CIAC FOOTBALL: For Maloney, No. 5 to No. 3 often adds up to 6

CIAC FOOTBALL: For Maloney, No. 5 to No. 3 often adds up to 6

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MERIDEN — Elliot Good and Victor Marquez wore matching footwear to Tuesday’s CIAC Football Luncheon. Black loafers, no socks.

Given their aerial stylings on the football field this season, it was fitting the Maloney quarterback and wide receiver were in stride.

Good and Marquez will lead the Spartans into Saturday’s Class L championship game against Daniel Hand at New Britain’s Veterans Stadium at 2 p.m. In the process, they’ll add to pages they already hold in the Maloney football record book.

Granted, victory, not statistics, is the ultimate aim of the seniors as they approach their last game. But, for the record, here are the records:

■Marquez: 175 career receptions, 2,361 career receiving yards, 31 career receiving touchdowns; his 16 TD catches this year are Maloney’s single-season record.■Good: 2,418 single-season passing yards, 30 single-season passing TDs; his five TD passes on Nov. 2 against Newington tied Maloney’s single-game record.

The records Marquez broke previously belonged to his former teammate, Alejandro Ortiz, who remains the single-season standard bearer thanks to the monster year he had in 2016 with 89 catches and 1,120 yards. Marquez, with 1,110 yards on the season, is on the verge of breaking the latter.

Good, meanwhile, broke marks set by his immediate predecessor, Larue Graham.

Graham’s career records of 3,983 yards and 46 touchdowns are safe. This is because Good, aside from a few snaps as a freshman and sophomore, is a first-year varsity player due to a back injury that stole his junior season.

And that, moreso than the numbers, is the story here. Good and Marquez pulled off the high drama of setting records and leading Maloney to its first title game appearance since 2006 in their one turn together on the varsity stage.

”We didn’t really have too much time because he was hurt,” Marquez said. “As soon as he got cleared, we got to Falcon (Field) and we started running routes — as soon as possible and as much as possible.”

Marquez is a football guy through and through. He grew up playing in the Meriden Raiders youth program and he was starting varsity at Maloney his sophomore year, fine-tuning his game from the examples set by older teammates like Justin McEwen and Ortiz.

Good is a multi-sport guy whose chief game is baseball. That’s the sport he’s lined up to play at Central Connecticut State University.

As a sophomore, as he went through football season and basketball season and on to baseball, Good competed despite nagging pain in his lower back.

One doctor prescribed physical therapy. Good completed the regimen, but the pain remained.

He sought a second opinion. A stress fracture was detected. Two months in a brace, plus more physical therapy, followed. 

“It was definitely a struggle with my back,” Good recalled. “I missed all of football season, all of basketball season last year. I was able to play baseball in the spring, and then just working hard through the entire summer, getting to get ready for football, definitely helped.”

While Good was a rookie starter this fall, his teammates had confidence in him. Though unable to play, Good had remained involved with the program and put in the prep time.

”He’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team,” said senior lineman Max Ganter. “Even last year, with his injury, he always showed up to practices, passing leagues, making sure he knows what he’s doing. He’s always trying to make everyone around him better and I always trust him.”

Trust quickly spread among the Spartans. In Week 1, in Good’s debut, they pinned a 26-20 defeat on Windsor, the team that had beaten them twice the year before, including in the Class L playoffs.

Good kept it coming. His numbers weren’t jaw-dropping, but they didn’t have to be. Operating behind an exceptional offensive line and in conjunction with a strong running game, Good was part of a balanced attack. He completed 60 percent of his passes and averaged about 200 yards and 2-3 touchdowns a game.

Above all, he was the steady hand at the wheel.

”He doesn’t get rattled easily,” Marquez noted. “He stays calm, he leads the team and he’s a great leader.”

The Spartans got out to a 4-0 start, suffered the hiccup of the 29-22 loss to Bristol Central, then rebounded with another four-game winning streak. They had a return ticket to the postseason in hand with a 40-22 win at Conard in Week 9.

That was the day Marquez surpassed Ortiz in the career record book. 

“He’s the hardest worker on the team,” Good said of his leading receiver. “I just know, when I want to find my guy, that it’s him.”

Since the upset loss to Platt in the Stoddard Bowl, Maloney has revived in the postseason, and Good and Marquez have been in the middle of it. All five touchdowns the Spartans scored in their 20-14 win over Middletown in the quarterfinals and 16-6 win over Platt in the semifinals have come on a Good touchdown pass. Marquez has caught four of them.

”They have a great connection,” Ganter said. “I was excited to see what it would be like after Larue left last year. They had a great connection, too. After this year, it’s incredible because every time Elliot throws it, it’s a touchdown. That’s what it feels like.”

Good surpassed Graham by throwing for 137 yards and three touchdowns against Middletown. He was 14-for-26 for 179 yards and two more TDs in the rain Sunday against Platt.

Good hasn’t thrown an interception in the playoffs and has just seven in 281 attemps for the year.

Marquez, meanwhile, has managed to ramp up his game even more in the state tournament. He’s got 14 catches for 161 yards over the two games.

Marquez grew up playing wide receiver. He lives for the touchdowns; he knows the hard hits are coming. He goes about his work without fear.

”You can’t fear anything when you play wide receiver,” he said. “You’re going to get smacked around; you’re going to get hit. You’re going to get that one big hit trying to catch the ball across the middle. You’ve just got to get back up and line up.”

Marquez makes his share of catches over the middle. He had one against Platt: a short crossing route he turned into a 39-yard touchdown.

Mostly, though, the trademark Good-to-Marquez connection is the fade ball.

”He has that touch. He knows exactly how to throw the ball and where to throw it,” Marquez said. “I’ve got the easy job. I just have to catch the ball.”

Actually, Good says, a pass to Marquez doesn’t have to be on the money, just in the neighborhood.

“I’ve definitely thrown a couple of inaccurate balls and he just snags them,” said the quarterback.

”He bails me out a lot, so I’ve got to bail him out sometimes,” the receiver replied.

This is the product of the extra time the tandem put in over summer, and then before and after practices. The matching loafers they wore Tuesday marked the only loafing they’ve done this season.

Really, they should have worn cleats to that CIAC media event. On Saturday, they lace them up one last time.

Maloney, Berlin football teams advance to the state finals

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