The Lonesome Polecat: Greenwich, Valley/Lyme WARRIORCATS, record comebacks, passing records, Top 10s
Drew Pyne never saw Mozi Bici coming.
Pyne sure felt it, though.
New Canaan had a third-and-8 on its third play of last Saturday's home game against Greenwich. Pyne, a junior quarterback who has already committed to Notre Dame, was looking to throw.
Bici, a Greenwich senior who had lined up at right end, circled left around some blockers and immediately drilled Pyne for a 9-yard loss.
“It was a twist,” Bici said. “I watch a lot of film, and I saw how he likes to roll out. He’s a great player. I just saw him come in from the corner of my eye, and I just came in.”
Bici’s hit set the tone for the night as the Cardinals punished New Canaan, 42-14.
New Canaan never saw it coming.
“I wish we could’ve given them a game,” Rams head coach Lou Marinelli said. “I don’t even know what to say. It was a butt-kicking.”
Greenwich head coach John Marinelli, Lou’s son, said, “The way that we just came out, BAM, that was impressive.”
The Cardinals’ performance earned it two more first-place votes in The Day's Top 10 state coaches’ poll that had previously gone to top-ranked Darien. The three-time defending CIAC Class LL champions still have nine first-place votes. Greenwich (4-0), who Darien beat in last year’s LL final, has the other four.
Greenwich rolled up 368 yards of offense on New Canaan (3-2), which was ranked sixth headed into the game. It was its defense and special teams that shined, though.
The Cardinals’ defense held the Rams to 223 yards offense and forced three turnovers, the first one immediately leading to a touchdown pass that put them ahead, 21-0, with over six minutes left in the first quarter.
These Cardinals like to hit.
“Yes, we are a physical team,” Bici said. “What we do every day in practice is come out like it’s our last practice. Honestly, we come out going as hard as we can against our ones (their starters), going as hard as we can against our scout team. The amazing part is our scout team. We have enough players to have scout teams on offense and defense, and our scout team is what makes us great. They’re all physical. They come in hard. They don’t care. They’re just like us. If we put them in, if someone gets hurt, it’s next guy in and they do just as well.”
John Marinelli agreed that Greenwich’s physicality begins with how it practices.
“You have to go ones-on-ones (starters against starters) in practice,” Marinelli said. “You have to create competition in practice, and you have to raise the bar and the standard of how you practice. I think our coaches do a fantastic job of raising the bar. “That’s how we keep it physical in practice. We do ones-on-ones a lot in practice. We’re able to platoon (they list 107 players on their varsity roster), so that’s helpful, but when we compete and compete in practice.”
“It’s fun to watch. Sometimes you just kind of sit back and watch it. Our offensive line has to go against Mozi and (end) Emilio Camou and (tackles) Eddie Iuteri (6-feet, 264 pounds) and Joe (Kraninger, 6-3, 263 pounds). Our d-line is very impressive, so our offensive line has to get to used to that. So when they play somebody else that doesn’t have that four, it looks a little bit better. I give the kids all the credit because they show up every day and they compete their butts off in practice.
“Drew Pyne is a fantastic quarterback. Our defensive line, I think, were the equalizer to negate what he likes to do.”
Bici, a Class LL all-state coaches’ pick last season, and Camou are particularly disruptive on the edge. Bici had six tackles, a sack and recovered a fumble. Camou had seven tackles and half a sack.
“My boy Emilio Camou, he is a crazy dude,” Bici said. “Me and him on the edge, we’re like brothers. We love each other.”
Marinell said, “(Bici is) a throwback, and Emilio is the same way. … They play and they go and they go and they go. They don’t care if they get killed. They just forget about it and on to the next play."
The Cardinals came out fast against New Canaan. Gavin Muir threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Lance Large to put Greenwich ahead, 7-0, just two minutes, 9 seconds into the game.
Greenwich forced the Rams to go three-and-out on their first drive, highlighted by Bici’s sack.
