The Lonesome Polecat: state variant

Howdy,

St. Joseph doesn’t have offensive linemen like Jack Conley and Jack Stewart.

Conley and Stewart play for New Canaan, and both seniors have committed to FBS programs. Conley (6-foot-7, 315 pounds) is headed to Boston College. Stewart (6-5, 275) is going to Michigan.

St. Joseph’s offensive line outplayed the Rams’ big fellas last Saturday, one of a few surprises that was a part of the Cadets’ shocking 28-0 slaying of New Canaan.

Don't call St. Joseph's win an upset. Remember, it opened last season with a 38-35 win at New Canaan. It also had so, so many players back from last season's CIAC Class S championship team.

The Rams, however, were considered the team to beat and were ranked No. 1 in the preseason GameTimeCT/New Haven Register Top 10 media poll. A big reason why was because they have four FBS players. In addition to Conley and Stewart, senior linebacker Garrett Braden will attend Rice (thus he's athletic AND smart), and junior quarterback Drew Pyne has already committed to Notre Dame/

St. Joseph's defense deservedly got much of the attention as it held New Canaan to 166 yards offense. The Rams have been among the state’s best passing teams this millennium and are rarely grounded. They hadn’t been shut out since the 2006 FCIAC championship game (Greenwich beat them, 28-0).

Juniors Cole DaSilva (linebacker), Mike Morrissey (defensive end), Cayden Porter (defensive end) and Jermaine Williams (nose guard) helped keep the pressure on Pyne.

The Cadets' offensive line did a better job holding their ground to protect their FBS-bound quarterback, David Summers (Maryland). Or making just enough space for running back Jaden Shirden.

It was all the more shocking because St. Joseph had to move guys around due to injuries.

“Chris Kiley played some guard for us last year,” Cadets head coach Joe DellaVecchia said. “He’s an undersized kid (5-8, 170). He had to start the game. Rich Licursi, our left guard, we had to move him to right tackle because our right tackle, Dennis Elrod, was out. And then Mark Arnone, our center, he got hurt early.

“(Left tackle Robert) Mihaly was in-and-out during the game, so we had Bryan Robertson, another sophomore, in there. … It was kind of a mish-mosh moving people around, and I thought they did a tremendous job responding to it.”

Blocking was an issue at times for St. Joseph last season. It still won a state title, its fifth in 10 seasons under DellaVecchia, but the blocking was one of his pet peeves.

The Cadets' o-line struggled for over a half to establish the run, so Shirden didn’t get a lot of yardage for all his work (31 carries, 108 yards, two touchdowns).

St. Joseph did get better as the game went on, though.

“They played tough, and Jaden is a bull,” DellaVecchia said. “He’s an outstanding runner. He seems to make something positive when there’s nothing there. He just doesn’t go down.

“The last couple of drives, too, it was all will. We were on the sidelines talking about we have to be able to move people, we’ve got to be able to run the ball, kill some clock. And they did it. They did a great job.”

• • • •

CHEAP PLUG — we encourage (and implore) you to tune in and listen to the brand-new Lonesome Podcast, which will be posted on theday.com Tuesday morning. The aforementioned St. Joseph defense was one of the topics discussed.

• • • •

There was 3:40 left in Friday’s game, Maloney was tied with perennial power Windsor, and was starting a drive at the Windsor 41.

Maloney was ready for it. It had spent the year getting ready for it.

The Spartans’ Freddy Hidalgo ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:49 remaining for a 26-20 win.

“Against E.O. Smith last year, we were in the same situation,” Maloney head coach Kevin Frederick said. “The experienced guys on the team, you could see that they remembered that. So I think having experience being in tight games and having to put points on the board helped.”

The Spartans wasted a 14-point lead against E.O. Smith with the Panthers tying the game with 7:27 left. Maloney regained the lead with 3:42 to play and turned Smith over on downs for a 21-14 win.

Maloney senior quarterback Elliot Good didn’t play in that game as he missed the entire season to a back injury, but Frederick believed he was ready.

“He was on the sideline,” Frederick said. “He was one of our signal-callers. He was very involved in the game. He’s a very competitive kid.

