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No Looking Back
Westies looking for another shot at the postseason
By MIKE MADERA
(September 4, 2017) - It was ten wins without a loss, then just like that, the season was over. Such was the story for the 2016 West Haven football team, experiencing a gut-wrenching loss to Ridgefield in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs last year.
What was supposed to be a run to the championship turned into a long walk back to the locker room of West Haven High after the second-seeded Westies watched as seventh-seeded Ridgefield scored 21 unanswered points, including 14 in the second half, to upset the Westies in last season’s quarterfinals at Ken Strong Stadium.
Ten months have passed and time sometimes has a way of healing wounds. Whether that is the case for the 2017 Westies remains to be seen.
Rich Boshea (c.) and the entire West Haven coaching staff are ready for the 2017 season. File photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“Sure, it is motivation,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said of last season’s early ouster. “We want to get to the playoffs this year. In all honesty, they gave me everything they had last year. We were just worn out towards the end of the season last year. It was unfortunate the way it ended. That’s the story of the league. Two years earlier, Shelton had a great team and they suffered four broken legs. We put so much emotion into Thanksgiving Day. I have no complaints. Last year, they fought and did everything we asked them to do.”
The Westies, who won the Southern Connecticut Conference Division I title last season, have plenty to look forward to, but if they are to make a run at another postseason bid, they will need big performances in key places. Replacing graduated quarterback Tim McCarthy, running back Anthony Godfrey, lineman Byron Dickens, receiver Sheilan Velazquez and kicker Jose Conde, to name a few, will be difficult.
Dickens, an All-Area and All-State selection, anchored a line which accumulated 4,092 total yards, including 3,316 on the ground. Last year’s West Haven offense rushed for 43 touchdowns.
Anthony Godfrey, another All-Area and All-State selection, rushed for 1,712 yards and 22 touchdowns, while pulling in five touchdown receptions. Godfrey finished his senior campaign with 1,945 total yards.
Leading the way for the 2017 Westies will be senior tri-captains Mekhi Geter, Kyle Godfrey, and Mike Charlton. Each will play on both sides of the ball as Geter is an offensive tackle and defensive end, Godfrey will lead the rushing attack as the featured running back, and Charlton is a fullback and linebacker.
Kyle Godfrey and the Westies will look to get back to the postseason in 2017. File photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“I have liked the way the defense has improved,” Boshea said. “I also like the way Kyle (Godfrey) has run the ball. Chris Chance is also running well.”
Seniors Chris Chance, Jimmy Lanziero and A.J. Williams will all play key roles as well as Chance will line up at running back and linebacker, Lanziero is an offensive guard and nose guard, and Williams is an offensive tackle and defensive end.
“We need to get our offense going,” Boshea said. “We have to be able to run the ball well and play good defense. That sounds like simple terms, but that is exactly what we need to do.”
The Westies will get an added boost as they look to replace the graduated McCarthy behind center. Senior Jake Conlan returns from a stint at prep school to start as the team’s quarterback. Conlan will also replace the steady Conde as the team’s kicker.
Junior Zach Conlan will play running back and linebacker, senior Doug Johnson will be a key player at linebacker, while senior Latrell Best is a running back and safety. Senior Jordan Wetmore will wear plenty of hats as he is a wide receiver, linebacker and punter.
West Haven opens the season Friday evening at North Haven at 7 p.m.
Westies force 5 turnovers in 33-27 win over North Haven
By MIKE MADERA
(September 8, 2017) - NORTH HAVEN - West Haven coach Rich Boshea was worried about his team as the season opener approached. Facing a talented North Haven team, Boshea knew his defense would have to be the key if the Westies were going to come away with a victory.
Boshea got his wish.
Forcing five turnovers, and using four of those turnovers to lead to scores, West Haven topped North Haven 33-27 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest at Vanacore Field in North Haven Friday evening.
“It has been a long time since we can say the West Haven defense won us a game,” Boshea said. “We can say that tonight. Coach (Tom) Unger put together a great game plan. They (North Haven) have a very good offense. We work on a lot of turnover drills and they paid off tonight.”
