From the start, coach John Acquavita’s goal for Wilbur Cross was to get better every week. He knew there would be tough times, with an inexperienced line and other challenges.
The Governors weren’t positive a win was coming in these last four games, but Acquavita thought they could be competitive. The victory came Friday, a 25-13 win over Guilford.
“It was a much-needed win for everyone,” Acquavita said, “players, coaches, the program. It was nice to end the fear of going 0-10. That’s never a good thing.”
Acquavita thought his team played well a week earlier in a 27-7 loss to Hamden, and was left to wonder what might’ve been had they not fumbled at the Green Dragons 4 after an eight-minute drive to start the game.
“For a team without a winning record, that’s tough to rebound,” Acquavita said.
They did rebound a week later. Jabez Cubiz scored three touchdowns and got big yards on the ground late as the Governors chewed up the clock, Acquavita said. The junior finished with 168 rushing yards on 13 carries
Senior linebacker Chino Grant had 10 solo tackles and was in on five more; he had three tackles for a loss, giving him 17 for the year, and he forced two fumbles.
“It’s tough to think a one-win team would have an all-stater, but he has played so well,” Acquavita said.
Wilbur Cross wasn’t the only team this weekend to avoid a winless season. Crosby got its first win against Derby, and Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech got the co-op’s first win against Westhill.
The Governors close with Amity on Friday and Hillhouse on Thanksgiving. They’ll be tough games, but Acquavita hopes they’ll be competitive games.
“If we can bring all the kids back,” he said, “I think we could be one of those teams that go from dreadful to really competitive.”
Not since Hamden went 7-3 in 2009 had the Green Dragons finished with a winning record. Friday’s 15-8 win over Amity ended that run: They’re 6-2 with two regular-season games remaining and a chance at a Class LL playoff spot.
“We’ve been fortunate to have great kids in years past,” fourth-year coach Tom Dyer said. “Changing the way things are takes some time. We’re fortunate to have some talented seniors who’ve been really super-committed. The ball bounced our way a few times.
“We’ve played great defense, and we’ve run the ball well.”
Those seniors include running back/linebackers Edwin Figuroa, Tymell Haynes and Davonte Mitchell, along with receiver/kick returner/”little bit of everything” Chris Pigatt, Dyer said, and linemen Darius Mills and Ashani Gray.
The Green Dragons have the coming weekend off before meeting Sheehan on Nov. 22 in Wallingford. The Thanksgiving-Day Green Bowl against Notre Dame-West Haven is at Hamden.
WAIT, WHAT YEAR IS IT?
It was a big weekend for the old District League. Wilbur Cross got its win. Hamden clinched its winning season. And Hillhouse beat West Haven 14-12, the first time the Academics beat the Westies since 1991. Hillhouse has won three out of four after an 0-4 start.
Six teams can clinch unofficial CIAC playoff spots with a win and nothing more this weekend: Darien and Newtown in Class LL, St. Joseph and Hand in Class L, and Ansonia and Bloomfield in Class S. A number of other teams have an opportunity to secure their berth with a win and help, whether through bonus points of their own or other teams’ losses.
Nothing is official, we were reminded when Bullard-Havens clinched the first unofficial Class S playoff spot on Saturday, until the football committee meets the day after Thanksgiving.
In case you missed it, Sean Patrick Bowley had the rundown on the four state teams who’ll take part in NEPSAC bowl games this coming weekend.
Just as eight CIAC teams remain winless, eight remain undefeated, a number that shrank in part thanks to a wild Norwich Free Academy comeback to deal Killingly its first loss, 27-21.
The Wildcats’ Andrew Cote scored two touchdowns in the last three minutes, the second on a tiebreaking hook-and-lateral at the buzzer.
“I actually started the play in a jog, like I was going to take the play off,” Cote told Mike DiMauro of the Day of New London. “We do it all the time in practice.”
KEEP YOUR ALLIANCE
The NVL isn’t part of the state’s scheduling alliance. Until Friday, Ansonia hadn’t played a home game in the regular season that finished within a touchdown since the last time it lost at Nolan Field in the regular season, in 2010. That said, Ansonia coach Tom Brockett, after Friday’s 26-20 win over Woodland:
“People don’t understand the pride when you play teams that are rivals and close to you,” Brockett said. “Go back, every time we play Woodland, you know what, throw the records out. All the people say get on a bus and go two hours. How about get on a bus and play your neighbor that you grow up with and know kids, and watch how hard those two teams competed tonight. Knock off all the other nonsense. This was a great, hard-fought game. I don’t remember the last time we played Woodland that the score hasn’t gone back and forth in the second half.”