“I was confident that his best drive had yet to come. … He made a big play on fourth-and-7 with a pass to Maurice Brackett on a post route.”

The Spartans' defense also had a lot of inexperience but came through late. Windsor reached their 20-yard line with under a minute left, but they held on.

“We try to compete every day at practice, putting those guys in those situations,” Frederick said. “I said to my coaches (Sunday) morning that I had a different feeling just looking at the kid’s eyes before the game, the intensity that they brought to the game.”

Beating Windsor was an especially big moment for Maloney because almost no one has beaten the Warriors the last four years. They had a 40-1 record in the regular season over that time and played in two state finals, winning the 2014 Class L-Small title.

“We improved every year from the previous year,” Frederick said. “This was the next step we had to take. This was a team we hadn’t beaten the last five years. It’s a big thing for our program, not just for this team, but the program.”

Maloney had three straight losing seasons before Frederick took over, including a 1-9 finish in 2013.

Frederick, who played at city rival Platt and had been the offensive coordinator at Southington for head coach Mike Drury, his former teammate, took over the Spartans in 2014.

“No one but high school coaches can understand all the time you have to take to rebuild a program from scratch,” Frederick said. “Everything from getting practice equipment to getting the kids to believe that we could turn this thing around.

“Being coached by Tom Ryan (at Platt), me being around guys like Mike and Chuck Drury at Southington, the key is the offseason weight room. The weight room is the biggest piece of everything. I believe kids should lift weights in season or out-of-season, even if they’re playing another sport. That turned my life around, the weight room. I was a mediocre athlete, and I got in the weight room and got to places I never would’ve been.”

Maloney went 5-6 in Frederick’s first season and 7-3 in 2015 and 2016. It broke through last season as it finished 9-2 and made states for the first time since it lost to New Canaan in the 2006 Class MM final.

The Spartans had enough talent returning to make a run at this year’s Class L playoffs. Senior WR-DB Victor Marquez had 60 catches for 743 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

“He’s a matchup nightmare for defenses,” Frederick said. “We can move him all around and do a lot of things with him. He’s tall with a big body (6-foot, 195). He plays a huge part in our offense and defense.”

One of Maloney’s biggest strengths is its veteran offensive line with an emphasis on big. Third-year senior center Ryan Martel is 6-5, 340. Senior right tackle D.J. Posey is 6-4, 285, while junior left tackle Trevor Santiago is 6-3, 313. Posey and Santiago both start at defensive tackle, too.

“Trevor Santiago is a Division I player,” Frederick said. “He’s an outstanding player. He already has an offer to play at Central Connecticut and I’m sure he’ll get more. You just can’t teach 6-3, 313 pounds, and he moves like a linebacker. He’s helped us out a ton.”

Maloney plays at Hartford Public on Saturday (1 p.m.).

• • • •

BEHOLD, The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. St. Joseph (1-0, seven first-place votes); 2. Darien (1-0, three first-place votes); 3. Greenwich (1-0, three first-place votes); 4. Hand (1-0); 5. Shelton (1-0); 6. East Hartford (1-0); 7. New Canaan (1-0); 8. Ansonia (1-0); 9. Killingly (1-0); and, 10. Southington (1-0).

• • • •

The GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Monolith Top 10 media poll: 1. St. Joseph (12 first-place votes); 2. Greenwich (10 first-place votes); 3. Darien (five first-place votes); 4. Hand (three first-place votes); 5. Shelton; 6. East Hartford; 7. New Canaan; 8. Killingly (one first-place vote); 9. Naugatuck; and, 10. Bloomfield.

• • • •

The ballot Polecat HQ filed for GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Monolith media poll:

1. Greenwich: This wasn’t an easy choice.

Three-time, three-time, three-time Class LL champion Darien finished last season No. 1 and just keeps reloading, so one could go with the Ric Flair, “to be The Man, you’ve got to beat The Man” rationale.

St. Joseph certainly made its case by choking out New Canaan, in addition to be loaded and so well coached.

We went with Greenwich after much deliberation, though. It was unbeaten prior to last year's Class LL final and gave Darien one of its toughest games. It also has a lot back, namely all-staters Gavin Muir (quarterback), Tysen Comizio (running back), and Mozi Bici (defensive end). They also have 106 players on their roster (Greenwich has the state’s second-largest boys’ enrollment — 1,368), so depth shouldn’t be an issue. So we went with Greenwich.

We do, however, reserve the right to change our minds. Better to correct what you consider a mistake then stubbornly sticking with your first choice.

(Darien plays at St. Joseph next Saturday afternoon, too).

2. St. Joseph

3. Darien

4. Hand

5. Shelton

6. East Hartford

7. Southington

8. Middletown

9. Newtown

10. New Canaan

11. North Haven

12. Maloney

13. Ansonia

14. Naugatuck

15. Berlin

• • • •

NOTABLES~!

Gavin Muir completed 17 of 25 passes for 218 yards with three touchdowns and an interception as No. 2 Greenwich belted Trumbull on Saturday, 42-7. A.J. Barber (a soph) caught three passes for 43 yards and Ryan Raybuck scored on a 53-yard interception return for the Cardinals. ... Cooper Hancock threw two touchdowns passes in his first start as No. 3 Darien beat Ridgefield on Friday, 30-6. Will Kirby also scored on a 1-yard run and kicked a 28-yard field goal and made three extra points for Darien, and Will Rolapp caught a 15-yard touchdown and scored on a 1-yard run.

Colin McCabe scored on runs of 6, 4 and 6 yards and sacked Sahim Hasan in the end zone for a safety as No. 4 Hand shut down Hillhouse on Friday, 43-6. Phoenix Billings also threw TD passes of 28 and 48 yards to Chris Bartosic for the Tigers. … Jake Falanga’s fumble recovery set up Jake Roberts’ go-ahead 8-yard touchdown run with a minute left in the game and followed with an interception as No. 5 Shelton edged Cheshire on Friday, 17-10.

Raquan Tompkins. You’re going to be seeing and hearing his name A LOT this season. The senior quarterback led No. 6 East Hartford with for 167 yards rushing and five touchdowns in a 41-7 rout over South Windsor on Friday. … Darwin Amaya ran for a 92-yard touchdown — on the game's first play from scrimmage — as No. 8 Ansonia mangled Waterbury Career Academy on Friday, 55-6. Shaykeem Harmon ran for a 25 yard touchdown and caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Sheldon Schuler. Schuler also threw a 37-yard TD pass to Jy’Mere Jones, and Amaya added a 9-yard touchdown run.

Nsaiah Harriet played defensive end last season for defending Class M champion Killingly. The senior is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. Whelp, he's playing running back this season. Sweet Marcus Dupree. Harriet ran three times for 121 yards and two touchdowns in Killingly's 49-6 romp over Plainfield on Friday. Tyler Cournoyer ran five times for 105 yards and two touchdowns for Killingly and scored on a 27-yard catch, too. RPO — RUN PEOPLE OVER. ... Southington's Jacob Drena began his first start at quarterback by throwing an interception. No worries. He would complete 16 of 23 passes for 356 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-7 rout of Glastonbury on Friday.

Jacob Commander ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns and added a sack as New London beat Capital Prep/Achievement First, 20-7, in its first game with new head coach Johnny Burns. … Jonathan Pierre had four sacks, the last of which forced a fumble that teammate Cam Belton returned for a 13-yard touchdown with 1:01 left, as Norwich Free Academy beat Xavier for the second straight season on Friday, 26-13.

Ryan Douchette (1 yard), Frank Cook (7 yards), Dominic Emmons (13 yards) and Jayden Long (15 yards) all ran for touchdowns in Montville’s 28-7 win over Stonington on Friday. HATS OFF to The Ville, too, for running on all 12 plays during a 95-yard touchdown drive. Linemen Tyrone Mack (6-4, 285 pounds) and Kolt MacCracken (6-2, 265) deserve a little ink, too. … Nick Braga returned the opening kickoff for an 82-yard touchdown and had eight carries for 89 yards and a score as Valley Regional/Old Lyme crushed Ellington on Friday, 42-6. Jack Cox completed 5-of-6 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown and Ryan Santos scored on runs of 33 and 26 yards for the WARRIORCATS.

