Shelton growing up, Oneil Robinson is A MAN, East Hartford buzzing, and more glee and mirth

Howdy,

Shelton doesn’t do rebuilding.

Gaels head coach Jeff Roy knew this season was going to be more difficult than most for his team. They returned just seven starters and only 12 seniors (12 might seem like a lot, but not for a successful LL program). They’d be starting a lot of sophomores and juniors and should be a pain in the rear next season.

Roy still expected his team to win this year, though, because they’re playing for Shelton.

“That’s what we tell them — whether you’re a sophomore or a junior, we expect them to play (well),” Roy said after Saturday’s 31-20 win over North Haven. “They’ve been in the program all these years. It’s their turn to step up and play.”

The Gaels have been remarkably consistent for decades. They’re 173-53-1 over the last 22 years and have won three CIAC state titles. They’ve had had just one losing season over that time (3-7, 2005) and averaged 7.9 wins per season.

Shelton lost its season opener at Cheshire, 28-10. It led 10-7 in the late in the third quarter when an interception and personal foul, respectively, put the Rams in great field position to score two touchdowns.

The Gaels have won four straight since over the likes of Hand (21-19), Fairfield Prep (19-15) and North Haven. They scored the go-ahead touchdown with 54 seconds left against Prep, and stopped a Hand two-point conversion with two minutes, 47 seconds left that would’ve tied the game.

“As a captain, it was hard to get them under control,” Shelton senior co-captain Eddie Radzion (two-way lineman) said. “But, at the same time, their brains are fresh and they’re ready to learn the ‘Gael Tough’ way. They’re all doing really well. I’m so proud of them all.”

The Gaels never trailed against North Haven (3-2) which two weeks prior beat Cheshire (17-14).

Sophomore Georgio Ghazal scored on a 79-yard run two plays into the game for Shelton. He was forced into the starting lineup due to an injury to Jack Carr, who Roy said should be back soon.

Ghazal ran 13 times for 129 yards and two scores.

Shelton led 10-7 at halftime and was kicking off to start the third quarter when Roy channeled his inner Boise State.

The Gaels had Nick Andrade attempt an onside kick which he recovered at the Indians’ 46-yard line.

Two plays later, Shelton ran a flea-flicker with junior Jake Roberts (no, not that Jake Roberts) throwing a 43-yard touchdown to David Yakowicz.

North Haven wouldn’t go away and twice responded to a Gaels touchdown with one of its own.

Ghazal ran for a 27-yard touchdown with 8:39 remaining in the game, and Shelton’s defense kept North Haven at bay.

“Week 1, (the loss) really didn’t feel good,” Radzion said, “We’ve really ramped (the defense) up lately. Our defense has been a brick wall ever since Cheshire. We’ve just been trying to grind it out ever since to get our offense to where our defense is. Roberts has stepped it up tremendously. It’s been a great ride so far.”

Roberts, a first-year starter, completed 15 of 22 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns and ran 21 times for 77 yards. Junior linebacker Ray Weiner had a game-high eight tackles, senior defensive end Michael Casinelli had 2.5 sacks, and senior defensive tackle Jaryd Witkowski had two sacks.

“All-around, we’ve gotten better as a football team,” Roy said. “We’ve played three or four really tough teams, tough games, and they’re (the underclassmen) getting that in-game experience you just can’t teach. They’ve come up big in the last three or four games where it came down to the fourth quarter, and we made the plays.

“We’ve been getting it after on defense all this year. That’s been keeping us in these games and keeping the games close, and then win it in the third or fourth quarter.”

• • • •

In a world where its leaders act more infantile than Francis Buxton, HATS OFF to Oneil Robinson of Capital Prep/Achievement First for being a man during the team’s 45-27 loss to Westhill on Saturday.

NOODLES Metayer intercepted a pass during the third quarter and was immediately leveled by Robinson (a UConn commit). Metayer lay on the turf for a few minutes and, once he could move, Robinson helped him to the Vikings’ sideline (as seen in video shot by Sean Patrick Star of the Hearst Empire).

