Shelton rallies past Westies in Opener
By MIKE MADERA
(September 13, 2019) - The West Haven football team knew it was going to be a tough start of the season, facing sixth-ranked Shelton in the season opener on the road.
Twice having leads of 7-0 and 13-7, West Haven could not hold on as Shelton rallied for a 21-13 victory in a Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 1 contest at Finn Stadium in Shelton Friday evening.
Jaden Grant and Jordan Berrios scored for West Haven, but an injury to quarterback Andre Rentas was too much for the Westies to overcome.
Read about the contest from GameTimeCT here.
West Haven will look to get in the win column Friday evening when the Westies host Conard at 7 p.m.
West Haven's Jaden Grant scores against Shelton, September 13, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven's Jordan Berrios (1) against Shelton, September 13, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Conard tops Westies
WH falls to 0-2 on the year
By MIKE MADERA
(September 20, 2019) - The West Haven football team fell to 0-2 with a 33-8 loss against Conard Friday evening at Veterans Stadium in West Haven. The game was moved from Ken Strong Stadium due to a fire in one of the light towers.
As for the game, the Westies could never get into a rhythm, scoring just once on a Jaden Grant touchdown run to get within a touchdown.
The Westies never got closer as Conard controlled play in the second half, securing the win.
West Haven will travel to play Newtown Friday evening.
Newtown rallies past Westies
WH falls to 0-3 on the year
By MIKE MADERA
(September 27, 2019) - The West Haven football team fell to 0-3 to start the season with a 21-14 loss against Newtown Friday evening. The road loss marked another close contest against a top 10 team in the state in what could have easily been victories.
Despite creating numerous turnovers, the Westies could only manage 14 points. Newtown took advantage with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to pull out the victory.
West Haven defense makes a stand against Newtown, September 27, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Quarterback Andre Rentas gave the Westies a 7-0 lead with an 8-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter as Isaac Morales also tacked on the extra point.
Newtown evened the game at seven, before West Haven picked up its last lead of the game. Kason Ligas-Nygren’s 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown along with the extra point by Morales put West Haven up 14-7 at the half.
Rentas completed 12-of-16 passes for 127 yards, while also running for 45 yards and a score in the loss.
Read the article from GameTimeCT and Dan Nowak below:
NEWTOWN — While it is usually an exciting matchup whenever a South-West Conference team faces a Southern Connecticut Conference, on Friday, West Haven and Newtown entered with a different focus.
The Blue Devils were looking for their first win of the season, being outscored 54-21 in their first two games. The Nighthawks were looking to extend a two-game win streak to start the season, outscoring its first two opponents 63-14.
The game had its excitement, and it took the Nighthawks a few possessions to get in an offensive rhythm, but Newtown was able to extend its win streak.
Miles Ricks had 88 yards rushing on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown, as No. 6 Newtown was able to hold on to a 21-14 win over West Haven at Blue and Gold Field.
“We had a slow start and having four turnovers in the first half wasn’t good,” Newtown coach Bob Pattison said. “At halftime I told the kids to calm down and just get back to basics and do your job. Rick is a very good running back. But our blocking was big, especially in that second half.
“Starting off 3-0 is great. But we need to get back to practice and work on some things. Turning the ball over four times in nis not good.”
In the first quarter, neither team moved the ball on their first possession. But the offense started to click for the Blue Devils on possession No. 2
A 12-yard run by Jaden Grant set up a first down at the Newtown 20. Four plays later, Andre Rentas bolted up the middle on a quarterback keeper and scored on an 8-yard run with 3:01 to go in the 1st quarter. Isaac Morales’ kick gave the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead.
Mistakes plagued the Nighthawks throughout the first half. They fumbled the ball away on their next two possessions.
But midway in the second quarter, thank to a West Haven turnover, the Nighthawks finally finished a deep drive to tie the game at 7. Ben Pinto intercepted a pass, returned it 35 yards and gave Newtown a first down at the West Haven 35. Eight plays later, Brandon Lombardo completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jeffrey Garrity. Devin O’Connell’s kick tied the game at 7 with 7:02 to go in the half.
Miscues continued for Newtown. On its next possession with a first down on its own 31, quarterback Jack Street dropped back to pass, was hit and fumbled the ball. West Haven defensive end Kasen Ligas-Nygien picked up the fumble and ran 15 yards for a defensive touchdown and 14-7 lead with 5:58 to go in the first half.
Newtown had a solid chance to tie the game before the half with a third down and the ball on the West Haven 11. But on the next play, Lombardo threw into the end zone and West Haven’s Tamayo Ferreira intercepted the ball to end the drive with 1:26 left in the half.
Newtown would rebound from that disappointment on its first possession in the second half. On the Nighthawks’ first possession in the third quarter, Miles bolted untouched for a 5-yard touchdown with 4:06 to go and tied the game at 14. The drive took 12 plays and covered 83 yards.
“West Haven is a very good team, they’re physical and they had the early momentum,” Ricks said. “But we came out to play in the second half. I came out and had the mindset that I just needed to get into the end zone. When I scored the first touchdown to tie it 14-14 we could see the momentum switching at that point. It really felt great when I scored to put us ahead.”
The Nighthawks opened the fourth quarter with another long drive (10 plays) to take their first lead of the game. Ricks caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Lombardo and O’Connell’s kick gave Newtown a 21-14 lead with 10:50 to go in the game.
“After losing last week, we wanted to get something going this week to turn things around,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “I was happy with our effort, but not happy with our execution. Right now at 0-3 we just need to take it one game at a time. We have a bye coming up and we could use that to work on some things.”
Rentas ended up completing 12-of-16 passes for 127 yards. He also rane for 45 yards and a touchdown.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Miles Ricks, Newtown, Running back: Rushed for 88 yards and scored two touchdown for the Nighthawks.
“As bad as we played in the first half, with four turnovers, to only be behind 14-7 was huge. It allowed us to get back in the game.”—Newtown coach Bob Pattison.
Westies post first win of season
By MIKE MADERA
(October 12, 2019) - After falling in a pair of heart breakers in the first three games of the season, the West Haven football team was looking to pick up its first victory of the season. That victory finally came Saturday afternoon in West Haven.
Never giving up, the Westies rallied to defeat North Haven 28-23 at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven. With the victory, West Haven improved to 1-3 on the year.
The West Haven defense makes a play against North Haven, October 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Read about West Haven's victory from Will Aldam of GameTimeCT below.
In a back-and-forth battle, the West Haven football team survived a chaotic second half to earn its first win of the season, 27-23 over North Haven Saturday at Ken Strong Stadium.
Four lead changes highlighted the second half as the two teams matched each other touchdown for touchdown until the end.
West Haven was led by quarterback Andre Rentas, who fired three touchdown passes en route to the victory, including the game-winning touchdown pass to Dontea Noel in the final seven minutes.
The third lead change of the second half came on yet another North Haven rushing touchdown, this time by David Pace for a 23-20 lead with 8:17 remaining in the game.
West Haven would not let it be the last.
Less than two minutes later, Rentas dotted a 19-yard touchdown pass to Dontea Noel for the 27-23 lead that would hold for the remainder of the game.
West Haven improved to 1-3 while North Haven fell to 1-3.
“It was a tough game obviously,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “North Haven is always tough. They run the ball great. They have a great coach. Their defense doesn’t give you much.
“We got Andre [Rentas] enough time in some key situations, if you give him time he is going to do some big things. I thought we ran the ball better than we have been and our offensive line with all our sophomores and juniors in it is finally starting to jell a little bit. Overall, it was a pretty good team effort.”
West Haven opened the scoring on a 10-yard rush by Jaden Grant that gave his team an early 7-6 lead.
North Haven responded with a 16-yard rushing touchdown by Jaden Watson, who broke a tackle with 36 seconds in the quarter. A missed extra point attempt kept cut the West Haven lead to 7-6.
