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New Britain joins top 10 football poll with Thanksgiving games on horizon

Avon head coach Jeff Redman makes a point to his team during a recent game. The Falcons close out the regular season at Simsbury on November 20.

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago but it was more than 15 years ago when New Britain High and head coach Jack Cochran were steamrolling everyone in their path. For today’s players, that is ancient history.

The Hurricanes are back in the top 10 of the GameTImeCT/New Haven Register’s sportswriters high school football poll as the season winds down.

New Britain (8-1) dominated Enfield on Friday night, 48-6 and moved into the top 10 for the first time this season. The Hurricanes can clinch a playoff spot when they play No. 8 Berlin (9-0) on Friday night at Sage Park.

For the ninth straight week, Darien is the No. 1 ranked team in the state keeping their four-point lead over No. 2 Greenwich. Hand remains at No. 3 followed by Shelton, St. Joseph and Southington.

Teams either play this weekend or play their final regular season games on Thanksgiving week.

The Hurricanes have long been one of Connecticut’s premier football programs. In the early 2000s, New Britain was a dominant force that few teams could stop. The 2002 team set a state record by averaging 60.3 points a game and was the inspiration for the 50-point rule that penalized coaches for winning for more than 50 points for nearly a decade.

That rule has since been rescinded. Today, there is a running clock if a team is up by more than 35 points in the second half.

For five straight years (2000 to 2004), New Britain earned a Class LL berth in an era when just four teams qualified for the state tournament. The Hurricanes won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Since 2004, New Britain has qualified for the playoffs just once in 2014 when they lost to NFA in their first game.

Shawn Robinson leads this year’s Hurricanes on the ground with 1,286 yards and six touchdowns.

In the Farmington Valley, there are just two games this weekend. Farmington (4-4) hosts CREC (1-8) at home on Friday night at 6 p.m. and Lewis Mills (0-9, 0-7 Pequot Sassacus) plays their final Pequot Conference game when they travel to Windsor Locks (4-4, 4-3 Pequot Uncas) to face the Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby co-op team.

The Spartans will be joining the Central Connecticut Conference next fall ending a nine-year run in the Pequot Conference. Mills, which has lost 12 straight games, had one winning season in the Pequot Conference in 2015 when the squad went 7-3 in the Pequot West Division.

The remainder of the Valley teams will play on Thanksgiving week. Avon (1-8) and Simsbury (4-5) will square off in the Route 44 Bowl on Tuesday, November 21 at Holden Field in Simsbury beginning at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, November 22, Canton (1-8) will host Granby (6-3) beginning at 6 p.m. on the turf field in Canton.

On Thanksgiving morning, Farmington will host Plainville at 10 a.m. in the Olde Canal Cup contest.

* * * *

Wolcott High forfeited their Senior Day football game against Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech on Friday because enough players on the Eagle team didn’t come forward on who damaged a locker room at St. Paul in Bristol a few weeks ago.

Wolcott Superintendent Tony Gasper said that team would forfeit unless players admitted to who caused the damage. Two players did come forward to take responsibility but it wasn’t enough. “Based on our through investigation, we are 100 percent confident that several other students contributed to the damage,” Gasper wrote in a letter to the Wolcott football community. “

“The same two students were the only ones to step forward once again,” Gasper wrote in a second letter late last week. “None of the others who caused substantial damage to the locker room have identified themselves. It is regrettable that the other student-athletes themselves have decided not to take the honorable path and therefore have forced the unfortunate outcome of this matter. The Board and the administration regret that this is the outcome we have reached and were truly hopeful that the other responsible players and their families would have come forward for the good of the team.”

The Eagles (6-3) will play their final regular season game on Thanksgiving morning at Holy Cross (6-3). Wolcott is currently seeded eighth in Class M and the top eight teams qualify for the state playoffs.

Gasper said the investigation is continuing and appropriate action will be taken if additional information comes to light.

The GameTimeCT/New Haven Register sportwriters top 10 football poll. First-place votes in parentheses and points tabulated on a 30-28-26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis.

Week 11, Monday, November 12

Team Rec Pts. LW Class
1. Darien (13) 9-0 828 1 LL
2. Greenwich (12) 8-0 824 2 LL
3. Hand (4) 9-0 780 3 L
4. Shelton 8-0 664 4 LL
5. St. Joseph 8-1 632 5 M
6. Southington 9-0 556 6 LL
7. Newtown 9-0 531 7 LL
8. Berlin 9-0 401 8 M
9. Naugatuck 9-0 350 9 L
10. New Britain 8-1 327 nr LL
Others receiving votes: Ansonia (9-0), 318; Middletown (8-0), 291; Fairfield Prep (8-1), 274; New Canaan (7-2), 233; Bloomfield (8-1), 114; Staples (7-2) and Killingly (8-1), 65; North Haven (7-2), 32, Stafford/Somers/East Windsor (9-0), 24; Bunnell (8-1), 18; Maloney (8-1), 15; East Hartford (7-2), 14; Sheehan (7-1), 14; Bullard-Havens (9-0), 11; RHAM (7-2) and Woodland (8-1), 7
The following voted: Bob Barton, New Haven Register; Nate Brown, Fox61; Bill Bloxsom, Hersam Acorn Newspapers; Sean Patrick Bowley, GameTimeCT; Kyle Brennan, Freelance; Doug Bonjour, Connecticut Post; Gerry deSimas Jr., Collinsville Press; Mike DiMauro, The Day of New London; Erik Dobratz, WTNH-8; Scott Ericson, Stamford Advocate; Ned Griffen, The Day of New London; Shelby Iava, New Britain Herald; Mark Jaffee, Republican-American of Waterbury; Ryan Lacey, Danbury News-Times; Kyle Maher, Journal-Inquirer of Manchester; Pete Paguaga, GameTimeCT; John Pierson, WTNH-8; Noah Finz, CT Sports Now; Mike Madera, Walter Camp Football Foundation; Shawn McFarland, Hartford Courant; Joe Morelli, New Haven Register; Keith O’Brien, GameDay CT Sports; Dave Phillips, Shoreline Newspapers; Marc Robbins, CT Sports Now; Dave Ruden, The Ruden Report; Mike Suppe, Hersam-Acorn Newspapers; Rich Zalusky, The Chronicle of Willimantic; Jimmy Zanor, Norwich Bulletin; Joe Zone, WFSB-3


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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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