Westies open season with 52-16 win over Harding
By MIKE MADERA
(September 10, 2021) - After a year off, the West Haven football team was certainly excited to get back on the field. That excitement showed in a hurry in the season opener Friday evening.
Looking to get off to a quick start, the Westies did exactly that and cruised to a 52-16 victory over Harding at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
The Westies turned to a variety of players and found different ways to score in the first game since teams were allowed to play meaningful games on the field.
Tamayo Ferreira (2) scores against Harding, September 10, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven’s first score of the season came on a 10-yard run by senior Amir Nakome and was followed by the extra point from sophomore Raul Sanchez for a 7-0 lead. A safety extended the lead to 9-0, before West Haven’s passing game got going.
Junior Preston Denno found senior Chauncey Evans for a 45-yard scoring strike and a 15-0 lead. Junior Deven Robinson helped increase the lead to 22-0 with a 39-yard touchdown run, before the special teams got in on the fun.
Senior Tamayo Ferreira put West Haven on top 29-0 with a 39-yard punt return for a touchdown. When Nakome scored on his second touchdown run of the night, this one from 61 yards, the Westies were up 36-0.After Harding got within 36-8 on a 20-yard touchdown run, junior Trevor Tompkins scored on a 30-yard run for a 44-8 lead. West Haven’s final points came when freshman Nick Conlon hooked up with Ferreira for a 28-yard score.
Senior Jamaine Galloway took in the two-point conversion for the 52-16 final.
Westies fall to Hamden 13-6 in overtime
By MIKE MADERA
(September 17, 2021) - The West Haven football team fell to 1-1 with a 13-6 overtime loss in Hamden Friday night. Unable to get going on offense and struggling with special teams, the Westies suffered their first loss of the season.
West Haven fell to Hamden, September 17, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven’s lone touchdown came late in the second quarter when junior Avian Evans fumbled on the Hamden 3-yard line, but junior quarterback Preston Denno picked up the loose ball and scored. The extra point was blocked, which proved to be a key point in the game.
Hamden tied the contest with just under 8 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Green Dragons knotted the contest at 6 when Camyran Winder raced 81 yards with an interception return for a score.
The loss overshadowed what was a terrific effort by West Haven’s defense, including stopping Hamden inside the West Haven 20 in the final seconds of the opening half.
Unfortunately for the Westies, they had punts blocked, an extra point blocked, and could not convert other than the one score when in Hamden territory.
Westies top Middletown 20-16
By MIKE MADERA
(September 24, 2021) - WEST HAVEN – Both the Middletown and West Haven football teams entered Friday evening’s battle in unfamiliar territories. With each team struggling to start the season, something had to give.
What gave was the play of a trio of backs from the Westies.
Led by the running of juniors Deven Robinson, Avian Evans and Trevor Tompkins, West Haven rallied for a 20-13 victory over the Blue Dragons at Ken Strong Stadium.
“We played really tough,” Tompkins said after rushing for 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “We worked really hard this week. It was a tough loss (last week), but we knew we had to come back and pick it up.”
Trailing 16-13 after Middletown sophomore quarterback Colin Skene connected with Matthew Steuerwald on a 71-yard scoring strike with 7 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Westies went to work.
Behind a bruising offensive line, which helped the Westies rush for 377 yards in the game, West Haven needed just six plays to march 67 yards. The big play was a 46-yard run by Robinson, before Tompkins capped the drive with a 1-yard score with 4:58 to go for a 20-16 lead.
“We executed,” Robinson said after running for 170 yards on 14 carries. “We followed our blocks. Our offensive line did a great job tonight. We hit the holes. We could not have done it without them.”
West Haven then had a pair of tests to pass. With Skene finishing 23-of-33 for 281 yards and a scoring strike, Middletown would get the ball back two more times with a chance to win the game.
On a 4th-and-7, West Haven held the Blue Dragons one yard short of the first down with three minutes to go. After West Haven failed to convert a first down to ice the game, Skene and company had one final chance.
West Haven again held firm. Despite the Blue Dragons marching to the West Haven 25, the Westies forced an incomplete pass on fourth down to end any thought of a Middletown comeback in the final seconds.
“We battled tonight,” Middletown coach Sal Morello said after his team gained over 300 yards of offense. “We stayed with it. I am really proud of the kids’ effort. They answered the challenge and responded the way I had hoped. I am proud of their effort.”
The Westies jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter. After turning the ball over inside the Middletown 10 on its opening possession, West Haven took the first lead of the contest with a 7-play, 53-yard drive.
Evans, who finished the game with 147 yards on 16 carries, was the key to the drive, running for 34 of those yards. The junior capped the drive with a 17-yard scamper for a score with 4:43 to go in the first quarter.
“The offensive line is always the key,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “They did a great job tonight. Nick Conlan did a great job in his first start as a freshman. He was the leader out there. You have to give Middletown credit. They area tough team which came to play tonight. Credit to Sal and his team.”
Heading into the contest, Boshea was worried about the play of his special teams. Those concerns continued in the opening half as the Blue Dragons capitalized on West Haven’s miscues to get on the board and tie the contest.
A bad snap by the Westies on a punt after their next possession gave Middletown possession at the West Haven 22-yard line. The Blue Dragons needed just two plays to capitalize when David De’Leon scored from 11 yards out with 8:03 left in the first half.
West Haven appeared to remain in front when the extra point sailed wide, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Blue Dragons another shot and Griffin Ladd capitalized to even the game.
The Westies did not take long to take the lead again as they marched 69 yards on 11 plays to go back in front 13-7. Evans had the big run in the drive with a 17-yard scamper, before Tompkins put the Westies in front 13-7 with a bruising 6-yard run with 3:07 to go in the half.
Middletown blocked the extra point, keeping the West Haven lead at six.
“Avian stepped up,” Boshea said. “He had a very good game. He had a great game running the ball and a great game at corner.
“Our defense did a great job. Their quarterback (Skene) is excellent and their receivers are excellent. It was a great effort.”
The Blue Dragons inched closer before the half and could have gotten more if not for three penalties stalled their last drive. Ladd saved the Blue Dragons as he booted a 36-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining in the half to cut West Haven’s lead to 13-10.
Westies nip Fairfield Warde 27-20
By MIKE MADERA
(October 1, 2021) - After suffering a its first loss of the season against Hamden, the West Haven football team has responded in fine fashion. The Westies have bounced back with a pair of wins, including a 27-20 victory over Fairfield Warde Friday evening in Fairfield.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, West Haven got on the board and cut the deficit to one when freshman Nick Conlan connected with Jamaine Galloway on a 10-yard scoring pass. When the kick failed, West Haven trailed 7-6 at the half.
The third quarter saw a different West Haven team as the Westies rallied for three touchdowns and took a 27-14 lead.
West Haven took the lead for good when Paul Williams ran in from two yards out on West Haven’s opening possession. When Conlan hit Trevor Tompkins on the two-point conversion, West Haven led 14-7.
After Warde fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Conlan then helped West Haven to a 21-7 lead when he connected with Chauncey Evans on a 10-yard scoring strike. Raul Sanchez kicked the extra point to give West Haven a 21-7 lead.
Ahead 21-14, West Haven scored the eventual winning touchdown late in the third quarter.
Following a big 77-yard run by Trevor Tompkins on third down, Amir Nakome scored on an 8-yard run. The conversion failed, keeping West Haven on top 27-21.
Tompkins finished with 141 yards on the ground.
Westies click on all cylinders to thump Foran
By MIKE MADERA
(October 15, 2021) - The West Haven football team improved to 4-1 with its third straight victory Friday evening. Dominant from the start, the Westies topped Foran 53-0 at Ken Strong Stadium.
Senior Paul Williams gave West Haven a 7-0 lead when his 3-yard score was followed by the extra point of Raul Sanchez. The Westies increased the lead to 14-0 when Deven Robinson scored from four yards out.
Senior Amir Nakome scored the first of his two touchdowns, a 10-yard run for a 21-0 advantage.
The defense was not to be forgotten in this game as Preston Denno recovered a fumble for a 27-0 advantage, and Aedan Coe returned an interception 38 yards for a score and a 53-0 advantage.In between, West Haven added three more scores.
Nakome scored on a 38-yard strike with freshman quarterback Nick Conlan, Robinson ran in his second touchdown of the game from 43 yards out, and Savien Danley scored from four yards out.
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
THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
Westies cruise past Hillhouse 35-13
By MIKE MADERA
(October 22, 2021) - NEW HAVEN – Since a heartbreaking loss to Hamden, the West Haven football team has been on a mission. That Westies are playing as such.
Behind three touchdowns for Deven Robinson and two more from Amir Nakome, West Haven defeated Hillhouse 35-13 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division II contest at Bowen Field in New Haven Friday evening.
West Haven has now won four games in a row and has improved to 5-1 entering next week’s home showdown against Notre Dame – West Haven.
“We run the ball really well,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “We would like to pass the ball a little more, but sometimes you have to do what you are good at. (Quarterback) Nick Conlan is a freshman. He throws the ball very well. We do not want to put too much pressure on him. We have all the confidence in the world in him, but we want to put it on the seniors’ and older kids’ shoulders. Whatever he gives us is gravy. We ran very well tonight.”
West Haven has quietly gone about its business since the loss and Friday evening was much of the same. Controlling a large portion of the contest, West Haven rebounded after surrendering a pair of fumble recoveries for Hillhouse scores in the first half.
West Haven, very much alive for a postseason bid, ran for five touchdowns, scored a safety on defense and never allowed Hillhouse to use its speed to hurt the Westies.
“It is a team effort,” Robinson said after running for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. “We just follow our blocks. We just run hard, hit the holes and break tackles. We work hard. It shows with all the work we put in at practice.”
West Haven dominated play in the first half, but only went to the intermission ahead 20-13. Boshea had to have mixed emotions with the offense as the Westies outgained Hillhouse 198-48 in the opening half, but fumbled twice to lead to a pair of Hillhouse fumble returns for touchdowns.
“This is a huge win for us,” Boshea said. “The main thing is everyone stayed together. No one pointed any figures when they scored on the fumbles. We had a good positive attitude and got it right back.”
Ahead 14-0 and looking to blow the game open, West Haven saw the momentum of the game shift to the Academics.
On second down, Hillhouse sacked West Haven freshman quarterback Nick Conlan, forcing a fumble. Hillhouse senior Lee Granger picked up the fumble and raced 41 yards for the score, getting the Academics within 14-7.
The Westies went back to the ground game, but that had a poor ending as well.
The Academics (1-5) forced another fumble and Frank Daniley scooped up the loose ball and returned the fumble 50 yards for the score. West Haven blocked the extra point, retaining a 14-13 lead with 6:26 remaining in the half.
“I am proud of the kids,” Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. “They worked hard. There was a lot of fight in them. We have fought all year and we will continue to fight. I am very proud of how hard they played.”
With all the momentum now on their side, the Academics needed a big stop. That did not happen as West Haven marched 63 yards in nine plays, capped by a 16-yard touchdown run by Nakome with 2:16 left in the half for a 20-13 advantage.
“This is a really good team we have,” Nakome said after running for a pair of touchdowns and 128 yards on 15 carries. “We have a lot of good talent. We are a strong team. We fought hard to come out with the win. We fought back after they scored. One mistake does not define us. We stay together.”
West Haven controlled the game at the start, outgaining Hillhouse 84-10 in the opening quarter. The Westies made it look easy on their opening drive, marching 51 yards on seven plays, capped by an 11-yard score by Robinson 2:37 in.
After West Haven turned Hillhouse aside later in the opening quarter, the Westies started a drive which ended 2:11 into the second quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run by Nakome. Robinson ran in the conversion for a 14-0 lead, before Hillhouse cashed in on a pair of West Haven fumbles.
The Westies put the game away in the third quarter when Robinson sandwiched touchdown runs of five and two yards around a safety when a Hillhouse snap went out of the endzone.
Westies run past ND
WH tops Green Knights 27-20 in Soderman Bowl
By MIKE MADERA
(October 29, 2021) - WEST HAVEN – Amir Nakome loves his offensive line. Why wouldn’t he?
Behind a bruising line, Nakome ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns to lead West Haven to a 27-20 victory over cross-town rival Notre Dame in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Friday evening.
West Haven’s victory brought the Soderman Bowl title to the campus of West Haven High following a two-year absence (Notre Dame won in 2019 and no game in 2020). The victory was West Haven’s third in four games for West Haven against the Green Knights.
“Notre Dame is a great team,” Nakome said. “We had to follow our offensive line. I love our line. We can’t do anything without them. They do a great job blocking for us.”
Leading 13-6 at the half, West Haven wasted no time extending the margin when it needed just six plays to march 70 yards.
Deven Robinson and Nakome were at the center of it all as Robinson opened with a 16-yard run and Nakome ran for 20 more. Robinson closed the drive with a 19-yard score for a 20-6 lead with 2 minutes, 32 seconds gone by in the third quarter.
Notre Dame, playing without starting quarterback Matthew Piechota who was injured in the opening quarter and did not return, tried to mount a comeback. The Green Knights could not convert, watching as their first two possessions of the second half ended on downs.
“It is unfortunate we lost our quarterback on the second series of the game,” Notre Dame coach Joe DeCaprio said after his team fell to 3-4. “It changes the whole complexion of our offense. He (Anthony Young) played well. We had to change our calls with him (Piechota) out of the game.”
With the Green Knights looking to hang around, West Haven came up with another big play. That play came from junior Avian Evans who turned a third-and-2 into an 82-yard touchdown run for a 27-6 lead with 5:37 to go in the game.
“We ran the ball really well,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team improved to 6-1. “We wanted to stay with our ground game. Amir and Deven did a great job. Avian, I know he is small, but he has a heart as big as the high school. It ended up being the winning touchdown.”
While the score by Evans looked to be insurance, it turned out to be the winning score as Notre Dame mounted a late comeback.
Young found Matteao Petruzziello for a 6-yard score with 1:44 remaining to get the Green Knights within 27-14, before West Haven turned the ball over on downs with less than a minute to go. Jacob Staton took a lateral 55 yards for a score to get Notre Dame within 27-20 with 26 seconds to go.
The Green Knights then looked to recover the onside kick, but the furious run in the final two minutes fell short.
“This really means a lot to the kids,” Boshea said. “It is a cross-town rivalry. You remember every Notre Dame game. This is my 41st game and I can tell you everything that happened. We are very proud of our record (against Notre Dame).”
The first half saw its share of miscues as the two teams combined for four fumbles, with three going in the direction of the opposing team. West Haven was the beneficiary as the Green Knights’ first fumble came while driving in for a potential score.
Notre Dame’s second fumble was again recovered by West Javen’s Jamaine Galloway, his second recovery of the game. Galloway’s recovery at the Notre Dame eight, led to a two-play drive which was capped by a 3-yard score by Nakome with 4:45 left in the opening quarter.
“Any turnover hurts, especially when it’s early,” DeCaprio said. “We were moving the ball and we fumbled. I thought we regrouped, but West Haven went down the field and that hurt us.”
The Green Knights, who lost starting quarterback Piechota in the first half and running back Jacob Staton for a portion of the opening half, rebounded with a long 79-yard drive to tie the score at six with 9:09 left in the opening half.
The 17-play drive of the Green Knights was capped by a 5-yard scoring run by Young, who replaced Piechota behind center. Young completed a pair of passes for 38 yards on the drive, with a big 25-yard connection to Austin Granata and a 13-yard strike to Petruzziello.
West Haven answered quickly on offense after being off the field for seven minutes. The Westies had a long drive of their own as an 81-yard march in 13 plays ended when Nakome scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from six yards out for a 13-6 lead with 1:38 remaining in the opening half.
“We are a little more physical with the Wing-T,” Boshea said. “Our pulling guards wear you down. Our tackles, Kyshawn (Togba) and Joe Hawkins do a tremendous job blocking.”Freshman quarterback Nick Conlan had a key completion of 14 yards to Preston Denno, before 12 runs produced 67 yards.
Nakome finished the opening half with 70 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Holy, Denny make key stop in 21-14 win over Cheshire
By MIKE MADERA
(November 5, 2021) - WEST HAVEN - It was always going to come down to the last play. There was never a question.
When West Haven was stopped inches short of a first down with less than two minutes remaining, Cheshire had to march 85 yards to score the tying touchdown.
The Rams came up two yards short.
Behind the game-saving tackle between Connor Holy and Preston Denno to stop Cheshire quarterback Matthew Jeffery at the West Haven 2-yard line as time expired, West Haven hung on to defeat Cheshire 21-14 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Friday evening.
“We were ready for the quarterback draw, but were expecting the run,” Holy said after his team won its sixth game in a row. “We did a good job containing (Christian) Russo. The defense just smashed all night.”
“The tight end was blocking me and I was going to play man,” Denno said. “I saw the quarterback roll and I was able to shed my block and crack the quarterback.”
The game-saving play came after the Westies failed to convert on 4th-and-2 when Amir Nakome was stopped inches short of the Cheshire 15 with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Jeffery, who along with running back Christian Russo returned from injury to play this game, calmly drove the Rams down the field. The senior quarterback hit on passes of 13 and seven yards, before running for six yards to the Cheshire 40 on 4th-and-4.
Jeffery then hit Tristan Washington with a 50-yard connection to the West Haven 15 with under a minute to go. Russo ran to the 1-yard line three plays later, but an incompletion, and a penalty drove Cheshire back to the 6, before Jeffery was stopped two yards short as time expired.
“These are two really good football teams,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said after his team fell to 4-4. “They made the play at the end and we made the play on fourth down down there.”
West Haven (7-1) took the lead for good with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the game as Nakome scored from 3 yards out to cap a 13-play, 78-yard drive. Nakome set up his go-ahead score with runs of 16 and 14 yards.
“That is exactly what it was,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said of his team effort. “Every kid came to play and did their job. We are one step closer (postseason). We can start looking at other scores and there is meaningful football. I was very depressed the last three years. These kids worked their way through COVID and Coach (Tom) Unger did a great job in the weight room when nothing was going on. We kept everyone together. That was the key. This is a great group of kids. They are well behaved. They really deserve this.”
West Haven’s defense was the key to the game as it held Cheshire senior Christian Russo to 99 yards on the ground after Russo opened with a 60-yard run to start the contest. Jeffery also marked his return to the Rams and finished 10-of-16 for 156 yards.
“Our defense is very good,” Boshea said. “Every week we have a great plan. (Mark) Ecke, (Tom) Unger, (Mike) DeVitto, and (Mark) Manes have a great package for these kids every week. We were able to do a good job against a great running back in Russo”
The first half saw its share of big plays and each team had its own. With Cheshire welcoming back Jeffery and Russo, the offense had a new look.
After stopping West Haven on its initial drive of the game, the Rams were marching down the field until West Haven’s Chauncey Evans stepped in front of a Jeffery pass and raced 75 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 7-0 West Haven lead with 5:52 remaining in the opening quarter.
“Cheshire is very good,” Boshea said. “They are a well-coached team. They do a good job over there.”
The Rams (4-4) wasted no time tying the contest as they used 11 plays to drive 59 yards for the equalizer. Jeffery connected with Washington for 17 yards, before Jeffery scampered in from 10 yards out with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
The Westies had another drive moving in the right direction, before Cheshire held. The Rams needed just two plays to take the lead when Jeffery found a wide-open Daniel Zawalich for a 46-yard score with 3:16 gone by in the second quarter.
“I am really proud of these kids,” Drust said. “They came down here against a good football team and played as well as they did. That’s what football games should be like. It was a tremendous high school football game. I am proud of the kids and proud of their effort. We will learn from it and get better from it.”
Looking to slow down the Cheshire offense, the Westies went exclusively to the ground. West Haven ran 12 consecutive times and capped the 65-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run by Nakome with 2:07 remaining in the opening half.West Haven gained only 25 yards in the opening quarter, but trailed the Rams just 165-103 in terms of first half yardage. Nakome finished with 98 yards rushing, while Robinson added 85 in the West Haven win.
Westies take step towards postseason with win over Cross
By MIKE MADERA
(November 11, 2021) - The West Haven football team took a step towards playing in the postseason with a 48-0 victory over Wilbur Cross Thursday evening at Bowen Field in New Haven. With the victory, West Haven improved to 8-1 on the year.
With several different scenarios for teams to qualify for postseason play, West Haven is in that mix. A win over Fairfield Prep in the regular season finale would assure the Westies a spot without any help from other teams.
Avian Evans scored twice in the contest as the Westies scored six times on the ground.
Deven Robinson gave West Haven a 6-0 lead with a 3-yard touchdown run, before Paul Williams scored from one yard out followed by the 2-point conversion from Robinson.
West Haven’s defense got into the act when Connor Holy returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.Evans scored the first of his two touchdowns with a 20-yard run, before Amir Nakome scored on a 38-yard run. Evans then scored on a 38-yard run of his own, before Savien Danley capped the scoring with a 21-yard score.