Muir found a Stephen Bennett cutting towards the Rams' sideline on the Cardinals’ next offensive play. Bennett made a diving catch for a 36-yard gain to the New Canaan 6-yard line. Muir powered his way for a 2-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Greenwich’s Ryan Raybuck (eight tackles) recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. On the next play, Muir scrambled towards the Rams' sideline, then let a 33-yard touchdown pass fly to a wide-open Bennett.
The Cardinals had run just 12 plays and led, 21-0, with 6:44 left in the quarter. Against New Canaan.
“I give (the players) all the credit in the world,” Marinelli said eluding to the start time. “They came out and they came ready to play and they brought the intensity. And that’s what I was worried about, if we were going to match it. If we were going to come out as fast. They (New Canaan) needed this game.”
New Canaan cut its deficit to 21-14 late in the first half and forced Greenwich to punt. The Cardinals’ Jack Ludington made the hit and forced a fumble that Bici recovered at the Rams’ 47 with 1:36 left in the second quarter.
“That was a heck of a hit,” Bici said. “He’s not even a starter. He’s our long snapper. He came down and made a great play.”
A long-snapper making that hit?
“He also plays safety,” Bici smiled.
Marinelli said, “He hurt his thumb in practice. He didn’t practice (last) Thursday or Friday. He said (Saturday), ‘Coach, I’m ready to go. I can do this’.”
Muir scored on a 4-yard run with 10 seconds remaining in the half to push Greenwich ahead, 28-14. The 2017 Class LL all-state coaches’ pick completed 12 of 19 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns.
“He sees (St. Joseph quarterback) David Summers is going to Maryland,” Marinelli said. “He sees Drew Pyne is going to Notre Dame. He’s kind of just sitting there like, ‘I can do this (in college), too.”
Cardinals running back Tysen Comizio also did damage. He ran 19 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Comizio was one of just two players back this season who was among the top 25 players chosen to the state coaches all-state “overall” team (Summers was the other).
Jack Feda and Evan Weigold both had 10 tackles for Greenwich and Raybuck added an interception.
“You can’t make mistakes (against Greenwich),” Lou Marinelli said. “You can’t. We just couldn’t recover from it. Give them all the credit. That may be the number one team in the state, I don’t know. If they’re not, they’re close.”
• • • •
Jason O’Brien runs track for Valley Regional and is pretty good at it.
He’s not doing it because he’s a fan of sprinting and jumping, though.
“Most of us do it for football,” O’Brien smiled after the Valley Regional/Old Lyme co-op downed Old Saybrook/Westbrook last Saturday, 40-10. “We don’t do it because we love track. I’m being honest. We do it because football is a sport that we love. Football is the sport we want to win a state championship in. We just do it for the extra work.”
O’Brien won the triple jump and long jump at last season’s Shoreline Conference outdoor track and field championships. He also placed third in the 110 hurdles. Teammate Nick Braga won the 100-meter dash, too.
O’Brien finished fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump at last spring’s CIAC Class M outdoor track and field championships. Braga took third in the 100 meters, and he, Andrew Ferguson, Ryan Santos and O’Brien finished fourth in the 4x100 relay in a school-record time of 43.96. It was also the fastest time run by any Shoreline Conference 4x100 relay team during the entire outdoor season.
Braga is a running back-defensive back, Santos plays quarterback, and O’Brien is a receiver-defensive back for the Warriors. Head coach Tim King also coaches track at Valley Regional.
O’Brien had nine catches for 267 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s win. That receiving yardage tied him for the 15th most in a game, according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. He had receptions of 70, 27, 30, 23, and 80 yards.
O’Brien also had an interception and fumble recovery.
“(Track) obviously helps us with our speed,” O’Brien said. “We’re a fast team. That’s definitely a huge factor for us.
“We’re a really athletic team this year. Honestly, this probably one of the strongest teams we’ve had in a while, too. We all got in the weight room. We all worked out consistently as a team instead of just individually, and we’ve definitely benefited. You can see we’re not only a fast team but a strong team as well.”