The Westies forced five fumbles and also picked off a pair of North Haven passes, with Joe Steinman returning an interception 37 yards for a score, and Douglas Johnson scooping up a fumble and racing 50 yards for another score.
Joe Steinman (13) returns an interception for a touchdown against North Haven, September 8, 2017. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“Our defense played excellent tonight,” Kyle Godfrey said after finishing with a fumble recovery, interception, touchdown run, and two-point conversion. “We knew if we were going to win this game, we were going to have to step up our defense. We practiced that offense for three weeks. We knew if everyone read their keys, we would be okay. We did a great job of that.”
Leading 19-7 to start the third quarter, West Haven saw Godfrey strip a ball loose from North Haven, then turned the turnover into a 3-yard touchdown run by Godfrey for a 25-7 lead four minutes into the second half.
After Zack Orth scored to get the Indians within 25-13, North Haven had momentum and was driving again. Johnson turned the game around when he took advantage of a poor North Haven exchange and picked up a loose ball for a 50-yard fumble recovery and touchdown.
“You can’t make that many mistakes against a good football team like that,” North Haven coach Tony Sagnella said after his team held a 293-153 advantage in yards. “One of our goals tonight with an inexperienced team was to see them play hard all night. I thought we did that. We just made too many mistakes.”
The Indians used a 57-yard touchdown run by Mark Montano, and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Shamus Meehan to Montano in the final minute, but it was not enough.
“I thought our defense played exceptional tonight, but the score does not show that,” Sagnella said. “We can repair those mistakes.”
After a slow start to the contest, which saw the Indians score on their first possession of the game when Montano hit Korbin Pecora with a 26-yard touchdown pass, the Westies rolled off the next 19 points in the opening half.
Needing a spark, the Westies turned to some familiar faces and its defense to turn the tide of the contest. On his first carry of the game, senior Chris Chance dodged a tackle, then scampered 30 yards for the game-tying touchdown with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Chris Chance scores on a 30-yard touchdown run against North Haven, September 8, 2017. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The West Haven defense did the rest in the next 13 minutes. The Indians, who gained 62 yards on their opening drive, were held to just 12 yards of total offense the rest of the opening half.
In the process, West Haven turned two interceptions and a fumble recovery into 12 more points and a 19-7 lead in the final five minutes of the half.
Godfrey intercepted Montano and returned the pick inside the Indians five-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Jake Conlan found Nikolas Camara for a 4-yard touchdown and a 13-7 lead on fourth down as the extra point was blocked.
“We told the kids, no matter what, we needed to come out of here 1-0,” Boshea said. “We did that. I don’t care how it was done, we were able to come out of here with the win.”
After stopping the Indians with a fumble recovery, West Haven capitalized again in the final two minutes when Steinman picked off Montano at the North Haven 37-yard line. Following his blocks, Steinman raced for the score and a 19-7 advantage with 59 seconds left in the opening half.
Chris Chance (1) 30-yard touchdown run against North Haven, September 8, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Jake Conlan 4-yard touchdown pass to Nikolas Camara against North Haven, September 8, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Kyle Godfrey 3-yard touchdown run against North Haven, September 8, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Chance, Godfrey lead Westies past Cross
By MIKE MADERA
(September 15, 2017) - NEW HAVEN - West Haven running backs Kyle Godfrey and Chris Chance never got going offensively in the season opener against North Haven last week. It took both less than a quarter to show how dynamic they can be.
Combining for six touchdowns and 331 yards on the ground, Chance and Godfrey led the Westies to a 47-20 victory over Wilbur Cross in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Barbarito/Marone Field at the Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex in New Haven Friday afternoon.
“We had some very good practices this week,” Chance said after rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. “We did not feel out offense was good last week. We had to make a statement today.”
Chris Chance (1) scores against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
With the game a one-score contest entering the third quarter, West Haven pulled away with a dominant third quater, outgaining the Governors 179-20, and scoring three times in the process.
Godfrey gave the Westies a 28-14 lead when he scampered in from 43 yards out just 2 minutes, 29 seconds into the second half. Chance scored the next two touchdowns, from two yards out on fourth down, and his third of the day from 57 yards away for a 41-14 advantage with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“Obviously, we ran better than last week,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “Last week, our offense did not do what it wanted to do. We have to continue to work to get better offensively. Cross is a good team. They have some great players. We played well.”
