Fairfield Prep wins one more SCC golf championship before moving to fall season

WALLINGFORD — There were mixed feelings on Wednesday for Fairfield Prep golf coach Bob Bernier.

There was joy and satisfaction for repeating as SCC tournament champions, winning by 16 strokes at the Farms Country Club.

But there was also a little bit of sadness for the veteran coach. This will be the last SCC title — 11 all told — for the Jesuits’ program. They are moving to the fall season.

“I love this league. Over 16 years, we have developed friendships with a lot of the coaches. That’s the part I will miss the most, the relationships,” Bernier said. “It’s always nice to win among your friends, but it is kind of sad this is the last time we get to compete for the league championship. The league means a lot to our school. It means a lot to us.”

Prep made the decision over the winter to give it a go in the fall as an independent. The school is remaining in the SCC in all other sports.

Bernier said at the time that a number of the teams Prep plays in its non-conference schedule play in the fall — mainly the FCIAC schools. Also, it will benefit the Jesuits’ JV program to play schools that also have them.

SCC commissioner Al Carbone confirmed other teams in the league were considering the move to the fall, but none did. In fact, the CIAC confirmed only Prep has decided to move to join the FCIAC, SWC, Berkshire and some of the CCC teams having already played a season.

“I’m supportive of them going to the fall,” Carbone said. “I’m also waiting for other schools over the next couple of years that have to make that decision of whether to stay in the spring or go to the fall. I want to see everyone go to the fall. That’s what the (CIAC) told us three, four years ago. We as a league talked about it. I know there were five or six schools considering going to the fall and they wanted to see what was going to happen. I was surprised (just Prep left) but I think over these next couple of years, we are going to see more teams going to the fall.”

Mike Rothberg will not be one of the Jesuits going to the fall. He is a senior, and he finished his SCC career in style: shooting an even-par 72 to earn medalist laurels.

“Pick your target, trust it and go,” Rothberg said. “We’ve had a really good season so far.”

Charlie Duffy shot a 75 and William Huntington a 76 to help Prep finish with a 304 total. That is tied for second all-time since the tournament began in 1995. Bernier called this club his deepest team.

“I’m leaving guys home who can shoot 82, 83. We’re blessed,” Bernier said.

The Jesuits’ players themselves recently dealt with a loss of a fellow student. Some of them were friends with James McGrath, who was stabbed to death last month.

“Ultimately, we had to have a meeting where I tried to help them more with life skills, coping with loss,” Bernier said. “I reminded them this is their happy place. They enjoy each other. I think they were bringing a lot that other stuff out to the golf course.”

Said Rothberg: “Coach keeps us in a really good head space. He got us right back on track.”

A.J. DePaolo, a sophomore from Cheshire, posted a 73 on one of Chehshire’s home courses, finishing a stroke behind Rothberg and helping Cheshire place second.

“When I heard it was here (moving from Race Brook CC), I thought, there was definitely a shot (to be medalist) more than at other courses because it is my home course,” DePaolo said. “A couple of 3-putts hurt me at the end.”

Chehsire was the only team to beat Prep during the regular season.

Guilford placed third (333) behind 78s shot by Andrew Beauton and Miguel Pearce. Xavier was fourth at 333, and Shelton and Hand tied for fifth (336).

“Prep posted a very good score and they won the championship. The SCC is known for competition. That’s what we do. We pride ourselves on how competitive the SCC is,” Cheshire coach Dan Lee said.

Now Prep tries to defend its Division I state championship on Monday at Stanley GC.

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli

SCC CHAMPIONSHIP

(at The Farms CC)

Team results: 1. Fairfield Prep, 304; 2. Cheshire 320; 3. Guilford 331; 4. Xavier 333; 5. (tie) Hand and Shelton, 336; 7. Notre Dame-West Haven 338; 8. Branford, 339; 9. Amity 343.

Individual results: Mike Rothberg (Fairfield Prep), 72; A.J. DePaolo (Cheshire), 73; Charlie Duffy (Fairfield Prep), 75; Will Huntington (Fairfield Prep), 76; Cam St. Pierre (Shelton), 76; Andrew Beauton (Guilford), 78; Miguel Pearce (Guilford), 78; Riley Brabant (Cheshire), 78; Justin Acquarulo (Branford), 79; Keegan Lalonde (Branford), 79; Ethan McDaniel (Amity), 80; Jack Gifford (Fairfield Prep), 81; Peter Alfano (Notre Dame), 81; Reece Scott (Hand), 81; Casimir Lesnik (Hand), 81; Carter Slowik (Notre Dame), 82; John Carrozzella (Xavier), 82; Brett Chodos (Amity), 82; John Thompson (Xavier), 82; Vin DeFeo (Shelton), 82; Nick Fortunato (Cheshire), 83; Finn Russell (Xavier), 84; Nick Giaquinto (Notre Dame), 84; Madison Whitney (Xavier), 85; Mark Valus (Fairfield Prep), 85; Tyler Pearson (Shelton), 85.