A coach is supposed to give the rah-rah "it ain't over until it's over" speech whenever his (or her) team is trailing.
Wolcott coach Jason Pace gave his team one last Friday, even though he wasn't feeling too optimistic.
The Eagles trailed Seymour by 28 points late in the first half.
Wolcott proceeded with a record-setting comeback. It scored 35 in the second half, capped off by Vincent Gambino's 21-yard touchdown pass to Jason Pelletier with 11.6 seconds left, to win, 48-41.
Wolcott's rally tied the state-record for the largest comeback in state history, according to the Connecticut High School State Record Book.
"I'm telling them not to quit," Pace said, "but I think in every person's mind — coaches, players, people watching the game — everyone just thought how in the world could we possibly come back tonight. But they just never gave up."
Pace believes that his team was still feeling the effects of a 42-36 overtime loss to Naugatuck in Week 2. They had a chance to win with over a minute left, but had an extra point blocked. Tom Longo, who Pace said is one of the Eagles' top two-way linemen, tore his MCL in that game, too.
"It was tough," Pace said. "Both of our offenses, Naugatuck's and ours, are similar (up-tempo). I think there were 165 plays run in that game, so our kids, they were exhausted, physically and mentally exhausted.
"It was a tough week at practice. It really was. You could see looking back at the first half (against Seymour), I don't know if we were mentally ready for that first half of football. That shows when they led 34-6 late in the half."
Seymour scored 13 points in the first four minutes.
The Wildcats led 26-0 with four minutes left in the first half and pushed the lead to 34-6.
Wolcott scored before halftime to cut its deficit to 34-13.
"I have to give Seymour a ton of credit," Pace said. "They were ready to go. We just kind of went through the motions and walked through it. We weren't ready.
"They woke us up in a hurry. Well, maybe not in a hurry as it took three quarters."
Pace and his staff implemented a ludicrous speed offense during the offseason made popular by Chip Kelly, which helped Wolcott score 28 in the final 16 minutes.
The Eagles tied the game, 41-41, with one minute, 41 seconds left.
"I'm running it through my head," Pace said. "Okay, there's two minutes to go. If we score, can he handle other OT or go for the win?
"I said there's too much time to go for (two) now, so we kick it. We come back and kick it off. The first play, we stop them at the line, and I used a timeout. I think my coaches were saying, 'what in the heck are you doing?' My goal was to get the ball back. Second down. Incompletion. Third down. Incompletion again. So I still had a timeout in my pocket."
Wolcott began its final drive at its own 43. Gambino ran for a 19-yard gain. Joe Lynch followed with two run for 10 yards to give his team first-and-10 at the Seymour 29.
Gambino threw an 8-yard pass to Jayson Matos, followed by his game-winner to Pelletier.
"I'm thinking, 'it still isn't over yet,'" Pace said. "There's still over 10 seconds left. The kids are all pumped up. … but I told them don't assume this is over."
It was, though.
Gambino completed 21 of 37 passes for 410 yards with five touchdowns and two inceptions. He also ran eight times for 54 yards.
The Eagles' top receivers were Adam Santopietro (seven catches, 179 yards, two touchdowns) and Matos (10 catches, 183 yards, two touchdowns).
Joey Salemme ran 41 times for 171 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats. Frank Marcucio completed 4 of 9 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were caught by Christian Thurmond.
"The kids were very emotional," Pace said. "I was excited afterwards, but I was exhausted. There wasn't much I said to the team afterwards (other than), 'just don't do this to me every again.'"
Rick Wilson at the Waterbury Republican-American wrote both a game story and follow-up.
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Everyone here at Polecat HQ apologizes for the delay in the weekly early Tuesday morning blog. Blame the gubberment shutdown. In a perfect world, we could send our elected officials to the Indonesian islands and leave them there until they were mature enough to work together. Reckon that after a few minutes of playing with these cuddly critters, they'd be handing over their personal checks and American Express "Black Cards" in order to get things running again.
Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but way to screw up Academy football, too, dingbats.
(Take a deep breath. Take nine more. Go to your happy place. Think about Rosario Dawson.)
'Kay, end railing. Back to footballs.
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In case you didn't hear, New Canaan stomped Greenwich last Saturday, 66-20. It got everyone at Polecat HQ wondering when the last time anyone hung 60-or-more on the Cardinals.
Our records only go back to 1982, and there wasn't an instance where anyone scored that much against Greenwich.
Xavier came closest last season during the LL quarterfinals (55-14). New London won at Greenwich, 51-33 (Sept. 30, 2011), the most points scored at Greenwich, according to our records.
Should anyone have more information, please contact us at Polecat HQ care firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mike DiMauro, The Day: NFA coach Jemal Davis has stayed true to his school, and, NFA's Exum-Strong provides support to talented backfield.
Some dude, The Day: Glastonburys Jalen Ollie has had many leads to follow, including his dad's.
Kountry Kyle Brennan (solo), Waterbury Republican-American: His usual Top 10 ranking discourse.
Kountry Kyle Brennan and Remmington, The NVL Blog: Week 3 wrap, and Week 4 picks.
Bryant Carpenter, Meriden Record-Journal: Lots o' football notes.
Ray Curran, JRC Amalgamated: Inside the SCC.
Sean Patrick Starfish (solo), JRC Amalgamated: NVL beat.
Sean Patrick Starfish and Mojo Morelli, JRC Amalgamated: Connecticut high school coaches react to firing of UConn coaches Paul Pasqualoni and George DeLeone.
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: High school football beat: O'Brien Tech starting to believe in itself, and, Tuesday Morning Quarterback.
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The tie for No. 1 in The Day's Top 10 state high school coaches' poll was going to be broken eventually.
