THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS

Home Wreckers
Westies top Staples 33-23
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 8, 2023)
 - Not many people expected the West Haven football team to travel to Westport and come away with a victory over eighth-ranked Staples. The only thing that mattered was the Westies believed.
Behind great special teams play which produced a touchdown, another score by way of an interception, and two touchdown passes from Nick Conlan to Armani Reid, West Haven rallied to top Staples 33-23 in the season opener Friday evening.
Conlan and Reid hooked up early for a 6-0 lead as the conversion failed, but a 19-yard touchdown by Staples gave the home team a 7-6 lead after one quarter.
The Westies had chances to get on the board in the second quarter, but a turnover stalled one drive and a missed field goal stopped another.
Staples went on a 99-yard drive to take a 14-6 advantage, and after a missed West Haven field goal and a stalled Staples drive, DeMarco Eady returned a Staples punt 79 yards to even the game at 14 with 32 seconds left in the first half.  
Conlan then used his legs to get the Westies going again in the third quarter as he scampered 82 yards for a 21-14 lead.
With the game even at 21, Conlan and Reid hooked up once again. The 28-yard touchdown reception gave West Haven a 27-21 lead after three quarters.
Aedan Coe then came up with yet another big play for the Westies. With Staples threatening, Coe returned an interception 80 yards to give West Haven a 33-21 lead in the fourth quarter.

West Haven took a late safety as Staples ran out of time to mount a comeback.


Westies run by Law
WH improves to 2-0 with 47-14 win
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 14, 2023)
 - Two games in and the West Haven football team has opened some eyes. After an upset over Staples in the opening week, West Haven returned to the field for its “home” opener at Veterans Field against Jonathan Law Thursday evening.
Scoring on its first possession, West Haven never looked back in a 47-14 victory over Law. With the victory, West Haven improved to 2-0 on the year.
The Westies set the tone from the start as Camren Kemp scored on a 48-yard run for a 7-0 lead. After West Haven held Law, quarterback Nick Conlan connected with Armani Reid for a 41-yard scoring strike and 14-0 advantage with 2:20 remaining in the opening quarter.
West Haven’s defense then took over, scoring for the second straight week. With Law driving, Coryon Harris returned an interception 95 yards for the score and a 21-0 lead.
Law got on the board with just over three minutes to go in the half, but Conlan threw his second touchdown pass of the half, connecting with Demarco Eady on a 47-yard scoring strike for a 28-7 lead with 32 seconds to go in the first half.
Aedan Coe scored on a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the Westies, capping a 12-play drive with 5:19 left in the quarter.
Coe was at it again just eight seconds into the fourth quarter when his interception return for a score gave the Westies a 41-7 lead.

The Westies then used their special teams to set up their final score as a blocked punt gave the Westies possession at the Law one, before freshman Tyrome Stevenson ran in on the next play with 10:08 left in the contest.


Three Straight
Kemp, Reid lead WH past Ridgefield
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 22, 2023) 
- The West Haven football team is doing its best to avoid letdowns. Facing a winless Ridgefield team, the Westies were well aware of a trap game with Shelton and Hamden on the horizon.
The Westies had no such worries, jumping out to an early lead and rolling to a 42-7 victory over Ridgefield Friday evening at Veterans Field in West Haven.
Camren Kemp and Armani Reid each scored twice, and the West Haven defense allowed just a late second quarter touchdown in another impressive victory.
West Haven needed just two minutes to take a 7-0 lead as Kemp scampered 45 yards for a score just 2:02 into the game. After forcing the Tigers to punt, Reid raced 63 yards on the return for a 14-0 lead just 2:46 later.
Ya’Hinus Mercer increased the lead to 20-0 to start the second quarter, before Reid raced 43 yards for a 28-0 advantage with 7:31 left in the first half.
The Tigers got on the board with a 1-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half, but West Haven quarterback Nick Conlan restored order with a 68-yard touchdown run for a 35-7 advantage.

Kemp closed the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run with 5:29 left in the third quarter. 


Westies top Shelton
Conlan, Reid lead WH past Gaels
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 29, 2023)
 - West Haven senior Armani Reid and his teammates wanted to set the tone right from the start when the Westies traveled to play Shelton Friday evening.
Reid and company did exactly that, scoring early and never looking back, as second-ranked West Haven knocked off Shelton, the No. 6 team in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, 31-21 in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Finn Stadium in Shelton.
West Haven has now defeated a pair of top ten teams on the road, opening the season with a win at Staples.
Reid caught a pair of touchdown passes from Nick Conlan and finished with 109 yards receiving, and he also sealed the game with an interception as Shelton was trying to make a stunning fourth quarter comeback.
The balanced West Haven attack also saw Conlan run for 52 yards and throw for 172 yards and the two scores. Senior Camren Kemp ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.
“It’s great,” Reid said after his team improved to 4-0. “I know when our receivers have the ball in our hands, our running backs are taking breaks, and when the running back has the ball in his hands, we are taking our breaks.”
That attack helped West Haven jump out to a 10-0 lead, but, despite holding a 34-16 play advantage and a 158-14 advantage in yards in the opening half, West Haven led just 10-7 as Shelton’s defense forced a late second quarter score.
“He always does a great job,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said of Reid. “He is a great player, a great high school player. He is always bragging he is a great corner also besides being a great receiver. His catch over here was absolutely enormous to get us down to the 1-yard line.”
West Haven outgained the Gaels 368-181 in the game, but the Westies had to hold on as Shelton controlled the fourth quarter.
“The kids didn’t give up,” Shelton coach Mike DeFelice said after his team fell to 2-2. “We had a couple bad breaks. The weather obviously was a factor. We had some missed snaps, but they had some missed snaps too. You can’t really put the blame on that. We have to overcome those things. We missed tackles. We missed some blocks. Those aren’t going to cut it against a good team.”
After West Haven was stopped on fourth down to open the fourth quarter, Shelton needed three plays to go 77 yards, capped with a 59-yard touchdown run by David Dojlidko 3:55 in the final quarter to get the Gaels within 24-14.
A mix up on the ensuing kickoff had the Westies start at their own 2-yard line, before punting. The Gaels again struck quickly, needing three plays to get within 24-21 when Dojlidko scored from 27 yards out with 4:44 remaining in the fourth.
“They lined up how we thought they were going to line up and played the defenses we thought they were going to play,” DeFelice said. “It was a few miscues. We had a good thing going and we lose yards. It was little things that compounded going against a good team.”
West Haven recovered the onside kick at its own 47, and after a beautiful catch and run by Reid to the Shelton 3, Kemp capped the scoring drive with a 1-yard run just 56 seconds after Shelton got within striking distance.
“He sees what I see,” Reid said of Conlan. “We talk before the play, after the play. It’s just having the right communication with your quarterback to make huge plays like that.”
The Gaels had one final opportunity, but Reid’s interception with three minutes to go sealed the West Haven victory.
“Shelton is never going to quit,” Boshea said. “They are going to keep fighting and make big plays. Last year, it came down to an onside kick. We’re just never going to beat them by a lot. They are too good to have that happen.”
The stressful fourth quarter for West Haven did not take away from the impressive start by the Westies as they led 24-7 after three quarters.
“Our defense played great all game,” Boshea said. “They (Shelton) are too good. Eventually, they are going to find a way to get it going a little bit. Our defense gave us enough time and they really kept us ahead. Tom Unger really does a great job with scheming and coming up with a defensive strategy.”
West Haven marched on a 16-play, 79-yard drive on its opening possession of the game and took a 7-0 lead when Conlan hit Reid for an 18-yard scoring play. West Haven outgained Shelton 94-5 in the opening quarter and took a 10-0 lead when Raul Sanchez nailed a 28-yard field goal with 8:17 left in the second quarter.
The Westies appeared headed to halftime in control, but a backward pass from Conlan was not covered and Kanye Tinney picked up the loose ball and raced 37 yards for a score with 1:01 remaining in the opening half.
West Haven did not seem fazed, marching 56 yards in 10 plays to start the second half. Conlan hooked up with Reid, who brilliantly remained in bounds along the sideline, and found the endzone for a 17-7 lead 4:42 into the third quarter.
Following a Shelton punt, West Haven needed just six plays to go 61 yards, capped with Kemp’s 9-yard score with 1:57 left in the third quarter.

Dojlidko finished with 144 yards and two scores on 15 carries for the Gaels.