On the next drive, Rentas connected with a wide-open Jordan Berrios for a 26-yard catch-and-run touchdown to extend the West Haven lead to 13-6.
North Haven marched down the field on its next possession. But after a third-down stop by the Blue Devils’ defense, kicker Chase DiCarlo delivered with a short field goal to make it a four-point game heading into halftime.
“I credit West Haven for finding a way to win the game,” North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said. “It was a tug-of-war back and forth. It was a physical game at the line of scrimmage and I congratulate them for finding a way to win.”
The second half began as pure chaos for West Haven. With the Blue Devils set to receive, North Haven forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.
North Haven capitalized with a 6-minute, 20 second drive that ended with Corey Hooks willing himself into the end zone on a 12-yard rush, breaking through a pileup of for the score.
The touchdown put North Haven up 16-13, its first lead of the game with 7:40 to play in the third quarter.
“Even though we had lost our three games before this, we didn’t really ever give up,” Boshea said. “I was kind of feeling today that, as long as we kept it close, we would keep fighting and they did just that.
“They kept fighting and it really didn’t make a difference what the score was, they were going to play the same way and we did some good things on offense.”
West Haven threatened again, marching down the field quickly with the help of multiple North Haven penalties.
On third and goal, Rentas hit Justin Medina for his second passing touchdown of the game as West Haven regained its four-point lead, 20-16.
“We are a very very undisciplined football team and those things are negating a lot of the positive things that we do on the field,” Sagnella said.
“Our team works hard and our team plays hard but we probably had well over 100 yards in penalties today and we have to get better at that. That is a challenge for us right now, to learn how to handle adversity and we are failing and that starts with me. We all have to do a better job at handling adversity.”
Two in a Row
WH improves to 2-3 with win over NFA
By MIKE MADERA
(October 18, 2019) - Through four games of the regular season, the West Haven football team may have had only one win, but realized the record could be switched with how tough they played.
West Haven continued to play well, topping Norwich Free Academy 27-13 Friday evening at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven. With the victory, West Haven improved to 2-3 on the year.
Read about West Haven's victory below from Joe Morelli of GameTimeCT.
WEST HAVEN — Losing three games to start the football season doesn’t sit well with any team. It hurts even more for a team that always has high expectations from within and from the community.
Maybe last week wasn’t desperation for West Haven, but the win over North Haven was an absolute must. The Westies took another step forward Friday night with a dominant second-half performance in a 27-13 victory over Norwich Free Academy at Ken Strong Stadium.
“I’m happy for our guys. They stuck with it,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “A couple of kids quit. Good, see you later. We are now down to a nucleus that really just wants to work hard. They have been working hard at practice, which isn’t easy to do when you are 0-3 at West Haven and every person you see says, ‘What’s going on this year?’ What’s up with you guys? What’s the matter?’ We played Shelton, Newtown and Conard that’s what’s the matter.”
West Haven (2-3) was able to keep NFA (3-2) out of the end zone in the second half, thanks to stops on three consecutive fourth-down plays.
"The defense was amazing as always,” said running back Jaden Grant, who scored three touchdowns for the Westies.
Said Boshea: “I don’t know the stats, but in my mind, it was great. We held them on a couple of fourth downs and we made our fourth downs.”
West Haven broke a 13-all tie when Grant (97 yards on 25 carries) scored his second touchdown of the game on a 11-yard run with 1:57 left in the third quarter. The score was set up by a 40-yard strike from quarterback Andre Rentas to Kyle Rigsbee on the play before.
Then came two of those defensive stops on fourth down. West Haven put the game away 13-play, 67-yard drive that Grant capped with a 3-yard run with 1:53 left.
“I had a couple good runs in the first half, so Coach said he was going to feed me a little bit more and see what we could do with it,” Grant said. “As you can see, we came out with the win.”
Said Boshea: “Jaden Grant is really a great weapon to have, an elusive and hard runner. Jaden can put his shoulder down and he can run around you.”
NFA went to its third string quarterback when starter Jakob Hosko hurt his knee during the scoreless first quarter.
“We don’t know what it is. He is going to get X-Rays. It’s in the knee area,” NFA coach Jason Bakoulis said.
The Wildcats didn’t miss a beat as Jayden Desilus directed both scoring drives in the second quarter.
The Wildcats answered both West Haven touchdowns. Xavier Marquez scored both, the first on a 6-yard run, the second on a 59-yard pass from Desilus with 2:25 left.
That first touchdown came off a tipped ball from teammate Andrew Cote. Desilus’ pass was intended for Cote, but it went off his hands to Marquez behind everyone. He was able to advance to the West Haven 6. Marquez scored on the next play.
“(Desilus) went in played, didn’t have excuses, played every single rep as hard as he possibly could,” Bakoulis said. “As a coach, I’m absolutely proud of him.”
Grant opened the scoring on a 6-yard run early in the second quarter. Rentas (14 of 23, 146 yards) scored the other in the first half on a 1-yard run to complete a 10-play drive.
Player of the Game
Jaden Grant, West Haven: Finished with 97 yards and a game-high three touchdowns on 25 carries.
“We know Hand is a great, great team. We have been playing them for 30 years. They are an opponent we really respect every year and we know it’s going to be tough.”
— West Haven coach Rich Boshea about the team’s next game in two weeks against No. 1 ranked Hand.
Hand blanks Westies
Tigers top WH in return of head coach
By MIKE MADERA
(November 1, 2019) - As the bus from Madison pulled in front of Ken Strong Stadium, a certain emotion flowed for the Hand football team. None of those emotions had to do with football.
Realizing head coach Dave Mastroianni, who had missed the last two weeks as he battles cancer of the appendix, had pulled in at the same time stirred all the emotions a town could find. Hugging as many players as he could, Mastroianni and his team had the tone of the evening already set.
“My football family has been so supportive the whole time,” Mastroianni said. “These kids are my kids. I got here today at the same time as the bus pulled in. I hugged as many of them as I could. It was such a great feeling to see them again.”
With their leader back, the Tigers then turrned to their senior leadership to roll to a 37-0 victory over West Haven in a Southern Connecticut Conference Tier I contest in West Haven Friday evening.
Quarterback Phoenix Billings was on the mark in the opening half, connecting on 13-of-15 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow senior Austin Doyle spoiled any chance of a West Haven comeback with a key fumble recovery in the opening half. Billings finished the contest 15-of-20 for 199 yards and three touchdown passes.
“Obviously, seeing Coach before the game was pretty emotional,” Billings said. “We were not sure he was going to be here. It was great to see him and have him here.”
If seeing Mastroianni was not enough to set the tone, senior Jesse Lutz returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score and an 8-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game.
“The opening kickoff set the tone of the game,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team was held to just 149 yards of offense. “They did a great job preparing for us. They have some personal problems on the team with what is going on with Dave (Mastroianni). I wish him the best of health and a speedy recovery. I hope they go all the way.”
The Tigers (7-0) wasted no time taking a 16-0 lead as an 11-play, 80-yard drive was capped when Billings hit Isaiah McNeilly with a 19-yard touchdown pass with 3 minutes, 47 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Westies (2-4) had a golden opportunity to get back in the game when Hand fumbled on its next possession and James Parker recovered at the Hand 42. But, two plays later, Hand’s Doyle recovered a West Haven fumble to set up another Hand score.
West Haven fell to Hand, November 1, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Billings hit Ethan Haberman for 67 yards on the first play, and Lutz scored from five yards out two plays later for a 23-0 advantage with 2:50 gone by in the second quarter.
“This senior class are winners,” Mastroianni said. “I don’t think they need any rallying point. I told them don’t do it for me. Do it for each other. They have taken that to heart. I am very proud of them.”
Hand put the game away with 57 seconds remaining in the half, capping a seven-play drive with a 2-yard toss from Billings to Seth Sweitzer.
“We talk about it every day,” Billings said. “We don’t want to become complacent. We can’t go in expecting to win. Other teams will be ready for us and we have to be ready to play.”
