BROOKFIELD — It took these seniors on the Weston football team three long seasons to break through and earn a place at the Class M state tournament table.
The Trojans were ready to savor every minute of playoff fever.
Weston left no doubt while taking a big first step Wednesday night, rolling to a 49-6 triumph over Abbott Tech/Immaculate in a contest played under the lights at Brookfield High School.
“This journey means a lot to the entire Weston football program,” Weston senior running back/linebacker Tyler Bower said. “This is only the third time Weston has qualified for the states. Our group has worked hard for four years. We just missed qualifying the previous two years so this quest and this victory mean the world to us.”
And this 2019 Class M postseason journey continues for No. 5 Weston (10-1) on Monday when it travels to battle top-seeded Rockville in the M semifinals. Rockville ousted No. 8 SMSA on Wednesday.
“We’ve tried to focus on being 1-0 every week this season,” said Weston coach Dan Hassett. “Rockville will be a challenge. But these kids are ready to try to do it.”
Pretty impressive opening statement by @WestonAthletics in the Class M playoffs. Next up…a showdown with top-seeded Rockville @ciacsports @WFSBnews @Jack7Sawyer @westontrojansfb @Brendan2Sawyer #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/PCaa50l3F4
— Elliott Polakoff (@ElliottPolakoff) December 5, 2019
No. 4 ATI (9-2) let Weston know it was in for a battle as the Trojans led just 7-6 after the first quarter.
Senior Anthony Fraiser caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback C.J. Cianfione just two minutes into the contest for a 6-0 ATI lead.
But Bower’s first 2-yard TD run of the evening less than three minutes later put Weston ahead to stay at 7-6.
The Weston running attack took control behind the work of the Trojans’ offensive line to keep the ATI defense on its heels.
Weston finished with 343 yards rushing on 30 carries as the scoreboard clock went to running time late in the third quarter when the Trojans made it 42-6.
Bower was the No. 1 rusher as he amassed 104 yards on 14 carries, capped by his two touchdowns.
Sophomore Bradley Barcello (65 yards on four carries) and senior quarterback James Goetz (TD runs of six and 43 yards) rumbled their way to victory.
“The offensive line was incredible,” Bower said. “There was always a hole to run through.”
Goetz also added touchdown passes of 39 and 29 yards to senior Jack Sawyer. Senior kicker/linebacker/offensive guard Phoenix Parker was a flawless 7-for-7 on extra points.
“Our kids found another gear in the second half,” Hassett said. “Give ATI credit for a great season and a good battle tonight.”
For ATI United, the important part was getting into the Class M Tournament. As a representative of the Connecticut Technical Conference (CTC).
PLAYER OF GAME
Weston senior running back/linebacker Tyler Bower. Bower amassed 104 yards rushing on 14 carries and was a force at linebacker to push the Trojans on both sides of the ball.
“I’m proud of these kids. I love that we set a goal in the preseason (qualify for the states) and they achieved that goal,” said ATI United coach Rich Holmes, who is moving on to a greater full-time job — being a grandfather. “It’s an emotional end for me. 40 years of coaching is a long time. This year was about making the state playoffs. My hats off to all the CTC teams that got here. Weston was very good tonight. But I love my guys. They gave me everything they had.”