MERIDEN — After an opening slate of conference matchups, Week 2 of the high school football season belongs to the Connecticut Football Alliance.
Established in 2017 by the SCC, SWC and ECC to foster competitive non-league matchups, the Alliance hit stride this year with the CCC and FCIAC getting fully aboard.
The result? September and October games with the feel of November and December.
For good reason: Most of these matchups were hitherto seen only in the playoffs.
Exhibit A: Southington at Darien, tonight, 7 p.m., at Darien High School.
The Battle of the Blues is this week’s headliner. Both teams rank in the top 10 of the GameTime CT state media poll — Blue Wave at No. 5, Blue Knights at No. 9.
And there is history here. In 2015 and again in 2016, Southington and Darien collided in the Class LL semifinals at Boyle Stadium, with Darien winning handily both en route to the state title.
The 2015 game marked a distinct changing of the guard. It ended Southington’s two-year hold on the Class LL state title and launched a three-year run for Darien.
Darien’s reign ended last December at the hands of Newtown in the quarterfinals. Southington also lost in the 2018 first round. As both look to return to the dance this year, there’s no question tonight’s dalliance will heavily shape the card.
So far, so good — and sorta easy. The Knights KO’d Conard 54-21 in a CCC Division I-West game that went to running time after Dillon Kohl’s fourth touchdown of the night had SHS up 47-7 early in the third quarter.
Kohl finished with 172 yards rushing. Junior QB Brady Lafferty was 11-for-16 for 87 yards in his first varsity start, with junior WR Shane LaPorte going behind center as well and throwing a TD to Carter Uhlman.
The defense was powered by the linebacking corps of Max Casella (8 tackles), Billy Carr (5 tackles) and Angelo Plantamuro (76-yard interception return).
Darien blanked Fairfield Ludlowe 42-0. The defense snared three interceptions, while senior QB Peter Graham threw for 204 yards in his first start.
Darien-Southington. Part III: It is definitely a marquee week for Alliance games. All the locals are playing them save for the Meriden squads, who have league affairs that will set the early tone in CCC Division II-West.
■Bristol Central (1-0) at Maloney (1-0), at Falcon Field, 6:30 p.m.
Both the Rams and Spartans impressed in D-II crossovers in Week 1. Maloney ground down Farmington 54-13 behind James Tarver’s 206 rushing yards and Angel Arce’s 198 passing yards — 101 of them to Kamron Moreno, who corralled half of Arce’s 16 completions and also returned a kickoff 90 yards. Central beat E.O. Smith 27-6 behind three touchdowns from Victor Rosa, who was making his first start at QB. The sophomore finished with 168 yards on 18 carries. Maloney will be looking for some vengeance tonight. Last year, playing without head coach Kevin Frederick, who was serving a one-game suspension for a sideline violation the week before, the Spartans lost to the Rams 29-22 at Muzzy Field. Maloney leads the all-time series 30-26-3.
■Platt (1-0) at Wethersfield (1-0), at Joseph Cottone Field, 7 p.m.
Another CCC Division II-West showdown pitting squads who looked solid on opening night in crossovers. Both won by shutout. Platt blanked RHAM 34-0 at Falcon on Friday; Wethersfield whipped Hartford Public 49-0 in the capital city on Saturday. Each defensive effort featured a pick-six — Sean Bell Jr. for Platt, Connor Pace for Wethersfield. Pace was busy on both sides of the ball. He also caught two TD passes from QB Matt Silver, who accounted for two other scores on the ground. In Meriden, RB Roberto Salas led the Platt attack with 109 yards and two TDs. Deaven Tanner made his quarterbacking debut going 12-for-18 for 168 yards and one TD. Wethersfield leads this series 13-6. Platt won 26-19 last year at Falcon. Salas ran for 265 yards and Chase Bessler sealed it with a late pick.
■New Fairfield (0-1) at Sheehan (1-0), at Riccitelli Field, 6:30 p.m.
The first of three Alliance games against SWC teams for Sheehan. (A visit to Brookfield awaits next Friday, a trip to Redding to face Joel Barlow on Oct. 18). Tonight marks the first-ever matchup between the Rebels and Titans. Sheehan is coming off a 50-0 SCC Tier 2 rout of Wilbur Cross in which Terrence Bogan rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns, Jordan Davis scored three touchdowns and the offense piled up 454 yards. Up 44-0 at halftime, the first team was done early. New Fairfield, meanwhile, was on the wrong end of a 43-12 SWC decision at home to Masuk. New Fairfield struggled to stop RB Jeff Nugent. Now they get Bogan. J.T. Thuesen scored both TDs for New Fairfield at Masuk and had over 100 yards in receiving.
■Bethel (0-1) at Lyman Hall (0-1), at Fitzgerald Field, 6:30 p.m.
To get Lyman Hall fired up for this one, we’re going to jog unpleasant memories. Trojans, where were you on the night of Friday, Oct. 13, 2017? That’s right, you were at DeSantis Field in Bethel, losing 25-20 to a team you should have beaten. Tonight, you get another chance. The Trojans, despite falling 50-40 at Jonathan Law last week, should be riding momentum into their home opener. They battled back admirably after falling into an early 30-0 hole. Sean Pragano completed 19 of 26 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns. Shakespeare Rodriguez (10-199 receiving, 3 TD) was the catalyst of the comeback. The defense was led by Luke O’Reardon. The junior LB had 16 tackles — 7 of them solo — and one interception. O’Reardon also caught five passes for 90 yards and one TD. Bethel, a young SWC team, dropped its season opener 34-7 to Pomperaug. The Wildcats, though, are an option team, which can be a challenge for defenses not used to seeing that offense. Bethel has key returnees in QB Michael Reseska and FB Morgan Haskett.
■Cheshire (1-0) at Hall (0-1), at Robert S. Chalmers Stadium-West Hartford, 7 p.m.
Hall kicker Noe Ruelas set a state record last Friday with a 56-yard field goal. It broke the mark of 54 that had been shared by Matt Paola of Pomperaug (2011), Tyler Timion of Fermi (1987) and future Major Leaguer Rico Brogna of Watertown (1987). Bad news is that’s all the scoring Hall could muster in a 9-3 overtime loss to Simsbury. The Rams, on the other hand, got three TDs from RB Jake McAlinden and two from WR Colby Griffin as both a receiver and a runner in their 35-14 SCC Tier 2 home win over Hillhouse. QB Jason Shumilla, returning to action from last year’s injury-abbreviated season, completed 9 of 16 passes for 100 yards while adding 75 yards on 11 carries. Alec Frione snared five passes — three from Shumilla and two from Hillhouse. LB Trevor Delott had a team-high nine tackles. Lineman Chisom Okoro added eight. This non-conference game, brought to you by the Connecticut Football Alliance, pits two teams who have played each other just once, and that was back in 1957. It was Cheshire’s fourth season of varsity football, Dave Maclary was the coach and the Rams won 13-0. It was part of a 6-0-1 campaign that got the Rams named “Best Small School in State.”
■Wilcox Tech (0-1) at Prince Tech (1-0), at Moriarty Field-Hartford, Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Indians were banged up heading into the season opener and then lost a few more players once action got underway. It added up to a long night in Danielson in a 39-6 loss to Quinebaug Valley. Wilcox QB Christian LaFogg threw for 173 yards and rushed for the Tribe’s TD. Mike Mysatyukow (12 tackles) and Jeremy Perez (11) led the defense. Prince, meanwhile, was throttling Vinal/Goodwin/Whitney Tech by almost the same score, 32-6. Felipe Morales opened the game returning the kickoff 97 yards, then added two more TDs on runs of 64 and 20 yards. Bigger picture: Prince Tech, in its first year under former Coventry coach Tony Bonito, is now running an option offense directed by fleet senior QB Tonius Gedeon. The Indians haven’t beaten Prince Tech since their first varsity season back in 2007. They’ve lost eight in a row since.