AJ Laccona threw four touchdowns for Westhill (4-1) and Saquan Kelly scored on runs of 53 and 2 yards.

Khyon Gillespie, another UConn recruit, scored on runs of 55 and 85 yards for the Trailblazers (3-2).

• • • •

It’s been 30 years since East Hartford made the playoffs and beat Hamden, 3-0, to win the Class LL title.

The Hornets are putting themselves in position to make states this season. They rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Glastonbury, 30-28, to improve to 4-1.

The Tomahawks led 21-0 in the second quarter before East Hartford got on track. Raquan Tompkins threw touchdowns to Maki Miller (10 yards) and Jaquan Allen (72) to cut its deficit to 21-14 at the half.

The Hornets scored the game’s final 17 points. Tompkins threw two more touchdowns to Allen (36, 10) an Ricardo Roberts kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:03 left to put East Hartford ahead for good.

Tompkins was 10 of 18 for 227 yards and four touchdowns and ran 12 times for 113 yards. Allen had six catches for 193 yards and three touchdowns.

• • • •

Juan Roman has a way with words.

Roman, New London’s second-year head coach, is both brutally honest and often says it in a humorous way. He had a particularly fantastic line during the Whalers’ Sept. 29 game that we forgot to share last week.

A New London defender was called for a penalty during the second quarter and began to complain about it.

Roman told his player, “It's not a debate. It's a penalty. Don't say a word.”

• • • •

GAWK SLACK-JAWED at The Day Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. Darien (4-0, received all 13 first-place votes); 2. Southington (5-0); 3. Ansonia (5-0); 4. West Haven (5-0); 5. Windsor (5-0); 6.New Canaan (3-1); 7. Masuk (4-0); 8. St. Joseph (3-1); 9. Greenwich (3-0); and, 10. Ridgefield, (3-1).

The level of respect the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference is receiving from voters in The Day's state coaches’ poll is pretty wild.

Half of the top 10 teams are from the FCIAC — Darien, New Canaan, St. Joseph, Greenwich and Ridgefield. Staples also received votes.

Those six face off in Week 6 this weekend, making Fairfield County the place to be for high school football.

Darien plays at Staples (3-1) on Friday night. The Wreckers lost their first game last weekend to Ridgefield, 24-20.

The FCIAC gives fans a double-shot on Saturday afternoon. It starts with Ridgefield at St. Joseph at 2. New Canaan at Greenwich follows at 4.

Lest anyone think that the coaches’ poll is rigged in the FCIAC’s favor, it has two voters, the same as every other league except the Pequot (one) and Connecticut Technical Conference (none).

The FCIAC has earned its bones on the field. It has the best playoff record the past four seasons (31-9) with Darien, New Canaan and St. Joseph combining to win eight of the 20 state titles handled out during that time.

To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.

West Haven was the only upward mover among top 10 teams this week as it moved out of a fifth-place tie with New Canaan and leapfrogged Windsor at No. 4. The Westies manhandled then No. 10 Cheshire last Friday, 27-0.

• • • •

The GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Top 10 media poll: 1. Darien (received all 24 first-place votes); 2. Southington; 3. West Haven; 4. Ansonia; 5. New Canaan; 6. Windsor; 7. St. Joseph; 8. Masuk; 9. Middletown (5-0), and, 10. Greenwich (3-0). Ridgefield is 11th.

• • • •

Ned Freeman’s computer rankings over at CalPreps.com: 1. Darien; 2. West Haven; 3. New Canaan; 4. Greenwich; 5. Ansonia; 6. Southington; 7. St. Joseph; 8. Masuk; 9. Ridgefield (2-1); and, 10. Cheshire. Windsor was 12th.

