WALLINGFORD — Through the first six games of the 2019 season, the Sheehan football team looked virtually unbeatable.
The Titans had put up at least 47 points in each of those games, with a margin of victory of 41.16.
Complete and utter dominance.
The Titans were poised to claim a top seed in the Class S state tournament, or so it seemed.
Then the injury bug bit — right when Sheehan was hitting the hardest stretch of the regular season.
Playing North Haven on one of the coldest nights of the year, the Titans were without star running back Terrence Bogan and dropped their first game of the season, 28-14.
They also lost starting quarterback Kyle Simmons to an injury in the process. That left the Titans shorthanded, without much of a passing game, for their next matchup in Cheshire, where they fell 40-13 even with Bogan back in the lineup.
Looking to make their third consecutive trip to the playoffs, Sheehan was 6-2 and faced the tough task of winning out.
The Titans answered the bell — first against Hamden on Friday night, Nov. 22, outscoring the Green Dragons, who were also 6-2 and in a must-win situation. 52-40.
“We weren’t perfect (against North Haven and Cheshire),” Sheehan head coach John Ferrazzi said. “We bounced back with a win against Hamden, but we didn’t play particularly well.”
That left Thursday’s Carini Bowl against rival Lyman Hall as the only obstacle between the Titans and another playoff berth.
The Titans left nothing to chance, jumping all over the Trojans en route to a 56-0 victory, the largest margin in Carini Bowl history.
And just like that, there was a sigh of relief that was able to come from the Sheehan sideline.
“We had a few guys that were a little banged up,” Bogan said. “Important guys that we needed at the time. But we’re very resilient. We’re really tough and close-knit (team).”
The Carini Bowl win propelled the Titans back to the playoffs at 8-2. Not only that, they moved up to No. 4 in the Class S playoff points, landing a home game for Tuesday’s quarterfinals against No. 5 Woodland Regional.
But for many teams, two losses suffered in consecutive weeks in the middle of the season, with key players banged up, could have ushered in the end. Not with this group, said head coach John Ferrazzi.
“This group does a great job of being competitive as hell,” Ferrazzi remarked after the Carini Bowl. “They’ve always been that way since the day they walked into this program and it’s only grown. I’m proud of their efforts and the way that we bounced back. This is a great spark we needed going into next week.”
With their backs against the wall, the Titans, led by a senior class that has been a part of what will now be three straight playoff berths, delivered.
“It shows how strong we are,” senior captain Braedon McCarthy said. “We had two losses to very good and talented football teams, and the last two weeks came out here we battled hard against Hamden and then today we just absolutely dominated. I couldn’t ask for anything more from my team.”
“It’s the resilience,” Ferrazzi said. “It’s the resilience that these guys have always played with. When they lose games, they take it to heart.”
The seniors have also taken to heart building on a legacy they’ve already established. Many of them were key contributors on the 2018 team that won Sheehan’s first postseason game since the 1985 Class SS state shampionship.
In last year’s 43-20 quarterfinal victory over Wolcott, Bogan ran for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His running mate, Jordan Davis, caught a touchdown from then-quarterback Wes Terzi.
“We want to make it all the way this time,” Bogan said. “We put in a lot of work in the offseason just to be better than the year before, so making it to the final would be awesome.”
Sheehan’s first test will be Woodland, which went 9-1 in the Naugatuck Valley league, its lone loss coming against unbeaten No. 1 seed Ansonia. The winner of Sheehan-Woodland will likely face Ansonia in next Sunday’s semifinals.
However, the playoff plan for Sheehan will remain the same it has all season long.
“There is no different mindset,” Ferrazzi said. “It’s the same mindset that we’ve had every game: trying to capitalize on the things we’re doing well and trying to fix our mistakes. There won’t be any changing in anything. It’s doing what we do and not straying away from the things that we’ve done.”
The Titans have weathered the storm and put themselves in position to not only have a home game in the quarterfinals, but to make some serious noise in Class S.
With a senior class that Ferrazzi praises for their work ethic and resilience, there surely is a chip on their shoulder to show why they are one of the state’s best teams.
And with the full cast on hand, from Simmons to Bogan to Davis on offense and McCarthy, Russell Rutkowski, Garrett Molampy and company on defense, the Titans have recovered the full firepower on both sides of the ball that they had in their first six games.
Add it up and the story of the Titans still has one more chapter for them to finish.
“This is our third year in a row, so this is kind of crazy,” Davis said. “To be a part of that is an amazing feeling. We have a great program and great people here.”