Archive for November, 2008

Some Extra FNF Stuffing
November 26, 2008

We offer you an extra edition of Friday Night Football this week, tonight at 11:15pm (with 24 games being played statewide) and then again Friday at 11:15pm as The Day’s Ned Griffen joins us to preview the state playoffs which begin next Tuesday with 12 games

The Juiciest Thanksgiving Games (these games need no extra gravy)

Cheshire at Southington – Wednesday 6pm – Southington Coach Bill Mella never stopped believing the Blue Knights could squeak into the Class LL playoffs – even after a 3-0 loss 2 weeks ago to New Britain. The winner of the Apple Valley Classic tonight at least gives itself a chance to make the postseason – they’ll need a loss from New Britain or Newtown to make it a reality.  Southington no doubt remembers the disappointment on a Thanksgiving Day defeat to Cheshire a year ago.  I personally believe the state playoffs would be more interesting if Cheshire QB Billy Ragone is a part of them.  What a game tonight!

Kennedy at Crosby – Thursday 10:30am – Crosby needs a win to keep alive hopes of its’ first ever state playoff appearance in football. Some are telling me they are the most athletic (and maybe most talented) team in the state.  Win or lose, Crosby quarterback David Gondek can set the single season state record for touchdown passes with 3 more to get to 37.  Kennedy continues to be a program on the rise under tireless coach Chris Sarlo. They were the NVL Copper Division champs this season and want desperately to rule the Brass City on Thursday with a win over their city rival.

East Catholic at Cheney Tech – Wednesday 6pm – These two Manchester schools are so close to each other Mapquest has a tough time telling them apart.  Two years ago their co-op team broke up and this is the first time they have played each other since the split.  Former teammates against each other and a couple grand expected to be in attendance at Cheney’s brand new turf field facility. Oh, did I mention that East has a chance to end Cheney’s perfect season?  Either way, the Beavers will play again next Tuesday night in the Class M playoffs.

Hyde Leadership at North Branford – Wednesday 6:30pm – For everyone (me included) who doubted that North Branford could avoid a 2 game season ending losing streak at the hands of Cromwell and Hyde – last Saturday’s 6-0 win over Cromwell was a shocker!  The Thunderbirds have qualified for the Class S playoffs.  A win tonight gets them the #1 seed.  Hyde has even more to play for.  The Howling Wolves need a win to make the playoffs.  Should Hyde lose, the door is open for Northwest Catholic who will need to win on Turkey Day vs. Plainville.

Answers To Some Mailbag Questions

John:
Is anyone doing any broadcasts of any of the CIAC football Championship games this year or was that a one & done??
Thanks

Hank L

Hank:

The Connecticut Sports Network (launching in December on cable) will do all 6 games again this year.  Unlike last year though, none of them games will be broadcast LIVE.

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John:

Crosby fan here. What does anyone know about Bloomfield’s chances versus Windsor? What about Wethersfield v. Newington? Do either of these teams have a shot to knock off the favorite?

Crosby Fan:

While anything can happen in emotional Thanksgiving week rivalry games, I’m expecting both Windsor and Newington to win.  That means chances are Crosby gets outpointed for the 4th and final playoff spot in Class L.    The Bulldogs are a great story and they deserve a spot in the postseason.

———–

John:

John, I watch WFSB’s Thanksgiving Week coverage of high school football every year and I always hear you ask victorious players whether the turkey will taste better since their team won. Is that your postgame strategy again this year?

John:

Thanks for writing…all be it to yourself.  The answer is YES!  It’s a slam dunk question that never fails to get a good response.

Ansonia Star Has Plenty To Be Thankful For

Join us Friday night at 11:15pm on FNF when I bring you the story of Ansonia Senior running back Tristan Roberts.  Last year Roberts missed most of the season after an arrest for marijuana possession.  He has earned his way back onto the team and you’ll hear exactly what lessons he is taking to heart on a holiday where he’s thankful to have back what once was lost.

Completely Unrelated Thought of the Week:

Do you think chickens feel especially lonely or especially lucky around Thanksgiving?

See you tonight (and Friday night) at 11:15pm for FNF!

John

One Final Friday
November 21, 2008

It’s the final Friday of the 2008 high school football season.  Just 9 games are on the schedule as many schools get an off week with the Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve games looming next Wednesday & Thursday.  Our own Joe Zone won’t take it easy tonight though.  He’s looking to catch action at 4 different games all in the same night.  From Fermi High School to Enfield High to Tolland High to Stafford High School – It’s Joe’s Excellent (not to mention cold) Adventure.  Find out at 11:15pm just how he makes out.

The Jim Buonocore Era is Officially Underway

Sure it started back in August when Ledyard began life without legendary head coach Bill Mignault but last night it truly started with Buonocore leading the Colonels to a 27-6 win over previously undefeated New London.  I caught the end of the internet radio call from the guys at 104.7 WXLM in New London and they officially pronounced it the start of the Jim Buonocore Era – I agree gentleman.

J.J. Jablonski is a true playmaker on both sides of the ball for Ledyard and he alone gives the Colonels a real chance of repeating as state champs.

What Ned Said (about the playoffs)

If The Day’s Ned Griffen says it about high school football then I tend to take it as gospel.  In an email to yours truly earlier this week Ned indicated that 35 teams still have playoff hopes as of the moment.  21 of those teams control their own destiny and are in with a win.

The most intriguing races are Class LL and Class L.   New Britain and Southington are outside the top 4 right now in Class LL but that all changes with a Southington win over Cheshire (the #4) and a New Britain win over Glastonbury (the #1).    #3 Newtown also faces a stiff test with a Thanksgiving eve home game vs. Masuk – #1 in L.

Masuk and L #2 Simsbury are in great shape to make it to the postseason. L gets interesting with #3 Newington, #4 Windsor and #5 Crosby all alive and rooting against each other. Stay tuned.

What Were You Doing 20 Years Ago?

Some of you weren’t alive, I get that.  I for one was big into Saturday Night Live’s Dennis Miller and I had long hair to match.  “That’s the news and I am outta here” Anyone remember?

20 years ago this Thanksgiving Wallingford’s Bill Gannon was a rising Junior quarterback at Sheehan High School drawing recruiting interest from the likes of Boston College and Arizona State. A couple months later (in January of 1989) Bill was in a serious car accident that forever altered the course of his life.  Nothing has come easy since.  From an amazing comeback that saw him beat the odds to play in 2 games his senior year, to hip fusion surgery right after high school graduation to the sudden death of his young wife Agnes 4 years ago.  Bill Gannon has an unforgettable story  that may soon be a book.  Until then you can learn more in our TV feature about Bill tonight at 11:15pm on FNF.

What’s The Best Turkey Day Tilt?

Not just this year, through the years. What’s the best Connecticut Thanksgiving day rivalry.  NFA – New London?  Ansonia – Naugatuck?  Bristol Central – Bristol Eastern?  Stonington – Westerly, RI?

Sell me  your pick in an email, john.holt@wfsb.com  The best answers get a Property of Friday Night Football T-shirt in time for Christmas.  XL sizes available for those who over induldge at the Turkey Day dinner table.

Games We’ll Be Watching

Avon at Stafford/East Windsor – Friday 6:30pm –  A win and the Falcons are in the playoffs. This also happens to be game 4 in Joe Zone’s Excellent Adventure tonight.  I’m curious to see if he gets there in one piece and leaves in one piece.

Simsbury at Farmington – Friday 7pm – A Trojan win and they go to the postseason.  Hats off to Simsbury fans who keep FNF updated on their team’s progress!  Thank you for the calls and emails.

