, was trailing No. 10 Wethersfield 14-13 early in the fourth quarter of its Top 10 showdown on Friday night. After a punt, the Warriors set up camp at their own 7-yard line, needing to go the length of the field for an (undesired) field goal attempt, or 93 yards for a touchdown.
Other than two big plays, an interception return touchdown by Gabe Elliott and a 63-yard scoring run by Bennie Fulse, Windsor hadn’t gained much ground against Wethersfield’s front. QB Jakari Grant had been picked off twice. So this was going to be rough.
The Play(s) — But then it wasn’t. With plenty of time with which to work, Windsor methodically chipped away at the Wethersfield defenses. It survived two fumbles, but otherwise worked brilliantly. Grant hit Jayquan Richardson with a perfect 38-yard strike into Wethersfield territory. Fulse ripped off two exceptional runs, including one cut-back and dance down the 3-yard line. All-Stater Tyler Coyle took it from there, putting Windsor ahead 21-14 (after a 2-point conversion) with 4:37 remaining.
The Result — Windsor went back to defense to put this one away. First Coyle picked off Wethersfield’s Devon Smith to stop a scoring drive inside the 20. Then the Warriors made a goal line stand to seal the 21-14 victory. We’ll see what happened there in a few moments…
Double your fun
The Scene — A showdown between the last two remaining unbeaten teams in the Pequot League: Granby and Morgan.
The Play(s) — Almost (almost, but, no actually not quite) like the pinball machine above, this game becamse a shootout. Morgan’s hero was Gabe Eriksen, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the first half. He returned the opening kickoff to give Morgan an early 6-0 lead.
Later, as Granby’s offense was rolling up 28 points in the second quarter, Eriksen kept Morgan within striking distance with another kickoff return touchdown. That one pulled Morgan within 28-27 late in the first half. He also scored on a 59-yard touchdown run and an 18-yard TD pass from Chucky Kostek. But we’re focusing on the two kickoff TDs here. Tis a rare thing.
The Result — Granby wouldn’t be denied, however. The Bears scored one more time before the half for a 35-27 lead and then kept the margin for the remainder of the second half in a 49-41 victory. Connor Field had another day, running for 233 yards and five touchdowns.
The Prince of Pick
The Scene — With no wiggle room in the Class L playoff hunt, Notre Dame-WH faced Cheshire in a must-win game at Veterans Field Friday night. Cheshire’s defense held the Green Knights to a mere touchdown in the first half, but Notre Dame’s offense sprang to life in the third quarter, scoring three times to take a 26-7 lead.
The Play — Notre Dame’s defense was the hero in this game, however. It’s been great all season. Cheshire, trying to get within two scores early in the fourth quarter behind sophomore quarterback Jack Raba, had the ball at Notre Dame 36 with 7 minutes remaining. But Raba overthrew the receivers (possibly because of a miscommunication on the routes), and Notre Dame’s Prince Brooks made the Rams pay. He intercepted the pass, darted back across the field and then doubled back again. He picked up a sweet block and had nothing but green in front of him for a 93-yard interception return touchdown and a 33-7 ND-WH lead.
The Result — That touchdown was part of a 33-point scoring burst in the second half which led to a 40-7 NDWH victory. The Green Knights still need to win out, but have a decidedly lighter schedule the rest of the way with Amity, Cross and Hamden. They should reach the Class L playoffs if they win out.
Parker at the Pylon
The Scene — Xavier, which has struggled through injuries and an often ineffective offense, headed into the always-tough Surf Club with a losing record. Hand, at 5-1, was in desperate need of a victory to keep its playoff hopes healthy heading into Shelton this week.
The Play — Xavier sophomore quarterback Will Levis had already hooked up with Anthony Caramanica for a 24-yard score and a 6-0 Xavier lead. But his next touchdown pass was a beaut.
Facing fourth and 5 at the Hand 28 late in the first half, Levis rolled right and threw a bomb to the right pylon just as he was about to get leveled by a Hand defender. Teammate Parker Rowley made clutch, leaping grab and fell back into the end zone for a 13-0 halftime lead.
The Result —Xavier’s on-again, off-again defense showed up, keeping Hand out of the end zone until late in the game and Xavier left the Surf Club with one of its best wins of the season, 13-7. The Falcons play Cheshire and Fairfield Prep to end the year. Hand, meanwhile, heads to unbeaten Shelton now desperate for a victory.
The Scene — As described above, Windsor had just taken a 21-14 lead over No. 10 Wethersfield with 4:37 remaining in its game at Cottone Field. It looked to have salted the game away when Tyler Coyle picked off Wethersfield’s Devon Smith with 3:26 left. But Windsor couldn’t get a first down and had to punt it away with 2:32 remaining.
Smith hit Kyle Klavins with a short pass that Klavins took all the way to the 1-inch line, tantalizingly close to sending this game to overtime. It set the stage for the best finish of Week 8.
The Plays — Playing without Richard Willams, their standout back who had only recently left the game with an injury, Wethersfield ran four consecutive times — three times with the electric Smith running a QB sneak or draw — and was stopped four-consecutive times. Windsor’s Jayquan Richardson made two clutch tackles on the goal line on second down and the deciding fourth-down play. He swooped in, untouched, and stopped Smith cold.
“I feel like I was going down a roller coaster… unbuckled …ready to fly out,” Windsor’s Bennie Fulse said afterward of the final series. “But once again, hats off to Wethersfield. They definitely played us better than we expected.”
