THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
Undefeated No More
Tucker, Bess lead Green Knights past Westies
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 7, 2011) – After barely escaping with a victory last week at Hamden, the West Haven football team was looking to make a statement Friday evening against Notre Dame. Unfortunately for the Westies, the only statement made came on the side of Notre Dame.
Scoring on the first play from scrimmage, the Green Knights controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game and hung on to defeat the Westies 28-15 at Veteran’s Stadium. Both teams saw their records move to 3-1.
“I thought the guys had something to prove tonight,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said. “Since our first game, we have gotten better every week. I am proud of my guys. It was a tough, physical game.”
The Green Knights set the tone right from the start and never let up. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Cameron Tucker raced to the outside and scampered 59 yards for the score. Garrett Dillon’s extra point gave Notre Dame a 7-0 lead 19 seconds into the game.
Notre Dame then showed West Haven how tough it was going to be to move the ball on the Green Knights. Brandon Martin and Malik Tinney were outstanding in the defensive backfield, not allowing West Haven quarterback Nick Nieves to find Tahir Manning or other receivers down the field.
West Haven struggled offensively for the first 24 minutes and did not help matters by taking numerous penalties. The Westies gained only 78 yards of offense in the first half, 33 coming on the ground.
Yards were tough to come by for West Haven as Andre Gee (r.) found out. Malik Tinney (l.) prepares to make the tackle for Notre Dame, October 7, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We did not do a very good job,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “We certainly did not play well. You have to give (Malik) Tinney credit. He played a good game. They just gorillad us out there.”
As the Westies could not get in gear, Notre Dame extended its lead to 14-0 with 5 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the half. Another big play doomed the Westies as Amihr Bess raced in from 49 yards out to give the Green Knights a two touchdown lead.
“We feel Tucker is a premier back,” Marcucci said. “Tucker, Bess and (Javon) Grey are as good as it gets. Our offensive line really established itself.”
The Green Knights really put the Westies in a hole to start the third quarter as Martin intercepted a Nieves pass and returned the pick for a 31-yard score with 1:53 gone by in the third quarter.
“The interception was the biggest play,” McCarthy said of the point in the game where his team went down by three touchdowns. “We had to battle uphill all night. We could not stop them in the end.”
The Green Knights intercepted Nieves on the ensuing possession but Bess’ fumble was recovered by Mike Last at the West Haven 20-yard line. Last’s fumble recovery seemed to wake the Westies up.
Nieves hit Manning for a 23-yard screen and the quarterback ran for 11 yards and a first down to the Notre Dame 44. Ervin Philips capped the drive as he ran in from 14 yards out with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Nieves ran in the conversion, cutting the deficit to 21-8.
Ervin Philips (1) scored twice for the Westies in their loss to Notre Dame, October 7, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
After the Green Knights punted, the Westies used a 12-play, 74-yard drive to get back in the game. Nieves hit Philips for 19 yards before Philips ran for 13 more yards.
Philips capped the scoring drive with a 5-yard run as West Haven cut the deficit to 21-15 with 6:43 remaining.
“I thought we lost some momentum in the third with some silly penalties,” Marcucci said. “They (West Haven) are an outstanding team.”
Any momentum West Haven had came crashing down as Bess took the ensuing kickoff and gave Notre Dame possession at its own 41. Nine running plays by Tucker and Bess led to a one-yard score by Bess with 2:44 remaining to seal the victory for the Green Knights.
“The kickoff return became the biggest play of the game,” McCarthy said. “We are disappointed in the way we played offense. I attribute that to we had several possessions where we had penalties on first down. We did not respond very well to the penalties.”
West Haven tried to rally back, but Nieves’ third interception of the game, this one by Tinney, ended any hopes of a West Haven comeback.
Nieves finished the game 11-of-28 for 128 yards and three interceptions. Philips was held to 70 yards on 13 carries.
Tucker finished with 150 yards on 14 carries for the Green Knight. Bess carried 20 times for 127 yards.
West Haven's Nick Nieves hit Tahir Manning with 2:08 remaining in the fourth quarter to propel West Haven to a 32-31 victory over Hamden, Saturday, October 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Night and Day
Nieves,Tahir Manning prevent Westies from upset of Green Dragons
By MIKE MADERA
HAMDEN (September 30/October 1, 2011) – With the clock winding down in the final seconds of the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at Hamden High, the West Haven football team let out a collective sight of relief.
That was with good reason as West Haven, the No. 8 team in the Register Top 10 poll, narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of the Green Dragons. Using a late touchdown pass from Nick Nieves to Tahir Manning, the Westies defeated Hamden 32-31 in a game which was stopped Friday evening due to lightning and resumed Saturday afternoon.
“We had the momentum and we were up by ten,” Nieves said after throwing for 172 yards. “I was mad the lightning came. They made some big plays to stop us today. The win feels great. They came back on us and we had to make a big play at the end. I’m happy we won.”
Nieves and Manning have been in sync since training camp. If there ever was a time the two needed to hook up, it was Saturday afternoon with West Haven trailing Hamden by seven points with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
As Manning slipped behind the Green Dragon defense, Nieves hit him in stride and Manning did the rest, racing 66 yards for the score to cut the deficit to one point with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the game.
Nieves then hit Andre Gee with the two-point conversion to give West Haven a 32-31 lead in what was a stunning turn of events after Hamden had taken the lead two minutes earlier. The two-point conversion was West Haven’s fourth in four attempts in the game.
Until that point, West Haven had gained only 63 yards on the day when the game resumed with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter.
“It was just a case of two different days,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said after his team improved to 3-0. “We shot ourselves in the foot with the fumble and not making plays.
“It was the first time we ran that (touchdown) pattern all year. We were a little surprised they didn’t double him (Manning). Nick made a great pass.”
When the game was stopped Friday evening, West Haven led 24-14 and had compiled 319 yards of offense. Saturday was a completely different story as Hamden, whose last win came in 2009 against Lyman Hall, was the aggressor and had all the momentum.
“It’s hard to lose like that,” Hamden coach Tony Martone said after falling to 0-3. “It was our game to finish out. The kids played hard and gave it their all. I am proud of them.
“West Haven just has a lot of kids that make big plays. What hurt us was they made every two-point conversion attempt. That was the difference in the game.”
The Green Dragons needed just one play to show Saturday was a different day as quarterback Tim Dube hit Trevor Perry on the first play from scrimmage on third down for a 37-yard strike to the West Haven 5-yard line. Two plays later, Rob Grissett was in from 1-yard out and Hamden had cut the deficit to 24-21 with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter.
The Hamden defense then came up big, causing a fumble by Eddy Williams and recovering at the Hamden 45. The Green Dragons got all the way to the West Haven 10 and settled for a 28-yard field goal by Avi Schwimmer to tie the game at 24 with 9:54 remaining in regulation.
“I’d like to say that,” McCarthy said when asked if good teams find a way to win. “We did not stop them and they made some big plays. But, we got the touchdown and were able to close it out.”
If the momentum was not entirely on Hamden’s side after the field goal, it was when the Green Dragons stopped Ervin Philips on fourth down at the Hamden 35.
Dube came up big four plays later, hitting Dylan Kelly with a 57-yard scoring strike as Kelly weaved in and out of traffic. Schwimmer’s kick gave Hamden a 31-24 lead with 4:09 remaining.
Hamden had one last opportunity to win the game after West Haven took the lead. That opportunity was stripped away when West Haven’s Jawaun Manning intercepted Dube at the West Haven 28-yard line with 1 minute, 45 seconds left.
“In my mind, I knew I could not get beat deep,” Jawaun Manning said. “My friend Andre (Gee) said to watch the hitch-and-go. That’s what I did.”
Before the delay occurred Friday evening, the Westies had a 24-14 lead. The problem for West Haven was Hamden had come up with some big plays to keep the game close.
“I am concerned with our defense, very concerned,” McCarthy said.
The Westies scored the first two possessions they had the ball in the first half. It took the Westies just seven plays on the ground to take the lead on the opening drive of the game.
Philips, who ran for 84 yards in the first half, put the Westies on the board with a 23-yard scoring run just 3 minutes, 8 seconds into the game. Gee ran in the conversion, giving West Haven an 8-0 lead.
Ervin Philips eludes a tackle against Hamden, Saturday, October 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Hamden wasted no time following up with a touchdown. A 65-yard drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on the Westies.
Dube, who threw for 90 yards in the first half, capped the five-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Schwimmer’s extra point cut West Haven’s lead to 8-7 with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter.
West Haven answered quickly. A five-play, 80-yard drive saw a couple of big plays.
Gee started the drive with a run for 31 yards and Philips hit Tahir Manning with a 28-yard scoring strike. Nieves hit Kadialy Toure with the conversion, giving West Haven a 16-7 lead with 4:09 left in the opening quarter.
West Haven had only two other possessions in the first half and each saw West Haven staring at a fourth-and one at Hamden’s 20-yard line. On the first attempt with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter, Philips was stopped for no gain.
The Westies then faced the clock and Hamden’s defense with 15 seconds remaining in the half. Hamden’s defense again came up with a big play as Philips was stuffed for a three-yard loss.
Trailing by nine points, the Green Dragons wasted no time getting within two points. On the first play of the second half, Dube hit Trevor Perry on the left sideline behind James Moore. Perry went the distance for an 87-yard touchdown reception just 19 seconds into the second half.
Mike Last makes a big play on defense against Hamden, Saturday, October 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“Tim Dube had another outstanding game,” Martone said. “I thought our offensive line also played really well. We have to learn how to win.”
Again, it took West Haven just five plays to respond. A 58-yard scoring drive saw Philips bust out for runs of 15 and 8 yards before Nieves hooked up with Philips for a 31-yard score as Philips went in and out of traffic.
Nieves then hit Tahir Manning with the two-point conversion, giving West Haven a 24-14 lead with just under three minutes played in the third quarter. The West Haven quarterback was perfect on his first six passing attempts for 96 yards before the delay took place.
Dube finished the game throwing for 340 yards on 14 completions. Philips ran for 124 yards, scored twice and threw for another touchdown.
Westies throttle Indians
WH gains 407 total yards to improve to 2-0
By MIKE MADERA
(September 24, 2011) - West Haven coach Ed McCarthy felt his team made too many mistakes in the opener against Amity a week ago. Whether it was fumbles, penalties or missed tackles, McCarthy wanted his team to clean up its act as the Westies traveled to play Guilford Saturday evening.
Consider McCarthy’s wish granted. Scoring 34 points in the first half, including 20 in the first quarter alone, the Westies improved to 2-0 with a 40-6 pasting of Guilford.
“We cleaned up a lot of things,” McCarthy said of his team’s improvement over the course of a week. “I thought we played really well. They (Guilford) are going to win some games.”
The Indians (1-1) got an up close look at how balanced and lethal West Haven can be right from the start. Whether it was on the ground or in the air, West Haven moved the ball effectively against the Indians.
The Westies gained 407 yards of offense, 282 of which came on the ground. West Haven allowed only 175 total yards to the Indians.
West Haven quarterback Nick Nieves completed 9-of-14 passes for 125 yards and threw for a pair of touchdowns, James Moore ran for 75 yards and three touchdowns and Ervin Philips ran for 139 yards and scored once as the Westies were in sync from the start.
“We had that balance,” McCarthy said of his team’s offense. “We threw the ball a little more. We threw it effectively.”
The Westies had everything going in the first quarter, with the only blemish being a missed conversion following West Haven’s third score of the opening quarter.
Nieves gave opponents a glimpse of how dangerous the West Haven passing game can be this season. On West Haven’s opening scoring drive of the game, the senior quarterback connected with Tahir Manning for a 29-yard scoring strike to give the Westies a 7-0 lead following Nieves’ extra point.
Nieves and Manning were just warming up. The duo hooked up six times for 94 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
"Nick (Nieves) had a good game,” McCarthy said of his quarterback. “Tahir (Manning) caught six passes. We threw the ball well.”
West Haven’s defense wasted no time making a statement as well, as the Indians were stifled all night. The Indians turned the ball over and could not maintain any flow on the offensive side of the ball, allowing West Haven to build on the lead.
