Archive for September, 2008

All Dry Inside On Capital Boulevard
September 26, 2008

The Rain Reigns

Looks like most of the Week 3 schedule for Friday night will be played on a different day. Some got a jump on the forecast by moving games up a day to Thursday.  Others have rescheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Some are still holding out hope for tonight.  If there are in fact games played in Connecticut tonight be sure that FNF will track them down for your viewing pleasure tonight at 11:15pm.

I received an email yesterday from a viewer named Jamie astounded that games were being postponed, etc. all due to  rain.  He suggested that this is the type of response that has made kids circa 2008 soft.  Jamie, there’s more to it than that.  The event that is high school football is much more than just 4 quarters of action on the field.  It’s bands, cheerleaders, fans in the stands, etc.  Heavy rain hurts all 3 of those groups not to mention the damage it can do when a rain game is played on grass.  Schools with an artificial turf field may try to push the envelope and play on rainy nights, but when you can reschedule for a drier day – why not?

Cheshire and Shelton Go To Overtime

The Rams and the Gaels chose to play a day early (no doubt with a little push from the Game of the Week TV people).  I had a chance to see the second half and OT in person.  Shelton had to rally twice to force overtime.  The tying score in regulation coming on a perfectly executed 2 minute drill where Shelton QB Mike Brighindi called all his own plays.

Overtime is a new first year concept in the Southern Connecticut Conference. Cheshire scored first, but then missed its’ extra point. Shelton responded with a touchdown and Jamal Mitchell converted the kick for the win.

Two thoughts:

1)  Overtime makes the kicking game meaningful in high school football

2)  Had the old non-OT rules existed it’s likely the game would have ended in an 28-28 tie.  That would have left Cheshire at 1-1-1 on the season instead of 1-2.  If Cheshire were to win out, one loss and one tie would probably make a huge difference in the playoff points race as compared to 2 losses.  Wonder what Rams Head Coach Mark Ecke thinks of the unanimous decision to go to overtime now?

The Map to Cools-ville

Matt Fischer, the CIAC’s web guru has added a cool new feature to the high school football page at CASCIAC.COM.  Now you can see a state map marking the location of each football game in a given week and also link to directions to the site of the game.  Can’t wait to see what Matt has in store for us next!

CCC Goes XXL

It’s official, the Cental Connecticut Conference has expanded.  The CCC grows from 24 to 30 teams –  the largest high school athletic conference in the state.  With the end of the Northwest Conference, Plainville, Middletown, Northwest Catholic, East Catholic, RHAM and Berlin join the CCC for play beginning in the fall of 2009.  Future additions could include Rocky Hill and Tolland.  That leaves Northwest Conference members St. Paul and Sport and Medical Sciences Academy left on the dance floor by themselves.

FNF T-Shirts & Athletes of the Week

Have you visited WFSB.COM yet to register for a free Property of Friday Night Football T-shirt? Do it.  Each week we also award a t-shirt to our Athlete of The Week as voted by viewers in our online poll. Our first winner was St. Paul quarterback Brian Kaczynski.

3 Games We’ll Be Watching

Bristol Central at Windsor (Monday) –  Who exactly is this Pierre Narcisse kid at quarterback for the Warriors?  I’m anxious to see why UConn is recruiting Windsor’s rising star.

Glastonbury at Simsbury (Saturday) –  Glastonbury has a great back in Jordan Brown, Simsbury has yet to let up a point.  Collision time!

Norwich Free Academy at East Lyme (Monday) – First year NFA head coach Jemal Davis has high hopes for the Wildcats. East Lyme is (2-0) and maybe a year ahead of schedule of with its’ talented junior class leading the way.

Completely Unrelated Thought of the Week:

McCain and Obama can’t agree whether to debate tonight or not.  How about something simpler:  A universal system for saving or erasing voicemails?  Some phones it’s 7 to save, 9 to erase.  Others, 1 or 2 to save and 3 to erase.  Are we not an advanced enough people to have one consistent delete or save system? Simplify, simplify, simplify. I’m tired of having to think twice about it for my cell phone, my work phone, my home phone.

See You Tonight at 11:15pm for FNF from a dry studio in Rocky Hill!

John

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State-ing The Facts
September 19, 2008

Connecticut vs. The World

I often wonder how the state’s best teams stack up to everybody else on the high school planet.  None of them made a listing of the 100 top high school teams in the country that I saw online this week. No real surprise there. It’s typically the bigger states and Southern states that have a monopoly on those spots.

One way of course to measure the Nutmeg state is to track the games with out of state opponents.  By my count, this year there are 9 (if you include the annual Stonington/Westerly (R.I.) Thanksgiving day game).  The first 3 of these 9 games were played last weekend.   The score?  Nutmeg:2  The World: 1

Hillhouse scored an impressive win over a Hoboken, New Jersey team ranked 15th in one state poll while Notre Dame Fairfield beat Archbishop Williams out of Massachusetts.  The loss came at the Meadowlands where Southington scored on its’ opening drive but then was shut down the rest of the way in a loss to 16 time New Jersey state champion Bergen Catholic.

Nutmeg:2  The World: 1 ……….6 more games to go

Street Smarts

Tonight in Ansonia they will name the road leading to Nolan Field after former Charger Head Coach and School Principal Bill McAllister.  McAllister’s Ansonia teams won a school record 36 games in a row in the 1970’s.  Coincidentally, the current edition of The Lavender has won a state best 28 in a row.  The all time mark remains the 49 in a row that Cheshire won in the 90’s.  Not only has Ansonia won 28 in a row but 3rd year Head Coach Tom Brockett has yet to lose period!

Thank You From Afghanistan

That was subject line in an email I received this week from United States Sergeant Jose Chambers. Jose is the father of Bristol Central senior lineman Tim Chambers who we profiled on FNF last week.  It was an honor to here from Jose as he serves our country during a 10 month National Guard Assignment.  Tim (also a state wrestling champ) is going through his senior season without his dad being at home.  It’s a time where Jose’s in person guidance could be very helpful as Tim is being recruiting to play football by various schools including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Thanks to the wonderful advances in technology, Tim and his dad stay in touch through email and instant messaging.  Arrangements are also being made to send game tapes to Jose in Afghanistan.  I’m thrilled to hear he watched our feature story online at WFSB.COM.

Last Minute Changes

Each week we plan a schedule to get video footage of certain games.  We do our best to adhere to that schedule but there are often things that intercede.  Many times it’s on our end – breaking news, etc.  Last week it was a lost bus.  One of our photographers was up in Willimantic prepared to get highlights of Pomperaug’s visit to WIndham.  It never happened.  Pomperaug got lost (or hit serious traffic) on its’ way from Southbury to Willimantic.  The 6:30pm kickoff was pushed back and the photographer went to a 7pm game in Manchester before hitting a second game in West Hartford.

Games We’ll Be Watching

West Haven at Shelton 7pm Friday

A rebuilding group of Gaels may be better than expected following a Week 1 win over Newtown. West Haven looks to rebound after a rare down season a year ago. This is the season opener for the Blue Devils who did not play last week.  West Haven did not opt to schedule an 11th game this season – either not interested in doing so or unable to find the extra opponent the schedule and the CIAC are permitting this fall.

Rockville at Hall 7pm Friday

For the second straight week (Northwest Catholic last week), portable lights are being brought into West  Hartford.  It’s only the second time ever Hall has had a home night game, the other time being in the 80’s versus Northwest.  The lights will be up for 2 days with a field hockey / girls soccer doubleheader set for tomorrow.  Conard high school will do the same thing with a night football game on October 24th followed by a Saturday doubleheader for the girls.

New Britain at Newington 7pm Friday

Newington is playing this season after both star running back Nathan Pagan (CCSU) and head coach Sal Cintorino moved on.  New Britain is getting solid reviews after a Week 1 home win over Conard.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

Sarah Jessica Parker, beautiful?  I don’t see it. Never have.

See you tonight at 11:15pm for FNF!

John

It’s Back
September 12, 2008

After a 9 and a half month break, Friday Night Football is back! We’re with you tonight at 11:15pm for this season’s debut edition. It’s our 5th season of the show highlighting the best in Connecticut high school football. It’s always reaffirming to hear (whether in person or by email to john.holt@wfsb.com) that the viewing public has responded to the show. From players and families making sure they’re home from that night’s post game activities in time for 11:15 to coaches gathering at local watering holes to tune in – Thanks!

I recently read where participation in high school sports in America is at an all time high. That’s terrific! If you were in Madison last night for New London’s 20-6 win over Daniel Hand you’d know immediately why high school sports is so special. What a crowd (5,000 plus), what an atmosphere – the smell of salt water in the air at the Surf Club!

The Day of New London State Coaches Poll that we bring you each Monday night at 6pm on Channel 3 will debut this coming Monday. Meantime, the New Haven Register’s preseason Media Poll came out yesterday – last night’s doozy of an opener pitted #3 New London vs. #5 Daniel Hand. Both of those teams were state finalists last December.

Here is the complete poll:

1. Ansonia

2. Bunnell

3. New London

4. Greenwich

5. Daniel Hand

6. New Canaan

7. Staples

8. Masuk

9. Seymour

10. Southington

As a first year voter, I had 9 of those 10 in a slightly different order with Bridgeport Central in and Seymour out. One team not in the Top 10 at the moment that could be soon? Cheshire led by Big Red at Quarterback – Billy Ragone.

Division 1 Talent

Ragone is a player who is being heavily recruited by Ivy League schools. He’d prefer to play QB in college but could get looks from bigger football schools if he’d be willing to play collegiately as a defensive back.

Already, Connecticut has a number of players giving verbal commitments to play Division I football (please email me with any omissions)

Andre Lawrence – Hartford Public / Boston College

Jake Golic – Northwest Catholic / Notre Dame (where his brother Mike is redshirting this season)

Mark Harrison – Bunnell – Rutgers

Jordan Reed – New London – Florida

Anthony Schiavone – New London – Temple

Marcus Aiken – St. Paul’s – UConn

Mike Osiecki – Seymour – UConn

Games We’ll Be Watching

6 games last night (including Ansonia’s 28 the straight win) and 39 more tonight, here’s 3 we’ll be watching.

Xavier at Northwest Catholic – In come the portable lights to West Hartford for the second straight season opener. Last year New London, this year Xavier. Holy Holy War!

Ledyard at Berlin – A rematch of last year’s Class M championship game won by Ledyard. The good news for Berlin and Coach John Capodice? No Mignaults to worry about. Legendary Coach Bill has retired, his grandson Mark has graduated.

Oxford at St. Paul/Goodwin Tech/Lewis Mills – UConn recruit Marcus Aiken gets to show off his skills under the portable lights at a brand new field for St. Paul. Oxford plays its’ first varsity game ever after a promising 7-3 Junior Varsity season a year ago

Completely Unrelated Thought of the Week:

I miss the Stop & Shop traffic light logo. The new one they’ve introduced takes me out of my comfort zone:

See You Tonight at 11:15pm!

John

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year
September 4, 2008

My two daughters may differ with the title of this post, but who’s thinking Christmas when we still have a larger than usual 12 week regular season between now and Thanksgiving?

High School football is back and with it returns Channel 3’s Friday Night Football program.  The debut show is 11:15pm on Friday September 12th.  An opening Friday night that includes Southington High School playing at the Meadowlands vs. Bergen Catholic out of New Jersey.

More than ever, we are seeking your input for our broadcast and  online coverage of high school football.  Please share with us your story ideas, suggestions for games that our cameras should show up for and your photos of high school football action.  We are also looking for nominations for Cheerleaders and Bands Of The Week.  Photos and nominations can be submitted by visiting our Friday Night Football page at WFSB.COM

I sense a lot of excitement headed into this season just by the number of preseason emails we’ve received.  From all state players eyeing college scholarships, to Ansonia putting its’ 27 game win streak on the online to the first ever varsity game at Oxford there is a lot to look forward to right from the start.  Keep the emails coming to john.holt@wfsb.com

I was honored to be asked to be a first time voter in the New Haven Register’s Media Poll.  Look for the preseason polls – Media Poll from the Register, Coaches Poll from The Day of New London – to be out next week.

For what it’s worth…. my Top 5 in the Media Poll:

1. Ansonia

2. Greenwich

3. Bunnell

4. New London

5. New Canaan