Archive for September, 2010

No Home Field, No Pom Pon Squad, No Voice. What?!
September 23, 2010

Last Saturday New London opened its season vs. Montville with a  game at the Coast Guard Academy.  The game was moved from Friday to Saturday and New London High School to Coast Guard because of problems with the new turf field at New London H.S. Now it appears there’s a good chance the football team (and other teams that use the field) won’ t have a single home game this fall as the field problem is addressed. The Day of New London reports that Whalers head coach Jeff Larson is preparing for a season of road games.

The Finn Stadium field at Shelton is just fine for football but the 30 year tradition of a Pom Pon dance team (a different group from the cheerleading squad) has been suspended for the year after a suitable advisor for the team could not be found. The kids on the Pom Pon team, especially the seniors are devastated.

Speaking on long running traditions in the valley, nobody speaks on the radio with more authority than “The Voice”,  WATR radio’s Bob Sagendorf. For the forseeable future though “The Voice” is silenced.  Dead nerve tissues that control speech are the problem.  Sags continues to seek treatment.  My thoughts and prayers are with him. In his absence, WATR has Tom Fuller  and  Steve Gesseck  on the radio call of weekly high school football games.  This week’s game is Friday’s 7pm kickoff between St. Paul and Holy Cross.  Read Joe Palladino’s recent article on Bob’s battle to regain his voice here.

Shedding Light On The Matter

There’s nothing quite like high school football under the lights, almost every school wants in on it.  Friday night this week brings the debut of new permanent lights at Haddam-Killingworth (hats off to Al Sheahan and the lighting project committee at HK) and a special game under portable lights in Falls Village for the Housatonic Valley Regional Mountaineers.  Housy’s 7pm game with Canton is believed to be the first home night game at HVRHS in some 15 years.

Later this season both Bristol Eastern (10/8 vs. Northwest Catholic) and Old Saybrook/Westbrook  (10/22 vs. Coginchaug) will bring in temporary lights to host night games on their high school campuses.  The Bristol Eastern Lancers are used to home night games at Bristol’s Muzzy Field but the 10/8 game will be right out the school’s backdoor.

Just Wondering

Friday Night Football producer Mark Fijalkowski threw this interesting question at me recently:

Has any player ever quarterbacked 2 different Connecticut schools to state championships during his high school career?

Of course should Masuk win a state title this year  (or presumably next)- that’d make 2 for Panther Quarterback Casey Cochran. The first coming as  freshman at New London High School in 2008.

Reason To Smile

Channel 3’s weekly online Student Athlete of The Week Poll is back again this season and this year is brought to you by the good people at Rosenberg Orthodontics with locations in West Hartford, Wethersfield,  Newington and Canton.

We reveal the 3 nominees each week at 11:15pm on Sports Sunday then again in Monday’s 6pm sportscast.  You can vote at WFSB’s Friday Night Football page through Friday afternoon each week.  We then reveal the winner during Friday’s 6pm sportscast and again on FNF at 11:15pm.

The first 3 nominees of the season were Torrington running back Brenden Lytton,  Wilbur Cross running back James Ward and St. Joseph Quarterback Joe Della Vecchia.

3 Games We’ll Be Watching

Masuk at Pomperaug  7pm Friday

Their first regular season meeting since 2008.  Pomperaug won the SWC Championship game between the two last season.  Masuk Coach John Murphy says the Pomperaug student section is one of the best in the state.  For what it’s worth, I’ve been voting Masuk #1 in the state in the early polls.

Windsor at New Britain 7pm Friday

Are the Windsor Warriors for real after a 42-6 opening night win over Simsbury?  A spot on the big stage of Veterans’ Stadium in New Britain vs. the Golden Hurricanes Friday night will be telling.

Staples at Norwalk 7pm Friday

Time for Norwalk to back up that eye-popping Week 1 win over Greenwich. No better test than Staples, right?

(Friday’s 7pm game with Glastonbury visiting Southington also has the makings of a good one!)

Is Friday Night Football Really The Most Fun 15 Minutes In Connecticut Television?

We ask that question in the spirit of the excellent, creative Geico Insurance TV ads.  Look for FNF to debut some of its’ own spots in coming weeks starring the Naugatuck Cheerleaders, WFSB’s Denise D’Ascenzo , local radio legend George “The Coach” DeMaio and FNF’s Joe Zone.

We hope ours are just half as the real ones, here are 2 of my favorite:

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

I own a basic cellphone that’s probably about 5 years old.  My wife believes it’s woefully outdated and I should upgrade especially since the new phones are free if you extend your service plan.  I feel no need to get a new phone – should I?

See You Friday Night at 11:15pm for FNF!

John

Is There A Spot On Your Fridge For Us?
September 17, 2010

As the 2010 season kicks off we have plans to bring you more Friday Night Football shows than ever – likely as many as 17.  It starts tonight and ends on the second Saturday of December – December 11th. New this year are FNF magnet schedules listing show dates. Any chance you’d offer us (Joe Zone and I are pictured on the magnets) some real estate on your refrigerator?  If you’d like one sent your way drop an email to john.holt@wfsb.com  – with your home address.