“We knew going in to compete with them we would have to play the perfect game and get off to a hot start,” Guilford coach Tom Unger said. “We tried to simulate what they do but you can’t simulate the speed they do it at. I was impressed with the speed they played with.
“We had turnovers. We missed tackles and we had blown assignments. That is too much against a team like that. We had players that competed hard.”
With a chance to get excellent field position with West Haven pinned in its own end, the Indians were introduced to Philips and West Haven’s offensive line. Philips got West Haven out of trouble, shedding tackles and deflating the Indians by ripping off a 97-yard scoring run.
The run, along with Nieves’ point after, gave West Haven a 14-0 lead. Guilford never recovered.
“We had a great punt and covered it at the three,” Unger said. “We had a couple of hits on him (Philips). We missed some tackles and he cut it back. You can’t miss tackles against a runner like him.”
Unable to do anything offensively, the Indians relied on the defense to make a stand. That stand never happened late in the first quarter as West Haven built a 20-0 lead.
Moore scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night from nine yards out to give West Haven a 20-point lead after 12 minutes of play.
"We had a good first quarter against Amity too,” McCarthy said. “Then we made some mistakes in the second quarter. It was good to clean some things up.”
The second quarter was much of the same for both teams. Guilford could not muster any offense against a quicker West Haven defense and the Westies took advantage by extending the lead to 34-0 at the half.
Nieves and Manning teamed up for the first score of the second quarter. The Westie quarterback hit Manning for a 20-yard scoring strike before Nieves hit Philips on the conversion for a 28-0 West Haven lead.
Moore then capped the scoring in the first half when he scampered in from nine yards out. While the conversion failed, West Haven had a 34-0 lead it would not relinquish at the half.
Moore gave West Haven a 40-0 lead in the third quarter with his third touchdown of the night from 25 yards out. With the big lead, McCarthy got a chance to see some fresh faces compete.
“It allowed our J.V. (junior varsity) players to play the last period and a half,” McCarthy said. “With the rain, we lost our J.V. game so I was happy for them. They got to play and they played very well.”
Guilford broke the shutout in the fourth quarter as sophomore Joe Nault connected with Connor McGuire with a 28-yard scoring strike.
“We have a young quarterback (Nault) who, as he progresses, is going to be a good player,” Unger said. “It was good we got that one in.
“David Knapp did a nice job. Ben Monte, in his first year playing football, was excellent on defense.”
West Haven Prevails
Despite sloppy play, Westies win opener against Amity
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Sept. 16, 2011) – West Haven coach Ed McCarthy did not have to remind his team of the struggles the Westies had with Amity in last season’s opener. Looking to avoid the same battle, West Haven hoped a fast start to this year’s season opener would make for smoother sailing.
While the Westies got that quick start, the contest was anything but a breeze. Taking numerous penalties and never getting into a consistent flow, the Westies trudged their way to a 28-14 victory over the Spartans at Ken Strong Stadium Friday evening.
“I am very disappointed,” McCarthy said following the victory. “We played very well for a period then we start fumbling the ball and taking penalties.
“We’ll get better. We felt the same way after the game last year. We’re a good team. We need to get a little better holding the ball.”
The Westies looked as if they would have an easy time with the Spartans, scoring on their first two possessions of the game.
West Haven's Eddy Williams (above) pounds out tough yardage in West Haven's season-opening victory over Amity. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Following a blocked punt by Duane Gary, Ervin Philips took West Haven’s first offensive play from scrimmage 18 yards for a touchdown. Nick Nieves’ extra point gave the Westies a 7-0 lead just 1 minute, 25 seconds into the game.
“I am happy we got the win,” Philips said after rushing for 162 yards on 19 carries. “I just wanted to come out and run the ball hard. We wanted to win this game and start out the season with a win.
“The offensive line is the reason I got all the yards I did. They open big holes. Everything I did was because of the holes opened by the line. I love them.”
West Haven took a 13-0 lead with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter. Nieves hooked up with Tahir Manning for a 15-yard score to cap an 8-play, 56-yard drive. James Moore had the big play on the drive, rushing for 20 yards to the Amity 14.
“We did not quite execute the way we were supposed to on offense,” Amity coach Bert Mozealous said. “The defense did not execute early. We did some things which cost us.
“All in all, we played well. We did not have a good scrimmage against Notre Dame last week. We lacked that fight. Tonight, I saw a lot of fight in them. I am proud of them.”
That fight was on display as the Spartans held the Westies on downs at the Amity 25 on West Haven’s next possession. Amity needed just nine plays to go 75 yards and capped the drive when quarterback Tyler Vallie scored from nine yards out. Lyle Luth’s extra point cut the deficit to 13-7 with 3:55 gone by in the second quarter.
“Tyler (Vallie) is tough and athletic,” Mozealous said. “Sometimes he tries to do too much. He is quick on his feet and is a talented kid.”
West Haven, which had scored on its first two possessions, stalled for the remainder of the half as the Westies took numerous penalties then fumbled the ball away with Amity‘s Codey Ellison recovering at the Spartans’ 35-yard line.
Any joy Amity may have had disappeared three plays into Amity’s ensuing drive as Vallie was picked off by Kadialy Toure.
West Haven started the second half as quickly as the first. Philips took the kickoff 58 yards to the Amity 27-yard line and four plays later, Eddy Williams raced in from 14 yards out. Nieves hit Philips with the pass for the conversion, giving West Haven a 21-7 lead.
Amity continued to pester the Westies but stalled on downs on its next possession at West Haven’s 14-yard line. Penalties disrupted play over each team’s next three possessions before West Haven pulled away with 7:06 remaining in the game.
Philips scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from 11 yards out for a 28-7 lead. The key play on the seven play drive was Nieves’ 41-yard strike to Tahir Manning.
“We threw the ball well but it was just not there a lot,” McCarthy said. “That will change. We are a pretty good throwing team. We didn’t connect tonight so we did not want to have three incompletions and give them the ball back.”
Amity responded to score the final points of the night on the Spartans’ next possession. Vallie completed two passes for 25 yards, ran for 25 more, then hit James Semmonella for a 13-yard scoring strike with 6:06 remaining.
