YOUTH FOOTBALL: Wallingford Vikings, Southington Knights capture Shoreline Conference crowns



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Curious as to what the area high school football landscape might look like in a few years?

It was on display Sunday.

Three area squads collected Shoreline Youth Football Conference championships at Cheshire High School: the Wallingford Vikings eighth-grade team and the seventh- and sixth-grade teams from Southington Knights Travel Football.

Wallingford beat Newtown 39-12, Southington’s seventh-graders blanked Madison 28-0 and the Southington sixth-graders beat Guilford 27-12.

All three teams finished unbeaten and punished the competition all season.

Then again, they’ve been doing that for multiple seasons. Each team is a repeat champion.

The eighth-grade Wallingford Vikings haven’t tasted defeat in three years. Coached by Mike Brooder, the squad has been together since second grade and, since fourth grade, is 38-2.

The team won the sixth-grade championship in 2019 at 11-0. Last season was erased by the pandemic.

Wallingford returned strong this fall with another 11-0 championship showing and is getting local recognition. Vinny's Deli has told Brooder it will name a sandwich after his squad.

Only two Wallingford games were decided by less than 20 points during the regular season: 20-12 vs. Glastonbury and 24-12 vs. Shelton.

In the postseason, the Vikings blanked Shelton 34-0 before thumping Madison 34-6 in the semifinals and Newtown 39-12 in the final.

“We have great team unity,” Brooder said. “We have a lot of kids that love the game of football and playing football. They give everything on and off the field. It’s a good team and they have been clicking on the field. Winning is contagious and they love to win.”

Brooder said the team had high expectations heading into the playoffs.

“We felt good after the regular season,” Brooder said. “I expected some closer games, but we have a really good team. We’ve progressed each year and have gotten better and better each day.”

Brooder said the team made the most of not having any games during its seventh-grade season.

“We were bummed,” Brooder said. “We wanted to play last year, but the boys didn’t quit. We worked at it and got better at different things, like pass blocking, and we got better heading into this season. I can't say enough great things about this team.”

Southington’s seventh-grade squad also has quite the pedigree. The group won Shoreline titles as fourth- and fifth-graders and went 5-0 last year in an abbreviated sixth-grade season.

Sunday’s final against Madison was scoreless at halftime before Southington pushed across four touchdowns in the second half for the 28-0 victory.

Prior to the final, Southington beat Newtown 27-14 in the quarterfinals and Shelton 28-0 in the semis.

All told, the team is 46-1 since starting together in third grade.

“We’ve lost one game in five years,” said head coach Rick McQuarters. “It’s a special group. We hope to defend next year, too. I told the team to send a message to the conference and they rose to the occasion and did a nice job.”

Southington’s seventh-grade team is quite the equal-opportunity employer. Twelve different players scored this fall.

Defensively, the team allowed six points or less each game during the regular season.

“No. 1, our defense has always been amazing," McQuarters said. “It’s hard to score against us. Our offense did well as we went to more of a spread offensive attack. We averaged 25 points a game and that, combined with our defense, made us tough to beat.”

Ralph Tortora’s Southington sixth-grade squad went an unbeaten 10-0 and also did it in dominant fashion, outscoring opponents 272-49.

Since losing in the opening week of the 2019 season, this team has won 25 games in a row. That includes the 2019 Shoreline title.

Prior to Sunday’s 27-12 championship win over Guilford, Southington topped Glastonbury 18-0 in the quarterfinals and passed through the semifinals via forfeit from Branford, which was forced to sit due to COVID issues.

Over the last four years, Southington’s sixth-grade group is 30-2-2.

“Our success is built on family,” Tortora said. “We’ve been together for four years and it’s a hard-working group. We’ve had a lot of success and stay humble.”

Tortora points to a 6-0 regular-season win over Branford as an important moment of the 2021 campaign. It was by far the closest game the team played all year. After a scoreless first half, Southington scored on the second-half kickoff and held on.

“That was the team we beat in the championship two years ago and that game epitomized how the team is built,” Tortora remarked. “It’s easy to win with talent — and we have the talent — but this team showed a lot of heart that day.