Westies top Hamden
Conlan, Kemp lead WH past Green Dragons
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 6, 2023)
 - Nick Conlan and Camren Kemp love the diversity of the West Haven offense. The pair has every reason to.
Behind three touchdown runs and a touchdown pass from Conlan, and 156 yards rushing and a score from Kemp on his birthday, West Haven rolled to a 47-21 victory over Hamden in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Hamden High Friday evening.
“I was like, I’m ready to get that dub,” Kemp said in his return to Hamden after transferring to West Haven earlier this year. “It’s my birthday. We had to show out. I’m glad my team could get the dub. It really meant a lot to me.
Conlan was on the money as well, connecting on 11-of-17 passes for 165 yards and the touchdown pass to Demarco Eady to give the Westies a 6-0 lead on the opening possession of the game.
“We knew it would be physical,” Conlan said after also rushing for 101 yards. “We knew they are big up front. They are a strong team. They usually always are.”
The Westies, ranked second in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, outgained Hamden 259-167 in the opening half, and it was big plays which had the momentum switching sides in the first 24 minutes.
Behind Conlan, West Haven gained 432 yards in the game and jumped out to a 20-0 lead before the Green Dragons stormed back.
Hamden used a 10-play, 66 -yard drive to get within 20-7 when Charles Hebron ran in from 2 yards out with 6:12 to go in the half, but it was a 35-yard connection between Jerard Gibson Jr. and Shijuan Young Jr. to the West Haven 40 on fourth down which gave Hamden life.
After stopping West Haven on its next possession, the Green Dragons looked as if they were taking control of the game, but West Haven’s Andrevion Dixon intercepted a Gibson pass inside the 10-yard line with 1:19 to go in the half.
“I thought the turning point was the interception before the half,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team improved to 5-0. “They are about to score and make it possibly 20-14. We tip the ball and intercept it. Cam (Kemp) runs a 64-yarder for a touchdown with 10 seconds left. I thought that was the turning point. It was a great series for the defense and offense.”
That play by Dixon allowed West Haven to take a 26-7 lead at the break as Camren Kemp raced in from 64 yards out with 10 seconds remaining in the half.
“We lacked discipline tonight and our lack of discipline caught up to us,” Hamden coach Tom Dyer said after his team fell to 3-2. “That’s a reflection of the job I am doing. I need to do a better job. We need to be more disciplined. We have opportunities. We were moving the ball at will in chunks tonight. We have to be able to finish. Our discipline backed us up with penalties. You can’t give teams free yards and free downs like that.”
The Green Dragons looked to get back in the game, but after stalling on its opening drive of the third quarter, Hamden watched West Haven take a 33-7 lead when Conlan ran in from 13 yards out.
Hebron’s second touchdown of the game got Hamden within 19, but West Haven iced the game with two touchdowns in less than 30 seconds.
Ya’Hinus Mercer scored from one yard out, before Avyon Graham intercepted Gibson on Hamden’s next offensive possession and returned the pick 12 yards for the score and a 47-14 lead.
West Haven set the tone of the game early as the Westies clicked on all cylinders, outgaining the Green Dragons 169-49 in the opening quarter, which saw the Westies take a 20-0 lead.
The Westies needed just five plays to go 49 yards to start the game, capped by a Conlan to Eady 35-yard touchdown connection.
After Hamden was stopped at the West Haven 10 on its initial possession of the game, West Haven marched 90 yards in 12 plays to take a 12-0 lead. The drive was kept alive on fourth and long because of a Hamden personal foul, and the Westies capitalized when Conlan ran in from 10 yards out with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
“We are a very difficult club to defend because we have Nick who is an explosive runner,” Boshea said of Conlan. “We have Nick who is a smart player, and we have Nick who can throw the ball to Demarco (Eady) or Armani (Reid) or Cam (Kemp) out of the backfield. It makes it so hard to defend the field against that many really good players.”.
The momentum continued for the Westies when Jayden Franklin recovered a Hamden fumble three plays later.
“We can’t turn the ball over in games like this and expect to win games,” Dyer said. “The discipline will be corrected. That’s on me.”
Conlan made Hamden pay when he scored on a 40-yard run. Armani Reid then took a bad snap and ran in the conversion for the 20-0 lead as time expired in the opening quarter.
“I think they were worried about Cam (Kemp), and it just opened up,” Conlan said. “As soon as they saw him (Kemp) go outside, everyone swarmed to him. It made it easy for me.”

Devin Sanders led Hamden with 105 yards rushing, while Gibson finished with 155 yards in the air and two interceptions.


Ground Control
Westies fall to North Haven 21-13
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 19, 2023)
 - The game plan was simple. The execution for the North Haven football team was to perfection.
Coming into the much-anticipated contest against the state’s second-ranked team with a powerful single wing offense, North Haven put on a clinic in topping West Haven 21-13 in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at the newly surfaced Ken Strong Stadium Thursday evening.
“I think, first of all, our kids do not have an identity crisis,” North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said after his team improved to 5-1. “They kind of know who they are, and I think all the credit goes to them. They put in the work. They executed. They played well. They had to play well down here. They had to and they did. I think West Haven brought out the best in us.”
Aside from running out the clock at the end of the first half, North Haven had just four possessions in the contest, scoring on three of them and running out the clock on the final possession of the game. The Nighthawks had three drives of 15 plays, and the final drive of 13 plays to kill the final eight minutes of the game after West Haven got within one score.
North Haven finished with 269 yards of offense, only eight coming in the air on just one pass play, in the contest. The Westies could not solve North Haven’s offensive scheme mainly because North Haven controlled the line of scrimmage from the start.
“We are just not as big and physical as they are,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team fell to 5-1. “It was a bad match up. They are a very good team. They are a physical, hard-running team, and we were a little light on our defensive line.”
On the flip side, West Haven was held to just 33 offensive plays and 175 yards of offense. Due to North Haven’s offense, West Haven had just four offensive possessions, scoring on just one.
The Westies looked out of sync on the offensive side. Quarterback Nick Conlan was 12-of-18 for 99 yards, but North Haven did not allow any big plays by West Haven on the offensive side.
“It looked like we were winning the line of scrimmage all night, and that’s important especially with their offense,” Sagnella said. “We play defense on offense tonight. That’s really what we did. You know how good they are. They are so explosive. They are so good.”
West Haven’s lone big play came to start the second half as Armani Reid took the opening kickoff and raced 72 yards for the score just 11 seconds into the second half to get West Haven within 14-7.
The Westies then recovered the onside kick and moved the ball to the North Haven 29, but the Nighthawks forced an incompletion on fourth down, and the North Haven moved on yet another 15-play drive.
The 71-yard drive started with 8:12 left in the third quarter and ended on the first play of the fourth quarter when Adam Pandolfi scored from one yard out for a 21-7 lead.
“The key was the offensive line and the lead blockers,” Pandolfi said after finishing with 82 yards on the ground. “Coach Sag (Sagnella) said before the game that this game was going to come down to whoever tackled and blocked the best. Tonight, West Haven has some really good players. They have some dogs over there. We blocked them, and we did as best we could on offense.”
After West Haven recovered the onside kick, the Westies rebounded quickly, needing just eight plays to move 51 yards. Conlan had a key 22-yard run, and Camren Kemp converted on third down, before scoring from one yard out with 8:18 left in the game.
West Haven went for two points, but the conversion failed, and West Haven trailed by eight, knowing a stop of Nort Haven’s precision offense was now necessary.
The Westies had that stop on fourth down, but West Haven was called for defensive holding for a North Haven first down.
After North Haven’s Cristopher Cretella converted a 4th-and-3, West Haven forced another fourth down in the final two minutes. The Westies were called for off-sides, giving North Haven a first down, and allowing the Nighthawks to run out the clock.
“They (North Haven) made great plays on defense when they had to and we didn’t make great plays on offense when we had to,” Boshea said. “They are a very good defensive team, and we were just a little bit off.”  
The Nighthawks set the tone of the game early, using a pair of 15-play drives to jump out to a 14-0 advantage in the first half. Not only did North Haven dominate on the scoreboard, the Nighthawks outgained the Westies 158-85 in the opening half, and at one point, held a 30-3 advantage in plays.
“It’s really everybody,” Sagnella said. “Come to a practice on Monday. We treat them all like offensive linemen. They all block. Everybody gets credit. Everybody is doing their job.”
West Haven could not figure out North Haven’s punishing single wing offense from the start as the Nighthawks marched 68 yards in 9:09 to open the contest, capped with a 13-yard touchdown run by Cretella with 2:51 remaining in the opening quarter.
After a holding penalty negated a large West Haven gain, the Westies were forced to punt on their opening possession and downed the Nighthawks at the North Haven 10.
Even the field position could not help the Westies as North Haven used another 15-play drive to march the 90 yards, converting on several key third and fourth-down plays.
When the drive ended with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by Camren Thompson, the Nighthawks led 14-0 and held an astounding 30-3 play advantage, and 158-17 yard advantage.
“Our offensive line does a very good job,” Pandolfi said. “We work on those drills in practice. Coach Sag says a drill is not useful unless you can see it on film. We work on drills like that all game.”
The Westies had one final chance to get on the scoreboard on just their second possession of the first half, but a pair of fumbles, the second of which was recovered by North Haven, stalled West Haven’s momentum at the North Haven 37 with less than a minute to go in the half.


​​Back on Track
Westies rebound to top Newtown
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 26, 2023)
 - When West Haven traveled to play fourth-ranked Newtown Friday evening, it was going to be interesting to see how the No. 7 Westies reacted to their first loss of the season just a week earlier.
Nick Conlan and company responded just fine. Behind five touchdown passes and 327 yards in the air by Conlan, West Haven defeated Newtown 41-31 to improve to 6-1 on the year.
West Haven’s defense came up with big plays throughout, starting with stopping Newtown inside the 20 on the opening drive of the game. Conlan wasted no time responding as his short pass to Camren Kemp was turned into a 69-yard score and 7-0 West Haven lead.
After Newtown evened the game at seven, West Haven needed just one play, a 55-yard scoring strike from Conlan to Armani Reid for a 14-7 advantage.
The West Haven defense again came up big with a goal line stand, then marched 99 yards for a 20-7 advantage after a 23-yard scoring run by Kemp.
Leading 20-9 heading into the second half, West Haven quickly turned the lead to 28-9 when Conlan hit Reid for the pair’s second scoring strike of the game.
A Conlan 59-yard touchdown pass to Eady gave West Haven a 34-16 lead late in the third quarter. With West Haven ahead 34-24, Conlan hit Reid for the third touchdown connection of the game between the two, a 77-yard completion with less than three minutes to go.



FOOTBALL 2023

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; Kyle Godfrey '17; Kyshawn Togba '21

WestieBlue

Westies thump ND
WH rolls to 46-6 victory
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(November 3, 2023)
 - The West Haven football team improved to 7-1 with a convincing 46-6 victory over cross-town rival Notre Dame on Senior Night Friday evening at Ken Strong Stadium.
Quarterback Nick Conlan hit on 8-of-9 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns, while Demarco Eady and Camren Kemp each scored twice, and Rui DaSilva scored on a 99-yard interception return.
The Westies took control of the game with 27 points in the first quarter. Kemp gave the Westies a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run, before Conlan hit Eady with a 29-yard scoring strike to increase the margin to 12-0.
A 10-yard run by Kemp followed by Conlan’s run on the conversion increased the lead to 20-0, before Armani Reid gave West Haven a 27-0 lead with a 72-yard punt return for a score.

The Westies increased the lead to 46-0 with 19 more points coming in the second quarter. Conlan hit Aedan Coe with a 6-yard scoring pass and followed with a 40-yard scoring strike to Eady, before DaSilva’s 99-yard interception return just before halftime gave West Haven a 46-0 advantage. 


Westies top Cheshire 
Reid and defense lead Westies
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(November 10, 2023)
 - The West Haven football team continued on its path to a postseason bid and home game to start the playoffs when the Westies traveled to defeat Cheshire 25-14 Friday evening.
The win for West Haven was its fourth on the road this season against Top 10 teams, and helped the Westies improve to 8-1 on the year.
West Haven got on the board first and took a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Camren Kemp. After Cheshire closed the opening quarter by using a 5-yard fumble return for a score to even the contest, the Westies took the lead for good with the next two touchdowns.
Aedan Coe capped a West Haven drive with a 5-yard score for a 13-7 halftime lead, and Demarco Eady took a short pass from Nick Conlan and raced 68 yards for a 19-7 advantage in the third quarter.
Leading 19-14 in the fourth quarter, the Westies put the game away with special teams and defense. Armani Reid was the difference maker as he picked up a punt deep in West Haven territory and raced 92 yards for the score and a 25-14 lead.
The West Haven defense forced six fumbles in the game, recovering five of those.

Please read Pete Paguaga's article in GameTimeCt below:
 
CHESHIRE — When you play against the West Haven football team, it’s not if, but when a big play will change the game.
On Friday night at the Maclary Athletic Complex, it came when Armani Reid received a punt inside his team’s own 10-yard line with his team clinging to a five-point lead late in the third quarter. 
The senior saw the punt rolling in front of two Rams’ defenders and stepped up to pick up the ball. He made one defender miss and stiff armed another and was off the races for a 92-yard score to ice the No. 3 Blue Devils’ 25-14 win over No. 6 Cheshire. 
I’ve got to go get this one,” Reid said he told himself. “So I went and got it and I saw the clear lane and made one (player) miss and I had a lot of blockers and I saw (the end zone).” 
It was Reid’s third punt return of the season and fourth touchdown on special teams. West Haven coach Rich Boshea said that the coaching staff has said no team will kick the ball to Reid, but Boshea reminded them that in high school sports anything can happen. 
“They made a mistake tonight and Armani made another one of his unbelievable fantastic punt returns,” Boshea said. 
Boshea said that Reid and Maloney’s Donte Kelly, who had five special teams touchdowns going into Friday’s game, should go head-to-head on return highlights. 
“Both are exciting players,” he said. “Armani is our guy here and we are really glad because we wouldn’t be 8-1 without him.”
Reid has been a top player for the Blue Devils (8-1, second in Class LL playoff rankings) for two seasons and has scored 13 touchdowns so far this year. Cheshire knew they couldn’t let him get the ball.
“At the end of the day, he is tremendous,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “He is dynamic and every time he touches the ball he can score. We know that; everyone in the state knows that and if they don’t they should because he can.”
The punt was a good one and if anyone but Reid was back there it would have pinned the Blue Devils back in their own territory, up less than a score, but Reid knew he had to make a play. 
“I stiff armed one (player) and I saw a wall of white (jerseys) and I just followed my blockers,” Reid said. 
The Reid touchdown was the exclamation point on a great night for his team, which forced six Cheshire fumbles and recovered five.
“After that North Haven (loss) a bunch of teams forgot West Haven has a good defense,” Reid said. “A lot of teams forgot, we had to remind them.”
Cheshire, which dropped to 7-2 and into eighth in the CIAC Class MM playoff rankings, was missing five starters due to injury, including its top player Matthew Jeffery, leading tackler Jack Brewster, and starting quarterback Aniston Marsh. “It hurts and it stings,” Drust said. “We had six turnovers or something like that, you can’t do that against a good football team, but I will never question how hard they play, their heart.”


Not Enough
Westies fall to Fairfield Prep
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(November 22, 2023)
 - For six weeks to start the season, the Fairfield Prep football team could not have imagined they would be in position to play for a postseason spot on the final day of the regular season. Three wins later, and the Jesuits had one mountain to climb, along with a bit of help to play in the postseason.
The Jesuits did their part, holding West Haven in check, and squeezing out a 21-14 victory in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Wednesday evening.
“It is not normal teams (six losses) when we have 17 seniors,” Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern said after his team improved to 4-6 and unofficially qualified for the postseason. “We are playing more sophomores this year than we ever have in the history of the program. That’s not a knock on anyone else. That’s kind of the way the cookie crumbled a little bit.
“We knew it would be hard. It was harder than we wanted it to be early on because we played great teams, and we weren’t playing complimentary football. We play a tough schedule. Our guys are battle-hardened. I have a tremendous coaching staff and tremendous young men.”
The Jesuits broke out to a 21-7 lead at the half, then relied on the defense in the second half to hold on to the victory.
After West Haven used eight plays to go 53 yards for a Nick Conlan to Armani Reid 16-yard touchdown, getting the Westies within 21-14, the Prep defense made several stands.
The Westies had a chance to tie the contest, facing fourth down at the Prep eight, but the Jesuit defense stopped Conlan one yard short of a first down with just over six minutes remaining.
After holding the Jesuits, West Haven had one final opportunity to even the contest, but Prep took advantage of some West Haven miscues, then sealed the contest when T.J. Cirilli’s interception gave Prep the ball with under five minutes to go.
Prep took all but 35 seconds off the clock, but West Haven was unable to generate any offense, falling for the sixth straight time against the Jesuits.
“It has to do with how well Prep played,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “We didn’t make plays that we have to make, and we didn’t do things we have to do to win the game. That comes from Prep playing really well. We knew it was a tough match up. They were fighting for their lives, and we just didn’t get it done when we had to.”
The Jesuits set the tone in the opening half, controlling play from start to finish on both sides of the ball. Fighting for a postseason bid, Prep amassed 210 yards of offense in the opening 24 minutes, and other than an interception returned for a touchdown by the Westies, were barely threatened.
Needing just four plays to move 56 yards on its opening possession, Fairfield Prep made things look easy when the drive ended on a 39-yard touchdown strike from Tyler Smith to Vincent Lombardo just 1:08 into the contest.
“It was massive,” Hellstern said of the opening drive. “It set the tone. That let us know we belonged here. I think we knew that. It is another step in the maturation of the team.”
West Haven could not recover a poor snap on its next possession, setting Prep up at the West Haven 49. When the Jesuits looked as if they were extending the lead to a pair of touchdowns, Coryon Harris picked off a pass by Smith and returned the interception 99 yards to get within 7-6 as the extra point failed.
The Westies failed to click on any cylinder in the opening half, including a poor snap on a punt attempt, giving the Jesuits possession at the West Haven 8. Three plays later, Prep led 14-6 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Jon Morris with 1:04 remaining in the opening quarter.
“Losing the first six games was very tough on us,” Smith said. “It almost seemed like we couldn’t even win in a way. It was in our minds. It was tough to win. Coming back and winning two games put is in the mindset of keep winning, keep pushing, and practice better.”
West Haven had its share of opportunities to get on the board to close the opening half, but two drives ended inside the 30, and the final play of the half fell incomplete with the Westies at the 5-yard line of the Jesuits.
While the Westies could not capitalize, Prep did, taking a 21-6 advantage with 1:03 remaining in the half on a 20-yard scoring strike from Smith to Finbar Malloy to cap a 14-play 73-yard drive.
“I can’t put it into words,” Hellstern said. “I said who are we. Are we the team that started 0-6 or are we the team that is 3-0 and starting to put it together and playing complimentary football?“West Haven is tremendous and explosive. They are always going to get up to play us and vice versa. We rose to the occasion and I could not be prouder.”


Westies top New Britain
WH advances to Class LL semifinals
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(November 28, 2023)
 - Heading into the postseason, third-seeded West Haven had plenty to think about. There were struggles of late to win in the postseason at home, and most currently, a loss to Fairfield Prep less than a week ago to conclude the regular season.
Not of that mattered Tuesday evening.
Behind the passing combination of Nick Conlan and Armani Reid, the running of Camren Kemp, and a decisive interception by Coryon Harris, West Haven topped sixth-seeded New Britain 28-14 in a Class LL quarterfinal contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
“It is not our kind of night obviously,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team improved to 9-2. “We dropped a lot of balls, but our defense played pretty well, and our guys made plays when they really had to. New Britain played very well. We got the W and that’s our main thing.”
The Westies, who are also ranked seventh in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, will travel to play second-seeded Greenwich, a 47-21 winner over Stamford, in Greenwich Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m.
“It was pretty good,” Conlan said of the team’s passing game. “We saw some things we never saw before. We didn’t see many blitzes. Usually, teams blitz a lot. They started to do it towards the end. It was something new. We knew we had to sit in the holes, find the open space, sit there, and I would throw it to them.”
Despite windy and frigid conditions, Conlan was on the mark against the Hurricanes, completing 13-of-23 passes for 159 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Conlan’s line could have been better if not for several dropped passes early on when West Haven was looking to get on the scoreboard.
“He throws a good ball into the wind because his throws are sharp and tight,” Boshea said of Conlan. “They (Reid and Conlan) just know each other well. They have that feel. They play a lot of seven on seven together, and they know each other’s moves. Armani is a money player and Nick is a money player.”
Conlan and Reid were in sync throughout the game, as the duo connected ten times for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Leading 6-0, Conlan hit Reid for a 19-yard score and a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. It was the duo’s connection with 5:08 left in the game which was the final dagger, giving West Haven a 28-7 lead.
“Talking before the plays,” Reid said of the connection with him and Conlan. “Talking after the plays. During practice. After practice. Always having a connection with your quarterback. Let him know I got your back.”
While the passing of the Westies helped move the ball, it was the running game which set the tone in the second half as Kemp scampered 56 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead on the first offensive play from scrimmage for the Westies.
The Hurricanes wasted no time responding, needing just six plays to go 68 yards. After a 41-yard run by Jayden Allen put the ball at the West Haven six, Cayden Hill ran in the final six yards on the next play to get the Hurricanes within 14 points.
“I am proud of our guys, the way we performed.” New Britain coach Isaiah Boddie said after his team completed the year with a 6-5 record. “Obviously, there are some things we left out on the table we wish we could have back. West Haven, they deserve it. Best of luck to them. They did a great job.”
The Hurricanes then had two straight offensive possessions to get back in the game, but Reid made a key fourth down stop on the first, and Harris intercepted a Donovan Campbell pass on the next.
The interception by Harris set the Westies up at the New Britain 13, before Conlan hit Reid from nine yards out and a 28-7 lead.
“I thought Coryon’s interception turned the game around,” Boshea said. “They had the ball and could have made it a one score game. We picked it off, go down here, and go up two scores.”
Campbell hit Israel Dandrade with a 35-yard scoring pass with less than two minutes to go in the game, but the Hurricanes never got closer.
The first half was dominated by the Westies as they held New Britain to just 90 yards of offense. While the windy and frigid temperatures could have altered the offense, Conlan thrived, completing 8-of-14 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
With West Haven leading 6-0 and both offenses struggling to get going, Conlan helped give the Westies a 14-0 lead when he drove the Westies 58 yards in five plays.
“It is amazing, especially for me and a couple of other guys as this is our first playoff win in forever, honestly,” Conlan said. “It is our first (postseason) win at home in a while. It is just amazing.”
Conlan completed three passes on the drive to Reid for 60 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown reception with 1:59 remaining in the half. Reid then took a pitch from Conlan on the conversion for the 14-0 lead.
West Haven did not get much going on the ground in the opening half, but the Westies took a 6-0 lead on their second possession of the contest when Ya’Hinus Mercer plunged in from one yard out to cap a 6-play, 57-yard drive with 2:12 remaining in the opening quarter.
New Britain moved the ball at times behind the running of Allen, who finished the game with 149 yards on the ground, but never completed a first half drive with a score. The Hurricanes never got further than the West Haven 42 in the opening half as Allen rushed for 40 yards.The Hurricanes also could not capitalize as West Haven recovered two of its own first half fumbles.


Championship Bound
WH advances to Class LL finals with win over Greenwich
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(December 3, 2023)
 - For the first time in two decades, the West Haven football team is headed back to the state finals.

Behind two touchdown passes and a pair of touchdown runs by Nick Conlan, the Westies topped Greenwich 26-13 in the Class LL semifinals at Greenwich Sunday afternoon.

Looking for their first state title since defeating Greenwich in 2002, the Westies will play Staples Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University. West Haven defeated Staples in the season opener in September. 

Trailing 6-0, West Haven evened the game when Conlan hit Armani Reid in stride for a 77-yard touchdown pass and a 6-6 tie.

The Westies took the lead for good in the third quarter as Conlan scored on a 44-yard scamper, then increased the margin to 18-6 when Conlan hit Demarco Eady for a 21-yard score.

Clinging to an 18-13 lead, Conlan scored from four yards out in the final two minutes to seal the win.


Read Pete Paguaga's article on GameTimeCT:

GREENWICH — West Haven’s Armani Reid celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday, but he couldn’t help himself from looking ahead to Sunday.
Yes, he received gifts, but there was nothing more he wanted for his milestone birthday than a chance to win a state championship. 
The senior had a big game, catching a 77-yard touchdown to kickstart his team then later intercepting a pass to lead third-seeded West Haven to a 26-13 win over second-seeded Greenwich in the Class LL semifinals. 
“This is it, this is what I was waiting for, I didn’t really care about that day, I cared about the next (day),” Reid said with a laugh. “We beat a real good team, but my team is real good, too.”
West Haven advances to the Class LL championship for the first time since 2003. The Westies will face top-seeded Staples at Arute Field at Central Connecticut State University on Saturday at 5 p.m.
“All I know is we will give it our best shot,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “I don’t know who will win or lose, but we will play our best game.” 
The two teams met Week 1 when West Haven won the game 33-23.
“We know that they’re coming for vengeance and when people have something to prove they put in 110-percent into what they have to do,” Reid said. “So, we are going to have to put in 120-percent.”
Reid’s long touchdown came on a third-and-20 and was the first of three touchdowns the Blue Devils scored on third or fourth down. All three came from 10 yards or further to go for a first down.
Facing a third-and-10, West Haven junior quarterback Nick Conlan dropped the snap, picked it up and ran 44 yards for the touchdown that gave West Haven the lead in the third quarter. That was followed up by a 21-yard screen pass touchdown from Conlan to Demarco Eady on fourth and 14 to extend the lead for good. 

“Great players are going to make great plays and they made more plays than we did today,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “It wasn’t for a lack of hustle, it wasn’t for a lack of effort.”

Greenwich scored a touchdown on its first drive of the game, but that was the only time they led.


Title Denied
WH falls to Staples in Class LL final
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(December 3, 2023)
 - The dream season has ended for the West Haven football team. Coming up one yard short, West Haven fell to Staples 21-20 in the Class LL championship at Arute Field at Central Connecticut State University Saturday evening.
Nick Conlan was 20-of-28 in the air for 201 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Conlan also ran in a touchdown, while Camren Kemp ran 27 times for 134 yards.
Trailing 21-14, West Haven marched on a 9-play, 70-yard drive, capped with Conlan’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Armani Reid on fourth down with 1:15 remaining in the game. The Westies went for the two-point conversion, but Conlan’s pass to Reid was stopped just short of the goal line.
Staples recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to deny West Haven its first state championship since 2002.
West Haven seemed to be in control for a major part of the game, but the Westies failed to score on three possessions inside the 25-yard line of Staples. Those three possessions would prove to be the difference in the game.
After stalling at the Staples’ 21 on the opening drive of the game, West Haven took a 6-0 lead as a 14-play, 68-yard drive was capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by Conlan with 8:49 left in the half for a 6-0 lead.
Staples needed just three plays to march 74 yards and take a 7-6 lead as Alex von Seggern Fiala raced 56 yards, before quarterback Caleb Smith scored from seven yards out one play later.
The Westies quickly responded with an 8-play, 50-yard drive as Conlan hit Reid for a 9-yard score, before the pair connected again on the conversion for a 14-7 lead.
Reid had eight receptions for 104 yards in the game.
After an interception by West Haven’s Devin Gardner, the Westies had a golden opportunity to increase the lead before the half, but the drive ended at the Staples 22.
Staples got within 14-13 late in the third quarter, before it appeared West Haven would again answer quickly. West Haven’s drive stalled at the Staples’ 13, allowing the Wreckers to march on a 9-play, 87-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead with 4:59 to go.
The turning point came on third down when Smith avoided a sack and launched a 47-yard completion to Sam Petrosino to the West Haven 40. Instead of punting, Staples needed six plays to take the lead for good when Smith scored from 10 yards out.
The thriller ended in fitting fashion as Conlan marched his team down the field. Conlan connected with Demarco Eady for 13 yards, Reid for 17 and 22, before hitting Eady for a 10-yard completion to the Staples’ five.
Conlan hit Reid for the score on fourth down, but the title dreams ended just short of the goal line on the conversion attempt.Eady finished with seven receptions for 70 yards in the game.