SIMSBURY, Dec. 8 – The Simsbury High football team has changed under head coach Dave Masters. For years, the Trojans were known for running the ball. Outside of a stretch in the late 1960s, a year or two in the early 2000s, Simsbury rarely threw the ball.
That changed under Masters, now in his fifth season. In the last five years, four Simsbury quarterbacks, including current starter Aiden Boeshans have thrown for more than 1,350 yards. Boeshans has thrown 17 touchdown passes – the second most in a single season in team history.
Yet in Wednesday’s Class LL quarterfinals, the Trojans were running the ball using some double wing formations they haven’t used in years to take control in a 17-14 win over Cheshire. Simsbury (10-1) erased a 14-point, first quarter deficit to win their first-ever CIAC football playoff game.
Simsbury will need to use their offensive versatility Monday night when they take on top-ranked Newtown (11-0) in the Class LL semifinals at Blue and Gold Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
Simsbury is looking for their first championship game appearance since 1994. Newtown, which has dropped their last five semifinal games, is looking to make their first title game appearance since 1992.
Newtown has won 11 straight games since dropping a 50-0 decision in last year’s Class LL semifinal to eventual champion Greenwich. The Nighthawks have five shutouts this season and have allowed just 12 points in the last five games. In last week’s 35-0 win over Norwich Free Academy, the Nighthawks had 10 sacks.
Senior Jared Dunn leads Newtown with 75 tackles and nine sacks for 58 yards along with a team-high 20½ tackles for loss. Zach Loomis has 47 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks while senior James Knox has 39 tackles, 8½ sacks and four fumble recoveries.
Newtown has forced 34 turnovers this season with 13 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries.
This season, Simsbury has shown the ability to throw with Boeshans, who has completed 109 passes for 1,396 yards and 17 TD passes. Zack Gilbert (31 receptions, 536 yards, 10 TDs) has shown an uncanny ability to gain additional yards after the tackle along with Jeffrey Coleman (21-480, 4 TDs) and Brendan Gaffney (16-195, 1 TD).
But when the Trojans needed to move the ball against Cheshire, they went to the run. Sohn, who has rushed for 902 yards and 10 TDs this season, ran for a game-high 78 yards on 13 carries. Boeshans (127-645, 8 TDs) ran for 61 yards on 17 carries.
Simsbury adjusts to what they need to do offensive. “Honestly, coach really doesn’t tell us,” Sohn said. “We just go with the flow. He always tells us one week there will be a pass every (possession) and the next week we’ll run the ball.”
The Trojans will need to continue their strong play defensively. After giving up 14 points in the first quarter against Cheshire, Simsbury didn’t give up another point. They forced two turnovers in the final seven minutes of the game to secure the victory over the Rams.
Newtown QB Brandon Lombardo has completed 74-of-118 passes for 997 yards and 13 touchdown passes. He has thrown just four interceptions. Junior Jack Street has completed 56 of 104 passes for 774 yards and eight TDs.
The top receivers for Newtown are senior Riley Ward (39-468, 6 TDs), senior Jack Zingaro (26-367, 2 TDs) and junior C.J. Cuomo (23-344, 4 TDs). Running back Miles Ricks, who missed the final five games of the regular season with an injury, played against NFA on Wednesday. He has rushed for 490 yards and nine TDs.
“It’s a new experience for us,” Masters said after the win over Cheshire. “We’re happy for the opportunity. We’re glad we have another opportunity to play. We’re excited to get right back to work.”
NOTES: Simsbury’s win over Cheshire was the first CIAC tournament win in team history. The Trojans are 1-4 in five appearances. Newtown is 7-14 in CIAC tournament history. … Newtown is also looking for their first state championship appearance since 1992 when they beat Windham, 18-0 in the Class MM championship game. The Nighthawks are 0-5 in their last five semifinal appearances, including a 50-0 loss to Greenwich in last year’s Class LL semifinal.
No. 4 Simsbury (10-1) at No. 1 Newtown (11-0)
Date: Monday, December 9
Site: Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown
Series: First meeting
On the air/web: WSIM-FM (103.5 FM); NFHS Network (subscription required)
Simsbury in 2019
Simsbury 9, Hall 3, OT
Simsbury 49, Amity 13
Simsbury 39, South Windsor 0
Simsbury 33, New Britain 22
Simsbury 32, Conard 0
Simsbury 28, Manchester 14
Southington 35, Simsbury 7
Simsbury 56, Enfield 27
Simsbury 14, Glastonbury 7
Simsbury 47, Avon 10
Class LL playoffs
QF: Simsbury 17, Cheshire 14
Newtown in 2019
Newtown 42, New Milford 0
Newtown 21, Fairfield Prep 14
Newtown 21, West Haven 14
Newtown 35, Pomperaug 0
Newtown 34, Shelton 24
Newtown 38, Stratford 0
Newtown 42, Bunnell 0
Newtown 44, Joel Barlow 10
Newtown 17, Masuk 2
Class LL playoffs
QF: Newtown 35, NFA 0
Class LL tournament
Wednesday, December 4
(1) Newtown 35, (8) NFA 0
(2) Southington 13, (7) Ridgefield 9
(3) Darien 26, (6) Greenwich 16
(4) Simsbury 17, (5) Cheshire 14
Monday, Dec. 9
Simsbury (10-1) at Newtown (11-0)
Darien (10-1) at Southington (10-1)
Saturday, Dec. 14