Vallie finished the game 10-of-22 for 140 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another. Nieves completed only 3-of-8 passes for 61 yards for West Haven, while Moore ran for 85 yards on 12 carries.
2011 Football Preview
Lost to graduation: Kevin, Philips, Germanicus Gerard, Tremayne Barnes, Pat Burroughs, Malik Douglas, Joe Hattani, Shaun Reiss, Troy Lawrence, Corey Butler
2010 record: 8-3
2011 captains: Tom Spencer, Nick Nieves, Mike Last
2011 West Haven football captains (l. to r.): Tom Spencer, Nick Nieves and Mike Last.
Ready to Go
Nieves, Philips, Last looking for big years
By MIKE MADERA
It seems as though it was yesterday the West Haven football team was getting on the bus for the ride home following a playoff loss to eventual state champion Xavier. Nine months have passed but the memory of that ride is still fresh in the minds of the returning players.
Despite an explosive offense, the Westies were shut down by a bigger and faster Xavier team. This season, the Westies may be even more explosive on offense.
The key for the 2011 team may come on the defensive side as a young squad will have to mature quickly for the Westies to make a return visit to the state tournament.
“I think, for us, the keys are (quarterback) Nick (Nieves) and the defense no question,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “We will go how far Nick and the defense will take us.”
West Haven can score at any point on offense. With the arm of senior quarterback Nick Nieves and the speed of sophomore running back Ervin Philips, the Westies are a threat every snap.
Junior Andre Gee and senior Darius Blagmon will also be used at the running back position. McCarthy will see juniors Eddy Williams and James Moore provide help at the fullback position.
While the backfield is stacked, the arm of Nieves will be the key. The senior has a talented target in Tahir Manning at the split end position and the duo will be counted on to make big plays.
If the running game and passing game are to be successful, the line will be the key. Led by senior Mike Last at center, senior Tom Spencer and junior William Barrett at the tackles and seniors Edgar Trujillo and junior Qusaan Hoskie at the guard positions, lanes will have to be provided to run through and blocking will be needed to give Nieves time to throw.
“I think we can be really good on offense,” McCarthy said. “Nick is bigger and stronger and is very experienced. We think we have all the pieces on offense. As good as we were last year on offense, we think we can be better this year.”
On the defensive side, West Haven returns only Last and Spencer with experience. Trying to limit the amount of players who play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, numerous players will see time on the field.
Last will anchor the defense from his inside linebacker position and will be joined on the inside by sophomore Jesse Ridgway. Williams and junior Kadialy Toure will play on the outside.
The defensive line will consist of Spencer, Trujillo and senior Kyle Fields with others rotating in, to avoid too many players playing on both sides of the ball. The secondary will consist of Gee and juniors Eric Lanziero and Bobby Sampson rotating in the two safety spots, while Philips and Moore will be the corners.
“We are a work in progress on defense,” McCarthy said. “With all the guys, only two are seniors with Spencer and Last. All the others are underclassmen. We are a really young defense and that has been showing. We think we will be really good on defense by the end of the year.”
West Haven also has to contend with a tough schedule, with three of the first four games on the road. The second half of the season sees a trip to Madison to face Hand and a home contest against Xavier.
“We have a pretty good offense,” McCarthy said. “There are some special teams we will play and others are very solid. If we are not ready, we will lose. We have to be ready with our schedule.
“We know our schedule is ridiculous. Last year we had a little luck especially after that second loss. We can afford one bump in the road. We needed that last if game to get in. We will try our best to get in. We are more physical than last year. We have more bodies. We can be even better offensively, and, we think by the end of the year, we can be pretty good on defense.”
West Haven gets its first chance to leave an impression Friday, September 16, when the Westies host Amity at 7 p.m.
Westies have work to do before season opener
Scrimmage against Ansonia shows plenty
West Haven (Sept. 3, 2011) - West Haven coach Ed McCarthy was looking to work on plenty of aspects of the game in Saturday's scrimmage against Ansonia. While there was plenty to be happy with, there are also some things to be worked on before the Westies host Amity in the regular season opener in less than two weeks.
McCarthy saw some bright spots, especially on offense with the connection of quarterback Nick Nieves and receiver Tahir Manning. The pair seemed on target throughout much of the scrimmage despite Nieves tossing a couple of interceptions.
An area of concern for McCarthy and the Westies was the play of the offensive line, which seemed out of sync.
West Haven had its share of moments on defense as well as the Westies made some good plays but also gave up some long plays.
West Haven has two weeks to get things right as the Westies open the regular season Friday, September 16 against Amity.
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
Going Out in Style
Westies hang on to defeat Jesuits
By MIKE MADERA
FAIRFIELD (November 24, 2011) – West Haven quarterback Nick Nieves has looked for Tahir Manning as his primary target all year. So, it came as no surprise Nieves and his favorite receiver turned the game around against Fairfield Prep Thursday morning.
With West Haven trailing by two touchdowns, Nieves hit Manning for three scores, leading West Haven to a 42-39 come-from-behind victory over the Jesuits at Alumni Field in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I interdivision contest. The duo connected seven times in the game for 111 yards.
“I think we had to get used to the early start,” Manning said. “We made some adjustments and focused more. We played better in the second half.
“I can’t take the credit. He (Nieves) is a great quarterback. He pushes me all the time even when I am down. He puts the ball right on the money.”
Trailing 21-7 after Fairfield Prep quarterback Thomas Brewster hit Michael Niche twice for 77-yard touchdown connections and Dillon Ryan scored on a 5-yard run, Nieves hit Manning with a 7-yard scoring pass with 5 minutes, 21 seconds to go in the first half to cut the deficit to 21-14.
After West Haven’s defense forced Fairfield Prep’s first punt of the game on the opening possession of the second half, West Haven tied the game at 21. A 10-play, 79-yard drive was capped when Nieves hit Manning for a 17-yard score on fourth down with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter.
“I can’t say enough about these two guys,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said of Manning and Nieves after his team finished the year 7-3 and failed to return to the postseason. “They have worked hard all year and not just during the season. They worked hard in the offseason. We are going to miss them.”
