Philippon steps down as head coach in Canton after three seasons

Former Canton High coach Paul Philippon addresses his team after beating Ellington/Somers on a humid September afternoon.

Former Canton High coach Paul Philippon addresses his team after beating Ellington/Somers on a humid September afternoon.

CANTON, Dec. 19 — Due to the uncertainly surrounding the Canton High football program in terms of the number of players, head coach Paul Philippon has resigned after three seasons.

The Warriors one of their best seasons ever this fall, going 10-2, earning a spot in the CIAC Class S playoffs for the first time ever and winning its first league championship since 1958. But they did it with just 26 players on the roster, including eight seniors.

Canton hasn’t played junior varsity games in two seasons and had just one freshman join the program in September. Next fall, they are looking at 18 returning players – eight juniors, nine sophomores and a freshman.

“The whole plan was to build up the program,” Philippon said. “My wife and I looked at the numbers and there is no way this could be a long term deal for me at this point of my career. It can’t work for me if I have to be begging kids to play. The handwriting is on the wall.”

Philippon took over the Canton program in 2012 and went 7-3 with 37 players on the roster. A year ago, it dipped to 34 players. This year, there were just 26 players that began the season.Continue Reading

Canton girls dominate Somers in home opener; Boys stumble vs. Spartans

Canton freshman Emily Briggs (12) tries to find open space.

Canton’s Emily Briggs (12) had 12 points Wednesday against Somers.

CANTON, Dec. 17 – The Canton High girls basketball team leapt out to a quick 20-2 advantage and never looked back in a 58-29 decision over Somers Wednesday night.

Junior Maggie Treacy led the way for Canton (2-0, 2-0 NCCC) with a game-high 13 points, five steals and five rebounds. Sophomore Emily Briggs had 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Senior Jacquie Grabowski chipped in with 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Gabby Rose had nine points, seven steals and eight rebounds. “It was a great effort on both sides of the ball,” Canton coach Brian Medieros said.

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Canton boys open season on the road; Canton girls host home opener

Canton coach Craig Archambault and the Warriors come out of a timeout.

Canton coach Craig Archambault and the Warriors open the season Wednesday night at Somers.

CANTON – With four starters returning, the Canton High boys baskeball team hopes to be a contender for the NCCC championship this winter. Canton went 13-9 a year ago for third-year head coach Craig Archambault and played well enough to earn a first round home game in the Class S tournament.

The Warriors open their 92nd season of varsity basketball on the road at Somers on Wednesday night. Canton has its home opener on Friday night at 7 p.m. when they host Stafford.

Senior forward Cam Daley (12.0 ppg a year ago), senior guard Ben Sullivan (4.1 ppg), junior guard Rieley Hoffman (6.4) and junior guard/forward Cameron Lange (8.3) return for the Warriors.

The Canton High girls basketball team, which won its season opener last week over Coventry, 64-41, plays their home opener tonight against Somers at 7 p.m.

The Warriors (1-0, 1-0 NCCC) were led by sophomore Emily Briggs with a game-high 16 points and Gabby Rose and Maggie Treacy with 15 points each. Emma Charron added nine for Canton, which raced out to a 19-8 lead after one quarter and a 34-19 lead at halftime.

Southington shows NFA who is No. 1 with dominating win and 2nd straight title

The Southington High football team celebrates its second straight state championship after a dominating 49-0 win over NFA.

The Southington High football team celebrates its second straight state championship after a dominating 49-0 win over NFA.

NEW BRITAIN, Dec. 13 – The No. 1 team in the state and the defending Class LL champion Southington High football team was on a mission Saturday night at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. 

The Blue Knights wanted to leave no doubt of who is the No. 1 team in the state. Southington completed a second straight undefeated season and won a second consecutive state championship with a dominating 49-0 victory over Norwich Free Academy in the Class LL Large Division championship game. 

Junior quarterback Jasen Rose put on a show, completing 24-of-31 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns. Included in that performance was a spectacular 64-yard completion to senior Alexander Jamele in the first quarter on a third down and 31 yards play that went 45 yards through the air. Continue Reading

Valley Regional erases 13-point deficit to stun Ansonia and win a state title

Coaches on the Valley Regional/Old Lyme sideline cheer as QB Chris Jean-Pierre moves downfield in Saturday's state championship game. The Warriors beat Ansonia, 21-20 for their first state title.

Coaches on the Valley Regional/Old Lyme sideline cheer as QB Chris Jean-Pierre moves downfield in Saturday’s state championship game. The Warriors beat Ansonia, 21-20 for their first state title.

NEW BRITAIN, Dec. 13 – The Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team refused to let their dream of a state championship die – even when they fell behind by 13 points with 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We kept telling them in the huddle to believe. Believe that they could come back,” Valley Regional/Old Lyme coach Tim King said.

The Warriors (13-0) scored three touchdowns in the final 6:19 and two TDs in the final 3:26 to stun Ansonia, 21-20 and win their first-ever state championship in the Class S Large Division.

Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre simply won’t let the dream die. He scored two touchdowns including a four-yard run on a fourth down play with 22 seconds remaining to tie the game at 20-20. Jared Roche’s extra point was the difference for Valley Regional/Old Lyme. Continue Reading

Defense helps undefeated Windsor gain first-ever state championship

Windsor's Tyler Coyle catches the second of his TD passes in Windsor's 38-16 win over Notre Dame-West Haven Saturday in New Britain.

Windsor’s Tyler Coyle catches the second of his TD passes in Windsor’s 38-16 win over Notre Dame-West Haven Saturday in New Britain.

NEW BRITAIN, Dec. 13 – They took the lead with the offense. They secured the lead and the first football state championship in school history with their defense. 

Windsor forced three second half turnovers to pull away from Notre Dame-West Haven and capture a state title with a 38-16 victory in the Class L Small Division final before 2,666 fans at Arute Field on the campus of Central Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon. 

Windsor (12-0) leapt out to a 19-0 lead in the second quarter only to see the Green Knights cut the lead to three, 19-16 in the third quarter. And Notre Dame got the ball back when Tajon Toms forced a fumble that Matthew Jambor recovered. Continue Reading

Avon’s Ben Smith has goal and an assist in Blackhawks’ 3-2 win over Bruins

Chicago's Ben Smith, left, and Boston's Brad Marchand fight for position in front of the net Thursday in Boston in the Blackhawks' 3-2 victory. (Steve Babineau photo courtesy Chicago Blackhawks via Facebook)

Chicago’s Ben Smith, left, and Boston’s Brad Marchand fight for position in front of the net Thursday in Boston in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 victory. (Steve Babineau photo courtesy Chicago Blackhawks via Facebook)

BOSTON, Dec. 11 – Avon native Ben Smith felt right at home in the TD Garden in Boston Thursday night. The former Boston College star scored a goal and had an assist as his Chicago Blackhawks won their eighth straight game and 11th out of the last 12 with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

Smith, who had just two goals and an assist in his previous 28 games, scored his second goal in less than a week with 1:17 left in the first period to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead. He assisted on Klas Dahlbeck’s goal with 10:50 remaining in the first period as Chicago took an early 1-0 lead.Continue Reading

Avon Middle School group sings national anthem prior to Hartford game

The Arioso group at Avon Middle School sang the national anthem before Thursday’s American Hockey League game between the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Albany Devils at the XL Center in downtown Hartford. Chris Bourque scored two goals, and Justin Vaive had a goal and an assist to lead the Wolf Pack to a 3-2 victory over the Albany Devils.

Before 2016 Olympics, U.S. gymnasts will compete in key events in Hartford

Gymnasts like three-time U.S. champion Alex Naddour could be competing in Hartford in 2016 when  the XL Center hosts the men's national championships and a key pre-Olympic women's competition. (Photo courtesy USA Gymnastics)

Gymnasts like three-time U.S. champion Alex Naddour could be competing in Hartford in 2016 when the XL Center hosts the men’s national championships and a key pre-Olympic women’s competition. Above, Naddour competes at the world championships in October where he was sixth on the pommel horse. (Photo courtesy USA Gymnastics)

Before they compete in Brazil representing the United States in the 2016 Olympic Games, America’s best male and female gymnasts will be in Hartford for a key meet on June 3-5, 2016 at the XL Center, USA Gymnastics announced earlier this month. 