It just didn't seem like this would be the week that it happened.
Ansonia has sole possession of No. 1 while New Canaan, which shared the top spot with the Chargers last week, slipped to second.
New Canaan ravaged Greenwich on Saturday. It isn't a classic Greenwich team, but would its pedigree carry enough weight to sway voters.
It didn't. Ansonia once again received six of 13 first-place votes, but picked up two extra points for 372.
The Rams lost one first-place vote and have four. They have 360 points, 10 less than last week.
St. Joseph received one first-place vote and leapt over Norwich Free Academy into third place. NFA received the other two first-place votes and is fourth. North Haven rounds out the Top 10.
It was also curious that Shelton fell out of its tie for ninth and was replaced by Newtown. Both clobbered unbeaten teams over the weekend — Shelton beat Amity (49-30), and Newtown downed Brookfield (35-7).
Alas, these things work themselves out. Some voters move teams as each week provides more clarity, and sometimes it doesn't take much to alter the Top 10.
You can find the rest of the Top 10 to your RIGHT.
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Sanity returned to the New Haven Register media poll as North Haven leapfrogged Xavier, more than a week after the former beat the latter, 42-28.
The Top 10 are: 1. Ansonia (24 firsts); 2. New Canaan (5); 3. NFA; 4. Middletown; 5. Southington; 6. St. Joseph; 7. Newtown (3-0); 8. North Haven; 9. Masuk (3-0); and, 10. Shelton (3-0).
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Ned Freeman's cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps.com and MaxPreps.com: 1. Ansonia; 2. Southington; 3 New Canaan; 4. NFA; 5. St. Joseph; 6. North Haven; 7. Xavier (2-1); 8. Darien; 9. Shelton; and, 10. Hand (2-1). Windsor was 11th, Newtown 14th and Middletown 17th.
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More soon. Thanks for reading.
Vaya con dios....
The Day Top 10 state coaches' football poll
First-place votes in parentheses, record, 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. Ansonia (6) 3-0 372 T1
KNOW THIS: Ansonia had 510 yards while thrashing Holy Cross, 62-13, last Friday. That yardage was in the first half. And on 24 plays.
NEXT: v. Wilby, Friday, 7 p.m.
2. New Canaan (4) 3-0 360 T1
KNOW THIS: It scored 50 against Hand. It dropped 66 on Greenwich. Who cares if either of those two teams aren't of championship pedigree - no one does that to Hand and Greenwich, much less in the same year.
NEXT: v. Fairfield Warde, Friday, 7 p.m.
3. St. Joseph (1) 3-0 304 4
KNOW THIS: You should really go to Hog Hill on Saturday for the Darien game.
NEXT: v. Darien, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
4. Norwich Free Academy (2) 2-0 301 3
KNOW THIS: The Wildcats were erratic for over half of last Friday's game at Fitch, yet still won 40-14. That's impressive.
NEXT: at Glastonbury, Friday, 6:30 p.m. (live on theday.com)
5. North Haven 3-0 229 6
KNOW THIS: Nine players combined to run 39 times for 353 yards and eight TDs in last Friday's 54-28 rout of East Haven. The Northies led 48-0 before the Easties got on the board.
NEXT: at Hand, Friday, 7 p.m.
6. Southington 3-0 222 5
KNOW THIS: It held Simsbury to 52 yards in last Friday's 38-0 win. Future Yalie Stephen Barmore completed 24 of 37 passes for 317 yards and four TDs, too.
NEXT: v. New Britain, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
7. Darien 3-0 193 7
KNOW THIS: The battle for FCIAC supremacy starts Saturday. Awesome.
NEXT: at St. Joseph, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
8. Middletown 3-0 165 8
KNOW THIS: The Blue Dragons played up to head coach Sal Morello's standards in last Friday's 40-0 rout over previously unbeaten Bristol Eastern. QB Dario Highsmith ran 12 times for 116 yards and three TDs.
NEXT: at Fermi, Friday, 7 p.m.
T9. Newtown 3-0 140 NR
KNOW THIS: Cooper Gold ran 22 times for 135 yards and two TDs and caught another as Newtown trounced Brookfield last Friday, 35-7. Now THAT'S the Newtown offense that everyone has been waiting to see.
NEXT: at Barlow, Friday, 7 p.m.
T9. Windsor 3-0 140 T9
KNOW THIS: John Nolan completed 11 of 16 passes for 300 yards and three TDs as the Warriors thumped Bristol Central last Friday, 47-0.
NEXT: v. Hartford Public, Friday, 7 p.m.
Dropped out: Shelton (T9).
Also receiving votes: Tie, Masuk (3-0) and Shelton (3-0), 132 points; Xavier (2-1), 111; West Haven (2-1), 102; Ledyard (3-0), 73; Staples (2-1), 49; Fairfield Prep (2-1), 48; Naugatuck (3-0), 47; Capital/Classical/Achievement (3-0), 35; Farmington (3-0), 34; Platt (3-0), 27; Glastonbury (2-1), 21; Tie, Valley Regional/Old Lyme (2-0) and Woodland (3-0), 16; Barlow (3-0), 14; Rocky Hill (3-0), 10; Tie, Hand (2-1) and Notre Dame-W.H. (1-2), 7.
The following coaches voted: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Jim Buonocore, Ledyard; Craig Bruno, Naugatuck; Scott Daniels, Glastonbury; Joe DellaVecchia, St. Joseph; Steve Filippone, Hand; Rob Fleeting, Windsor; Steve George, Newtown; Tanner Grove, Montville; Tim King, Valley Regional/Old Lyme; Sean Marinan, Xavier; John Murphy, New Milford; Marce Petroccio, Staples.