The Jesuits, who are trying to get the program back in the right direction after some down years, amassed 454 yards on offense in the game and quickly took the lead back. Shane Dempsey scored from 2 yards out but Jawaun Manning blocked the extra point, keeping the Jesuits’ lead at 27-21.
“I am very proud of these kids,” Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea said after his team finished 5-5. “We asked a lot of them and they responded. They trusted in us. It produced results. We had a lot of kids step up. We certainly would not have been in this position last year.”
Nieves hit Tahir Manning with a 26-yard score and Andre Gee ran in from 5 yards out in the fourth quarter to give West Haven a 35-27 lead with 6:51 remaining, but it was not until James Moore returned Prep’s onside kick attempt 44 yards for a score with 1:42 remaining did the Westies ice the victory.
“He is a fast guy,” Nieves said of Tahir Manning. “He is always open. We hit the short gains then got the long ones. It feels great to go out with a win. It was the seniors’ last game. The win feels good.”
Brewster scored from 17 yards out with 29.7 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 42-39 but it was not enough. Brewster finished the game with 93 yards rushing and 209 yards in the air.
“Tom Shea has done a great job over there,” McCarthy said of the Fairfield Prep coach. “They finished 5-5 and I know he wanted to finish better. Their J.V. and freshmen teams are strong. They will be a very good team next year.”
After an interception for a touchdown by West Haven’s Jesse Ridgway was nullified by a holding penalty on Fairfield Prep’s opening possession of the game, Fairfield Prep turned what could have been a 14-0 deficit into a 21-7 lead.
West Haven had problems with Fairfield Prep’s combination of Brewster and Niche in the opening quarter. Twice the duo of the Jesuits beat the West Haven defense for 77-yard scores and a 14-7 Jesuit lead after one quarter.
“We wanted to run the ball,” Shea said. “That was the game plan. They made one more play. They made their plays and we did not make ours.”
Fairfield Prep scored three straight touchdowns after Eddy Williams capped a 3-play, 97-yard drive for the Westies with a 51-yard touchdown run 1:17 into the game.
Eddy Williams put the Westies on the scoreboard first against Fairfield Prep with a 51-yard touchdown run, November 24, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The Jesuits increased the lead to 21-7 just 2:27 into the second quarter when Ryan raced in from five yards out to cap a five-play, 82-yard drive. Brewster had the big play in the drive with a 30-yard scamper.
West Haven got closer with 5:25 left in the half. Taking advantage of a pass interference penalty on the Jesuits, West Haven got within 21-14 when Nieves hit Manning with a 7-yard touchdown pass.
“He has worked hard to become a premier receiver,” McCarthy said of Manning.
Nieves hit Gee on West Haven’s opening possession of the second half for 30 yards, then connected again with Gee for eight yards, leading to the fourth down connection to even the game at 21.
Trailing 27-21, West Haven quickly marched 72 yards on its ensuing possession. Duane Gary opened the drive with runs of 22 and 18 yards and Gee added an 11-yard scamper. After a holding penalty, Nieves hit Manning on the next play for a 26-yard score.
“The seniors said at the half we needed a perfect performance in the second half and we nearly did that,” McCarthy said.
Williams recovered an onside kick for West Haven and the Westies needed nine plays to take a 35-27 lead, capped by Gee’s score from seven yards out with 6:51 remaining.
The Jesuits marched 65 yards on their next possession and got within 35-33 when Dempsey scored from one yard out. Gee stopped Dempsey on the conversion run and Moore returned the kickoff on the next play to seal the victory.
Nieves finished the game 13-of-19 for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Moore ran for 103 yards on 16 carries and Andre Gee ran for 87 yards and a touchdown as West Haven gained 471 yards on offense in the victory.
Duane Gary and the Westies did not have much running room in a 47-22 loss to Xavier, November 11, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies’ Playoff Hopes Dashed
Loss to Xavier all but ends postseason dreams
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (November 11, 2011) – Heading into Friday evening’s contest with top-ranked Xavier, the West Haven football team knew it needed a victory over the Falcons to keep its postseason hopes alive. Through the first 5 minutes, 21 seconds of the game, West Haven kept those hopes going.
After that, it was all Xavier. Scoring 27 unanswered points and rolling up 421 yards of total offense in the game, the Falcons cruised to a 47-22 victory on Senior Night at Ken Strong Stadium. With the victory, Xavier improved to 9-0 while West Haven fell to 6-3.
“They have eleven good players on defense,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “They have eleven players who will play college football on defense. They are pretty good on offense too.
“(Austin) Wezenski and (Sean) Marinan are great players. (Mike) Mastrioanni is the most efficient runner I have ever seen. He gets it done.”
The Falcons wasted no time jumping on the Westies thanks to poor special teams play by West Haven. A bad snap on a punt following West Haven’s first possession gave Xavier the ball at West Haven’s 20.
Two plays later, Xavier led 7-0 when Mike Mastrioanni ran in from 17 yards out and Ricky Verre kicked the extra point. The Falcons would not be stopped as they scored on their first six possessions of the first half.
After West Haven was stopped on its next possession, Xavier needed just four plays to take a 13-0 lead. Pat D’Amato ran in from three yards out to cap a 54-yard drive.
West Haven put together its only sustained drive of the half, following D’Amato’s score. A 64-yard drive saw Nick Nieves hook up with Duane Gary for 27 yards before Nieves hit Tahir Manning with a 6-yard scoring strike with 2:53 to go in the opening quarter. The snap on the conversion was bad and West Haven trailed 13-6.
“We needed to play well on special teams and catch the ball,” McCarthy said. “The game got away from us. Special teams hurt us and we did not do much catching the ball as a team.”
That was as close as the Westies would get. The Falcons used their powerful line play to control the remainder of the game.
Behind a powerful offensive line, the Falcons ran for three touchdowns and passed for another to take a 40-6 lead to the half. Mastrioanni scored on runs of 11 yards and four yards and capped the half with a 49-yard score.
In between, D’Amato hit Ryan Murphy with a 26-yard scoring strike. The Falcons dominated the Westies in the first half by a margin of 272 to 65 in total yards.
“They jumped on us,” McCarthy said. “They punched us in the face and we did not punch back. They are a very good team.”
West Haven used its defense in the second half to get on the scoreboard. Tim Boyle was sacked in the endzone by Mike Last for a safety to cut the deficit to 40-8.
Matt Craig, who ran for 94 yards in the second half, gave Xavier a 47-8 lead with a 14-yard score with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The Westies closed the scoring with a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. Nieves hit Gary with a 23-yard scoring strike 1:29 into the fourth quarter and Nieves hit Manning with 11 seconds remaining in the game to make the final 47-22.
Xavier accumulated 421 yards of offense in the game. Mastrioanni ran for 136 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries, Boyle threw for 43 yards and D’Amato threw for 41 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a touchdown.
Nieves was 10-of-28 for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Nieves was also intercepted three times. Andre Gee ran for 34 yards and Gary ran for 27 in the loss.
James Moore (4) celebrates his second quarter touchdown with Charlestone Gourdet (64) in West Haven's 14-6 victoy over Wilbur Cross, November 4, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies Put to the Test
West Haven squeaks by Cross in McCarthy’s return
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (November 4, 2011) - It had been three weeks since West Haven’s legendary head coach Ed McCarthy walked the sidelines for game action following a minor heart attack on October 9, two days after a loss to Notre Dame. The last thing the Westies wanted to do was have their coach come back to a stressful contest.
Unfortunately for the Westies and McCarthy, Wilbur Cross did not cooperate. The Governors gave West Haven everything they had and more before falling to the Westies 14-6 at Ken Strong Stadium Friday evening in SCC Division I East action.
“We are happy with the result, just not the performance,” McCarthy said after his team improved to 6-2 and he picked up his 307th career victory. “I felt good. I felt good all day. I was nervous but a good nervous. Just to be back in the locker room and back on the field is great.”
Across the field, Governors’ coach John Acquavita was happy to see the legendary coach return. Although his team lost, Acquavita stressed the importance of McCarthy’s return.
“The SCC is a strange league in a good way,” Acquavita said after his team fell to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in SCC Division I East. “The competition is fierce on the field but everybody is friendly off it. He is a coaching legend. I played on this field against him. It is good to have him back.”
In McCarthy’s absence, West Haven (2-2 in Division I East) won two of its three games under the guidance of Rich Boshea and the West Haven coaching staff. The only loss came last week against Hand, putting the Westies in postseason mode until the end of the season.
“There are three former head coaches on the staff and a few more who could be head coaches,” McCarthy, who is in his 41st season, said. “I knew they would do a great job.”
Friday’s victory over Cross kept the Westies in contention for the postseason with a tilt against top-ranked Xavier set for next Friday evening in West Haven. Before the Westies could think about Xavier, they had to take care of business against Cross.
“It was a huge game,” McCarthy said. “We used the word trap. I think it was more psychological. We got the news about Erv (Philips) this morning and we were hoping for a miracle. I think that took a lot out of us.”
That news concerning Ervin Philips was an arm injury, which leaves the star running back week to week. Philips injured his shoulder two weeks ago against Cheshire and was used sparingly last week in the loss to Hand.
Playing without the services of Philips, the Westies never got in sync in the first 24 minutes. Cross crowded the line of scrimmage and West Haven struggled to adjust, rushing for only 58 yards in the first half.
James Moore and Duane Gary filled in for Philips, with Gary running for 101 yards on 16 carries and Moore rushing for a pair of touchdowns as the Westies finished with 165 yards on the ground.
Moore’s second score of the game from one yard out with 10 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the insurance West Haven needed as West Haven had a 14-6 lead.
After Cross’ Jaylin Fuller intercepted West Haven quarterback Nick Nieves at the Governors’ 15-yard line with 5:32 remaining, the Governors had a chance to even the game. West Haven held on downs and after another West Haven punt in the final minute, a sack of Cross quarterback Javon Taylor by Darren Chavez sealed West Haven’s victory in McCarthy’s return.
“Coach Mac means a lot to us,” Gary said. “We missed him a lot. We were glad to have him back.”
The Governors held West Haven on the Westies’ first two possessions of the game, then stunned West Haven’s side of the crowd when Taylor hooked up with Kyle Holmes for a 70-yard score with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Westies stopped the conversion run, keeping the Governor lead at six.
The Governors were driving again before Gary stalled the drive with an interception and a 51-yard return to the Governors’ 29-yard line. A personal foul put the ball at the 14, but West Haven could not capitalize as Nieves fumbled and Marlon Pastor recovered early in the second quarter.
“The biggest play was the interception before the half,” Acquavita said. “I don’t think they scored but it changed the field position.”
The Westies finally got on the scoreboard with 3:29 remaining in the half. Moore broke off right tackle and raced in from 21 yards out. Coupled with Nieves’ extra point, West Haven took a 7-6 lead.
“We have a lot of injuries,” Moore said. “We pulled together and worked together.”
West Haven again moved into Cross territory but the Governors’ Romaine White intercepted Nieves in the final seconds of the first half.
The running of Gary and Moore gave West Haven the ball at Cross’ 18 on the first possession of the second half, but a personal foul against the Westies stopped the drive.
After an onside kick by West Haven following Moore’s second score, the Westies moved to the Governors’ 15-yard line. That drive ended with Fuller’s interception.
Nieves finished the game 6-of-16 for 88 yards and two interceptions. Taylor completed six passes for 140 yards, all going to Holmes.
Despite Tahir Manning's two touchdown receptions, the Westies were unable to hang on to defeat Hand, Friday, October 28, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies fall to Tigers
21-0 run in second half fuels Hand
By MIKE MADERA
MADISON (October 28, 2011) – With time running down in the first half, the West Haven football team had to wish the first half could keep going. With all the momentum on its side, West Haven led the fourth-ranked Tigers by a touchdown and probably should have been up more.
The lengthy halftime seemed to wake up the Tigers and daze the Westies. Hand scored 21 points in the second half, on its way to a 28-14 victory at the Surf Club in Madison.
“We made some adjustments at the half,” Hand coach Steve Filippone said. “Our defense, as usual, came up huge. They did a great job.
