In two decades as football coach at Ridgefield, Kevin Callahan has been around high school athletes long enough to understand them.
He knows the Tigers’ 17-14 win over New Canaan on Friday night says something about them, something Ridgefield felt it could be. Now they’ve got to prove it again.
“The plan now is to refocus, get our feet back on the ground,” Callahan said. “(The Rams) are an opponent that has always been a big rival for us. We have to keep getting better and back this up.”
— Terry Dinan (@tdinan) September 21, 2019
The victory, on Adam Biernat’s 37-yard field goal as time expired, broke a four-game losing streak against the Rams that dated to 2006. It kept Ridgefield unbeaten going to Saturday’s game against Staples at Norwalk. It moved the Tigers into the GameTimeCT Top 10 for the first time in two years, at No. 8.
The big plays came from all over the field, but the Tigers felt they had it in them.
“We knew our offensive line was big and physical. We knew defensively we had a great front,” Callahan said. “We felt we had one of the best corners (Alex Hanna) in the area and a middle linebacker (Danny Moroney, with two interceptions and several tackles for loss) who made a statement.”
They had a quarterback in Owen Matthews, too, with experience. He threw for 399 yards against New Canaan.
“He got hit a lot (last year),” Callahan said, “and he never missed a play, never missed a snap.”
Running back Kai Prohaszka, too, has stepped up. They knew the sophomore had talent, Callahan said, but they had to see it translate to the field. He caught a pass that went for 53 yards to set up the winning field goal on Friday.
“The kids have very solid chemistry,” Callahan said. “Having been to championship games (most recently in 2016) and winning once (2002), we know how important that is.”
The Tigers have both No. 3 Greenwich, the defending Class LL champion, and No. 2 St. Joseph, last year’s Class M champion that was moved up to Class L this year, on their schedule, not to mention Staples and Wilton in the meantime. They’ll also visit Chatham (N.J.) on Oct. 12 after a weekend off.
West Haven wasn’t sure how long a rolled ankle might keep quarterback Andre Rentas out. Turned out the answer was “a half”: He played in the second half of the Westies’ 33-8 loss to Conard on Friday night.
Berlin, already without three key players, lost senior Adam Liberda to a collarbone injury in the Redcoats’ win over the Bulkeley co-op, the New Britain Herald’s Ryan Chichester reported.
Derby standout Zerion Montgomery left the Red Raiders’ 27-8 loss to Torrington after one quarter of the home opener. His prognosis is still to be determined.
Haddam-Killingworth senior running back Dalton Modehn, one of the best at his position in the Pequot Conference, broke his collarbone in Saturday’s game against North Branford and will be out for an indefinite period.
It is possible that Modehn’s senior season will end at a little more than five quarters of football. It would be a cruel blow to a new-look team that had aspirations of contending in the Pequot this year.
Modehn was tackled at the end of a 64-yard gallop deep into North Branford territory in the opening minutes of the second quarter. He left the game immediately and was taken to a local hospital. From there, H-K’s drive fizzled at the T-Birds’ 18-yard line when the Cougars failed to convert on fourth-and-15 and turned it over on downs.
Modehn rushed for 127 yards on only 10 carries in the 19-6 loss to the Thunderbirds. The week before, in a season-opening 3-0 loss to Cromwell/Portland, he ran for 114 yards.
Athletes like Modehn, a tough, experienced, savvy third-year varsity back, don’t grow on trees at small schools like H-K, a program that ebbs and flows based on roster size. Coach Mike Baklik’s numbers were up for this year, but the Cougars will be hard-pressed to replace Modehn’s experience — he also is a very good cornerback — let alone his production.
Last season, H-K won a school-record 11 times and made it to the Class S championship game. That squad had size and experience on both lines and multiple options on offense with Modehn and then-senior Tobey Callender. For a Pequot running back, Callender was a giant at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. He led the team with 1,542 yards rushing.
Modehn, who is a compact 5-10, 165 pounds, was every bit his equal — 1,384 yards on 209 carries and a team-best 21 rushing touchdowns. He ran for 100 or more yards in eight of 13 games, averaging 106.5 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry.
He looked on his way to at least challenging last year’s rushing total. Before the season began, Baklik believed Modehn was close to surpassing the Cougars’ all-time rushing record.
COACH OF THE WEEK
The New York Jets selected Stamford’s Jamar Greene their Gatorade Coach of the Week last week after the Black Knights’ 14-13 Week 1 win over Staples. It’s the second time Greene has earned the accolade; the Jets also honored him early in the 2014 season.
After the first big weekend of Connecticut High School Football Alliance play, the scheduling alliance has set up 30 games. Compiled off two weeks of tweets @cthsfb: The SCC has been on one side in 20 of those games, going 10-10. The CCC is 7-9. The SWC is 3-8. The ECC has gone 5-2, and the FCIAC is 5-1; the ECC’s and FCIAC’s losses are to each other.
Another 29 games are on the slate for Week 3.
It’s early enough that you can probably ballpark most of them in your head with a few scores in front of you, but the CIAC has posted the point standings in each playoff class after Week 2 on ciacsports.com.
The absolute maximum possible right now is a 140-point average in Class S. The current actual leaders have 120-point averages, five Class S teams and one Class M team.
CLICK ‘LIKE’, PART 1
New London Day columnist Mike DiMauro (@BCGenius) tweeted about Norwich Free Academy’s Austin Richards’ game on Saturday, a team-record 482 passing yards. @KillinglyFBall, for whom RPO famously means “run people over“ rather than “run-pass option,” had a reply.
We are aiming for 482 in a season
— Killingly Football (@KillinglyFBall) September 22, 2019
CLICK ‘LIKE’, PART 2
Our Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) captured it Friday night when Derby awarded a high school diploma to Silvio Nero, who left the school in December 1941 to join the United States Navy.
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) September 20, 2019
Paul Augeri contributed to this report.