North Branford at Cromwell – Saturday 1pm–  Pierson Park on a late November Saturday.  Both teams have yet to lose.  Cromwell is a lock for the postseason but should North Branford lose Saturday and then at home 4 days later (Thanksgiving Eve) to Hyde their playoff hopes will come crashing down in one painful 96 hour stretch.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

Not sure what I’m bothered by more: The fact that young people are wearing less and less belts or wearing less and less watches.

How is a cellphone a suitable substitute for a nice looking wristwatch?

See You Tonight at 11:15pm for FNF!

John

7 Days In Lavender Land
November 14, 2008

Long time fans of the Ansonia football program (Hello Ed Morse) love to remember the pre-Charger days when Ansonia was known as The Lavender.  Like Harvard being The Crimson, Dartmouth being The Big Green.  The last 6 days will be hard to forget for The Lavender.  It started last Friday when its’ 35 game win streak bit the dust at the hands of Crosby.  What followed was 6 days of hand wringing, a 5 to 6 hour practice on Sunday and then, last night, a HUGE bounce back win over previously undefeated Seymour.  The Lavender may not be #1 in the polls anymore but the streak of honoring the name on the front of the jersey lives on. Ed Morse is smiling.

You can see the Ansonia Seymour game on MSG plus Sunday morning at 11.  The broadcast includes a passionate pregame speech from Ansonia Head Coach Tom Brockett.  We’ll share a clip of that speech with you tonight on FNF.

Time to Play The Rent

A memorable experience awaits tonight for the kids from New Britain and Southington.   Their key Week 10 match up goes down at the Home of the Huskies, Rentschler Field.  East Hartford and Manchester will do the same thing the night before Thanksgiving.

This is not the first time the Blue Knights will play a big house.  They opened the season at Giants Stadium.  A loss in tonight’s game almost assuredly ends the playoff hopes for the loser.

I never played in an real game at a big venue, did you?  The closest I’ve come is a media basketball game at The Carrier Dome.  I played for the student radio station against a team of All Americans from the student newspaper, The Daily Orange.  I can’t remember the exact details –  but I’m pretty sure I finished with 4 points (both baskets on dunks).

This Was Local Sports At Its Finest

That was the headline in The Day of New London for Mike DiMauro’s column detailing the reaction to last Friday’s thrilling game between New London and Montville.  Mike was heartened by the response The Day got by posting the video story of the game that included New London’s incredible Hail Mary pass play.   If you haven’t seen the play, go ahead and do it:

Click here to watch the play

In the wake of news that local institutions, The New Britain Herald and The Bristol Press, may cease operation come January it’s wise to remember just how powerful and meaningful the coverage of high school sports can be.  Losing those papers would leave a significant void in Central Connecticut.  I hope a buyer swoops in to save The Herald & The Press.  High school athletes in New Britain and Newington,  Berlin and Southington deserve it.  Just like kids in New London and Montville.

Who you gonna call?  The Bellamo Brothers

House on fire in Cromwell?  Call Deputy Chief Bellamo or his son Chris, a Cromwell firefighter and dispatcher.  Giving of themselves to others is in this family’s DNA.  Ask Cromwell football coach Sal Morello.  For each of the 8 years of his program’s existence he’s had a Bellamo Brother – first Chris and now Josh – as team equipment manager.  The Panthers have been a varstiy program for 6 of those 8 years, losing just a combined 4 regular season games.  Think the Bellamo Brothers have had something to do with it? For sure.  Watch FNF tonight at 11:15pm for a feature story on Josh Bellamo, the kid the Panthers affectionately call “Bells”.

3 Games We’ll Be Watching

Bristol Eastern at Platt Friday 6:30pm –   The host Panthers are currently 7th in the Class MM playoff point standings,  the Lancers 4th.  A win tonight gets the victor a slew of playoff points.

