Rob Tynan needed no time to remember the last time Barlow of Redding started 4-0.
"1996, and we went to face a 0-4 Foran (of Milford) team," Tynan said. "And they came out and beat us. And we're reminding our players about that."
The Falcons have made themselves into one of the state's best and most surprising teams four weeks into the season, winning all of their games in convincing fashion.
Over the past several years, lacrosse and soccer had been the top boys' programs at Barlow. The football program, on the other hand, had its last winning season in 2006. Its cumulative record the last 10 years was 37-64-2.
The current Falcons have never enjoyed a winning season — they finished 3-7 last year. They did, however, begin to build some confidence during preseason scrimmages.
"They were optimistic," said Tynan, now in his 21st year as head coach. "We put together a tough scrimmage schedule. We did a lot with Staples (of Westport) and St. Joseph (of Trumbull). We went to the Wilton Jamboree that had a lot of teams in the FCIAC (Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference). I think they really built on it because we did well. Those are quality football teams, and I'm not saying we beat them, but we were holding our own."
Barlow hasn't used a new approach to become a winner. It just has better talent. Tynan was encouraged by the offense during the preseason — the Falcons' scrimmage against St. Joseph was referred to as a "track meet" as neither team stopped the other.
The Falcons, who play in the South-West Conference, have averaged 44 points and 437 yards rushing.
Tynan said that they can throw, but they've only done so 10 times because they're averaging 10.7 yards per carry.
"We returned a lot of our skill kids, which really helped," Tynan said. "We're a triple option team, and it's the first time in a while that we've had a quarterback, two fullbacks and two slot backs that are all good.
Junior quarterback Jack Shaban (5-foot-6, 150 pounds) has rushed for a team-high 636 yards and 11 touchdowns
Senior co-captain Alex Lockwood (5-8, 165), a slot back, has 484 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"(Lockwood) had a great game versus Bethel (on Sept. 21)," Tynan said. "He had four scores on four touches for 225 yards, which is a good day at work."
Senior Billy Wilson and junior Steve Miller alternate at fullback. That approach keeps them fresh because both also play linebacker.
Wilson (team-high 34 tackles) makes all the play calls at middle linebacker. Miller and senior co-captains Christian Huribal (tackle) and Jack Tunick (defensive back) have been among the defensive leaders.
"I wasn't quite sure, honestly, about how well the defense would play," Tynan said. "That's been a pleasant surprise. They've definitely picked it up. Our first-string unit hasn't been scored on in two-and-a-half games."
Barlow is ranked fifth in the current CIAC Class M point rankings, and its schedule will get tougher the second half of the season. It has road games at Brookfield (3-1) and state power Masuk of Monroe (4-0) in weeks 8 and 9, respectively.
The Falcons end the regular season playing host to Thanksgiving rival Weston (4-0). That game will shape the Class M rankings (Weston is currently third).
"All I ever tell them is that every game is a big game for us," Tynan said. "People want to talk about Thanksgiving or Masuk? Nope. Every game is a big game."
■ ■ ■ ■
For those of you who live in The Valley or near it, there will a benefit dinner for legendary Ansonia coach Jack Hunt, who is battling cancer.
The dinner will be held at Ansonia's St. Sebastian Club on Oct. 21. The menu includes ziti and meatballs, and a raffle will also be held.
Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children under 10. Contact Dorothy Gleason at email@example.com or Marcia Bilodeau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunt, who played football at Ansonia, had one of the most successful coaching runs in state history. A year after the program finished 5-6, Hunt took over in 1987 and coached the team to the first of three consecutive Class S titles.
(New Londoners are gnashing their teeth as the Chargers beat the Whalers in 1988 and '89, the latter which was a classic.)
Hunt had a record of 193-26 from 1987-2005. His winning percentage of .881 is third all-time, according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. He also coached seven CIAC championship teams, third-best in state history.
■ ■ ■ ■
Those of you who love minutia, the only two coaches who have won more CIAC state titles than Hunt are current New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli and Jack Cochran. Both have won eight.
Also, Joe Orsene has the highest career winning percentage in state history (who coached a minimum of 40 games). Orsense, who coached Southington from 1961-66, had a 50-4-1 record (.918). Thomas Brockett, one of Hunt's former assistants who took over the team in 2006, is second. His record is 71-7 (.910).
■ ■ ■ ■
One has to be a masochist to be a defensive coach nowadays. Thanks to the spread and liberal pass defense rules, the job has become all about pain, blues and agony.
Back on point — Amity of Woodbridge and Guilford tried, emphasis tried, to set a state-record Friday for most combined points in a game.
The teams fell short, but it wasn't for lack of trying. And Amity won, 61-43.
The game was like an opera — or a Ric Flair wrestling match — as it started slowly and built to a crescendo.
Amity led, 6-3, after the first quarter.
The teams combined for five touchdowns, one field goal, and 40 points in the fourth quarter.
Amity, at one point, scored 38 straight points.
The stats reported by "Mr. Westies" Mike Madera, for the Milford-Orange Bulletin, and those reported to MaxPreps.com by the two schools, differed.
We respect Mr. Madera and his machismo, but we'll defer to each school's stats. Oddly enough, both programs reported totals that were mostly less than those in the paper. It's always the other away around.
James Semmonella completed 8 of 20 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 10 times for 70 yards and a score.
David Attolino ran 21 times for 179 yards and two scores.
In addition to Semmonella's passing yardage, the Spartans ran 41 times for 336 yards. Do the math — that's 517 yards.
Eric Zergiebel did most of the damage for Guilford — he ran 14 times for 219 yards and four touchdowns. K.C. Horton added eight carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Guilford ran 44 times for 462 yards. It didn't complete and pass, either.