The Result — Windsor won 21-14 with a signature victory on its way to an almost-certain Class L playoff berth. Wethersfield is still in good shape to secure one of the other L playoff spots despite the loss. Perhaps these two will meet again…
The Scene — Once-mighty Pomperaug has struggled all season and headed winless into a game against rival and Class L playoff hopeful Masuk.
Yet Pomperaug turned in one of its best efforts of the year. Jake Harwell bust loose for a 90-yard touchdown early and Pomperaug had a 10-6 halftime lead.
Masuk, which sent Nick Dellapiano to receiver while Matt Hersh took over at quarterback, rallied to take a 14-10 lead after three quarters.
Early in the fourth, Hersh and Masuk were driving to take a commanding, two-score lead.
The Play — But Pomperaug had some fight left. On first and 10 from the Pomperaug 13, Hersh faked a handoff and looked Dellapiano’s way. He didn’t see Harwell blitzing, untouched up the middle. Harwell crushed Hersh and jarred the ball lose at the Pomperaug 18.
Lineman Tom Stakowski was in perfect position to scoop and score. He bolted 82 yards the other way to put Pomperaug up 17-14 in the fourth quarter, filling fans’ heads at the Arum Sports Complex with visions of an epic upset.
The Result — Alas for Pomperaug, Masuk was undaunted. Hersh immediately responded with a clutch 58-yard touchdown pass to Dellapiano, who made a leaping grab at the 34 to put Masuk up for good, 20-17. Masuk tacked on another touchdown for a season-saving 26-17 victory.
Masuk faces Brookfield this week in a huge game to keep its state playoff hopes alive. Pomperaug, which faces Bunnell on senior night, has three games left to pick up that elusive win.
The Scene — Harding headed to Weaver High School in Hartford to play four-time CSC champion Capital Prep/AF in a huge game with playoff implications, Harding in Class L and Capital Prep in Class S. That Capital had already lost the previous week only made this a bigger game for the Trailblazers.
The game, of course, was close. Harding had a 6-0 lead at halftime, but Capital Prep was driving on its first possession of the second half.
The Play — In Harding territory, Capital’s Jahkai Gill took a counter pitch and weaved in and out of the Presidents’ tackles before busting loose the other way down the right side.
He might have scored, but Harding’s Jahzaari Mullings monitored him the whole way, never committing to a tackle, waiting for his moment.
Gill finally scooted within Mullings’ reach and the Harding captain and safety hacked at the football. The ball came loose and fell with Mullings and into his outstretched arms.
The Result — The clutch turnover breathed new life into Harding, which almost immediately scored on Xavier Bass’ 60-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead. Harding later extended that lead to 22-13 when Mullings made his second great play of the game, a weaving interception return touchdown to put the exclamation point on a 28-13 victory.
Harding is all but assured a Class L playoff berth — the school’s first — and can wrap up a CSC title in its inaugural year with a victory over rival Bullard-Havens this week. With two losses Capital Prep is now in desperation mode in the Class S race.
The Scene — With a key game vs. Staples looming, St. Joseph wasted no time in putting Stamford away with 21 points in the first quarter and 20 in the second.
The Play — With St. Joseph up 34-0, all-state linebacker Cam Ryan made an insane defensive play. He not only crushed big Stamford back Tyrell Diaz on an underneath pass at the St. Joseph 44, but he threw Diaz to the ground with such force the ball came loose and Ryan, still upright, scooped it for a 40-yard fumble recovery touchdown that send the St. Joseph sideline into a frenzy and put the Hogs up 41-0.
The Result — St. Joseph scored again to make it 48-0 early in the third quarter before Stamford added 20 cosmetic points in the fourth quarter in an eventual 48-20 St. Joseph victory. The Hogs head home for a huge FCIAC game vs. Staples. Stamford lost its third-consecutive game after starting 3-1.
Just how they drew it up (no, seriously)
The Scene — East Catholic had a 16-15 halftime lead on Bloomfield when the two Class S hopefuls met Saturday. But Bloomfield blasted off early in the third quarter and took a commanding 38-16 lead.
The Play — East Catholic was stunned, but not out. Out of the double-wing from the East 37, fullback Conor Hills took a handoff and busted up the middle. He was met with a swarm of Bloomfield defenders and the ball flew from his grasp into the waiting arms of trailing teammate Andre Brackett, Jr. who bolted 60 yards to get East Catholic within 38-26 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Though it looked like a fortunate fumble, this was actually a designed play by East Catholic coach and double-wing guru Steven Calande. You can see Hills turn to look for Brackett just as the defenders commit. He tossed it back at the last possible millisecond and East Catholic was back in the ballgame.
“That’s the first one I have had go for a TD,” Calande said. “But (we) have converted it for a few long first downs. Never know when a kid will pitch it, but we try to make suggestions on when they do it vs when not to.”
The Result — East scored again early in the fourth quarter to cut Bloomfield’s lead to 38-33, but Bloomfield held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way in a key 38-33 victory. East is cooked in the Class S playoff race while Bloomfield kept pace with the rest of the field heading home to face Northwest Catholic.
Do you think you had a play that rivaled or trumped any of these? Well, we can guarantee you didn’t submit it to the GameTimeCT ‘Plays of the Week’ offices in time… or at all.
Don’t be modest. Don’t hesitate. We want to show off the best Connecticut football has to offer. And you can’t win if you don’t play.
So get those submissions in. Follow these instructions here. Send us your plays before 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
If it doesn’t make the Top 10 (or so), then it might make our honorable mention reel, which will be added to the bottom of this post on Wednesdays.
That’s all for this week.
Thanks for joining us.