O’Brien would’ve had two touchdowns, however he cramped while making his last plant to turn a short catch into an 80-yard gain. He was tackled at the Rams’ 2-yard line.
“I told him, with a serious face, that all of the other kids said they’re yanking your butt off the relay team because you’re so slow,” King quipped.
• • • •
Bob Barton and Gerry deSimas, the current curators of the Connecticut High School Football Record Book, have spent more time than you could imagine scouring websites and going through newspaper archives at the state library to put that sucker together.
There are records dating back as far as the early 1900s, such as Torrington’s Raymond “Ducky” Pond scoring 51 points in a 1917 game against Simsbury (that ranks third all-time, by the way).
One of our favorite categories is biggest comeback, something that’s happening a lot this millennium. It happened again last Saturday when RHAM stormed back from a 24-point halftime deficit to floor Plainville, 32-24.
The Sachems (5-0) trailed 24-0 at the half.
RHAM’s 24-point comeback ties the seventh-largest rally in state history, according to the Record Book.
The Sachems scored three touchdowns in 10 minutes to cut their deficit to 24-19 after three quarters.
Cal Redman threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Depersia to put RHAM ahead for good, 25-24, with 11:45 remaining.
Redman added a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:00 left.
Redman completed 18 of 30 passes for 300 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the Sachems. Depersia added five catches for 170 yards and a touchdown and scored on a 40-yard fumble return.
Nine of the top 10 comebacks have occurred since 2008, including six this decade. Three of them happened last season.
The state record for biggest comeback is 28 points and is shared by four teams.
St. Joseph beat Bassick, 37-30, on Oct. 19, 1974 after trailing 28-0 in the second quarter.
Bacon Academy trailed Windham in the second quarter (41-13) of an Oct. 2, 2010 game. Bacon won, 48-47.
Xavier had the craziest rally in state history in its win over Hillhouse on Oct. 26, 2012. Hillhouse led 49-21 in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons came back to win, 50-49.
Finally, Wolcott stormed back to beat Seymour, 48-41, on Sept. 27, 2013. The Eagles were down 34-6 in the second quarter of that game.
• • • •
So, Conard and Simsbury both went spastic with the forward pass against one another last Friday.
The Chieftains’ Matt Langevin and Simsbury’s Jackson Butler both had record-setting days in Conard’s 41-28 win.
Langevin completed 21-of-34 passes for a school-record 403 yards with five touchdowns. He also scored on a 3-yard run. That’s great and all, but, man, man, do we long for the old daze when Rob Cersosimo had the Chieftains running power plays out of the I.
Anywhizzle, Justin Furze had five catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns for the Chieftains (2-3) and Silas Bridges added seven catches for 108 yards and two scores.
Butler completed 32-of-52 passes for a school-record 334 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Butler also set a school single-game record for completions and would put him in a four-way tie for 16th in state history, according to the Record Book.
Seven hundred and thirty-seven yards passing in one game. BARF.
Jeffrey Coleman had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans (0-5). Jackson Harper added nine catches for 99 yards and a score.
Should you be wondering, here are some of the state’s single-game passing records:
YARDAGE: 615, Tanner Kingsley (Woodland) vs. Seymour, Nov. 21, 2012.
TOUCHDOWNS: Tie, 9, by Jason Manson (Bloomfield) vs. Hall, Oct. 21, 2000; and Michael Collins (New Canaan) vs. Trumbull, Nov. 6, 2015.
COMPLETIONS: Tie, 40, Dave Ryan (Amity) vs. Fairfield Prep, Nov. 1, 2013; and Wade Prajer (Pomperaug) vs. Masuk, Oct. 11, 2013.
ATTEMPTS: 69, Matt Kelleher (Southington) vs. Platt, Sept. 16, 2004.
• • • •
No touchdown fired up Valley Regional/Old Lyme as much as Justin Badolato’s 1-yard run.
Badolato, a junior, is a 6-foot, 278 pound lineman. He had a 6-yard run in the first half and scored with two minutes, 13 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Warriors a 34-10 lead.
