Rocky Hill @ East Catholic
Rocky Hill heads to Manchester after opening the season with two games at home. The Terriers split their first two games, defeating Tolland 39-22 last Friday night behind Grant Nieves’ 147 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The Terriers have beaten East Catholic the last three times the teams have faced one another, including a 49-14 victory last season. However, East Catholic has looked like a different team this season, winning convincingly, 72-32, in their opener and then shocking powerhouse Platt this past weekend. The key to this game will be if Rocky Hill’s front seven, led by senior middle linebacker Ryan LaFrancis, can contain the East Catholic potent ground attack. Speedy halfback Luke Townsend and bruising running back Chris Amata have both ran wild this season, helping the Eagles amass a mindboggling 1,011 rushing yards through their first two games.
East Catholic High School is the venue for the conference collision. Saturday’s kickoff is 1:30 p.m.
E.O. Smith @ Wethersfield
Wethersfield is riding high after their historic victory over Middletown. It doesn’t get any easier this week when they welcome E.O. Smith. The Eagles have been victorious in all six games against the Storrs-based Panthers since 2008, including a 62-21 victory last season. In last season’s victory, Matt Sanzaro shredded the Panther’s secondary for 200 yards and four touchdown passes.
However, Sanzaro suffered an injury last Friday and his status for this game is unknown. Whoever is behind center for the Eagles may have a tough time, because the E.O. Smith’s defense is much improved. They registered a shutout in a week one victory over Rockville and held Bristol Central’s high-powered offense to 26 points in defeat. Senior linebacker Daniel Saucier is the heart and soul behind the Panthers defense. He has 15 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble though the first two games.
The conference clash is Friday night at Wethersfield High School. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Newington @ Hall
Newington couldn’t have had a better start to the season, registering a shutout in the opener and then edging rival Conard 27-22 last week. Quarterback Jake Hedberg has thrown seven touchdowns in the two victories. It will get tougher for the Indians passing attack this week when they play Hall, another conference foe.
Newington has won each game against the West Hartford-based Warrior over the last three seasons, including a 48-27 shootout victory last season. Hedberg had his way with the Hall secondary last season, posting 278 passing yards and throwing four touchdowns to four different receivers.
Hall is fresh off a monumental road victory over Glastonbury, who they hadn’t defeated in Glastonbury since 2004. Saturday’s game will be Hall’s home opener. Kickoff is 2 p.m.
Nonnewaug @ Cromwell
Cromwell is looking to get into the win column after starting the season with two losses for the first time in this millennium. Their latest loss was a 20-point loss to Morgan. Nonnewaug was soundly defeated in the first week, but rebounded with an impressive 41-19 shellacking of Old Saybrook this past weekend.
Cromwell has won the last three meetings against the Woodbury-based Chiefs, including an unforgettable 2-0 victory in 2009. Nonnewaug has improved in each season under the guidance of head coach John Oko and a victory over Cromwell would put them over the .500 mark for the first time in school history.
Cromwell seeks their first victory this Saturday at Pierson Park in Cromwell. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Hamden @ Xavier
Xavier has owned Hamden over the past decade, winning all ten games dating back to 2004. The latest was a 33-0 pasting in 2012. The Falcons have struggled to score this season, scoring only 24 points through two games, but have been victorious in both games. Quarterback Mike Scherer had a solid performance in their last game, throwing for 276 yards and the game-deciding score in a 21-14 victory over North Haven.
Hamden’s offense hasn’t fared much better, scoring only 28 points in their two games, but they are coming off a win over East Haven. This game has all the making for a low scoring, field position battle.
Falcon Field is the venue for Friday night’s game. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Middletown @ Bristol Eastern
These teams belong to the same conference, but have had gone in different directions the last three years. Middletown has become a state powerhouse and Bristol Eastern has struggled to register wins. In their three head-to-head games, Middletown has cruised to victories in all three, including 40-0 and 43-0 shutouts the past two seasons.
Bristol Eastern could be catching the Blue Dragons at the right time. The Lancers are coming off a 33-20 victory over Hartford Public and Middletown is coming off the shocking loss to Wethersfield.
Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin