HS Football Roundup At Ludlowe, Ross’ vision getting clearer
A season ago, Mitch Ross left his post as the Darien offensive coordinator to take the position of head coach at Fairfield Ludlowe.
The Falcons were coming off an 0-10 season, and only mustered a 1-9 record in Ross’ first year.
But things are turning around. Ludlowe sits at 4-1, and while his former Blue Wave team is coming off their third-consecutive state title and are currently No. 1 in Connecticut, Ross is happy with his decision.
“People ask all the time why I would leave a team with a 35-game winning streak to come to a team with a 20-game losing streak,” Ross said. “It’s so much more rewarding when you have to struggle each game and turn around a program, when you go from 22 kids on the team to 100 kids on the team.”
The school and the town have rallied behind these new-look Falcons. So much so that every week Ross is seeing more kids come out for the team.
While most coaches wouldn’t accept players this deep into the season, Ross isn’t most coaches.
“I know in most programs they’d say that if you didn’t start out they can’t come out,” Ross said. “But for us, we want those kids to come out and keep on playing. So, each week we’ll take the extra kid who comes out and decides football is for them. We never know where the next good player will come from.”
— Anthony E. Parelli
RELISHING A WIN
Wins are hard to come by in the FCIAC’s middle tier, so when Fairfield Warde had a chance to put away upstart Danbury Friday night, it couldn’t squander the opportunty.
A strong fourth quarter led by a rushing attack propelled the Mustangs — who beat Danbury 26-10 — to their second consecutive win, raising their record to 3-2 heading into the bye week.
That’s the good news.
But a brutal schedule awaits after the break. Warde has Darien, Staples, Ridgefield and Ludlowe left on the schedule; those teams have a combined 15-5 record. The Mustangs — who also face McMahon — already fell to St. Joseph earlier in the season.
“We have four tough games and I think we can pull them out,” said Mustangs quarterback Joe Gulbin. “We didn’t get Wilton but we need to get two at least.”
— Ryan Lacey
Before undefeated CCC foes New Britain and Southington kicked off Friday night, New Britain’s captains stirred the pot.
Each team’s captains met at midfield for the coin toss and were expected to shake hands. The Southington captains walked over, but the New Britain captains kept their hands locked with each other.
No pregame handshake.
Southington wide receiver Will Downes said he didn’t appreciate what the Hurricanes did.
“It definitely fired up us a lot more,” Downes said after the Blue Knights’ 27-24 win. “We were already juiced coming into the game and that just gave us more fire. I mean that’s just disrespectful honestly. It made us want to go out there and kick their butt.”
The Southington senior quarterback was part of the coin toss and wasn’t bothered by the antics.
“I didn’t realize they were going to do that. It doesn’t bother me that much,” Drena said. “If they don’t want to shake our hands, that’s fine. We’re going out there for a war, that’s how it is, that’s football. They shook our hands at the end of the game, so if they want to shake our hands at the end of the game, that’s all that matters to me.”
— Pete Paguaga
SMALL MARGIN FOR ERROR
Last season, two teams with three losses and one with four made the playoffs in Class M. Matt Hove, Wolcott’s second-year coach, doesn’t expect that to happen again, which is why felt his team’s latest win was so crucial.
“It was a big win for us,” Hove said, following the Eagles’ 34-27 upset of previously unbeaten Seymour Friday. “We needed this win to keep our playoff hopes alive. . Our goal is still to get into the playoffs and see what we can do.”
— Doug Bonjour
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENTS
The first half of No. 1 Darien’s 24-0 win over Staples-Westport was, in a word, ugly.
The Blue Wave lead just 3-0, and the bigger, stronger Wreckers were giving them fits.
“We had a couple of defensive changeups and they had a couple offensive changeups and they forced me to grab the whiteboard and start drawing up,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “But, that’s what a good football game is all about.”
Darien came out and did what it normally does. Dominating both sides of the ball and outscoring Staples 21-0 over the final three quarters.
Trifone has seen his team wake up at halftime before, but he just wishes they would sooner.
“I hate the fact that we’re a second-half team,” Trifone laughed. “They’re very resilient and they’ve been here before, so they’re very poised. Halftime was as quiet as could be, in a good way, there was a quiet confidence.”
— Anthony E. Parelli