“We are looking to carry on the success next year,” Tortora added. “It’s going to be hard. When you win the championship you start with the hardest schedule, and teams will circle us on the calendar. It will be a challenge.”

Here are the rosters for the three championship teams

Wallingford 8th Grade

Joshua Durant (RB/LB), Robert Grover (G/DT), Dana Whitman (RB/DE), Jack Brooder (QB/LB), Brady Kennedy (RB/LB), Owen Goodrich (RB/CB), Michael Votto (WR/S), Jake O’Brien (WR/CB), David Forgione (WR/LB), Andrew Tatro (G/DT), Tucker Larson (WR/S), Brady Rossacci (RB/LB), Rohan Modi (WR/S), Dayton Cocchiaro (WR/CB), Alexander Forgione (WR/CB/S/DT), Austin McWeeney (G/DT/DE), Nicolas Crispino (C/DT), Nolan Kiely (G/LB), Joshua Connolly (OT/DT), Richard Van Dyke III (OT/DT), Connor Deme (WR/CB), Jason Lewis (WR/CB), Brayden Ottochian (OT/DE), Tyler Wieliesz (WR/LB), Mason Baehr (G/LB) and Michael Petitti (C/DE).

Head coach Mike Brooder; assistant coaches Joshua Durant, Michael Larson, Rand Ottochian, Stephen Rossacci, Scott Smith, Richard Van Dyke Jr. and Michael Votto.

Southington 7th Grade

Walker Mierzejewski (RB/DB), Nicholas Leggett (RB/LB), Trenton Bougie (DL/OL), Michael Spalter (WR/LB), Chase Boudreau (WR/DB), Jaxson Musshorn (DL/OL), Evan Morgan (DL/WR), Danny Marino (LB/OL), Mason LeFort (DL/OL), Dylan DeGumbia (OL/DL), Cole Kosko (DL/OL), Luke Prozzo (QB/DB), Jacob Carrier (WR/DL), Connor Orange (RB/LB), Nicholas Andrews (RB/LB), Thomas Carr (RB/DL), Benjamin Kielbowicz (DB/WR), Oronde Moore (WR/DB), Connor Watson (OL/DL), James Arni (WR/DB), Jake Kelly (DB/WR), Drew Kelly (WR/DB), Joey Tardif (DL/WR), Ryan Porzycki (DB/RB), Evan Herron (OL/LB), Owen McQuarters (OL/DL), Charlie Peterson (OL/LB), Max Simms (DB/WR), Ean Herron (LB/OL), Ethen Clements (DB/WR), Cole Hinckley (DB/WR), Alexander Witherell (WR/DB), Christian Bonola (WR/DB) and Nico Sena (OL/DL).

Head coach Rick McQuarters; assistant coaches Ryan Glasper, Jamie Leggett, Matt Orange, Dave Kosko, Greg Witherall, John DeGumbia, TJ Musshorn and Kevin Morgan. 

Southington 6th Grade

Nathan Pelletier (QB), Nick Dury (C), Tyler Tortora (LB/WR), Caleb Butkiewicz (DE), Sawyer Trudeau (TE/K), Kyle Salerno (CB/RB), Joshua Gorneault (DL), Ben Beaulieu (LB/RB), Jacoby Roman (S/RB), Ryan Johnson (S), Jack Hall (LB), Mathew Spalter (CB/RB), Ryan Weston (RB), Alex Kusmierski (LB/G), Dylan Vose (C), Tyler Papio (DL/OT), Graham Bannon (DL), Todd Flint (DL), Anthony Spinella (WR), Luke Patterson (LT), Andrew Vecchio (TE/DL), Landon Mahoney (DT), John-Michael Speight (LB), Savanna Eliasson (LG).

Of note: Starting left Savanna Eliasson is the only female player in the Knights travel program.

Head coach Ralph Tortora; assistant coaches Matt Vose, Scott Patterson, Dave Kusmierski, Brian Butkiewicz, Nate Hall, Drew Papio and Concepcion Roman.



