CANTON, Sept. 19 – The Canton High football team entered the season with visions of a possible CIAC playoff berth. It’s time for some readjustments.
The Warriors have some fine ballplayers on their squad. But they need more and Old Saybrook/Westbrook exposed some of the younger, less experienced players on their team in a 28-12 victory on opening day last week.
Like many young teams, Canton had its stretches of strong play. Nate Scott bulled his way into the end zone twice for touchdowns and on defense made several tackles for a loss. Quarterback Nick Grabowski scrambled his way out of trouble for a team-high 109 yards on 18 carries while Sam Hartzell rambled for 74 yards on 11 carries.
However, their performance was inconsistent. Old Saybrook/Westbrook’s Dane Pallotto rushed for a game-high 138 yards and three TDs on 18 carries. Rams QB John McElhome completed 6-of-11 passes for 96 yards and a TD.
Canton committed six penalties for 45 yards in the first half and were flagged eight times for 55 yards overall. Grabowski was sacked twice for 17 yards and was tackled twice in the backfield for losses.
“We have things we need to fix and they’re small things,” Canton coach Roger Pearl said. “Guys weren’t in the right place. There are a lot of young kids. Some are a little timid. Some aren’t sure of what they are doing right now. But we can fix it.”
Old Saybrook took a 7-0 lead on an 11-play, 89-yard touchdown march that was kept alive on a questionable pass interference call after a third down incompletion. Pallotto scored from the one-yard line with 5:32 left in the first quarter. The Rams made it 15-0 on a 16-yard touchdown pass from John McElhome to Jeff Wheeler with 1:00 left in the first quarter.
Canton cut the lead to eight with its most impressive drive of the first half. The Warriors moved 53 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a one-yard run by Nate Scott with 32 seconds left in the half.
But Old Saybrook seized control of the game on its first drive of the second half, moving 77 yards on nine plays and scoring on Palloto’s five-yard run with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter for a 21-8 lead. Palloto’s 40-yard run with 4:41 left in the game extended the lead to 28-8. Canton marched 80 yards on 10 plays to score on Scott’s 1-yard run with 59
“Tough loss,” Pearl said. “That was a very good football team. It’s a long season. Don’t forget we started 0-3 last year.” Canton, which dropped its eighth straight game on opening day, travels to Falls Village for a night game on Friday against Housatonic/Wamogo.
Old Saybrook/Westbrook 28, Canton 12
OSW (1-0) 15 0 6 7 — 28
Canton (0-1) 0 6 0 6 — 12
OSW: Dane Pallotto 1 run (Pallotto run), 5:32
OSW: Jeff Wheeler 16 pass from John McElhome (Max Nielson kick), 1:00
C: Nate Scott 1 run (pass fails), 0:32
OSW: Palloto 5 run (kick blocked), 4:21
OSW: Palloto 40 run (Nielson kick), 4:41
C: Scott 1 run (run fails), 0:59
RUSHING: Canton – Nate Scott 3-3, Nick Grabowski 18-109, Sam Hartzell 11-74, Kyle Mullins 5-29, Robby Grillo 7-25; Old Saybrook/Westbrook – Dane Pallotto 18-138, Harlan Toussaint 12-47, Cody Forrest 5-5
PASSING: Canton – Nick Grabowski 1-7-1, 6; Sam Hartzell 0-1-0, Old Saybrook/Westbrook – John McElhome 6-11-0, 96
RECEIVING: Canton – Tim Gavin 1-6; Old Saybrook/Westbrook – Harlan Toussaint 2-15, Ken Dower, Jr. 1-19, Jeff Wheeler 1-16, Alvin Lobo 2-56
RETURNS: Hartzell (C) 1-16 (kickoff); Nick Quattro 2-34 (kickoff), 2-47 (punts); Pallotto (OSW) 2-17 (kickoff), 2-32 (punts)
INTERCEPTIONS: Max Nielson (OSW) 1-10
FUMBLE RECOVERY: none
PUNTS: Scott (C) 4-127
SACKS: Mike Sweeney (OSW) 1-12, Nick Long (OSW) 1-5
BLOCKED KICKS: Chad Huff (C) 1
MISSED FG: Nielson 46
Penalties: Canton 8-55, Old Saybrook/Westbrook 3-32