“The bottom line was our run defense was phenomenal in the first half. They (West Haven) really were not doing anything. They were throwing a jump ball to number two (Tahir Manning) against our guys. We made an adjustment at the half. We felt our five guys up front could hold up their running game. We had guys in the right place.”
Trailing 14-7, the Tigers (7-0) opened the second half with an 80-yard drive over seven plays to tie the game. Kevin Frey ran the first six plays for 50 yards before quarterback Henry Foye hit Nicolas Vitale for a 30-yard score with 9 minutes, 1 second remaining in the third quarter.
West Haven was forced to punt on its next possession and Hand wasted no time putting the game away. Another six-play scoring drive ended when Foye hit Vitale for a19-yard score with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Trailing 21-14 and after being stopped on its second straight possession to start the third quarter, West Haven got a break it thought would fuel the fire. West Haven’s Bobby Sampson intercepted Foye and returned the pick to the Hand 22.
West Haven gained only eight yards on the drive, something which would haunt the Westies. Hand stopped West Haven at the 14-yard line on downs and iced the game from there.
“They did a great job on defense,” West Haven acting head coach Rich Boshea said. “They are a great team. There is no doubt about that.
“I thought the turning point was when we got the ball off the turnover and did nothing with it.”
The Tigers would use a grinding drive of 11 plays to take a 28-14 lead. Frey and Matt Walsh did the damage on the ground and Foye finished the drive with three straight completions, the last a 25-yard scoring strike to Vitale with 7:53 remaining.
“We are so proud of the offensive line,” Filippone said. “Last week we got on them a little bit. This program has been built on the play of the offensive and defensive lines.”
The second half was a complete opposite from the first half as the Westies controlled the game after trailing 7-0. Frey raced 76 yards for a touchdown on Hand’s second possession of the game, putting West Haven in a 7-0 hole.
The Westies came back and dominated the rest of the half, riding the passing of Nick Nieves and the receiving of Tahir Manning to take a 14-7 lead. Using 10 plays, including four passes for 59 yards from Nieves to Manning, the Westies knotted the game at 7.
Manning caught a 33-yard pass on third down to keep the drive going, then added a 16-yard reception. When Nieves hooked up with Manning from five yards out, West Haven tied the game with 41 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The Westies had chances to increase the lead but missed opportunities would hurt. With 2:41 remaining in the half, West Haven did take a 14-7 lead as Nieves and Manning hooked up for a 31-yard score, allowing West Haven to take a 14-7 lead to the half.
Nieves and Manning hooked up six times in the half for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The duo was important as the Westies played a large portion of the game without running back Ervin Philips, who was out with an arm injury.
“Without having Ervin, and I am not making any excuses, was huge,” Boshea said. “We could not run the ball. We just threw the ball. How many times can you just do that? We did not have that balance you look for.”
Nieves finished 13-of-18 for 159 yards. Nieves also led the team in rushing with 16 yards on six carries. Manning finished the game with eight receptions for 105 yards.
Frey ran for 176 yards on 21 carries for the Tigers and Foye threw for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
Down to the Wire
Westies hang on to defeat Cheshire
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 21, 2011) – With all the momentum shifted to Cheshire’s side and the West Haven defense lacking a big play all night long, Kyle Fields decided to do something about it. That something was a hit on Cheshire quarterback Michael John Ecke, forcing an incomplete pass on the last play of the game to preserve a 46-42 West Haven victory at Ken Strong Stadium Friday night.
The final play ended what may have been the most exciting high school game in the area as the Westies squandered an 11-point lead in the third quarter, only to take the lead on a Nick Nieves 65-yard scoring strike to Tahir Manning with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining in the game.
The touchdown reception for Manning was redemption as his fumble in the third quarter with West Haven leading 26-14 and heading towards a touchdown, got Cheshire back in the game. On the winning play, Manning came back to the ball, then broke several tackles to give West Haven a 46-42 lead.
“We ran the hitch the whole night,” Manning said of his winning touchdown. “The coaches decided to go with the hitch-and-go and we knew we could get it.
“It shows we have a lot of fight in us. The pressure was on us. We responded and made the big plays at the end. The defense came up big at the end.”
Cheshire had one last crack at stealing the win on its final drive of the game. Sam Pascale, who finished with 251 yards on 34 carries, ran six times for 41 yards, including a three-yard run on fourth down.
With less than 20 seconds remaining, the Rams went to the air twice. The first attempt by Ecke was incomplete in the endzone, setting up the final play of the game with two seconds remaining.
Fields blew through the Cheshire line and hit Ecke before Ecke escaped and threw an incomplete pass to end the game.
“He (Fields) is a senior and he stepped up and made a big play,” West Haven acting head coach Rich Boshea said after he improved his personal head coaching record to 4-0. “I am very happy for him. It was a great play. You have to give Ecke credit. He did not go down even with the kid glued to his ribs. It was a very good play by Kyle.”
The game had plenty of emotion swings which began right from the start. West Haven had trouble stopping the run and Cheshire capitalized on its first two possessions.
The Rams marched 62 yards on the ground in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead 2:09 into the game when Ecke scored from two yards out. Pascale did most of the damage on the drive as he ran for 60 yards.
The Westies needed just one play to respond. Sophomore Duane Gary took the first offensive play for the Westies and raced 74 yards to tie the score just 19 seconds later.
“I just wanted to help any way I could,” Gary said. “I knew I had to be relaxed out there. I am glad to help the team out. I did my best.”
The teams continued to trade scores as Pascale ran five more times for 41 yards on Cheshire’s next drive which was capped by Bill Weyrauch’s five-yard scoring run.
Again, West Haven wasted no time in responding. Ervin Philips raced 41 yards to the Cheshire two-yard line on West Haven’s next possession and Eddy Williams scored on the next play to even the game at 14.
“Duane Gary comes up with a couple of big plays and Tahir Manning caught a great pass,” Philips said after finishing with 164 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries. “You have to credit the offensive line. They blocked well and did what they had to do.”