Curious as to what the area high school football landscape might look like in a few years?

It was on display Sunday.

Three area squads collected Shoreline Youth Football Conference championships at Cheshire High School: the Wallingford Vikings eighth-grade team and the seventh- and sixth-grade teams from Southington Knights Travel Football.

Wallingford beat Newtown 39-12, Southington’s seventh-graders blanked Madison 28-0 and the Southington sixth-graders beat Guilford 27-12.

All three teams finished unbeaten and punished the competition all season.

Then again, they’ve been doing that for multiple seasons. Each team is a repeat champion.

The eighth-grade Wallingford Vikings haven’t tasted defeat in three years. Coached by Mike Brooder, the squad has been together since second grade and, since fourth grade, is 38-2.

The team won the sixth-grade championship in 2019 at 11-0. Last season was erased by the pandemic.

Wallingford returned strong this fall with another 11-0 championship showing and is getting local recognition. Vinny's Deli has told Brooder it will name a sandwich after his squad.

Only two Wallingford games were decided by less than 20 points during the regular season: 20-12 vs. Glastonbury and 24-12 vs. Shelton.

In the postseason, the Vikings blanked Shelton 34-0 before thumping Madison 34-6 in the semifinals and Newtown 39-12 in the final.

“We have great team unity,” Brooder said. “We have a lot of kids that love the game of football and playing football. They give everything on and off the field. It’s a good team and they have been clicking on the field. Winning is contagious and they love to win.”

Brooder said the team had high expectations heading into the playoffs.

“We felt good after the regular season,” Brooder said. “I expected some closer games, but we have a really good team. We’ve progressed each year and have gotten better and better each day.”

Brooder said the team made the most of not having any games during its seventh-grade season.

“We were bummed,” Brooder said. “We wanted to play last year, but the boys didn’t quit. We worked at it and got better at different things, like pass blocking, and we got better heading into this season. I can't say enough great things about this team.”

Southington’s seventh-grade squad also has quite the pedigree. The group won Shoreline titles as fourth- and fifth-graders and went 5-0 last year in an abbreviated sixth-grade season.

Sunday’s final against Madison was scoreless at halftime before Southington pushed across four touchdowns in the second half for the 28-0 victory.

Prior to the final, Southington beat Newtown 27-14 in the quarterfinals and Shelton 28-0 in the semis.

All told, the team is 46-1 since starting together in third grade.

“We’ve lost one game in five years,” said head coach Rick McQuarters. “It’s a special group. We hope to defend next year, too. I told the team to send a message to the conference and they rose to the occasion and did a nice job.”

Southington’s seventh-grade team is quite the equal-opportunity employer. Twelve different players scored this fall.

Defensively, the team allowed six points or less each game during the regular season.

“No. 1, our defense has always been amazing," McQuarters said. “It’s hard to score against us. Our offense did well as we went to more of a spread offensive attack. We averaged 25 points a game and that, combined with our defense, made us tough to beat.”

Ralph Tortora’s Southington sixth-grade squad went an unbeaten 10-0 and also did it in dominant fashion, outscoring opponents 272-49.

Since losing in the opening week of the 2019 season, this team has won 25 games in a row. That includes the 2019 Shoreline title.

Prior to Sunday’s 27-12 championship win over Guilford, Southington topped Glastonbury 18-0 in the quarterfinals and passed through the semifinals via forfeit from Branford, which was forced to sit due to COVID issues.

Over the last four years, Southington’s sixth-grade group is 30-2-2.

“Our success is built on family,” Tortora said. “We’ve been together for four years and it’s a hard-working group. We’ve had a lot of success and stay humble.”

Tortora points to a 6-0 regular-season win over Branford as an important moment of the 2021 campaign. It was by far the closest game the team played all year. After a scoreless first half, Southington scored on the second-half kickoff and held on.

“That was the team we beat in the championship two years ago and that game epitomized how the team is built,” Tortora remarked. “It’s easy to win with talent — and we have the talent — but this team showed a lot of heart that day.

“We are looking to carry on the success next year,” Tortora added. “It’s going to be hard. When you win the championship you start with the hardest schedule, and teams will circle us on the calendar. It will be a challenge.”

Here are the rosters for the three championship teams

Wallingford 8th Grade

Joshua Durant (RB/LB), Robert Grover (G/DT), Dana Whitman (RB/DE), Jack Brooder (QB/LB), Brady Kennedy (RB/LB), Owen Goodrich (RB/CB), Michael Votto (WR/S), Jake O’Brien (WR/CB), David Forgione (WR/LB), Andrew Tatro (G/DT), Tucker Larson (WR/S), Brady Rossacci (RB/LB), Rohan Modi (WR/S), Dayton Cocchiaro (WR/CB), Alexander Forgione (WR/CB/S/DT), Austin McWeeney (G/DT/DE), Nicolas Crispino (C/DT), Nolan Kiely (G/LB), Joshua Connolly (OT/DT), Richard Van Dyke III (OT/DT), Connor Deme (WR/CB), Jason Lewis (WR/CB), Brayden Ottochian (OT/DE), Tyler Wieliesz (WR/LB), Mason Baehr (G/LB) and Michael Petitti (C/DE).

Head coach Mike Brooder; assistant coaches Joshua Durant, Michael Larson, Rand Ottochian, Stephen Rossacci, Scott Smith, Richard Van Dyke Jr. and Michael Votto.

Southington 7th Grade

Walker Mierzejewski (RB/DB), Nicholas Leggett (RB/LB), Trenton Bougie (DL/OL), Michael Spalter (WR/LB), Chase Boudreau (WR/DB), Jaxson Musshorn (DL/OL), Evan Morgan (DL/WR), Danny Marino (LB/OL), Mason LeFort (DL/OL), Dylan DeGumbia (OL/DL), Cole Kosko (DL/OL), Luke Prozzo (QB/DB), Jacob Carrier (WR/DL), Connor Orange (RB/LB), Nicholas Andrews (RB/LB), Thomas Carr (RB/DL), Benjamin Kielbowicz (DB/WR), Oronde Moore (WR/DB), Connor Watson (OL/DL), James Arni (WR/DB), Jake Kelly (DB/WR), Drew Kelly (WR/DB), Joey Tardif (DL/WR), Ryan Porzycki (DB/RB), Evan Herron (OL/LB), Owen McQuarters (OL/DL), Charlie Peterson (OL/LB), Max Simms (DB/WR), Ean Herron (LB/OL), Ethen Clements (DB/WR), Cole Hinckley (DB/WR), Alexander Witherell (WR/DB), Christian Bonola (WR/DB) and Nico Sena (OL/DL).

Head coach Rick McQuarters; assistant coaches Ryan Glasper, Jamie Leggett, Matt Orange, Dave Kosko, Greg Witherall, John DeGumbia, TJ Musshorn and Kevin Morgan. 

Southington 6th Grade

Nathan Pelletier (QB), Nick Dury (C), Tyler Tortora (LB/WR), Caleb Butkiewicz (DE), Sawyer Trudeau (TE/K), Kyle Salerno (CB/RB), Joshua Gorneault (DL), Ben Beaulieu (LB/RB), Jacoby Roman (S/RB), Ryan Johnson (S), Jack Hall (LB), Mathew Spalter (CB/RB), Ryan Weston (RB), Alex Kusmierski (LB/G), Dylan Vose (C), Tyler Papio (DL/OT), Graham Bannon (DL), Todd Flint (DL), Anthony Spinella (WR), Luke Patterson (LT), Andrew Vecchio (TE/DL), Landon Mahoney (DT), John-Michael Speight (LB), Savanna Eliasson (LG).

Of note: Starting left Savanna Eliasson is the only female player in the Knights travel program.

Head coach Ralph Tortora; assistant coaches Matt Vose, Scott Patterson, Dave Kusmierski, Brian Butkiewicz, Nate Hall, Drew Papio and Concepcion Roman.



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