What can be better than winning a state championship? Winning back-to-back state championships.
Maloney High School now has that opportunity, thanks to a dramatic Class L semifinal win over Shelton Sunday afternoon. The Spartans prevailed by a score of 28-14, which sets them up as defending state champs, with a record of 11 wins and a single loss, in a contest with New Canaan set for Saturday. New Canaan, also with an 11-1 record, beat Cheshire 23-13 in the other Class L semifinal. While a matchup with Cheshire would have provided a struggle between two local teams and the excitement that situation was sure to generate, having just Maloney in the hunt at least provides clarity when it comes to choosing a side.
Last year it was exciting, because Maloney’s championship was a first for Meriden and provided an extra dose of Silver City pride that year following the naming of native son Miguel Cardona as U.S. education secretary.
The win Sunday that set the Spartans up for a repeat was not an easy one. The game was tied in the fourth quarter when with just 4:04 left on the clock Donte Kelly put Maloney up for good with a 59-yard punt return. The 35-yard interception return by Rafael Rodriguez that followed was the final score.
The teams had been tied at the half. Maloney had been behind 14-7 at the start of the final quarter, and scored three touchdowns in the final 6:41 to win.
Stellar play is required for this type of victory, Maloney’s championship a year ago relied on the rushing prowess of Josh Boganski. Against Shelton, Boganski, now a senior, ran for 100 yards on 29 carries.
In Sunday’s win, Maloney was also well served by its sophomore quarterback, Ethan Nedinsky, who was, as the Record-Journal’s Sean Krofssik reported, making his first start at the varsity level. He had filled in during the quarterfinal game against New Milford after starter Kyle Valentine suffered a concussion.
We recommend checking the sports pages for more details. High school football has been very exciting this year, and thanks to Maloney there’s more to come.