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FOOTBALL: Saddle up! The carousel is in spin

FOOTBALL: Saddle up! The carousel is in spin

reporter photo

CHESHIRE — Round and round we go on the two-week carousel of high school football byes.

This time around, the CCC squads from Meriden and Southington take a breather while the SCC squads from Wallingford and Cheshire get back at it along with Wilcox Tech.

All three SCC teams get back in a big way. Sheehan (4-0), Lyman Hall (3-1) and Cheshire (3-1) not only return to action with solid records, they’ll put them on the line against teams also strong over the first four games of the season.

Cheshire, the lone homestander this week, has Masuk (3-1) in a Connecticut Alliance matchup.

Sheehan is also up against a South-West Conference foe on the Alliance grid. The Titans will be out in Redding to take on Joel Barlow (3-1).

And then there’s Lyman Hall, in the hunt for a SCC Tier 3 title that is up for grabs this year with three-time champ Sheehan’s departure to Tier 2. Lyman Hall’s tango at Guilford (3-1) will factor heavily into that dance.

One thing to note about Lyman Hall-Guilford: Kickoff has been moved up to 4 p.m. amid ongoing concerns over Eastern equine encephalitis.

Guilford is also no doubt concerned about the Lyman Hall passing game, just as Joel Barlow is no doubt concerned about a Sheehan offense averaging better than 56 points and 460 yards a game.

Here’s the lowdown on this week’s slate, with the cast in order of appearance.

■Wilcox Tech (0-4) at Cheney Tech (3-1), at Beaver Stadium-Manchester, 3 p.m.

The injury-depleted Indians welcomed the bye week as a badly needed chance to get healthy.

The Tribe will need all hands on deck this afternoon. Cheney Tech, after losing 39-6 to CTC front-runner Bullard Havens in its season opener, routed MCW United (45-0), O’Brien Tech (40-20) and Prince Tech (41-8).

O’Brien and Prince are common opponents. Wilcox lost to O’Brien 44-8 at Falcon Field two weeks ago after falling to Prince 44-0 in Hartford.

Wilcox has never beaten Cheney in 11 meetings. Last year’s score at Falcon was 24-7.

■Lyman Hall (3-1) at Guilford (3-1), at Kavanaugh Field, 4 p.m.

As mentioned, this is a clash that will help shape this year’s SCC Tier 3 championship. Both the Trojans and Indians are 1-1 in the division behind East Haven (2-0) and Law (2-0).

This lines up as a real good game. Lyman Hall is riding a three-game win streak, while Guilford opened 3-0, beating Branford (20-19), Hartford Public (40-20) and Avon (37-3) before falling to East Haven (34-28).

Under first-year coach Anthony Salvati, Guilford’s third head coach in four seasons, the Indians are in the spread, but are primarily a running team, with an average of 275 ground yards a game.

Senior RBs Charles Walcott and Charles Schioppo are both back from last year, though it’s Walcott (89-784, 9 TDs) who’s been the work horse. Junior QB Aedan Mcdermott is 37-for-60, 503 passing.

Lyman Hall’s passing game, meanwhile, has really hit cruising altitude averaging 282 yards per game. Senior QB Sean Patrick Pragano (64-for-94, 1,129) is among the state’s passing leaders — at least among teams who post stats on

By that same measure, no one in Connecticut has more receiving yards than senior WR Shakespeare Rodriguez (27-608).

Junior WR/LB Lucas O’Reardon (28-421 receiving, 55 tackles) is a two-way force. He and the Trojans will look to end a seven-year losing streak against a Guilford team that has taken 11 of 14 from Lyman Hall since the teams became divisional rivals in 2004.

A win over the Class L Indians will also gain the Trojans a nice boost in the CIAC Class M playoff points. Lyman Hall sits at No. 16.

■Sheehan (4-0) at Joel Barlow (3-1), at Joel Barlow HS Stadium-Redding, 7 p.m.

The Titans return from the bye week sitting at No. 4 in the Class S playoff points and No. 10 in the Day of New London state coaches poll. (In the GameTime CT media poll, they rank No. 11.)

The T-Men will look to keep it rolling against a Barlow team that’s become a recent rival. This is the third straight year the teams will meet.

It started in 2017, with Barlow beating Sheehan 47-34 in the Class M quarterfinals. It continued last year, with the Titans exacting 49-6 regular-season revenge.

The Falcons present a challenge because they continue to run a classic triple-option offense under first-year coach T.J. Cavaliere, who has taken up the reins from 27-year veteran Rob Tynan.

Triple-option has taken a back seat in these read-option spread days, yet remains extra dangerous for that very reason. With few teams running triple-option, opponents seldom see it and struggle to replicate it in practice.

The same quandary, of course, faces Sheehan opponents. It’s awfully difficult to replicate the speed and playmaking ability of seniors Terrence Bogan and Jordan Davis.

Bogan (940 yards, 13 TDs) is fast closing in on 1,000 yards and Davis is a threat in all phases of the game. He has 392 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, 122 yards and 1 TD receiving, one TD on a punt return and two pick-sixes as a DB.

Combined with a solid defense, the Titans beat their first four opponents — Wilbur Cross, New Fairfield, Brookfield and Branford — by an average score of 56-13.

Barlow opened with wins over Bunnell (42-20) and Law (34-0), squandered a 17-0 lead in a 35-24 loss at Tolland, then bounced back with a 15-7 victory against Notre Dame-Fairfield.

Senior QB Brett Hugo (60-397) is in his second year running the option. He’s joined in the backfield by RBs David Cusick (23-332), James Porter (39-219) and Aidan Gale (41-159).

■Masuk (3-1) at Cheshire (3-1), at Alumni Field, 7 p.m.

After upsetting No. 5/6 Shelton 24-12 in Shelton the night of Oct. 3, the Rams may have preferred not having a bye week. Keep a good thing going, right?

No reason that can’t happen tonight. Cheshire, a last-minute completion away from being undefeated — Hall picked off a pass at the goal line to preserve a 35-28 Week 2 win — has emerged as a contender in Class LL. The Shelton upset has them at No. 9 in the playoff points.

Masuk presents an opportunity to gain more. The Panthers, who rank No. 6 in Class L, have defeated New Fairfield (43-12), Bristol Central (36-18) and Bunnell (37-13). Their loss was to Windsor, 28-27.

Masuk’s quarterback is young. He’s sophomore Nick Saccu. He does have experienced targets in senior WRs Chris Tillotson, Jeff Nugent, Ian Jackson and Henry Minnick.

Cheshire’s senior experience, meanwhile, has nicely come to the fore. QB Jason Shumilla (68-120, 882) and RB Jake McAlinden (68-588) are thriving behind the front five of center Dan Boudreau, guards Chisom Okoro and Sean Cangiano, and tackles Will Bergin and Collin Crowe, the majority of whom also shine on the D-line.

Senior WRs Alec Frione and Colby Griffin have also been dynamic playmakers. Frione has four interceptions to go along with 26 catches and 546 yards. Griffin (10-163 receiving) has 38 tackles, including a team-high 21 solo. If need be, Griffin can also step in at QB.

These two-way players have, so far, Cheshire heading in a forward direction on the carousel. Saddle up. It’s time to ride again.