Prince Tech at Cheney Tech Friday 7pm –  The Constitution State Conference Championship is on the line. Cheney is having an undefeated season and fighting the big battle for statewide respect

Berlin at Northwest Catholic Saturday 10:30am –  Anyone notice that the 2 loss Indians have quietly rallied to move into the 4th spot in Class S?  Berlin can’t afford a third loss as they cling to the 5 spot in Class M.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

I put my blinker on even when I’m the only one on a quiet road turning into my driveway late at night.  Anyone else?

See You Tonight at 11:15pm for FNF!

John

A Wonderful Week 9?
November 7, 2008

Sure looks that way.  This is our 5th season of the Friday Night Football show and I can’t ever remember a week with so many good games spread out across the state.  12 undefeated teams remain headed into the weekend and tonight at least one and perhaps as many as 5 could lose their first game.  We’re guaranteed a first time loser in the New London / Montville showdown while (8-0) Glastonbury gets a big test at Southington,  (8-0) Ansonia needs to slow down Crosby’s offense on the road,  (8-0) Seymour gets a solid test at Watertown and  (7-0) Brookfield goes road tripping to visit (7-1) Newtown.  That’s all in 1 night!

50 Points Of Light

Notice how there’s been very little talk of Connecticut’s 50 Point Rule the last season and a half?  Are you willing to admit that it might have been a good decision by the CIAC all along?  To me it’s like seat belt laws.  You may not have worn your seat belt before the law mandated it, but now that you do, can you ever imagine going back to not wearing it?

A Few Minutes With a New Britain Minuteman

When you have a free 5 minutes, use it to read Friday’s Boston Globe story by Marty Dobrow on former New Britain Golden Hurricane Josh Jennings

Josh is now starring at linebacker for the UMass Minutemen.  He’s overcome a lot to be where he is.  I know people in the Hardware City are very proud of Josh.  They should be.

What Ned Emailed

The Friday after Thanksgiving the plan is to revisit our What Ned Said playoff preview segment on FNF. That’s when we bring in to studio the Day of New London’s incomparable Ned Griffen to get his thoughts and predictions on the state playoffs.  Ned is on top of the state high school football scene like few others.

He emailed a group of us late this week with the Max Preps rankings in a handful of categories.   I share with you now the essentials:

State #1: (8-0) Ansonia

Toughest Schedule: (5-3) Shelton  (with 5 other SCC teams in the Top 10 in this category)

Easiest Schedule: (8-0)  Cheney Tech.  Think Cheney is anxious to prove itself against non tech school competition or what?

Games We’ll Be Watching

It’d be easier this week to list the games we won’t be watching.  Too many good ones to do justice to ’em all, but here goes…

Montville at New London 7pm Friday – The Whalers are (7-0),  the Indians are (8-0) and this could be the first of 2 meetings with both likely headed to the Class SS playoffs.  Does New London QB Jordan Reed (foot injury) play in this game? That could make all the difference.  We’ll have highlights on FNF at 11:15pm but to listen live online

Glastonbury at Southington 7pm Friday – The host Blue Knights have not lost to an in-state opponent.  The visiting Tomahawks haven’t lost period.   Glastonbury fans are miffed by being no higher than 7th in the State Media Poll and 9th in the State Coaches Poll. Tonight is Glastonbury’s chance to send a loud message.  What ya got Jordan Brown?

Ansonia at Crosby 7pm Friday –  Weaver/Windsor, New Britain/Simsbury, Ledyard/Plainfield, St. Paul/Berlin are all very worthy of watching but Crosby with a chance to end Ansonia’s 35 game winning streak is the pick here.  Can the Bulldogs do it at home?  Their offense is capable, their defense may not be.

Completely Unrelated Thought of the Week:

Does growing old mean you don’t find it necessary to change out of your street clothes to exercise at the gym?  Seems that way at the local JCC I go to.  Then there’s the senior ladies working out complete with make-up and lipstick. That shouldn’t be a problem for me come the golden years.  I made the decision to stop wearing lipstick a good ten years ago.

See You Tonight at 11:15pm for FNF!

John