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Thanksgiving preview: Canton looks for 8th win; FHS seeks playoff bid

football graphicFour of the six Farmington Valley football teams will be in action on Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving Eve as the regular season for high school football comes to a close. 

Granby hosts Canton on Wednesday night under the lights on its new multi-purpose artificial turf surface. On Thanksgiving Day, Plainville hosts Farmington, which is fighting for a berth in the CIAC’s Class L tournament, and Lewis Mills will play its first-ever game at the high school when they host Nonnewaug. 

Simsbury (2-9) and Avon (8-3) have completed their seasons. 

Simsbury played a handful of Thanksgiving Day games against Windsor in the early 1980s and faced Glastonbury on Thanksgiving Eve in 2011. But for most years, the season ends the Saturday before Thanksgiving for the Trojans. 

Avon has never played on Thanksgiving. For years, Avon’s final contest of the season was against rival Farmington but it was always played on the final Saturday before Thanksgiving. But that game stopped in 2006 once Avon joined the Pequot Conference, which doesn’t allow out of league contests. 

Farmington played some Turkey Day games in the 1930s and 1940s before playing Rocky Hill on Thanksgiving in 2007. The Indians began its current Thanksgiving series with Plainville in 2011. 

Canton, which had a varsity team from 1934-64, played two Thanksgiving Day contests in 1935 and 1936, beating a team of alumni players in both contests. Through the 1930s, it was common for high school football and basketball teams to face an alumni team at some point of the season. The Warriors began its current Thanksgiving series with Granby in 2011. 

Canton at Granby
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Records: Canton 7-3, 4-1 Pequot West; Granby 5-5, 3-2 Pequot West
All-time series: Began 2010. Canton leads, 2-1
Thanksgiving series: Began 2011. Series tied 1-1
Outlook: Still alive for a berth in the Class S tournament, Canton is looking for record eighth victory. Canton could sneak into the CIAC tournament with a win, a loss by Holy Cross (7-3) to Wolcott High (7-3) and an unlikely upset win by a young Cromwell team (4-6) over Coginchaug (8-2). The Warriors are focused on finishing out the season strong with a win over Granby. The Warriors are led by senior QB Eric Scott, who has completed thrown for over 1,080 yards and a school-record tying 10 TD passes. Sebby Gumbs (18 receptions, 383 yards) and Cam Daley (16-271) are Scott’s big targets but Jake Wood and Keith Wilson have each caught four TD passes. Canton will try to control the game on the ground with Terrance Brophy (129-841 yards, 10 TDs) and Dan Delos (123-714, 13 TDs). Kicker Eddie Melton (27 PATs, 1 FG) has already set a new school record for most points kicking in a single season. Granby QB Curtis Field has thrown for 1,500 yards and 11 TDs this fall. His primary targets have been Ian Downey (43 receptions, 735 yards, 7 TDs), his younger brother Connor Field (33-588, 5 TDs) and Dominic Pagano (19-98, 1 TD). Pagano is Granby’s leading rusher with 869 yards and eight TDs. Defensively, the Bears are young led by sophomore Logan Strain (85 tackles) and freshman Gage Florentino (60 tackles). Senior Jake Largay has 60 tackles and 4 for a loss. Connor Field has 57 tackles. The Bears have forced 18 turnovers this fall, intercepting 7 passes and recovering 11 fumbles. 

Farmington at Plainville
Thursday, 10 a.m.
Records: Farmington 8-2; Plainville 4-5
All-time series: Began 1930. Series tied 24-24-1
Thanksgiving Day series: Began 2011. Farmington leads 2-0
Outlook: After a 44-24 loss to Manchester on Nov. 15, Farmington needs a win over Plainville in the Olde Canal Cup game to secure its first CIAC playoff berth since 1999. The Indians are led by QB Jeremy Buck, who has completed 105 passes for a school record 1,479 yards and 13 TD passes and the dynamic RB Ivan Guadalupe (129-905, 8 TDs rushing) and receiver Kenny Jones (31-501, 6 TDs). Jayson Martin leads the defense with a team-high 82 tackles, 6 sacks and 11 tackles for losses. Jack Sucato (68 tackles) and Colin Gratton (73 tackles, 6 TFL) are also stout up front. Guadalupe and Jones each have three interceptions on defense. Plainville has won two of its last three games with wins over Tolland and Rockville. The Blue Devils are led by QB Jeff Ziegenhagen, who threw for 156 yards and 2 TDs in a 40-7 win over Rockville. He also ran for 2 TDs in the victory. R.J. Gross is the lead running back and one of the team’s top defenders. Dante Correa is the other featured running back. 

Nonnewaug at Lewis Mills
Thursday, 10 a.m.
Records: Nonnewaug 3-7, 1-4 Pequot West; Lewis Mills 2-8, 1-4 Pequot West
All-time series: Began 2011. Series tied 1-1
Thanksgiving Day series: Began 2011. Series tied 1-1
Outlook: Lewis Mills looks to end the first season under head coach Jose Santana with a victory over the Chiefs. The Spartans have lost three straight since beating Stafford/East Windsor, 32-6 on Nov. 1. QB Lucas Lanning has completed 30 passes for 531 yards and 7 TDs (through 9 games) while senior back Max Stone is the leading rusher with 462 yards and 3 TDs on 130 carries. Lanning’s favorite targets have been Dominic Jankowski (21 receptions, 279 yards, 1 TD), Trevor Watts (12-220, 2 TDs) and Justin Pease (7-132, 3 TDs). The defense is led by Cameron McHale (46 tackles, 3 tackles for losses) and Jankowski (34 tackles). Nonnewaug is led by veteran QB Christian Metallo and running backs Nick Uberti, Jon Gombos and Nick Bordiere. The Chiefs played Pequot West champion Gilbert/Northwestern well earlier this month. They led 7-6 after one period and trailed 19-7 at halftime. They eventually lost 27-7. Since beating Stafford/East Windsor on Oct. 25, 35-16, the Chiefs have lost three in a row and picked up a forfeit victory over Housatonic/Wamogo.
Note: The game won’t be played at Muzzy Field, the usual home venue for Mills because Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central will be playing their annual crosstown contest. It will be played on the main field which is surrounded by its track.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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