If you're keeping score at home, the 104 combined points ranked 15th all-time in state history during the modern era.
The modern-era state record is 120 points, set on Nov. 5, 2010 (Guilford beat Law of Milford, 67-53.)
The all-time record is 130 — Norwich Free Academy beat Bulkeley of New London, 130-0, in 1902.
(No, we're not trying to antagonize you today, New London.)
■ ■ ■ ■
We couldn't discuss score-travanganzas here at Polecat HQ without mentioning the latest St. Paul of Bristol game.
The Falcons may be winless, but you'll never be bored at their games. We mean that sincerely.
Torrington's Devone Thomas ran 39 times for 315 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team past St. Paul last Saturday, 59-33.
An example of the game's daffiness — the Red Raiders, in an effort keep Falcons' quarterback Logan Marchi off the field — successfully recovered back-to-back onside kicks. They scored both times to take a 22-7 lead.
Torrington recovered a third onside kick in the third quarter. They scored to take a 44-21 lead.
Nick Lorenzo ran 12 times for 70 yards and a score for the Red Raiders.
Marchi completed 21 of 32 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Daija Fitzpatrick added seven catches for 95 yards, and Ben Pryor added six catches for 71 yards and two scores.
■ ■ ■ ■
The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll with record and first-place votes in parentheses: 1. Xavier-Middletown (4-0, 12); 2. Ansonia (4-0, 1); 3. Hand-Madison (4-0); 4. Staples-Westport (3-0); 5. Windsor (3-0); 6. West Haven (4-0); 7. Masuk; 8. Greenwich (3-0); 9. Glastonbury (4-0); and, 10. Berlin (4-0).
The New Haven Register Top 10 state media poll: 1. Xavier (22); 2. Staples (3); 3. Hand (1); 4. Ansonia; 5. Windsor; 6. Greenwich; 7. Masuk; 8. West Haven; 9. Glastonbury; and, 10. Berlin.
Yeah, both polls feature the same teams. We need something to shake it up. Like a game involving two of the state's top three teams. Yea-aaaah, that would do it.
Okay, back on point — Ned Freeman's cold, calculating computer ratings for CalPreps and MaxPreps: 1. Ansonia; 2. Xavier; 3. Staples; 4. Hand; 5. Newtown; 6. Masuk; 7. St. Joseph; 8. Greenwich; 9. Fairfield Prep; and, 10. North Haven. That's four SCC teams and three FCIAC — even computer models love those leagues. West Haven is 11th, Windsor 12th, and Berlin is 29th.
Vaya con dios…
The Day of New London's Top 10 state coaches' poll
First-place votes in parentheses, record through Saturday, points tabulated on a 30-28- 26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis, and last week's ranking:
1. Xavier-Middletown (12) 4-0 388 1
KNOW THIS: It plays host to No. 3 Hand Friday. NEXT: vs. Hand, Friday, 7 p.m.
2. Ansonia (1) 4-0 348 2
KNOW THIS: Standards have been set so ridiculously high for the Chargers that, when they led defending CIAC Class S champion Holy Cross by 14 points after three quarters last Friday, one's first reaction was, "that's it?" They won, 35-7. NEXT: vs. Seymour, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
3. Hand-Madison 4-0 336 3
KNOW THIS: It plays at top-ranked Xavier Friday. NEXT: at Xavier, Friday, 7 p.m.
4. Staples-Westport 3-0 320 4
KNOW THIS: The Wreckers had a bye week. .... NEXT: at Danbury, Friday, 7 p.m.
5. Windsor 3-0 272 5
KNOW THIS: ….too bad the Warriors and Wreckers didn't hook up to fill their open date. NEXT: vs. Simsbury, Friday, 7 p.m.
6. Masuk-Monroe 4-0 224 6
KNOW THIS: Andy Fredeen returned the opening kickoff for a 65-yard touchdown last Friday as the Panthers rolled Bunnell, 63-14. NEXT: vs. New Fairfield, Friday, 7 p.m.
7. West Haven 4-0 221 7
KNOW THIS: Plays at No. 3 Hand next Friday. NEXT: vs. Amity, Friday, 7 p.m.
8. Greenwich 3-0 205 8
KNOW THIS: Had a 35-point halftime lead last Friday and trounced Trumbull, 62-31. NEXT: at Fairfield Ludlowe, Friday, 7 p.m.
9. Glastonbury 4-0 193 9
KNOW THIS: Held unbeaten Manchester to 46 rushing yards in last Friday's 20-8 win. NEXT: vs. Maloney, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
10. Berlin 4-0 153 10
KNOW THIS: Mitch WIlliams completed 8 of 11 passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-0 rout of Weaver last Saturday. NEXT: at Northwest Catholic, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Also receiving votes: Southington (4-0), 113 points; Middletown (4-0), 96; Norwich Free Academy (4-0), 76; Hillhouse-New Haven (3-1), 74; Newtown (4-0), 66; St. Joseph-Trumbull (3-1), 53; New Canaan (3-1), 26; Trinity Catholic-Stamford (4-0), 25; Darien (3-1), 23; North Haven (3-1), 22; North Branford (3-0), 19; Tie, Avon (4-0) and Barlow (4-0), 15; Derby (3-1), 9; Farmington (4-0), 8; Tie, Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (4-0) and Wolcott (4-0), 7.
The following coaches voted: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Jim Buonocore, Ledyard; Craig Bruno, Bunnell; Dave Cadelina, Bridgeport Central; Steve Filippone, Hand; Rob Fleeting, Windsor; Tanner Grove, Montville; Jude Kelly, St. Paul; Tim King, Valley Regional-Deep River; Sean Marinan, Xavier; John Murphy, Masuk; Marce Petroccio, Staples; Bob Zito, Maloney-Meriden.