“We’ve been practicing that all week,” O’Brien said. “He used to play running back in youth football. You wouldn’t expect that, so we knew he could carry the ball without fumbling. It was really awesome to see him get in the end zone.”
Badolato formerly attended Old Sabyrook.
“He’s one of the nicest, greatest kids,” King said. “I love him … so it’s great that we got him in the end zone. We’ve sort of been hoping and praying that we could, so it was good. And it was no disrespect to Old Saybrook or anything.”
• • • •
BEHOLD, The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. Darien (5-0, nine first-place votes); 2. Greenwich (four first-place votes); 3. Hand (4-0); 4. St. Joseph (4-1); 5. Shelton (4-0); 6. Newtown (4-0); 7. East Hartford (5-0); 8. Ansonia (5-0); 9. Southington (5-0); and, 10. North Haven (4-0).
• • • •
The GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Monolith Top 10 media poll: 1. Darien (15 first-place votes); 2. Greenwich (12 first-place votes); 3. Hand (four first-place votes); 4. St. Joseph; 5. Shelton; 6. East Hartford; 7. Southington; 8. Newtown; 9. Naugatuck (5-0); and, 10. Bloomfield (5-0).
Bloomfield was 11th in the coaches' poll and Naugatuck was 17th. North Haven was 12th and Ansonia 13th in the media poll.
• • • •
Ned Freeman’s cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps: 1. Darien; 2. Greenwich; 3. St. Joseph; 4. Hand; 5. North Haven; 6. Shelton; 7. Staples (4-1); 8. West Haven (3-1); 9. Fairfield Prep (3-1); and, 10. Newtown (4-0).
Southington was 11th, East Hartford 18th, Ansonia 23rd, and Bloomfield 29th.
• • • •
Dig the ballot Polecat HQ filed for the GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Monolith media poll:
1. Greenwich: Ain’t saying that Darien isn’t dang good. It may very well be the best team in the state, and we may be proven wrong later. We do, however, feel much more confident than before about voting the Cardinals numero uno after watching from the sidelines last Saturday night.
2. Darien: One voter quipped if they could just keep Darien number one on their ballot forever.
5. St. Joseph: Been trying really hard to stay in the moment as we (try to) make practice mindfulness and make our life more peaceful and managable. It’s dang hard, though, not to look ahead to Week 9 when the Cadets travel to Staples (Nov. 2). That may also be the most loaded night of the regular season, too with East Hartford at New Britain, Berlin at Bloomfield, Naugatuck at Seymour, and Newtown at Brookfield. DAMN.
6. Newtown: Those of you who live around there here parts should mosey on over to NFA on Saturday to see it play Newtown. What else are you going to do at 1 p.m.? Spend time with friends?
7. Staples: The WRECKERS had been winning easy up until last Saturday. Holding Darien to three points at halftime has to count for something, too, right? RIGHT?
8. Southington: Looked overrated for the first 35 minutes against New Britain. Played like a champ for the final 13, though.
9. New Britain (4-1): Don’t let the loss fool you — this team is legit. Big up front, athletic, and running back Shawn Robinson is a beast.
10. East Hartford: New Britain, up until Friday night, had been putting teams down hard and fast. The Hornets have
11. New Canaan: Still have no idea how to rank this team even after we did.
12. Middletown: Do we feel weird bumping a team on a bye down and moving two teams that lost ahead of it? Yeah. Do we think we’re doing the wise thing? PROBABLY.
13. Fairfield Prep
14. North Haven: Plays at Brookfield in one of the best games of the week. The match-up is even more sensual because there will be oodles-and-oodles of running because of the I-formation (Brookfield) and GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE (North Haven). IT’S OUR WOODSTOCK.