• • • •

1. Darien

2. St. Joseph

3. New Canaan

4. Ansonia

5. Ridgefield

6. West Haven

7. Southington

8. Greenwich

9. Masuk

10. Windsor

11. Staples

12. Shelton

13. South Windsor: Not only were we first on the bandwagon, we hit the gas.

14. Killingly

15. Fitch

• • • •

Ever heard of a team not allowing a first down? Whelp, Southington did it last Friday when it restrained Hall, 45-0. The latter had negative-9 yards, and Southington’s Ian Hall had 13 tackles and two sacks. … Justin Lopez was an efficient 4 of 6 passing for 155 yards and three touchdowns and had a 33-yard run as No. 3 Ansonia smashed Kennedy, 48-6. Brent Washington caught all four passes and Markell Dobbs ran five times for 54 yards and two scores.

A quick list of beautiful things — Santorini (Greece), David Gilmour’s guitar work on “Comfortably Numb”, and No. 4 West Haven having THREE 100-yard rushers in its 27-0 chokeout of Cheshire. Kyle Godfrey ran 19 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns (and had two picks), Chris Chance had 20 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown, and Zach Conlan ran 15 times for for 117 yards and a score.

Julian Jackson completed 17 of 34 for 196 yards and two touchdowns (both to L.J. Wolcott) as No. 5 Windsor broke a scoreless tie late in the third quarter of last Friday’s 18-0 win over Platt. ... Matt Hersch completed 8 of 18 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 24 yards and two scores as No. 7 Masuk mauled Notre Dame of Fairfield, 58-20.

No. 8 St. Joseph rode Jaden Shirden to a 41-21 win over Wilton last Monday (yes, last Monday). The sophomore set career highs in carries (30) and rushing yards (207) and scored. ... Gavin Muir completed 7 of 17 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown and scored on a 5-yard run for No. 9 Greenwich in its 48-0 win over Nowalk last Monday (yes, last Monday). Tysen Comizio ran 11 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 10 Ridgefield went from one extreme to the other in its 24-20 win over Staples. It jumped the Wreckers from the opening kickoff and led 17-0 after one quarter. Staples went ahead, 20-17, in the third quarter. The Tigers' Greg Gatto threw a go-ahead 3-yard touchdown pass to Luke Gaydos with 1:42 left in the game. Gatto completed 25 of 45 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 3-yard run for Ridgefield. Danny Thompson completed 13 of 21 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown for the WRECKERS (3-1).

Xzavier Reyes ran 18 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns as Middletown scored twice in the final 25.3 seconds of the first half to put away Bristol Central, 56-26. Middletown led, 21-18, when Reyes scored on a 1-yard run to give the Blue Dragons a 28-18 lead with 25.3 left in the half. Gage Davis added a 25-yard interception return to extend Middletown's lead to 35-18.

CTHULHU BLESS to the Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial QUAD-OP for running 37 times for 434 yards and six touchdowns and attempting just one pass in its 46-21 win over Haddam-Killingworth. Shaun O’Connell ran 18 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (5-0) and Nick Pronovost had seven carries for 141 yards and two scores.

Barlow did so many swell things in its 41-21 win over New Milford last Friday. For starters, it had five interceptions and a fumble recovery. The BEST part about the Falcons’ performance, however, was that they using that wonderfully wacky triple option to run 54 times for 475 yards and five touchdowns. Like West Haven, they had three players rush for over 100 yards — Calvin Peterson (19 carries, 133 yards, two TDs), Alex Stillman (11 caries, 102 yards, TD), and Henry Shaban (six carries, 104 yards). William Cusick added three carries for 42 yards and two scores.

Seymour had given up three touchdowns to Wolcott in the first quarter of last Friday’s game and trailed by six points. So then Seymour went all R-RRRRARGH and scored seven successive touchdowns to win, 63-26. Wolcott led, 20-14, when the Wildcats went into attack mode. Bobby Melms ran nine times for 239 yards (yes) and two touchdowns and scored on a 69-yard pass from Ian Sadick for Seymour (3-1). Sadick completed 9 of 12 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns and Rocco Vertuccio kicked seven extra points.