The first half saw 308 total yards of offense, with the Westies using a late score to take a 21-14 advantage. West Haven finished with a 466-201 advantage in yards in the game.
The game was even at 14 after Sal Barnabei hit Kwane Taylor with a 5-yard scoring pass with 1:06 to go in the half for the Governors. Cross, which used 16 plays and took 8:08 off the clock on the drive, looked as if it would go to the half on a high note.
Instead, West Haven (2-0), which had run just three offensive plays in the second quarter to that point, needed just four more to take the lead with four seconds to go in the second quarter.
The big play came with eight seconds to go as Chance hit Jordan Wetmore in stride for a 49-yard halfback option pass to the Cross 1-yard line. Zach Conlan ran in on the next play to put the Westies ahead at the half.
Kyle Godfrey (7) against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“That was a momentum changer,” Cross coach John Acquavita said. “We don’t have the bodies to sustain playing both ways against a school like that. They are tough. Our guys didn’t come off the field and they were able to wear us down. We were able to stay with them until the third quarter. After that, you can tell we were gassed.”
The game had all the makings of a high-scoring affair as 21 points were scored just 6:20 into the game. West Haven, which had 185 yards of offense in the opening half, opened the scoring five plays into the contest when Chance, (56 yards on the initial drive), scored from 3 yards out.
West Haven missed the extra point and Cross (1-1) took the lead on its first offensive play from scimmage as Jasiah Barnes raced around the edge and scored from 80 yards out for a 7-6 Cross advantage.
The Westies responded 10 plays later to cap a 62-yard drive when Godfrey ran in fom one yard out, then Conlan ran in the conversion for a 14-7 advantage. The Westies ran for 136 yards in the opening half, including 86 by Chance.
“That pass play before the half was huge,” Boshea said. “Chris Chance made a great throw to Jordan Wetmore and he made a good catch. We needed a lift before the half and we were able to get it. After that, I think we were able to wear them down in the second half.”
West Haven did a good job on Barnes, limiting him to just 27 yards on the ground after his long touchdown to start the game for the Governors. Barnes finished with 107 yards on 14 carries. Barnabei passed for 127 yards and two scores in the loss for Wilbur Cross.
Chris Chance 3-yard touchdown run against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Kyle Godfrey 1 -yard touchdown run against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Zach Conlan 1-yard touchdown run against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
Chris Chance 2-yard touchdown run against Wilbur Cross, September 15, 2017. Video courtesy of Mike Madera.
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State Champions - 1968 (Ranked No. 1 in Ct, No. 4 in the country, 9-0), 1972 (No. 1 in Ct., 10-0), 1986, 1987, 1989, 2002 (No. 1 in Ct., 12-0)
Retired numbers - Bert Siclari (Class of 1969) #71; Jerry Gambardella (Class of 2000) #21
All-State Players - Joe Gianotti '32; Bill Irons '39; Harry “Red” Bailey '39; Frank Cole '40; Jack McWeeney '42; Ken Provost '44; Gerry Apuzzo '46, '47; Jim McNulty '47; Fred Robinson '48; John Anquillare '59; John Poe '61, '62; Vin Sgro '67; Ted Williams '68; Mel Labelle '71; Don Herzog '72; Gene Staehly '72; Dave Rettig '73; Brian Nugent '74; John Verderame '75, '76; Mike Keyes '77; Bob McMillan '79; Ron Conyers '83; Rob Thompson '84; Dan Montesi '86; Chuck Bradley '87; Eric Thimas '89; Darian Colman '90; Rob Farnen '93; Craig Dicks '96; Gene Segaline '97; Ulish Booker '97; Jashawn Brown Robinson '01; Rob Jackson '02; Tommy DeMorro '02; Desmond Lymon '03; Jim Fitzpatrick '05; James Alford '06; Erik Matos '06; Dave Cinti '13; Ervin Philips '13; Zatrell Lyons '14; Byron Dickens '15; Anthony Godfrey '15; Anthony Godfrey '16; Byron Dickens '16