Sophomore Roberto Salas ran 19 times for 200 yards and a touchdown as Platt beat Farmington on Thursday, 27-7. Jake Baker scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 98-yard kickoff return for Platt. .... Ja'Quan Graham threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns and ran 19 times for 126 yards to pace Rocky Hill to its 21-14 win over Northwest Catholic on Friday. ... Kevin Clark caught touchdown passes of 25 and 23 yards from Cal Redman and also had 15 tackles and two sacks in RHAM's 21-7 win over Tolland on Friday. Redman also scored on a 1-yard run.

North Haven used a late goal-line stand late to beat West Haven for the first time last Friday, 20-19. The Westies had a first-and-goal from the Indians’ 2-yard line, but the latter only gave up a yard. North Haven also scored on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, and a 16-play, 96-yard drive. GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE. Nicholas Dodge ran 13 times for 56 yards and three touchdowns for the Indians. … Joey Gublin threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jack McKenna with over a minute left to rally Fairfield Warde past Stamford on Friday, 28-24. Gublin was 18 of 37 for 229 yards and three touchdowns with an interception for Warde, who trailed 24-14 in the fourth quarter.

Brookfield made us sigh breathlessly after it ran for 507 yards and six touchdowns in its 42-21 rout of Class L runner-up Masuk on Friday. Nicholas Henderson ran 16 times for 250 yards and four touchdowns, Jack Mix had 13 carries for 106 yards, and Conor McVey ran 10 times for 85 yards. The Bobcats could’ve had even more rushing yardage had touchdowns of 96 and 65 yards not been called back. A strong running game is so dang sexy. … Edit Krivca ran 21 times for 278 yards and four touchdowns as Woodland rolled Torrington on Friday, 35-0. Krivca was able to ramble on thanks to left tackle Peter Rosato, left guard Alek Tolboe, center Ryan Knobel, right guard Joe Shea and tight end Jason Hicks.

Ky’Juon Butler scored on runs of 70, 21 and 20 yards as Bloomfield ransacked Plainville on Friday, 53-0. Daron Bryden threw touchdowns of 44, 23 and 7 yards and Brendan Bish had three sacks for the WARHAWKS. … Leshaun Hicks ran 15 times for 157 yards and a touchdown and completed 4 of 8 passes for 76 yards and a TD to help Wilbur Cross edge Foran on Friday, 14-13. … Dalton Brown scored on runs of 20, 1, and 39 yards and had one of Haddam-Killingworth’s four interceptions in Friday’s 35-8 win over Sports and Medical Sciences.

Terrence Bogan ran 21 times for 215 yards and three touchdowns as Sheehan thumped Law on Friday, 48-14. … Christ N’Dabian ran eight times for 145 yards and three touchdowns in Bunnell’s 34-0 shutout of Notre Dame of Fairfield on Friday. ... Kaiyon Gunn ran 12 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 33-yard interception return as New Britain ruined Conard on Friday, 35-0. The Hurricanes allowed just 98 yards and seven first downs and added four sacks. … Dylan Nees-Fair ran 19 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns as Newington ruined Amistad’s varsity debut on Friday, 41-0. … Wilton’s defense allowed just two first downs (one via a penalty) and 38 yards as it snuffed out McMahon on Friday, 9-0. Tyler Previte scored on an 8-yard fumble return.

What’s better than a strong running game? A diversified running game, you crazy. Bristol Central had seven players combine to run 41 times for 333 yards and four touchdowns as it blanked Hartford Public on Friday, 34-0. Where to start, where to start. Okay, Darrel Payton ran 13 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns, Justus Fitzpatrick ran seven times for 77 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman Victor Rosa ran four times for 64 yards (he went 44 yards on his first carry). And Jose Navedo, well, he did a little bit of this (four carries, 61 yards), a little bit of that (one catch for a 64 yard touchdown), and some of this (interception). Central only attempted two passes (smiling emoji goes here).

Simsbury’s Mark Bedson outgained Hall on Friday, but Hall won, 31-26. The Warriors had 182 total yards. Bedson had 194 total yards (21 carries for 165 yards and four touchdowns, and one catch for 29 yards). Hall, however, turned two interceptions into short scoring drives, and Yovan Rivera returned a kickoff 91 yards for another touchdown. The Trojans also had two special teams turnovers. Lest we forget, Bedson also had two sacks.