Naugatuck scored 62 in the first half of its 76-6 decimation of winless Wilby. Eep. Mike Plasky threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, Doreon Chapman and Malachi Gatison ran for two touchdowns, Zack Koslosky (two catches, 62 yards) caught two touchdowns, and Nick Airall and Justin Papp both scored on interception returns for the Greyhounds (5-0).

Bunnell managed to score 21 in the final 1:46 of the first half to blitz New Fairfield, 49-7. Jarrod Davis ran for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs ahead 21-0. Elijah Alexandre intercepted a pass on the Rebels’ next offensive play and returned it to the latter’s 1-yard line. Ma’Kaai Curry punched it in for a touchdown, and, after New Fairfield went three-and-out, Davis scored on a 4-yard run to push Bunnell ahead, 35-0. Davis ran for 76 yards and three touchdowns.

Victor Pascoe ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns and had three picks as Old Saybrook/Westbrook downed Valley Regional/Old Lyme, 34-13. … Joe Catania ran 23 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns as Rocky Hill trampled Tolland, 45-0. GOD’S OFFENSE. Danny Cavallaro threw three touchdowns and Matt Osgood had five catches for 139 yards and two scores for the Terriers (5-0).

Justin Keith ran 16 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns and had a sack in the end zone for a safety as Fairfield Prep erased Xavier, 35-7. Chris Martinez had two of the Jesuits’ six sacks. ... Christopher Elias ran 11 times for 176 yards and four touchdowns and completed 15 of 18 passes for 163 yards and a score as Notre Dame of West Haven downed Amity, 41-23.

Delvantae Hutton had the ball the majority of the time for Hand but didn't score in a 40-7 win over Foran. The Tigers ran 62 plays with Hutton rushing 25 times for 198 yards and adding an 11-yard catch. Reward the man with a touchdown carry, Tigers. Brian Casagrande added 11 tackles for Hand (4-1). ...

Colton Engel ran 14 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns and threw an 18-yard touchdown as Stafford/East Windsor/Somers beat Granby, 34-6. ... Conor McVey ran 15 times for 80 yards and four touchdowns as Brookfield smote Stratford, 51-19.

Jeff Jablonski completed 9 of 12 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns and ran nine times for 58 yards and a score as North Branford mashed Lewis Mills, 48-0. Nick Mancini had 10 tackles and ran 14 times for 77 yards and a touchdown for the Thunderbirds (4-1). ... Terrence Bogan ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sheehan past Creed/Career/Whitney Tech, 21-7.

Nick D’Elia completed 16 of 20 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns, ran six times for 64 yards and had an interception as Watertown rumbled past Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech, 49-0. ... Pedro Dios had three sacks, two fumble recoveries and 10 tackles as Cheney Tech wrecked Amistad, 40-0.

Alex Halkias needed just nine carries to rush for 104 yards and three touchdowns as Berlin continued its mastery over Plainville with a 42-14 win. Larry St. Pierre scored on a 95-yard punt return for Berlin (5-0). ... Justin Marshall recovered a fumble at the Bristol Eastern 3-yard line with 2:09 left to preserve the Lancers' 19-12 win over Farmington.

Added to this season’s All-Name Team — from Lyman Hall, SHAKESPEARE Rodriguez. Lawdy, we hope his nickname is “The Bard.”

HATS OFF to McMahon as it beat Fairfield Ludlowe, 32-13, ending its 14-game losing streak. Chris Druin completed 9 of 14 passes for 139 yards and ran 10 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns for the Senators. Tasi Zoe added 13 carries for 139 yards and two TDs. McMahon’s last win was on Nov. 13, 2015 against Fairfield Warde. Josh Evans completed 25 of 43 passes for 302 yards for Ludlowe.

• • • •

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Adios....

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