An inside look at Week 2 of CIAC football: Standouts, comebacks and looking ahead

Shelton's David Dojlidko looks to turn the corner on Hand defender Gavin Wagner in the first half of their SCC football game at Shelton High School in Shelton, Conn. on Friday, September 16, 2022.
Shelton's David Dojlidko looks to turn the corner on Hand defender Gavin Wagner in the first half of their SCC football game at Shelton High School in Shelton, Conn. on Friday, September 16, 2022.Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Hand coach Erik Becker didn’t mince words after his team dropped a 28-0 decision to Shelton Friday night at Finn Stadium: Shelton, now 2-0 and ranked No. 3 in the latest GameTimeCT Top 10 football poll, was the real deal.

“Shelton is as advertised. I’d say it’s the best Shelton team I’ve seen since Dan Orlovsky was the quarterback,” said Becker, who’s been around high school football in Connecticut for the better part of the two decades since that team last roamed Finn Stadium in 2000.

A reporter stopped him, “That’s pretty...” Bold was how that sentence was supposed to end. But Becker didn’t wait.

“I’ll make that statement,” he declared.

There have been some good ones, for sure. After Orlovsky and Co. won the 2000 title, their protégés won it all again (in a new six-division format) just three years later.

There was the 2007 team, led by Geoff Schultz, which bludgeoned most of its SCC opponents on the way to the Class LL final only to run into a once-in-a-generation Greenwich team.

The only other blemish on Shelton’s record that year — ironically enough — was Hand, 33-7 in a pouring slop at Finn Stadium. Guilford baseball coach Nick Merullo, then a Hand sophomore, was making his debut at QB. Becker was on staff.

There have been two more Shelton teams of significance: 2014's "close-but..." club led by Walter Camp Player of the Year QB Mark Piccirillo (also in attendance Friday night), a team that figuratively remains stunned and furious standing around shrugging its arms on the 1-yard line in OT of the Class LL-Small final against Xavier.

Who really knows how the 12-0, 2015 team might have really fared against mighty Darien in the next year’s Class LL final had starting QB Zach Tuskowski not broken his arm on the game’s very first offensive first play — a pick-6 — in a 39-7 loss. On second thought, we might have answered our own question.

Seriously, though, this edition is merely 2-0 and Friday night’s game — as well as Shelton played — wasn’t really decided until the Gaels’ defense made the last of its many stands to keep Hand off the scoreboard.

And, truth be told, third-year coach Mike DeFelice — who played on a Shelton championship team, coached on just about every one since, and has been through all those heartbreaks — is not about to start comparing notes with Great Gaels of Seasons Past.

“They’re definitely solid wins and the kids have responded well to everything we’ve been trying to teach and coach them up on,” he said of the team's two victories.

“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time because there’s no creampuff on our schedule. If we try to take a team lightly we’re going to be on the other side of that score very easily.”

Coach speak, but he's not wrong. Shelton’s SCC Tier I schedule is a who’s-who of legitimate programs. Their CT Football Alliance schedule is the same. Shelton whipped up on Ridgefield 55-14 in Week 1, but Ridgefield — perhaps left for dead by most observers heading into this week — turned around and nearly buried No. 1 Greenwich before the Cardinals rallied back to win 49-42.

Next week, the Alliance schedule flares up again, certain to weed some more pretenders from contenders.

Shelton gets to go to Windsor (1-1), last year’s Class L runner-up and a perennial threat. No. 1 Greenwich plays host to No. 7 Southington in a possible Class LL title preview. No. 6 Fairfield Prep, last year’s Class LL runner-up and fresh off its first win, faces suddenly-potent-looking No. 2 New Canaan. No. 5 Maloney gets to face once-No. 2 but now unranked Darien.

In other words: It’s September. There’s still a lot to learn.


A look back at Friday night in Week 2 of CIAC football around Connecticut:

John Bardin, Danbury: The quarterback scored half of his team’s eight rushing touchdowns in a 54-27 win over Stamford.

Darnell Bronson, New Milford: Ran for touchdowns of 16, 9 and 21 yards and caught an 8-yard touchdown pass in the Green Wave’s 42-22 win over Brookfield.

Jason Champagne, Masuk: He took Week 1 personally, so he ran 13 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers beat Notre Dame-Fairfield 38-0.

