The secret is out; Chris Young has established himself as the best running back in the state. His rare combination of speed, power, and agility were all on display Friday night when he rushed for four touchdowns in the Rocky Hill Terriers 35-0 thrashing of the Bristol Central Rams on a warm and windy night at McVicar Field. The shutout victory improves the Terrier to 7-1 and maintains their one game lead in the Central Connecticut II West.
Young, who this time next season will be playing college football, increased his touchdown total to 22 for the season. More amazingly, he averages a touchdown every six times he carriers the football this season, which ranks first in the state. The humble senior running back finished the game with 199 yards on only 12 carries and gave credit to the Terrier’s unsung offensive line for Friday night‘s success in the run game.
“Our line blocked very well tonight,” Young said, “They opened some huge holes for me to run through.”
Rocky Hill dominated the game from start to finish and led 28-0 at halftime. Grant Nieves got the scoring started for the Terriers with a 10-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. Young then scored Rocky Hill’s final four touchdown, including 53 and 40 yard scoring scampers on draw plays from a shotgun formation. A majority of the time Rocky Hill runs a traditional Wing-T offense, but they have added a variation to the playbook in which quarterback Andrew Jeneklunas takes the snap from the shotgun and he can either hand to one of the running backs flanking him or fake the handoff and throw a pass. This play worked to perfection against Bristol Central and Young is a fan of the formation.
“I can see the field better,” Young said, “I’m able to see more and make my pre-snap read.”
Lost in all of the buzz surrounding Young’s phenomenal season is the terrific play of fellow team captain Tommy Seaver. Seaver has played outstanding at receiver and linebacker all season, but Friday night he took it to a new level. The 6’1” senior caught a handful of passes, made a dozen tackles, combined on a sack, tipped a pass that was intercepted by teammate Nick Carducci, and blocked a field goal on the final play of the first half. Not even the late, great Red Grange ever compiled a stat line that impressive.
Thanks to the efforts of Young and Seaver, the game was essentially over by the half and the only tense moment of the second half occurred when Rocky Hill’s kicker Greg Marzilli attempted a 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Even professional kickers struggle with kicks of that distance, but Marzilli has a monster leg and is known for booming kickoffs into the end zone. Despite having plenty of distance, Marzilli’s kick drifted wide right (Scott Norwood style), but the supportive hometown crowd cheered him for the valiant effort.
In spite of his missed field goal, Marzilli was one of several Terrier defenders that helped register Rocky Hill’s first shutout since November of 2009. The swarming Terrier’s defense forced three turnovers and harassed a Rams offense that has struggled to find an identity this season. Bristol Central football was once a powerhouse throughout the 70’s and 80’s when they were led by legendary coach Thomas Bruni, but they have been unable to duplicate that success since Bruni’s departure following the 1988 season.
Rocky Hill will now host the Berlin Redcoats (4-4) on Friday night. Berlin handed Rocky Hill their only regular season loss last season and the rivalry games are always intense due to the proximity of the two teams.
“It‘s going to be a very serious week,” Young said regarding the preparation for Berlin, “It’s our Senior Night and last home game, plus we lost to Berlin by a very close margin last season. So we’ll be ready come Friday.”
The Redcoats are led by quarterback Mitch Williams and deploy a running back by committee with four players capable of carrying the load. However, it will be the Berlin defense that will be assigned the tough task of containing the runaway freight train known as Chris Young. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
High School Football Round-Up
Newington Falls to Southington
The Newington Indians lost to the Southington Blue Knights 56-20 in front of a full house at Alumni Field on Friday night. Southington came into the game as the state’s 8th rank team and they lived up to that billing by putting on an offensive exhibition. The Blue Knights score all 56 points over the first three quarters and quarterback Stephen Barmore threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns against the normally stout Indians defense.
Newington will now travel to take on the Simbury Trojans this Friday night. The Trojans (2-6) have played inconsistently this season, but they do have running back/linebacker extraordinaire Brad Helmkamp. Helmkamp punishes opponents with his powerful runs as a fullback, but he excels mostly on defense where he is averaging an eye-popping 15 tackles a game this season. Kickoff is a 7 p.m.
Wethersfield’s Conference Domination Continues
The Wethersfield Eagles improved to 4-0 in the Central Connecticut II East conference with a 34-7 thumping of the RHAM Sachems. The Eagles welcomed back star quarterback Matt Sanzaro, who shredded the Sachems defensive backfield to help Wethersfield win their fourth consecutive game. Sanzaro, who missed last week’s game against the Fermi Falcons with a shoulder injury, threw for 179 yards and hit four different Eagle receivers for touchdowns.
Wethersfield will now travel to Hartford to battle the Bulkeley Bulldogs in another CCII East conference game. The Bulldogs are one of five conference teams looking up at the Eagles and an upset victory would pull them within a game of the red-hot conference leaders. Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m.
Cromwell Downed by Enfield
The Cromwell Panthers lost their second consecutive game at the hands of their conference foe Enfield Raiders, 20-7. The Panthers couldn’t contain Raiders’ quarterback Jason Davis, who ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns and added 121 more yards and one touchdown through the air. Two weeks ago the Panthers had a commanding lead in the Pequot-North conference, but they are now in a three-way tie, with Enfield and Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby, for the conference lead.
Cromwell will now pack their swim wear and travel to Deep River to play the Valley Regional/Old Lyme Warriors (7-0) this Friday night. Junior Justin Cheverier, who has stared at both running back and linebacker this season, leads a talented group for the undefeated Warriors. Kickoff is a 6:30 p.m.
Middletown Wins Battle of the Unbeaten
All eyes were on the epic battle between the Middletown Blue Dragons and Farmington Indians on Friday night. Both teams came in undefeated and the winner would take over first place in the Central Connecticut II West. The result was a 21-7 Middletown victory in front of a packed house at Rosek-Skubel Stadium in Middletown. Blue Dragon’s quarterback Dario Highsmith continued his electrifying season by rushing for 286 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 37 carries. On the other side of the ball, the Middletown defense stifled the previously vaunted Indians’ ground game, holding them to a paltry 28 rushing yards.
Middletown (8-0) will look to stay perfect when they journey to New London to take on the Whalers. New London (5-2) is led by second-year coach Duane Maranda, who has his son Danny Maranda quarterbacking a well-balanced offense. Kickoff is Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Falcons “Hand” Tigers Their Second Loss
The Xavier Falcons had struggled of the road this season, losing two of their first three games away from home, but Friday night was a different story. Xavier used a punishing ground game and a smothering defense to upend the Hand Tigers 28-14 in Madison. Tailback Andrew Meoli scored his first of two touchdowns to give the visiting Falcons a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and then polished off the Tigers with a crucial fourth quarter touchdown run to finish off the scoring.
The Falcons will look to keep their road momentum going when they visit the Shelton Gaels in a conference clash. Shelton (6-2) is tied with Xavier and Fairfield Prep atop the Southern Connecticut I West. The Gaels are paced by multi-dimensional halfback Jason Thompson who leads the team in both rushing and receiving this season. Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin