MONDAY MORNING QB: Defense solid, offense shaky in Maloney’s opening loss to Windsor

MONDAY MORNING QB: Defense solid, offense shaky in Maloney’s opening loss to Windsor

Record-Journal
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After their season-opening 28-0 loss in Windsor, head coach Kevin Frederick and the Maloney Spartans look to rebound in their home opener this coming Friday at Falcon Field against Hartford Public. | Justin Weekes / For the Record-Journal

MERIDEN — Two trains of thought depart Maloney Station in opposite directions.

The Northbound carries the banner that playing rebuilding, but always omnipotent Windsor in the first game of the season offered a chance to alert the state that the Spartans are on the right track. The one rolling south represents the notion of getting tossed into the coals without giving the skillet a chance to warm up.

Although the concepts steamed off in different directions, they both arrived in Shutout City at a rather late hour Friday night. A glimpse of lightning on the eastern horizon forced administrators to set the CIAC’s safety protocol in motion midway through the second quarter.

The 30-minute waiting game elapsed and before the first half ended well past 8 o’clock, the Spartans defense had accounted itself magnificently. The same cannot be said for a sputtering offense.

“It’s on me and the coaches. We’ll take that [responsibility]. We put up a goose egg. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board,” Spartans head coach Kevin Frederick said.

“We just didn’t execute; that was the bottom line. We’ve got to practice better. Poor execution is on the coaches.”

Chances are the 28-0 final would have been markedly different had the attack been in sync. The defense forced a fumble on the Warriors’ first play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff set them up at midfield. Maloney had a short field and the first sequences weren’t bad.

With last year’s freshman starter Freddie Hidalgo out for the season with a knee injury, Aden Valentin showed spark at tailback. He had a first down after two runs. The complement of a productive passing game eluded the Spartans after an overthrow of wide-open Christopher Infante on a fly pattern and a dropped ball.

“[Both of those plays] could have been touchdowns,” Frederick said. “Aden’s a good back. We’ve got some guys there. We just didn’t bring it offensively.”

A short pass from quarterback Larue Graham to Maurice Brackett earned another first down. Another overthrow that wasted a well-executed short pass hurt, but Victor Marquez snagged a 12-yard pass for another first-and-10.

On third-and-7 from the Windsor 12, an opportunity to seize early momentum literally slipped through their fingers. The fumble was the first of four turnovers that prevented Maloney from mounting the remotest semblance of a comeback.

“Three turnovers in the first half — you’re not going to win a ballgame like that,” Frederick said. “You’ve got to be turnover free to beat teams like this.”

But the defense was brilliant.

Cruz Leinhart, among many who played exceptionally, broke up a third-down pass play to deny Windsor on its second possession.

Maloney’s ensuing series netted minus-7 yards, with Windsor’s All-State linebacking candidate, the 5-foot-11, 225-pound senior Omega Cobb, directly responsible for two tackles behind scrimmage.

With 4:15 left in the first quarter, Windsor’s new quarterback Julian Jackson got his bearings. He completed five of six passes for 41 yards, highlighting a 14-play drive that ended in a two-yard power plunge by Shaun Hunter.

The next Maloney drive ended in an interception by Jerry Woodard inside the Windsor 30. During the 4:49 remaining until halftime, the Spartans’ defense slammed the door on Windsor twice. Adam Ortiz stuffed a run and they read a wide receiver screen perfectly for a seven-yard Windsor loss. A bull rush by O’Neal Ward blew up a pass play and Valentin broke up a fourth-down pass.

“The defense played inspired,” Frederick said. “They fought hard until the end.”

Maloney went three and out, giving Windsor one more chance to go into the locker room with a two-possession lead. The half ended in storybook fashion: fourth down, Windsor’s inside the 1, time for just one more play. The defense put up a brick wall to keep the deficit well within comeback range.

“That was a great goal-line stop,” Frederick said. “I thought we had some momentum there, but we just came out flat for the second half.”

Maloney hosts Hartford Public at Falcon Field this Friday at 6:30 p.m.


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