MERIDEN — Maloney’s football team was thrown into the deep end of the pool Friday night in its season opener against 2017 nemesis Windsor.
The Spartans responded swimmingly with an impressive 26-20 victory over the Warriors in a CCC Division II crossover game that went back and forth at Falcon Field.
“I’m super-proud of my guys,” Spartans coach Kevin Frederick said. “They played their hearts out. We played good team ball.
“We’re happy, but we’ve got to clean a bunch of things up. We did not play our best game, but we did enough to beat a really good team.”
With the score tied 20-20 and 3:40 left to play in the game, Maloney put together a 41-yard drive that was kept alive on first-year quarterback Elliot Good’s fourth-and-7 pass to Maurice Brackett. A personal foul penalty against Windsor set Maloney up at the 11-yard line before Freddy Hidalgo scored from a yard out to give the Spartans a 26-20 lead with 1:49 left on the clock.
The Warriors were able to get to Maloney’s 20 with under a minute to play, but the Spartans defense held tough, sending the Meriden team’s sideline into a frenzy.
For good reason.
Maloney finished 9-2 last season, with both of its losses – including in the Class L state quarterfinals – coming at the hands of Windsor.
Friday’s game was not only an opportunity for the hosts to exact some revenge, but it also showed that the Spartans are headed in the right direction to start the season.
“It was a long offseason,” Frederick said. “I know we were 9-2, but losing to Windsor twice left a bad taste in our mouths. We thought we could have done a little bit better against them last year. These guys put a lot of time into this game and it showed.”
After pitching a defensive shutout in the first half Friday, Maloney scored on its first two drives of the third quarter. Good’s 29-yard pass to Kamron Moreno on fourth down brought the Spartans to the 8-yard line. Hidalgo then busted up the middle for a touchdown and the two-point run to increase Maloney’s lead to 14-0.
Windsor answered on Daniel Elliot’s 55-yard touchdown run to pull within 14-6.
Maloney did not flinch, as Good countered on a 32-yard TD pass to Jaylon Nixon to make the score 20-6.
The Warriors cut their deficit to 20-12 on Gabriel Bryan’s 41-yard touchdown rumble at the start of the fourth quarter. Maloney stuffed the two-point run.
Windsor was not done, however, as Bryan scored from 12 yards out and again on the conversion run to knot the score, 20-20, with 7:49 to go.
It was a brand new ballgame and gut-check time for the Spartans.
“This win is very big,” Good said. “This was a statement game. We didn’t score against them in two games last year and we came out and put 26 points on the scoreboard. It’s huge.”
The Spartans scored the only TD of the opening half when Good fired a 72-yard slant to Victor Marquez on his first pass as the varsity starter. Marquez broke a leg tackle and out-sprinted the defense to end zone.