Colton Engel ran 20 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns, completed 8 of 9 passes for 109 yards, and scored on an 85-yard kickoff return as Stafford/East Windsor/Somers beat Morgan on Friday, 39-26. Julian Rivas ran 19 times for 102 yars and two scores for the Bulldogs. … Jaedon Jones had 14 carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns as Cheney Tech cruised pass the Abbott Tech/Immaculate co-op on Friday, 28-8. … Kaleb Carlson scored on runs of 13, 34, 13 and 2 yards as the Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial co-op outlasted Lewis Mills, 32-27.

The Naugatuck D only gave up 123 yards in Friday’s 14-0 shutout over Wolcott. … Jake Oldham ran for three touchdowns and caught a 61-yard touchdown pass as Pomperaug ripped Bethel on Friday, 46-0. It was the head coaching debut of Tony Pereira, a 2000 Pomperaug graduate and former assistant. … Bryce Karstetter completed 20 of 38 passes for 300 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in Cromwell/Portland’s 35-21 win over Rockville on Friday. Nick Wright caught nine passes for 199 yards and three scores for C/P. Nick Foley rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams (0-1).

Eddie Cruz had six tackles, two sacks and forced a late turnover to set up the go-ahead score in Thames River’s 14-6 win over Platt Tech on Saturday. The game was scoreless when Cruz stripped the ball from Joe Calzone to give Crusaders the ball at the Platt Tech 1-yard line. It set up Cole Occhialini’s touchdown run with 5:33 remaining. … C.J. Mattson bogarted all of Griswold’s touchdowns in Saturday’s 36-7 win over Bacon Academy. Mattson ran 12 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns and caught touchdown passes of 32 and 42 yards from Andrew Koziol.

Berlin’s Kevin Dunn completed 18 of 27 passes for 263 yards and four touchdowns in Berlin’s 41-0 shutout over the Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver co-op on Saturday. Larry St. Pierre caught two touchdown passes and ran for another for the Redcoats and Alex Halkias ran nine times for 111 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 110 yards and a score. Wait, Berlin threw it 27 times? That’s, like, a season’s worth of attempts under Al Pelligrinelli, Berlin’s former longtime head coach (1976-2003). Pelligrinelli was a master teacher of the Manly Discipline of the Running Arts and is the sixth-winningest coach in state history (247), according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book.

Seymour’s Ian Sadick went medieval on St. Paul during Saturday’s 43-14 rout of St. Paul. Sadick threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for a conversion and ran for another because, hey, why not. Teammate Jonathan Dumas had two catches for 106 yards (yes) and two touchdowns and caught the aforementioned conversion, and Tyler Ganim ran 18 times for 53 yards, caught a 54-yard touchdown, and scored on a 31-yard fumble return.

Jonte Roc ran 11 times for 106 yards and three touchdowns and threw a 14-yard touchdown to Bobby Hudak as O’Brien Tech trounced Prince Tech on Saturday, 32-0. GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE. … Kennedy nose guard Cassius Arnold recovered a fumble on a two-point conversion attempt with 12.8 seconds left to help his team escape with a 21-20 win over Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech on Saturday.

Devario Reid ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 56-yard reception as Wilcox Tech thumped MCW United last Saturday, 34-8. Mike Mysatyukow had 20 tackles (WHAT) two sacks, a safety and a fumble recovery for Wilcox, and Derek Gendreau completed 7 of 8 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. … Cayden Mitchell completed 16 of 24 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns in Oxford’s 42-0 pasting of Wilby on Saturday. … Alex Smith ran 13 times for 92 yards and a touchdown, scored on a 57-yard interception return, and made a team-high 13 tackles for Gilbert/Northwestern in its 20-7 win over Old Saybrook/Westbrook on Saturday.

• • • •

Early favorite for the best name of the 2018 #cthsfb season — Lyman Hall’s SHAKESPEARE RODRIGUEZ.

• • • •

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Vaya con dios....

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