Change Is Good – Right?

Most preseason accounts of the new state  playoff system  (32 teams qualify instead of 24 / 4 divisions instead of 6) have coaches voicing universal approval.  Believe me when I say not all coaches are behind it.  The smallest of the Class S small schools will now find it more challenging than ever to win a state championship for their town.  These schools must still beat all the regular suspects in Class S plus others schools that had previously been classified with the slightly bigger enrollment of Class SS schools.  Bottom line?  The large schools and their coaches love the changes yet a small school Cinderella story is now more unlikely than ever.  That state title Putnam won back in 1994?  Consider it once in a lifetime even as Putnam now competes as the Quinebaug Pride co-op with Tourtellotte and Ellis Tech.

It’s Early but….

Week 1 games started early this week with some schools avoiding  Friday kickoffs due to the Jewish Holiday, Yom Kippur.  2 scores catch my attention:

Windsor (not a playoff team a year ago) 42 Simsbury (a playoff team a year ago) 6

Norwalk 19 Greenwich 7

The last time Norwalk won in this series?  1980

Family Time

It’s been a good week for the Hernandez family of Bristol.  On Sunday  20-year old Aaron Hernandez made his regular season NFL debut for the Patriots – highlighted by a 45 yard catch and run from Tom Brady.  Three days later, big brother D.J. Hernandez (all of 24 years old) won his Southington head coaching debut over South Windsor. At least one party in town is already worried that D.J. won’t stay long, potentially joining the staff of his college coach Randy Edsall at UConn.  Is 24 too young to be a head high school football coach in Connecticut?  Share your thoughts in an email and a Property of Friday Night Football t-shirt may soon be part of your wardrobe.

Proud Eagle To Be

Xavier Senior linebacker/tight end Graham Stewart is headed to play on scholarship at Boston College next season.  When he made his decision public he took some nasty backlash on the message boards from some UConn fans who were stung by Graham’s choice to go out of state.  The mature Stewart is using those message board posts as motivation – posted in his locker to inspire.

Wins, Losses & Tys

The big question of the early season in the FCIAC:  What does the preseason right foot stress fracure  suffered by St Joseph-Trumbull senior running back Tyler Matakevich mean for the Cadets’ chances of repeating as state champs?  How effective will the bruising back be when he returns?

Numbers Not In Their Favor

A small male enrollment of just 150, a practice field all of 35 yards in length (try practicing kickoffs on that limited lot) yet Hyde Leadership keeps on winning.  4 state championship in 10 years and a perfect (4-0) record in state title games.    Seems like Head Coach Melvin Wells (and John Aquavita before him) crunch the numbers better than most.

Sage Decision

Sage Park in Berlin isn’t big enough to handle the Thanksgiving Eve crowd that the fledgling Berlin-New Britain rivalry is expected to attract. So again this year (year 2 of the series) the game will be played in New Britain. Tough luck for Berlin and Head Coach John Capodice but a wise, judicious, prudent – Sage decision?  Yes.

Links – Get Your Weekly Links Here

One Giant Leap for Running Back Kind:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/highschool/blog/prep_rally/post/Georgia-RB-hurdles-defender-on-incredible-touchd?urn=highschool-270332

Heart Stopping Win:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/09/14/hs-football-players-heart-stops-game-winning-touchdown/

Relaxing The Dress Code On Game Day:

http://www.wftv.com/news/24844593/detail.html

3 Games We’ll Be Watching

Xavier at Notre Dame West Haven – 7pm Friday

The preseason #1 and defending Class L Champ is home to it’s preseason Top 5 SCC rival after Xavier gave ND its’ only loss a year ago.  It’s almost a shame this game comes in Week 1.

Montville vs. New London – 1pm Saturday

Originally scheduled for Friday night – the game was moved to Saturday and from New London High School to the Coast Guard Academy on account of issues with the new turf field at New London. Montville will go it without Head Coach Tanner Grove who is finishing up a 4 week suspension for an off season DUI charge.

Avon at Hyde – 1pm Saturday –  Another “almost too good for Week 1 matchup”.  A pair of playoff teams from a year ago. Howling Wolves beware, Avon returns star running back Ross McDonald who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in 2009.

Kenny Do It

I’m not much of country music fan (I leave that to our producer Mark Fijalkowski) but this Kenny Chesney “Boys of Fall” video is worth a look for high school football fans:

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

This soon to be 39 year old dad wants a family stick figure sticker for his car.  My wife doesn’t share my fondness for them and there’s actually a Facebook page for those that outright hate them.

Your thoughts please (john.holt@wfsb.com)

Cool, right?

See You Tonight at 11:15pm for Friday Night Football then at 11:35pm for FNF Overtime on WFSB.COM and our digital cable channel, Eyewitness News Now!