Rocky Hill vs. Wethersfield Highlights Kickoff Weekend
Rocky Hill and Wethersfield won’t have to wait long to renew their crosstown rivalry. The two schools clash this Friday night at Rocky Hill High School. It’s the second year in a row that the powerhouse programs will meet to kick off the high school football season.
The neighboring schools are both coming off terrific seasons and put on an offensive exhibition during last season’s opener, a game that Rocky Hill won 39-26. The victory was the Terriers second consecutive against their rivals, also defeating the Eagles 40-21 in 2009.
This season’s matchup should look vastly different from last season. It will be the first game in the Mark Fritz-era at Rocky Hill. Fritz took over for the departing Dave Coyne, who retired following the 2013 playoff season. On the other side of the field, Wethersfield has veteran coach John Campanello and his highly efficient offensive back for another season.
The most intriguing aspect of the game is to see how Wethersfield’s senior signal caller Matt Sanzaro attacks Rocky Hill’s young defensive secondary, led by Jason Carducci and Grant Nieves.
Come early, because McVicar Field should be packed for this border-battle. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Here’s what else is happening on the gridiron this weekend.
Newington @ Fitch
New head coach Eric Hennessy and Newington have to travel to Groton and play the Fitch Falcons to kick off the season. The Indians are hoping to win their opening game for the second consecutive season, last year pasting Beacon Academy 52-22 at home.
Fitch is led by second-year head coach Jordan Pannucci, whose team struggled to find consistency during a 4-win 2013. Newington’s potent passing attack will challenge Fitch’s fierce defensive backfield. Indian’s dynamic wide receivers Kyle Armour and Andrew Grenier will be pitted against the Falcons’ cornerback tandem of Cooper Robinson and Jonathan Johnston.
The out-of-conference game is Friday at Fitch High School. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
Cromwell @ North Branford
Cromwell is anxious to erase a disappointing 2013 season and they will be tested directly out of the gate, facing division-rival North Branford to open the season. The Thunderbirds won last season’s contest 24-6, which was their third victory in as many seasons over the Panthers.
Cromwell head coach Chris Eckert will look to avoid a fourth straight loss by relying on Kristian Sapp and his ground game to keep the ball away from North Branford’s athletic quarterback Eddie Miller, who is capable of using his arm and legs to amass huge chunks of yardage. The Thunderbirds also have a stout defensive, led by defensive captain Mike Kaiser, who can stuff the run and pressure the passer.
The conference clash is scheduled for Friday at North Branford High School. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.
Middletown @ East Lyme
This is a rematch of last season’s opener, in which Middletown trounced East Lyme 41-14. However, this time the contest has shifted to shores of East Lyme, where the Vikings won three games in head coach Rudy Bagos’ first season on the sidelines.
Middletown’s Dario Highsmith will make his first regular season appearance since capturing Connecticut’s Gatorade Player of the Year honors. The senior will again be under center for an explosive Blue Dragon’s offense that will battle an up-and-coming Viking’s defense. Easy Lyme’s Hunter Waido and Connor Parker will lead a group of defenders who look to slow down the electrifying Highsmith.
East Lyme High School is the location for Friday’s rematch. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
Xavier @ Staples
Xavier opened last season by edging Staples 30-22. It was the Falcons’ second consecutive victory over the Westport-based Wreckers. A lot has changed since last season’s victory, including the venue. This time the game will be played in Fairfield Country, where the Wreckers have become a staple in the football community, having won 13 of their last 15 games at home.
Friday’s game will be Xavier’s first in the post Andrew Meoli era. The new look Falcons’ offense has to find ways to move the ball against an attacking Wrecker’s defense, led by linebackers Nick Esposito and Jack Mendillo.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Staples Stadium. “That was easy.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin