Archive for October, 2007

Mike & Mike In The Evening
October 26, 2007

Golic Family Tradition

Tonight on FNF, you’ll hear from Mike Golic Jr. and Mike Golic Sr. — Mike Golic Sr., of course, is the popular radio co-host of the Mike & Mike In The Morning radio show on ESPN. He’s also the father of at least one son who will follow in his footsteps to play college football at Notre Dame (son, Jake, currently a junior at Northwest Catholic, may be next).

Mike Jr. is a standout senior offensive and defensive lineman for the Indians. On Friday, Mike Jr. will receive a jersey and an official invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. He hopes to play center at Notre Dame and that means he could soon be working closely with highly hyped (though yet to show much) ND Quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

I’m hear to report that the Golic boys and their dad could not have been more normal and down-to-earth when we went out to interview them at Northwest on Wednesday. In fact, I think it’s that genuine everyman quality that makes Mike Golic Sr. so likable on the radio. To hear more of his comments, listen to my podcast this week.

Northwest is currently (4-2) with losses to mighty New London and Rocky Hill. They can still get into the Class S Playoffs but not without some major help. Rated eighth at the moment, the Indians need to win out while rooting for Cromwell to beat Hyde Leadership (tomorrow) and Haddam-Killingworth (2 weeks from tomorrow), Stonington to beat Montville (tonight) and Berlin to beat Rocky Hill (tonight).

Dizzy yet?

Speaking of High School All Americans … last year at this time, it was Bristol Central’s Aaron Hernandez receiving his U.S. Army All-American jersey to play in the big game. Aaron’s success is continuing at the University of Florida. Seeing playing time as a freshman tight end, Aaron had his first collegiate touchdown last week in a win over Kentucky, catching a 1-yard TD pass from Gator QB Tim Tebow. Here’s to many more for a classy Connecticut Kid.

High School Spygate?

In two weeks, state No. 2 Greenwich takes a road trip to meet Florida powerhouse Naples High. Some believe Naples has been scouting Greenwich games and “spying” on them by using an elderly couple to film the Cardinals recent game in Norwalk with Brien McMahon. This is a wild story and Bill Belichick is not involved as far as we can tell.

Check out the always interesting BLOG of Sean Patrick Bowley at the Connecticut Post for more juicy details and links to related articles in Florida newspapers.

Games We’ll Be Watching

Montville at Stonington Friday 6:30pm

The ECC small division title is on the line tonight. A typically strong and supportive crowd is expected in Stonington (The Land of Heather Buck). For a nice feel on just how great a high school sports town Stonington is, read Mike Dimauro’s column in The Day this morning.

Weaver at Windsor Friday 7pm

Weaver is (5-0) and strong at the running back position thanks to Avon transfer John Rowley. Windsor is an angry (4-2) with losses in its last 2 weeks. The Conard loss last week was legit. The forfeit loss to Wethersfield 2 weeks ago is not. An ineligible Windsor player had an inconsequential role on kickoffs. Windsor won the game on the scoreboard in a rout, but lost in the rule book.

Bristol Eastern at Maloney Friday 6:30pm

The Lancers stayed undefeated with a jaw dropping 31-6 win over previously undefeated Newington last Saturday night. Hello!

Berlin at Rocky Hill

Also of great interest tonight is the Berlin at Rocky Hill matchup and undefeated Stratford’s trip to visit once beaten Pomperaug in Southbury.

Saturday! Saturday. Saaaaaturrrday

Saturday is a huge day as well (and perhaps even huger if there are postponements tonight like last Friday when the rains came).

Headlining the schedule Saturday is Ledyard’s visit to undefeated NFA, the 10:30am tilt in West Hartford between Northwest and (6-0) Middletown and the annual game of major significance between Cromwell and Hyde Leadership.

Completely Unrelated Thought Of The Week

No matter whether the Red Sox go on to win the World Series or not — it’ll never be better than 2004.

To review calendar year 2004:

  • The Sox break the curse
  • The Patriots win the Super Bowl
  • The UConn Men win the national championship
  • The UConn Women win the national championship
  • The UConn football team wins its’ first ever bowl game

Game. Set. Match, 2004!

See you tonight at 11:15pm for Friday Night Football.

John

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Can’t Hear You; Blue Devil Details; More
October 19, 2007

What’s The Frequency Kenneth?

Actually, I’d love it if anyone (Kenneth or otherwise) could tell me what the radio frequency is to hear high school football games in the Greater Hartford area. The sad truth, with the exception of Pete Lamoureux consistently broadcasting Conard and Hall games on Saturday (WCCC AM 1290) – to my knowledge, no Hartford area station is broadcasting games. There are a couple outlets in Middletown doing games but no others in Greater Hartford.

WTIC (which, in my book, is one of the great local AM radio stations in the country otherwise) and WDRC: Why aren’t you broadcasting high school games? Why can’t people listen to a game of the week that might include New Britain, Southington or a host of area schools with decent followings? I know it wouldn’t be a huge moneymaker, but it would certainly earn you points with the locals.

Away from Hartford, the local radio coverage is much stronger led by the likes of the legendary George Dimaio on WELI in New Haven, Bob Sagendorf at WATR in Waterbury and the tireless, omnipresent Don Boyle streaming on the internet through SPORTINGNEWSCT.COM.

Each Friday night during the football season, I have these 3 outlets called up on my computer at work, enjoying their particular game and (stealing) final scores whenever possible (thanks Coach!). I just wish a station closer to the Capital City would do the same.

Blue Devil In The Details

Best of luck to Plainville Senior Dave Soltis who tonight vs. Rocky Hill needs 39 yards to break Plainville’s all-time career rushing record of 1,895 yards. Soltis is a two-sport standout for the Blue Devils and will play Division 1 Baseball at Vermont next year. My podcast interview with Dave in addition to an interview with Killingly Head Coach Chad Neal can be heard here (to be posted by tonight).

From Crutches To Touches

Tonight at 11:15 p.m., as part of our FNF coverage, I’ll feature the story of Killingly senior running back Seth St. Jean. Due to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (which deteriorates your hip joint), Seth spent over 2 years on crutches starting when he was 6. He’d also have to sleep with braces on his legs. Today, he’s the star offensive threat at Killingly and the engine that makes the Redmen go. Incredible? Absolutely — especially for those who remember Seth as that kid with the crutches.

Games We’ll Be Watching

Newington at Bristol Eastern – Friday 7pm

They’re both unbeaten at (5-0) and Bristol Eastern will make its long overdue 2007 FNF debut tonight. Bristol Eastern was a winner last Thanksgiving over a talented Bristol Central team (Matt Coyne, Aaron Hernandez) and that was a sign of things to come. What I’d give to be the Lancers star running back David Casanova. All those yards plus a last name that has to be a big hit with his female classmates.

Daniel Hand at Shelton – Friday 7pm

Another jam packed night at Finn Stadium ahead. Who wins this battle of unbeatens? At full strength probably Shelton – but the Gaels play this one without standout running back Andre Henderson. He’s out after separating his shoulder in a close win over Wilbur Cross last week.

Woodland at Holy Cross – Friday 7pm

These two have both lost one game apiece. Both to powerhouse Ansonia. They’re both in the Top 10 in the Class SS playoff point rankings (Holy Cross #6, Woodland # 9). A win tonight will go a long way in determining if one of them is still playing come the postseason.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week

Why is it that computer spell checks don’t always recognize words like “online” or “webpage”? It’s like a chef not knowing what salt and pepper is. A pilot not understanding the concept of turbulence.

Enjoy the games. Hope the rains hold off.

See you tonight at 11:15pm for FNF.

John

WEEK 5: We’re Not Ignoring You
October 12, 2007

Channel 3 cameras have made it to about 50 high school football games so far this season. I’m proud of that, and believe me, we’re not overlooking some schools off to great starts that haven’t had airtime on the show yet.

To the Windsor Warriors, the Weaver Beavers, the Bristol Eastern Lancers, the Ellington/Somers Knights, and others: You’re very much on our radar and we’ll be at a game of yours before the World Series is over. (Unless, of course, my Red Sox win in a 4 game World Series sweep. In that case, give us another few days to get you on TV and a few more for me to regain consciousness.)

Looking into my crystal ball, these are games with those four teams we’re likely to be all over:

  • Bristol Eastern: At Muzzy Field next Friday (10/19) vs. Newington
  • Weaver: Next Friday Afternoon at home vs. Hall
  • Windsor: Friday, Oct. 26 at home vs. Weaver (Sounds like a Joe Zone LIVE shot to me)
  • Or, possibly Saturday, Oct. 13, on the road at Wethersfield
  • Ellington/Somers: Maybe this Saturday at Coventry/Windham Tech

(It’s tougher with a team like Ellington/Somers because they don’t play a single Friday night game, and that’s when we have the most resources to get to games.)

If you’d like to see your school — the team, the band, the cheerleaders — get some more airtime on Channel 3, e-mail me at john.holt@wfsb.com.

Games We’ll Be Watching (Friday)

Holy Cross at Ansonia – Friday 7pm

A year ago, these two collided on a rainy night in Wolcott for the NVL championship. This year, the schedule has them meeting in the regular season. It doesn’t appear that it will be as close a game as last year (when Ansonia got the hard fought win). The Crusaders lost some very key players to graduation (including Dan Mulrooney — on the 2 deep at safety for Boston College — heading into Saturday’s game at Notre Dame). Look for the Chargers to win by 2 to 3 touchdowns. I’m rooting for a closer game between these two unbeatens but I get the feeling Ansonia is at a different level than almost everybody else this year.

This game will be aired on WATR in Waterbury and streamed LIVE on WATR.COM with the always energetic and entertaining Bob Sagendorf. We’ll have a camera there and I’ll be listening to Bob online back in our Rocky Hill studios. I hope to use one of his radio calls on the show tonight.

Fitch at Windham – Friday 7pm

Are we covering this game because we want to see Fitch for the first time this year? Or, because it’s convenient to another stop we’ll hit Friday night (UConn First Night at Gampel Pavilion)? Actually, both. We want to see Maya Moore. We want to see the new and improved Hasheem Thabeet. But we also want to see a Fitch team that has just one loss, coming to out of state opponent Salem, Mass.

Haddam-Killingworth at North Branford – Friday 6:30pm

The Thunderbirds (3-1) got some nice pub in a New Haven Register article on Friday but HK comes in unbeaten (their season opening win at Avon looking better by the week). I want to learn more about the Haddam-Killingworth Cougars. Tonight, I will.

Weaver at Conard – Saturday 1pm

This game could also mark Weaver’s 2007 Channel 3 debut (see above). Both teams have yet to lose (2 of the 27 remaining unbeatens statewide heading into Week 5). In the 5 games these 2 schools have combined to play since Week 1, they’ve allowed opponents a total of 12 points. Who wins Saturday?

RHAM Tough

RHAM tough? FNF producer Mark Fijalkowski would immediately enroll me in the University of Cliches for that one. But hey, in this case it truly applies.

RHAM (Regional Hebron, Andover, Marlborough) has a junior lineman, Mike Kearns who should be an inspiration to all of us. Mike has been battling Leukemia for close to 2½ years. Oh yeah, he’s also in his second season battling offensive lineman twice his size while playing football for RHAM/Lyman Memorial. Tonight on FNF, we’ll share his story.

Mike’s toughness makes his parents fight just as hard for him as he does for himself. RHAM tough? You bet!

Completely Unrelated (and unoriginal) Thought Of The Week

I’m not the first to write this, but could the NCAA have come up with clumsier new names for what used to be Division 1A and Division 1AA football?

The former Division 1A is now called the Football Bowl Subdivision. The former Division 1AA is now called the Football Championship Subdivision. Both roll right off the tongue, don’t they?

See You Tonight on FNF!

John

And Then There Were………..33
October 5, 2007

Three weeks into the high school football season and 33 unbeaten teams remain. In 5 games this weekend (3 Friday, 2 more Saturday) unbeatens play each other.

There are a lot of very good one loss teams as well. How many opponents would volunteer to knock heads with once beaten Fairfield Prep, Northwest Catholic, Bridgeport Central, Xavier or New Canaan?

Finn-Tastic

When I got back into work Tuesday, I cut up some highlights from the Madison Square Garden Network Game of The Week broadcast between Shelton and Fairfield Prep. I was struck by how electric the Finn Stadium environment looked for a high school game. The crowd was strong (6,000) and the way MSG framed the cutaways of each student section brought the excitement of the SCC showdown right through the television. Prep may have lost the game (26-21) but they still should have been voted into The Day of New London State Coaches Top Ten.

I’m not alone in this belief. In fact no less an authority than high school football guru Ned Griffen from The Day agrees with me. Ned’s a smart guy. I always feel good when we see eye to eye.

Games We’ll Be Watching

Conard at Maloney – Friday 6:30pm

You can’t go wrong by paying a visit to Ceppa Field in Meriden for a meeting of two of the 33 remaining unbeatens. Both schools are playing with heavy hearts this year. Maloney after the recent passing of legendary former coach Rob Szymaszek and Conard following the unthinkable shooting death of 16 year old teammate Xion Davidson over the summer. How can you root against either one of these schools?

Maloney’s challenge is made tougher tonight by a series of injuries including star running back Johrone Bunch who will miss the game with a ligament tear in his thumb.

Norwich Free Academy at Windham Friday 6:30pm

Willimantic is the spot for two more undefeateds. The Whippets bring the dynamic QB/WR duo of Spencer Beaudreault and Tyrece Nickson. One of the Wildcats quarterbacks is R.J. Evans who’s one of the best basketball players in the state and the second best hoopster in his house behind sister Kastine.

Bloomfield at Newington Friday 7pm

Bloomfield’s only loss is to high powered Southington, Newington has yet to lose and is fueled by a super tight senior class that is on a mission to get back to the state playoffs for the first time since a 2004 semifinal loss to Staples.

Check out my new podcasts on wfsb.com/hsfootball

Shelton at Amity Friday Friday 7pm

The 3rd ranked Gaels travel to Woodbridge hoping to avoid a letdown after their thrilling, MSG, comeback win over Prep last Friday night. How legit is 3-0 Amity? We should find out tonight.

Ledyard at New London Saturday 3pm

Wish this one was on the docket Friday so we could feature it on FNF. Two more undefeateds, but Ledyard looks for the road win without star running back Tim McNeil – still recovering from a shoulder injury. The venerable all time state leader in coaching wins, Leyard’s Bill Mignault: The highly successful lightning rod Jack Cochran leading the Whalers. Wonder what’s said in the postgame handshake?

Ram-Shackled?

Just for the record (and because it’s another way to plug my story last week on Rockville running back Kevin Brown) – Rockville has to be the best (0-3) team in the state. Close 8 points losses to Weaver and Bloomfield sandwiched around a 3 point road loss at Bristol Central. The Rams are better than their record, much better.

Nathan’s Famous

In Newington he is. I speak of Indian senior running back Nathan Pagan. Pagan is the rushing section of the school record book. He’s been starting since stepping in as a freshman and despite being undersized his accomplishments are overwhelmingly oversized.

Tonight on FNF we profile Nathan. A young man who’s also a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and the grandson of former major league ballplayer Jose Pagan. What drives one of the best running backs in the state? Find out tonight at 11:15pm on FNF.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

Absolutely overrated cookie: Chocolate Chip

Absolutely underrated cookie: Ginger Snap

Enjoy the games. Would love to hear from you at john.holt@wfsb.com