The defenses finally got into the act for both teams as the scoring stopped until 1:33 remained in the half. Gary, who finished with 157 yards rushing, scored his second touchdown of the night when he raced in from 29 yards out.
Kadialy Toure could not hang on to Nieves’ pass on the conversion as West Haven went to the half leading 26-14.
West Haven, who out gained Cheshire 349-184 in the first half, had a chance to get some breathing room but squandered the opportunity on the opening drive of the second half. Nieves hit Manning with a screen pass and Manning tried to get extra yardage but fumbled at he Rams’ 29, with Cheshire recovering.
The Rams needed just one play to turn the momentum of the game around. Ecke’s pass attempt was deflected at the line but hit Rahmi Roundtree in stride to bring Cheshire within 26-21 just 2:16 into the third quarter.
Philips gave West Haven the cushion once again when he scored from 14 yards out 3:34 later to increase West Haven’s lead to 32-21. Cheshire did not go away and used Ecke’s 45-yard run to set up Bill Weyrauch’s two-yard score to bring Cheshire within 32-27.
West Haven was held to just three yards on its next possession and a six-play, 73-yard drive followed with Pascale scampering the final 18 yards for the score. Sebastian Little ran in the conversion, giving Cheshire a 35-32 lead with 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
West Haven needed just seven plays to respond. Nieves capped a 58-yard drive with a six-yard scoring run to give West Haven a 39-35 lead with 9:26 remaining.
“This was a big game for us,” Boshea said as he coached for Ed McCarthy, who is still feeling under the weather. “It was a fantastic finish. I thought whoever had the ball last might win.”
With nearly a full quarter remaining, that lead was clearly not safe. Pascale ran for 32 yards on the drive which ended with Weyrauch’s six-yard scoring run with 6:40 to go, putting Cheshire on top 42-39.
When Nieves fumbled at the Cheshire 31 with 3:48 remaining, the Westies’ hopes for a victory were flickering. West Haven held and got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining.
Nieves, who finished the game 8-of-13 for 129 yards, found Manning for the go-ahead score, setting up the final dramatics. Pascale ran for 41 yards on the final drive but Cheshire could not provide the winning score.
The West Haven trio of Gary, Moore and Philips ran for 441 yards.
West Haven's Andre Gee (5) prepares to tackle Sheehan's Jeremy Gannon (18), October 14, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Winning for Mac
Philips scores six times in West Haven’s 53-23 victory over Sheehan
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 14, 2011) – It has been quite a week for the West Haven football team. The Westies were booted from the ranks of the undefeated by cross-town rival Notre Dame, then were stunned as their leader, coach Ed McCarthy, was taken to the hospital.
McCarthy, who is now out of the hospital after a minor procedure, was on the minds of the players throughout the week. Also on their minds was erasing the bad taste of last week’s loss to the Green Knights.
While it was not easy, the Westies rode the legs of sophomore Ervin Philips to a 53-23 victory over Sheehan. Philips ran for 298 yards and six touchdowns on 24 carries to help West Haven improve to 4-1.
“I felt like we had to step up,” Philips said “After last week, we made sure we practiced hard. Coach Mac was an inspiration for us.
“I thought the offensive line played very well today. They opened up all the holes for me. The line played a big part in it.”
Sheehan started the game in impressive fashion as the Titans needed just nine plays to march 80 yards and score. Quarterback Billy Gannon capped the drive with a 1-yard score for a 6-0 Sheehan lead just 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the game.
“I think we found a way to get into the flow,” Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said. “We were able to find a rhythm.
“We were trying to find a way to get the ball in Billy’s hands. We wanted to get he ball to A.J. (Pascuzzo) as well. I thought we did a nice job of it early.”
The lead was the last one for Sheehan as the Westies came right back and never stopped. Philips capped a 66-yard drive in nine plays with a 4-yard scoring run. Nick Nieves’ extra point with 5:19 remaining in the first quarter put West Haven in front 7-6.
The Westies put together another long drive, going 51 yards in ten plays. Just three seconds into the second quarter, Philips was in from two yards out and Gee ran in the conversion, giving West Haven a 15-6 lead.
West Haven coach Rich Boshea called the plays Friday evening, October 14, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
“It was a very emotional week,” West Haven acting head coach Rich Boshea said after improving to 3-0 in the head coaching role. “We lost which was tough, then, the next morning, I get the call about Eddie. It put the Notre Dame game in perspective.
“I thought we responded great. We had a very good week of practice. Everyone who needed to show leadership did. We did not let anything wreck our week of preparation.”
The Titans bounced right back, needing just one play to get within two points. Gannon hit A.J. Pascuzzo with a 63-yard scoring strike just 22 seconds later to get the Titans within 15-13.
Gee wasted no time helping the Westies put the game away. His 66-yard run on the first play from scrimmage following Sheehan’s score, set up Philips’ 8-yard score and a 21-13 lead.
Philips scored his fourth touchdown of the night as he raced in from 59 yards out with 6:24 remaining in the half. After forcing the Titans to punt,West Haven watched as Philips scored his fifth touchdown of the game from 12 yards out with 2:22 remaining in the half for a 34-13 West Haven lead.
“He (Philips) is a great player,” Boshea said of Philips. “Sometimes you forget he is only a sophomore. We look at him as a veteran and a veteran leader.
“I told him before the game he needed to have a big game. I am smart enough to know I have to give him the ball as many times as I can. We wanted to get the win any way we could, then get it back to Eddie (McCarthy).”
Sheehan, who used the no-huddle offense in the opening drives of the game, used six plays to get in scoring position. Corless rewarded his team with a 36-yard field goal to cut the deficit o 34-16.
Philips scored his sixth touchdown of the game when he raced in from 65 yards out on the first play from scrimmage to start the second half.
“He is only a sophomore (Ferrazzi said of Philips). “He is one of the best players in the state. He has a tremendous future ahead of him. He is the real deal.”
Sheehan wasted no time getting the score back as Jeremy Gannon scored from 61 yards out to cut the deficit to 41-23.
James Moore (two yards) and Duane Gary (49 yards) capped the scoring forWest Haven with rushing touchdowns.
Moore ran for 80 yards on 14 carries for West Haven, while Gary finished with 50 yards and a score.