FOOTBALL FOLO: Cheshire made Shelton pay for roughing the kicker

FOOTBALL FOLO: Cheshire made Shelton pay for roughing the kicker


CHESHIRE — Friday night’s 28-10 SCC Tier I win for the Cheshire football team over Shelton may appear to have been a cake walk, but the Rams’ fortunes weren’t all that clear until a costly flag on the Gaels’ special teams unit gave the home team another chance to lock up the win.

Leading 14-10 with 6:15 remaining in the game, the Rams had been halted at midfield by the Shelton defense. Both special teams squads lined up and the Gaels threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Rams’ protection and punter Ethan Bronson in hopes of blocking the kick and getting good field position.

Bronson got the kick off. He also took a few licks from the oncoming rush and stayed down a moment. Yellow flags also lay upon the ground: Roughing the kicker on Shelton.

“It’s part of the game; we knew they were going to come after it,” said Cheshire coach Don Drust. “We told Ethan to get the ball out. Based on where we were on the field, they had to.”

After the hit on Bronson, the Rams received a fresh set of downs 15 yards down field and had another reason to fight for another touchdown.

“You hate to see Ethan get hit like that, obviously,” Cheshire quarterback Jack Raba said.

“Our first thought was to punch one in and put this game away, especially with him down at the time. So we were saying, ‘Let’s get it for Ethan.’”

The Rams got it with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Raba to Michael Jeffery that extended the Cheshire lead to 21-10. Just around a minute after taking the hit to his knee, Bronson muscled up the strength to get back on the field and kick the extra point.

“It was pretty important,” said Bronson on the roughing-the-kicker call. “I think our defense could’ve held them for another drive if they needed to.

“I play linebacker, so I am used to contact,” Bronson also said. “There’s no reason to be scared. Just got work quicker next time.”

The Rams started slow. They were down 10-7 at halftime.

In the second half, it all turned around. The Cheshire defense held the Gaels scoreless while the offense punched in three touchdowns.

“It’s Week 1 and that’s part of Week 1 a little bit,” Drust said of the slow start. “You have no tape; you haven’t seen teams play anyone else yet. It’s a lot of feel. They are a good football team. They are going to score points and move the football. They have weapons.”

Shelton, a Class LL semifinalist a year ago and ranked No. 10 in the state poll heading into the season, indeed have weapons. But so do the Rams, who are ranked No. 6.

One of them is Bronson, who has such range as a kicker that Drust sent him out for two field goals of around 40 yards.

Both had the distance, but were off a hair to the right.

Now that the Rams got the first win out of the way and there is no concern about Bronson’s knee, he plans on working on his accuracy.

“Working on not so much distance stuff, but kicking straight every time,” said Bronson.

Last season, Bronson was 8-of-10 on field goals and 30-of 32 on PATs, proving the kid can kick and regroup from the misses.

“Ethan is a heck of a football player,” said Drust. “It’s football and it is all part of it.”

The next task for the Rams is no less demanding. They hit the long road for an out-of-conference date with Norwich Free Academy, a perennial Class LL playoff contender.

“We’re excited. We’ll definitely celebrate this one tonight but, like we usually do, starting tomorrow we will start getting ready for Norwich Free Academy,” said Raba.


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