The 2016 men’s national championship meet and a major woman’s pre-Olympic event called the Secret Classic will be held in Hartford. 

For the U.S. men, it will be their final opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials that will be held three weeks later in St. Louis. For the U.S. women, the Secret Classic will be the final meet for their national championship meet three weeks later, also in St. Louis. The women’s Olympic Trials are scheduled for early July in San Jose. Continue Reading

Booters participate in NCCC Senior Bowl contest

Canton seniors, from left, Walter Dylag, Nate Hanson (8), Connor Giloly (9) and Nico Tuccillo (3) played in the recent NCCC Senior Bowl game in Suffield.

Canton seniors, from left, Walter Dylag, Nate Hanson (8), Connor Giloly (9) and Nico Tuccillo (3) played in the recent NCCC Senior Bowl game in Suffield.

Seven players from Avon and Canton extended their high school careers on the soccer field for a few more hours recently by participating in the NCCC Senior Bowl in Suffield. 

Avon’s Stephen Dorney, Matt Fuge, Kevin Brown and Sam Begin played on the team with Canton goalie Walter Dylag and fellow seniors Nate Hanson, Connor Gilooly and Nico Tuccillo. Dorney scored a goal in the game.

Avon’s Stephen Dorney named to NSCAA All-American team

Avon's Stephen Dorney (23) is the fourth boy in school history to earn All-American honors in soccer.

Avon’s Stephen Dorney (23) is the fourth boy in school history to earn All-American honors in soccer.

AVON – Avon High senior Stephen Dorney has been named an All-American soccer player by the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA). The 6-foot-4 center defender helped lead the Falcons (16-1-4) to their first state championship since 2000 this fall. 

He is the fourth player in school history to earn All-American honors and the first since Victor Krasij in 2000. 

“Stephen is the best defender we have had in my 10 years coaching at Avon,” Avon High coach David Zlatin said. “He does everything you would expect a 6-foot-4 defender to do. He is dominant in the air, physically strong and very difficult for attackers to get around.  

“But even at his size, he is a great athlete with terrific technical skill,” Zlatin said. “He is one of the best passers on the team and has outstanding anticipation and communication.  In the last two seasons, we recorded 26 shutouts while playing only three defenders, mostly because of Stephen’s attributes and the pride in defense that he instilled on the whole team.” Continue Reading

Kennedy picks up 3rd world championship medal with silver in 4×50 free relay

The Netherlands celebrate after being awarded gold medals in the 4x50 women's freestyle relay at the world swimming championships Sunday. The United States, right, with Avon's Madison Kennedy were a close second.

The Netherlands celebrate after being awarded gold medals in the 4×50 women’s freestyle relay at the world swimming championships Sunday. The United States, right, with Avon’s Madison Kennedy were a close second. (Photo courtesy of FINA)

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 7 – On the final day of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Sunday, Avon’s Madison Kennedy earned another world championship medal and narrowly missed grabbing an individual medal in her signature event – the 50 meter freestyle. 

Kennedy won her third world championship medal as a member of the United States women’s 4×50 freestyle relay team that took second behind the Netherlands. Earlier in the meet, Kennedy won silver with the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay and on Saturday, she was a member of the U.S. mixed 4×50 freestyle relay team that won a gold medal with a world record time. 

Kennedy swam the leadoff leg in Sunday’s 4×50 freestyle final in 24:06, which had the Americans in third place. Abbey Weitzeil, an outstanding high school swimmer from California, swam the next leg in 23.40 and handed off to veteran Natalie Coughlin, whose leg of 23.39 put the Americans in first place. 

But the anchor swimmer for the Netherlands, Ranomi Kromowidjojo has had an outstanding meet here at the world championships winning five medals in freestyle. Her time of 22.88 was the fastest time of any woman in the final and helped the Dutch beat the Americans by 0.37 of a second with a time of 1:34.24. Continue Reading

Kennedy, U.S. relay team win gold at world championships, set world record

The American team in the Mixed 4x50 freestyle relay won gold and set a new world record at the world championship meet Saturday in Qatar. From left, Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Avon's Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil.

