WALLINGFORD — A perfect season is no longer in the works for Sheehan football, but the 28-14 loss to North Haven could prove to be the turning point in the Titans’ season as they look to correct the mistakes they made on Friday night at Vanacore Field.
Sheehan had to deal with a lot of adversity, starting before the opening kickoff when senior running back Terrence Bogan, the state’s reigning rushing champ, was ruled out for the game.
Bogan was apparently in concussion protocol, but head coach John Ferrazzi offered some positives on Bogan’s status for this week’s matchup against Cheshire, which is also 6-1.
“He was out for the game,” Ferrazzi said. “I can’t really talk about it, but he was out for the game. I have full confidence that he will be back next week.”
With Bogan out, Sheehan was without a dynamic weapon and forced to move its other star playmaker, senior receiver Jordan Davis, to the backfield.
Davis was good, rushing 19 times for 129 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that tied the game at 14.
However, with Davis in the backfield, North Haven was able to key in on him, something that Sheehan first six opponents were unable to do when Davis was split out wide with Bogan was at running back.
“They were squeezing down some stuff on the inside gaps,” Ferrazzi said. “We found out a way to get to it before, but they’re physical up front. They’re physical; they get to the ball very well.
“We had to go to some other things,” Ferrazzi continued. “We were without some of our firepower, too. The game plan has to change a little bit.”
With their leading receiver Davis (22 catches, 405 yards, 4 TDs) in the backfield, the Titans turned to Riley Bjornberg on the outside Friday. The senior responded. After catching just three passes in Sheehan’s first six games, Bjornberg hauled in four against North Haven for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Sheehan was able to play North Haven to an even first half. The Titans, however, turned the ball over multiple times on fumbles. There were also penalties — specifically three offsides calls that helped North Haven score its first touchdown.
In addition, the Titans picked up multiple illegal shift penalties, as the offense looked out of sync with Bogan on the sidelines.
“We’re getting killed by penalties,” Ferrazzi said. “It’s something that we’ve got to address and we’ve got to fix or else we can’t survive games like this either.
“There’s a lot of things we need to take a look at. I have full confidence that this is going to motivate us to be better going into next week and forward.”
North Haven was able to grab the momentum starting the second half by recovering an onside kick. It led to a Justin White touchdown run.
“That was a huge play for them,” Ferrazzi said of the onside kick recovery. “What are you going to do? We repped it; we were right there. They just got it; they executed it well.”
Sheehan did answer White’s score with the Davis touchdown run, but that was it for the Titans for the rest of the game.
Part of that was due to senior quarterback Kyle Simmons going down with an injury after getting strip-sacked late in the third quarter.
Simmons wouldn’t return, leaving the quarterback duties to junior Anthony Castaldi.
“I think so,” Ferrazzi said of Simmons not returning as a precaution. “The trainer said to keep him out.”
North Haven, an SCC Tier I team, was clearly the toughest matchup to date for a Titans team that had won by an average margin of 41.2 points in its previous six games.
“We’ve got to use this as a springboard,” Ferrazzi said. “North Haven is a quality football team. They were 3-4, but they’re a quality football team. There was no doubt in my mind that, by far, they were going to be the best team that we had played so far this season.”
While the loss definitely stings for the Titans, getting healthy will be the main concern as they head into the final three games of the regular season.
“It was unfortunate for us,” Ferrazzi said. “We went into the game without Bogan. We lose a linebacker, then Simmons went down. That’s tough to bounce back from.
“Take nothing away from North Haven. They played tough and made plays when they needed to and we didn’t.”
So what is the key to getting back on track against yet another tough team in Cheshire?
“Eliminate penalties and, hopefully, we get some of our guys back,” Ferrazzi said. “Clean up some of the things [from tonight].”
Cheshire is 6-1 and coming off a bye week riding a five-game win streak. Like Sheehan, when the Rams win, they win big, by nearly 25 points a game.
Cheshire-Sheehan will have ramifications in SCC Tier 2 and the state playoff points. Cheshire ranks No. 6 in Class LL, Sheehan No. 4 in Class S.
“We’re going up against a good Cheshire team; it’s going to be another game like this,” Ferrazzi said. “A really good big school, a physical football team who’s got a lot of momentum. We’re going to have to be better next week.”