Archive for September, 2007

Week 3: We Seek You
September 28, 2007

We’ve got another full show lined up for you tonight in Week 3 of Friday Night Football. We want your involvement. In that spirit, visit the high school football Web site at WFSB.COM and register for a Property of Friday Night Football T-Shirt, nominate your high school band or cheerleaders for recognition on FNF and send us digital photos from your school’s games. Thanks to Dwight Bell who recently sent us come cool photos from Windsor’s win last Friday night over New Britain.

Channel 3 Friday Night Football

Also, if you missed the highly anticipated (at least in my world) open to last week’s show — the mock press conference with Randy Edsall — it’s posted on the high school football Web site as well.

Meet Kevin Brown

Remember the overpaid, underachieving stiff Kevin Brown who pitched for the Yankees a few years back before slipping off into retired oblivion in record time? Well, forget him completely (it’s not hard). Tonight on FNF, we’ll introduce you to Rockville’s Kevin Brown. Brown, his brother Oliver (also his Rockville teammate), his 2 sisters and his mother Jennifer lost their home to fire 4 weeks ago tonight. What has happened since is the story of Rockville rallying to help its own. The Browns are in a much better place today than they were on August 31st and Kevin is headed to play college ball next year. Sounds like running the ball for the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils is the most likely option.

The Tank Engine Hits 518

Alex Thomas, senior, Ansonia H.S.

Incomparable Ansonia Senior Running Back Alex Thomas had a night for the ages Thursday night. Alex ran for a state record 518 yards in an NVL win over Woodland Regional. 518 Yards and 7 Touchdowns. The 518 broke the previous record held by Farmington’s Brandon Willard, set in 2002 vs. Plainville. If you haven’t had a chance to check Thomas out for Ansonia, do it before he graduates (and likely moves on to Yale). If getting a glimpse in person isn’t a possibility, I direct your attention to the story we did on Alex in Week 1 of Friday Night Football: Thomas The Tank Engine.

Games We’ll Be Watching

  • Fairfield Prep at #3 Shelton, 7pm
  • Both teams are undefeated, both went to the playoffs last year, but only Shelton is ranked. Think Prep and Maryland bound lineman Masengo Kabongo have something to play for or what? As a bonus, less than 15 minutes away in Monroe, #7 Bunnell visits #9 Masuk in a huge SWC showdown.

  • Seymour at Naugatuck, 7pm
  • Few would argue that Ansonia is the best team in the NVL. But who’s second best? Woodland, Holy Cross, Naugy, Seymour? Tonight will provide a few clues.

  • Waterford at Windham, 7pm
  • I’m excited to see what Whippets QB Spencer Beaudreault and stand out wide out Tyreece Nixon can continue to do as a duo. What will Waterford have to say about it? Lancer Nation is desperate for a win at (0-2) to start the season

  • Bristol Central at Southington, 7pm
  • Mr. 5 Touchdowns, Savino Melluzo at RB for the Blue Knights. All State candidate Matt Coyne at QB for the Rams. Can you say north of 80 points combined in this one?

    Fridays Won’t Be The Same

    I went to Bill Gonillo’s funeral Thursday. Can’t believe I’m writing that. I hate funerals. I hate hospitals. Every Friday afternoon, I’d call down to Bill to see what was cooking in Fairfield County football for the night ahead. It’ll be a terrible feeling to not make that call today. My prayers continue to be with Bill’s Family and his colleagues at News 12 Connecticut.

    The Completely Unrelated Thought Of The Week

    What’s the next chipotle? I’m not asking what’s the next condiment or seasoning that fast food chains will fall in love with. I’m asking — 5 years from now — what will be all the rage in our world (be it food, hobby, technology)? I bet 10 years ago that not only would the spelling ofchipotle have bounced you and I from the National Spelling Bee, but unless you went to culinary school – you probably had no idea what it was. Today, it’s everywhere. I think there was some in my cereal this morning.

    Again, I ask: What’s the next chipotle? Those with an inkling can e-mail me at john.holt@wfsb.com so we can cash in together.

    Enjoy the games!

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    Billy The Kid, Rest In Peace
    September 24, 2007

    Bill Gonillo

    I’m 35. He was 44. He called me “Kid” every time we spoke. I starting doing the same to him in recent months. I wish I could do it again this afternoon.

    My friend, and the ultimate friend of high school sports in Connecticut, Bill Gonillo, died over the weekend. No cause has been released yet though Bill had suffered from serious diabetic shocks in the past.

    Bill’s infectious personality was matched only by his fondness for media buffets. At Channel 3, we’d often request highlight feeds of high school games Bill had shot with his News 12 camera down in Fairfield and New Haven counties. He never said no, seemingly putting his own work deadlines and needs in minor jeopardy to make sure we got what we needed. He never said no and he never asked for anything in return. I always tried to even things out with Bill but never managed to do it. There may never be a more decent, genuine person to cover the local sports scene in Connecticut.

    The last couple years at the end of the football season, I sent a small token of my appreciation down to Bill for the help he had given WFSB. He later told our producer that he was uncomfortable accepting the gifts and that I didn’t need to do it anymore. Classic Gonillo. All give and no take. In some ways, I wish Bill had cared more about the one person who always seemed to be last on his list of importance: Himself.

    Just last Thursday, Bill made an unsolicited call to me at work to offer us video of Weston’s win over New Milford. The victory broke a 21-game losing streak for Weston and Bill was genuinely excited to spread the news. He called again Friday with details of first year program Platt Tech returning its’ first ever kickoff for a touchdown. That’s the last time we spoke.

    The media experience of attending sporting events in Connecticut won’t ever be the same without Bill’s presence.

    I am honored that I was worthy of his friendship. Kid, I will miss you in a huge way.

    Coach, Coach….Coach!
    September 21, 2007

    Opening Statement

    Week 2 of Friday Night has arrived and I want to encourage you to be tuned in right off the bat at 11:15pm tonight.

    Each week on FNF, we take great pride in endeavoring to produce a show open that’s memorable.

    Last year, our stabs at creativity included a parody of 60 Minutes (15 minutes of FNF).


    Video

    And, a tip of the hat to David Letterman with our “Show Before The Late Show” open.


    Video

    This week, it’s a take off of the commercials currently running for a beer company that show two guys at a “press conference” asking questions to one time NFL coaches like Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil and Mike Ditka.

    Playing the role of our coach is UConn’s Randy Edsall in a post-game session with the media last Saturday following his team’s win over Temple.

    Many of our WFSB crew members helped to put the open together back on Wednesday Night. Keep an eye out for those in the supporting cast (yelling, “Coach, Coach…Coach!”) with myself and Joe Zone. The guy with the exaggerated (and wildly funny) facial reactions every time Joe and I ask Coach Edsall a question is Tom Zukowski (FNF’s ace editor). Our FNF show producer, Torrington’s own Mark Fijalkowski, is the guy pushing forward a microphone to “capture” Edsall’s voice. (Between you and me, that microphone is not plugged in. We didn’t bother to tell Mark this in hopes he’d stay in character the whole time.)

    We’d love to get your feedback on these show opens (which are all archived and posted on our high school football Web page at WFSB.COM. Hope you find them memorable.

    TRAVELING MAN

    With some schools opting to not play Frday (due to Yum Kippur), there was a healthy slate of Thursday night games. Visit our high school football page to see highlights of games between Newington and E.O. Smith, Plainville and Middletown, and Platt and South Windsor.

    I traveled from our new (and convenient-to-a-lot-of-high schools) studios in Rocky Hill over to Newington. I wanted to see Indians running back Nathan Pagan in person. I was not disappointed. No wonder the kid holds almost every rushing record in school history. He’s also a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and he has some great genes with his grandfather Jose Pagan having played in the big leagues with the Giants, Pirates and Phillies.

    Back on Wednesday, I was out at practice in Canton. The Warriors and head coach Graham Martin (Eric Mangini’s coach at Bulkeley back in the day) are all geared up for their first varsity football game in 44 years. It comes tonight when they travel to play Stafford/East Windsor in Stafford. The school’s last varsity win in football came in 1959. By 1963, interest had dwindled and the sport was dropped in Canton. Now, thanks to a group known as the Friends of Canton Football, the sport is back. It’s all financed with private fundraising — no town money or school money involved (at least, not at the moment). Also, no home field (that’s in the works): All 10 games for Canton this year are road games.


    Video

    To visit the team’s Web site go to: http://www.homestead.com/CHSfootball/home.html.

    Platt Tech of Milford is another program that returns Friday night after a long hiatus, hosting Cheney Tech of Manchester.

    3 Games We’ll Be Watching

    1. Bloomfield at Southington: Friday 7pm
      • A Top 10 collision between a Southington team that has not lost a regular season game in Coach Bill Mella‘s 2+ years at the helm and a hungry Bloomfield squad lead by perhaps the state’s premiere QB/WR combo — Keenen Orie and Marcus Cooper. Boston College and Rutgers are two of the schools recruiting Cooper.

    2. Ledyard at Montville: Friday 7pm
      • A lot is expected from visiting Ledyard and legendary Head Coach Bill Mignault this year. This is their opener and to get a win they’ll need to slow down Montville running back Taylor Lewis (also a standout baseball player).

    3. North Branford at Tolland: Friday 7pm
      • Even without the dominating, now graduated running back Mike Gallic, Tolland was able to open a lot of eyes last week with a 28-21 win over perennially tough Hyde Leadership. More than one state newspaper called the Eagles’ first-ever win over the Howling Wolves “stunning.” Tolland was a playoff team a year ago as was North Branford. “Solid matchup” written all over this one.

    T-Shirts are All The Rage

    We got e-mails this week from spots like New Milford, Wallingford and Trumbull, asking for “Property of Friday Night Football” T-shirts. You can request, beg, plead or send cash yourself. Just let us know how loyal you are to our little show. E-mails to sports3@wfsb.com or john.holt@wfsb.com.

    Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week

    Is there a more confusing word in the English language than “untracked?” As in, “They need a few early defensive stops to get untracked.”

    To me, “untracked” sounds like getting off the track. When is getting off track ever a good thing? I’m going to e-mail Hartford’s own Noah Webster on this one for a clarification.

    Bonus Viewing

    If you have Comcast cable, you may be interested in knowing that their crew is in Ansonia Friday night to tape the Wilby Wildcats game with State No. 1 Ansonia. It will be shown Saturday on CN8 at noon, and it’ll be available for those with “On Demand” for the next week. I also hear that CN8 has a terrific candlepin bowling show that airs at 11am each Saturday morning.

    State Coaches Poll After Week 1
    September 17, 2007

    A Good Monday to all!

    The Day of New London has sent us the latest State Coaches Poll following Week 1 action.

    Shelton moving up after the impressive win over West Haven. The Westies fall out while Bloomfield debuts in advance of its’ Friday night showdown with #6 Southington.

    If you have great home or team video of any action over the weekend (such as what sounded like an emotional win for Conard over Simsbury) – let us know with an e-mail to sports3@wfsb.com. Also check out WFSB.COM for raw game video from Friday night. This is the stuff that didn’t make the FNF show.

    Want a “Property of FNF” T-Shirt? Let us know how loyal you are to the show. Send e-mails, bribes and money to sports3@wfsb.com or john.holt@wfsb.com.

    1. Ansonia (10) 1-0 384 1
    2. Greenwich (3) 1-0 362 2
    3. Shelton 1-0 294 5
    4. New Canaan 1-0 272 4
    5. Staples-Westport 1-0 271 3
    6. Southington 1-0 220 6
    7. Bunnell-Stratford 1-0 183 7
    8. New London 1-0 176 9
    9. Masuk-Monroe 1-0 170 10
    10. Bloomfield 1-0 120 NR

    Dropped out: West Haven (8)

    The Wait Is Over
    September 14, 2007

    After a 9 month hiatus, Channel 3’s Friday Night Football show is back tonight at 11:15pm. It’s been a long empty wait for many of us. Tonight, the wait is over.

    I think you’ll find WFSB’s commitment to high school football coverage greater than ever. Our potential to do new and cool things is on the rise thanks to our sparkling new broadcast facility in Rocky Hill.

    We’ll be at 10 to 12 games tonight. Of course, as always should you be at a game we’re not at, witness a spectacular play and have video of it – get it to us for some airtime. Start by calling our Assignment Desk: (860) 244-1700.

    I hope you’re a regular visitor to WFSB.COM all season. We’ll once again be posting all game highlights and features, The Day of New London State Coaches Top 10 (released to us on Mondays) plus providing extended interviews with players and coaches from across the state.

    Each week on Friday Night Football we’ll deliver features on players, coaches and teams. On the opener, tonight the spotlight shines on Connecticut’s very own Thomas The Tank Engine – Incomparable Ansonia Senior running back – Alex Thomas.

    I also had a chance to check in with Hartford Public, Bloomfield and Northwest Catholic this preseason. There are good stories at these programs and all over the state. Let me know about them with an email to john.holt@wfsb.com

    Games We’ll Be Watching

    New London at Northwest Catholic – 7pm Friday

    Jack’s (Cochran) Back. How will he and his Whalers fare opposite an Indians team still stung by missing out on the playoffs last season due to another school having to forfeit games?

    Shelton at West Haven – 7pm Friday

    The Gaels (#5 in preseason poll) visit the Blue Devils (#8 preseason). Almost wish this game was later in the season. It’s like the Red Sox and the Yankees playing in April. Seems a bit early, but who’s to argue?

    Ansonia at Kennedy – 7pm Friday

    The Chargers are #1 in the state and Alex Thomas is all that and more but I’m also interested in seeing the continued improvement of Kennedy. The Eagles and tireless head coach Chris Sarlo are dealing with a bunch of academic suspensions (due to a tougher new standard for athletes in the Waterbury schools), a field at Municipal Stadium that was unearthed as a former landfill during a conversion to new turf in the off-season and a City budget that can’t provide a trainer for games. Still, these Eagles are on the rise and I’m rooting for ’em.

    Enjoy the games!