The American team in the Mixed 4×50 freestyle relay won gold and set a new world record at the world championship meet Saturday in Qatar. From left, Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Avon’s Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzel. (Clive Rose photo for Getty Images, courtesy of FINA)

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 6 – Avon’s Madison Kennedy is a world champion.

Kennedy and her U.S. teammates won a gold medal at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) on Saturday capturing the Mixed 4×50 freestyle relay in world record time. 

Kennedy, Abbey Weitzeil, Josh Schneider and Matt Grevers won gold in a world record time of 1:28.57, pulling away from Russia and Brazil on the fourth and final leg. 

The Americans were third heading into the final leg of the race but Weitzeil swam her leg of the race in 23.25 seconds – the fastest of any woman in the final to lead the Americans to the victory. The U.S. had Josh Schneider and Matt Grevers swim first before Kennedy swam on the third leg. 

Kennedy swam a time of 23.63 seconds and cut the lead by the Russians to just 0.15 of a second before Weitzel leaped into the water. Continue Reading

Trailblazers stand tall to end Canton’s season with 28-21 win in semifinals

Canton's Sebby Gumbs ran for a game-high 119 yards on 17 carries in Canton's 28-21 loss to Capital Prep/AF in the Class S Small semifinal at Torrington High on Saturday.

Canton’s Sebby Gumbs (8) ran for a game-high 119 yards on 17 carries in Canton’s 28-21 loss to Capital Prep/AF in the Class S Small semifinal at Torrington High on Saturday.

TORRINGTON – It looked like a golden opportunity for the Canton High football team to seize control of Saturday’s Class S Small semifinal against the Capital Prep/Achievement First co-op football team. 

Early in the third quarter, Canton held a 13-point lead and after two mistakes by the Trailblazers – a bad snap that caused a 22-yard loss and their punter inadvertently kneeling on the turf to secure another bad snap – Canton had the ball, first and goal, on Capital Prep/AF’s nine-yard line. 

But the Trailblazers didn’t wilt. They sacked Canton quarterback Cam Daley for a six-yard loss on first down. Canton was penalized 10 yards for holding on second down. After an incompletion, it was fourth down and goal from the 23. Under pressure, Daley threw downfield and was intercepted by Capital Prep/AF’s Dexter Lawson who weaved his way 61 yards upfield to the Canton 29-yard line. 

Five plays later, Capital Prep scored and was back in the ballgame. It was the beginning of 20 unanswered points in the second half by the Trailblazers, who became the first Constitution State Conference team to ever win a CIAC football playoff game with a 28-21 decision over Canton in a steady rain at the Robert H. Sports Complex at Torrington High. 

It ended a magical season for the Warriors, who won a school-record 10 games, captured their first league championship since 1958 and earned its first-ever invitation to the state tournament in football.

Capital Prep/AF (11-1) will play North Branford (11-1) for the Class S Small championship next Saturday at Central Connecticut State’s Arute Field at 10:30 a.m. Continue Reading

Avon’s Kennedy wins silver medal in relay at world championship meet

The United States' 4x100 freestyle relay team at the world championships Friday. From left, Natalie Coughlin, Madison Kennedy,

The United States’ 4×100 freestyle relay team at the world championships Friday enter the pool. From left, Natalie Coughlin, Madison Kennedy, Shannon Vreeland and Abbey Weitzeil. (Courtesy FINA broadcast via YouTube)

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 5 – Avon’s Madison Kennedy won a silver medal Friday at the FINA Swimming World Championships (25m) swimming on the United States 4×100 meter freestyle relay team.

The Americans broke the existing world record with a time of 3:27.70 but so did Netherlands, which won the race in 3:26.53. The old record was 3:28.22 by a team from the Netherlands in 2008.

Kennedy swam the third leg in the race with teammates Natalie Coughlin, Abbey Weitzeil and Shannon Vreeland.

The Americans were the top team in qualifying in 3:31.02 with the Netherlands taking seventh in 3:34.88 but in the finals, the Dutch were outstanding. The U.S. had a 0.14 second lead after Coughlin led off the race but Femke Heemskerk gave the Netherlands the lead after the second leg with a split time of 50.58, the fastest of all the swimmers in the race.Continue Reading