The Tigers added the final touchdown of the game with 6:29 left in the third quarter as Billings hit Haberman for a 34-yard score.
Hand’s defense was equally impressive, holding West Haven to just one yard of offense in the third quarter and 39 total yards in the second half, which also included running time after Hand’s final touchdown. The Tigers held West Haven quarterback Andre Rentas to just 51 yards passing.
Lutz ran for 86 yards and a touchdown to go along with his opening kickoff return.
Hillhouse nips Westies
Academics deal WH second straight loss
By MIKE MADERA
(November 8, 2019) - The West Haven football team fell to 2-5 on the year with a 14-12 loss to Hillhouse at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Friday evening. The loss was West Haven’s second straight after winning two in a row.
West Haven fell to Hillhouse, November 8, 2019. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The Senior Night contest saw the two teams struggle to get going offensively, before Hillhouse used its special teams to help pull out the victory.
West Haven’s touchdowns came in different ways. Jaden Grant scored on the ground from 14 yards out, and Andre Rentas hit Justin Medina for an 8-yard scoring strike.
Notre Dame rallies past Westies
By MIKE MADERA
(November 15, 2019) - Throw away the records when both the West Haven and Notre Dame football teams get together. That was proven once again Friday evening.
Using a late score, Notre Dame topped West Haven 41-35 in the Soderman Bowl at Veterans Field.
Read about the thriller against Notre Dame from GameTimeCT and Dave Phillips below:
Usually, the annual Battle of West Haven is between two of top teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference.
Not this year as it’s been a little bit of a down year for both Notre Dame and a rough one for West Haven.
But Friday night the two teams put on a show for a large crowd with Notre Dame holding off West Haven, 41-35, in the Soderman Bowl at Veteran’s Field.
“That was the best game I’ve ever been involved in, playing or coaching,” Notre Dame coach Joe DeCaprio said. “It means so much to both sides. We just made one more play than they did.”
The winning touchdown came with just 48 seconds left when Jackson Zalinsky (12-for-21 passing for 288 yards and four touchdowns) hit Aiden Stankiewicz for the second time in the game for a score, this time from 32 yards out.
“They gambled a lot and sent the house,” DeCaprio said. “Our quarterback hung in there and he took some shots. On that last touchdown, he took a big shot.”
West Haven had a shot, but quarterback Andre Rentas (5-for-17 passing for 55 yards and 147 yards rushing) was intercepted with 19.6 seconds remaining to end the game.
“It’s a very tough loss,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “But our kids played so hard. We’re having a down year, but they are fighting through.”
What killed West Haven, especially in the second half, were breakdowns in the secondary. Zalinsky was able to find receivers wide open behind the corners and safeties.
“We’ve had both corners out so we had to put different guys at safety and corner,” Boshea said. “It’s tough when guys are going both ways.”
What was a 14-14 game at halftime became a wild offensive show in the second half with Zalinsky in the air and Rentas on the ground.
West Haven took its final lead of the night, 27-21 in the third quarter when Rentas scored touchdowns of 53 and 56 yards.
However, Damian Blount put Notre Dame back ahead, 28-27, with a 26-yard touchdown jaunt with 11:13 to go.
Zalinsky then connected with Tommy Candelora for 51 yards in the air to give the Green Knights a 35-27 lead midway though the fourth quarter.
West Haven wouldn’t go away as Jaden Grant rambled into the end zone from nine yards out with three minutes to go and the Blue Devils added the two-point conversion to make it 35-35, setting up the wild last minute.
Notre Dame barely remains on life support for a CIAC Class L playoff spot with only the annual Green Bowl at Hamden remaining on its schedule.
“We’ve gotten beaten by some quality teams,” DeCaprio said. “We though we could finish 7-3, but we’ll take 6-4. I don’t think there a a lot of teams that would want to face us.”
It’s been a tough year for West Haven, which dropped its third consecutive game and is 2-7 for the season with its annual Thanksgiving Day game at Fairfield Prep left on the docket.“That’s the best two-win team in the country,” DeCaprio said.
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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
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