• • • •
Connor Fay had nine solo tackles and 13 overall as Darien shut out Staples last Saturday, 24-0. Sam Wilson had 11 tackles (seven solo) and a sack for the Blue Wave, which overcame three turnovers and a tough Wreckers’ defense that held the latter to three first-half points. Cooper Hancock completed 18 of 32 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown for Darien, and Will Kirby added a 1-yard touchdown run, a 34-yard field goal, and three extra points. ... Alex Pagliarini had eight tackles and a sack as St. Joseph earned its third shutout of the season last Friday, 42-0 over Ridgefield. Mike Morrissey had six tackles and 2 ½ for the Cadets and Jaden Shirden had 21 carries, 157 yards and three touchdowns. Also, Maryland-bound David Summers completed 14 of 26 passes for 250 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, and Will Diamantis had seven catches for 181 yards and two scores.
Let’s check in on East Hartford’s Raquan Tompkins, shall we. Whelp, he was responsible for five touchdowns in last Friday’s 47-27 win over Hall. Tompkins completed 20 of 30 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns and ran 12 times for 148 yards and two scores. Just another Friday at the office. Quinton Haughton added nine carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns for the Hornets, who forced five second-half turnovers. ... Shykeem Harmon ran nine times for 219 yards (huh) and three touchdowns as Ansonia trucked Watertown last Friday, 49-7. Tyler Cafaro threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Cafaro and scored on a 30-yard run for the Chargers. Jy’mere Jones also scored on a 52-yard reverse.
Corey Hooks didn’t play much in North Haven’s first three games because of a concussion. He was back to full speed last Friday as he had 20 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Indians’ 49-14 win over Hillhouse. Max Augustine scored on runs of 2 and 14 yards for North Haven and Nate Dodge ran eight times for 88 yards and a touchdown. GOD'S FATHER'S OFFENSE. ... Daron Bryden threw for 175 yards and four touchdowns as Bloomfield bludgeoned Bulkeley/Weaver/HMTCA last Friday, 48-0. Ky’Juon Butler ran 11 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns for the WARHAWKS (5-0). Jayvon Massey also had two catches for 62 yards and two scores.
Malachi Gatison ran for three touchdowns (1, 6, and 28 yards) as Naugatuck obliterated Oxford last Friday, 49-7. Nicholas Airall ran for touchdowns of 52 and 16 yards for the Greyhounds (5-0) and Elijah Robinson scored on an 80-yard kickoff, his third of the season. … James O’Brien, in his first start of the season, threw three touchdown passes as Wilton mashed Bridgeport Central last Friday, 41-8. Drew Phillips, Wilton’s starting quarterback, broke his collarbone in last week’s 47-0 mashing by St. Joseph.
Colin Wilson completed 24 of 30 passes for 369 yards and SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS as Fairfield Ludlowe strafed Trinity Catholic last Friday, 61-28. Wilson is tied for the fourth-most touchdown passes in a game, according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. All his touchdowns were in the first half. Brian Howell had nine catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns, Aidan Wykoff had 10 catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Collin Fleming had five catches for 90 yards and two scores for Ludlowe (4-1), which scored 34 in the first quarter.
ZERION Montgomery threw three touchdown passes to Ja'kwan Hale as Derby rolled Wilby last Friday, 30-0. Montgomery completed 6 of 14 passes for 82 yards with an interception and seven carries for 62 yards and Hale had three catches for 58 yards. Also, Damian Caruso ran 18 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns and Davon Wilson had six tackles and three sacks. ... Sophomore Angelo Kollcinaku banged a 22-yard field goal with three minutes remaining as Woodland rallied for a a 23-22 road win over St. Paul. Woodland trailed 22-7 at halftime. EDIT Krivca ran 23 times for 259 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawks (5-0). Connor Bogdanski had 14 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons (1-4).
Oh, Haddam-Killingworth, you earned a special place in our cold, dead heart. Tobey Callender and Dalton Modehn combined to run for EIGHT touchdowns in a 56-13 rout of Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial last Friday. Callender had 18 carries for 217 yards and four touchdowns for the Cougars (4-1), and Dalton Modehn ran for 133 yards and four scores. GOD’S OFFENSE. HK’s Jordan Callahan also made all eight extra points, which is better than what some dudes are doing in college or the pros (CFL, natch).
Colton Engel ran 28 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5 of 8 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns as Stafford/Somers/East Windsor vanquished Granby last Friday, 41-14. Juan Rivas had 28 carries for 199 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs (5-0), who rushed for over 400 yards. Linemen Kody Messier, Tyler Gilbert, Nate LaVallee, Sam Yekfo and Dom Zuccalo allowed S/S/EW to convert on five fourth downs.
John Orsini (40 yards) and Tyren Watt (37 yards) both scored on second-half interception returns for Wethersfield in its 49-6 rout of Hartford Public last Friday. Orsini also ran for a 20-yard touchdown for the Eagles (3-1). ... Josh Dodd completed 11 of 18 passes for 242 yards and six touchdowns as Quinebaug Valley clubbered Platt Tech last Friday, 42-0. Jamie Talbot caught four passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns in the first half for the PRIDE (2-3).
There was a time (the nineties) in which Rockville played for Class L titles, so it was a bit jarring to see it flee the Central Connecticut Conference two seasons ago and do a beeline for the small-school Pequot Football Conference. The Rams have started settling in nicely to their new digs. Ben Ambro completed 14 of 21 passes for 295 yards as Rockville snuffed out SMSA/University/Classical last Friday, 35-6, its fourth straight win. Kai Armstrong scored on runs of 23 and 13 yards for Rockville (4-1), which rushed for 295 yards. Jaquon Dufour added seven catches for 167 yards receiving for the Rams and Kejuan Greene, Jon O’Coin, Clayton Aefedt and Chris Mierez all had interceptions.
Anthony Ligi ran for 225 yards and four touchdowns as Wolcott shocked previously unbeaten Seymour last Friday, 34-27. Jake Sforza added 14 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown for Wolcott (3-2). Ian Sadick completed 18 of 24 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats (4-1) and Tyler Ganim ran for 74 yards and scored three times. ... Kyle Gordon scored on a 2-yard run with 47 seconds left to give Norwalk a 21-17 win over Trumbull last Friday. ... Noah Vail scored three touchdowns in East Catholic’s 42-7 conquest of Rocky Hill. Vail scored on runs of 7 and 30 yards and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Harrison Ecklund. ... Jalen Gopie scored on runs of 68 and 1 yards and a 73-yard interception return as Waterbury Career beat Torrington last Friday, 24-6.
McMahon scored twice on special teams to best Stamford last Friday, 27-12. Malik Goethe blocked a first-quarter punt that Jonathan Davilla scooped up and took for a 12-yard touchdown for the Senators, and Donyae Shavers opened the second half by scoring on an 85-yard kickoff return. Most importantly, Jermayn Daniel, a 5-11, 240 pound junior, mashed his way for a 9-yard touchdown. #BEEFYDUDETOUCHDOWN. The game was called with 1:30 remaining due to a fight. Come on, guys.
Kevin Dunn completed 8 of 9 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns as Berlin punched out Avon on Saturday, 45-0. Alex Halkias ran six times for 58 yards and two touchdowns and had an interception for the Redcoats (5-0). ... Connor Rich gave Northwest Catholic a well-rounded effort in last Saturday’s 19-14 win over Tolland. Rich ran 15 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, completed 6-of-11 passes for 83 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, scored on an interception return and had six tackles for Northwest. VALENTINO West added eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Jonte Roc completed 3 of 6 passes for 46 yards and two touchdowns, ran 11 times for 79 yards and a touchdown and ran in two conversions as O’Brien Tech thumped MCW United on Saturday, 50-14. GOD'S FATHER'S OFFENSE. Jommar Roc threw one pass, a 20-yard touchdown, ran 4 times for 44 yards and a score, and ran in a conversion for the Condors (5-0). Bobby Hudak also caught three passes for 37 yards and two touchdowns and ran three times for 76 yards and Logan Corrigan scored on an 80-yard interception return.
• • • •
Thanks for reading. More soon.
Stories that may interest you
Spring football never had a real chance in Connecticut.