Machi Ingram, Ansonia: Our man Joe Morelli said to pick our poison between David Cassetti and Ingram. With the feeling we may have to do that a lot this year, we’ll go Ingram this time after his seven carries for 148 yards and three scores in a 42-7 win over Woodland.

Chris Kakos, New Fairfield: Caught nine passes for 159 yards and a touchdown as the Rebels defeated Pomperaug 34-14.

Luke Maher, Granby/Canton: He scored three touchdowns — 70 yards on the first — in a 35-7 win over the Stafford co-op. 

Curtis McCray, Hamden: The senior was in on eight tackles, two of them for a loss, in a 49-6 win over Wilbur Cross. 

Matt McGuire, Oxford: The junior quarterback was 12-for-18 for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries in the Wolverines’ 34-22 win over Wilby. 

John Neider, Law: Threw for touchdowns of 7 and 27 yards and ran for 18- and 25-yard touchdowns in a 48-0 win at Bassick.

Hunter Noonan, Foran: Sophomore linebacker was credited with two forced fumbles and three interceptions in the Lions’ 35-7 win over Lyman Hall

Teddy Richardson, Woodstock Academy: Stepping in at quarterback for his friend Braiden Saucier, who suffered a seizure in Week 1, Richardson ran for 60 yards and a touchdown and passed for 76 yards and a score in the Centaurs’ 47-0 win at Weaver.

Soren Rief, Killingly: Just 315 yards on 17 carries, only four touchdowns, in what was merely a 50-point win over NFA.

Alex Russey, New Canaan: The sophomore quarterback ran nine times for 31 yards, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter as the Rams took control of a 37-14 win over McMahon. He was also 6-for-11 for 50 yards.

Tyler Smith, Fairfield Prep: The No. 6 Jesuits beat Xavier 30-14 as Smith, a junior, went 14-for-25 for 181 yards and three touchdowns.

Chilli White, Windsor: Ran for touchdowns of 15 and 6 yards, then caught a 45-yard touchdown pass in the Warriors’ 26-6 win over New Britain. 


Tre Blair, Bristol Central: Caught a third-quarter touchdown pass and ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Rams came back from 11 points down early in the third to beat South Windsor 31-30.

Jack Konigsberg, Greenwich: He scored two touchdowns, the first of which began a comeback from 21 points behind, as the No. 1 Cardinals held off Ridgefield 49-42.


Lucas Chymbor, Cheshire: He caught touchdown passes of 60 and 20 yards, and he added an interception in a 30-0 win over Hillhouse.

David Dojlidko, Shelton: Scored two 2-yard rushing touchdowns and intercepted two Hand passes in a 28-0 win.

Cayden Martin, Naugatuck: Ran for three touchdowns and helped shut down Seymour’s offense in a 42-7 win

Matteao Petruzziello, Notre Dame-West Haven: Recovered a fumble that set up his own game-winning touchdown catch with 2:09 left in a 14-7 victory over North Haven.


Mason Stannard, Torrington: Kicked both extra points, the difference in a 14-13 win over Wolcott.

Marquis Ward, Maloney: The No. 5 Spartans broke open what had been a tie game in the first half, and Ward’s 75-yard kickoff return put Maloney ahead for good in a 35-13 win over Simsbury


Tyler Holcomb, E.O. Smith: He ran 13 times for 123 yards and a touchdown, and he had 11 solo tackles and was in on six others in the Panthers’ 30-20 win over East Haven

Jacob Rand, Valley Regional/Old Lyme: The senior ran five times for 58 yards and two touchdowns, was 7-for-9 on extra points, had a solo tackle and ran a kickoff back 75 yards for a touchdown in his team’s 61-12 win over the Coginchaug co-op.

Michael Trovarelli, Bunnell: The senior ran for 206 yards (which is around 60% of what the reigning GameTimeCT Boys Athlete of the Week did last week) and three touchdowns on 25 carries. He completed a 23-yard touchdown pass. He was in on eight tackles, forced a fumble and had a 45-yard interception return in the Bulldogs’ 45-20 win over Weston.


Tyler Ladia, Montville: Senior quarterback was 17-for-22 for 336 yards (Isaiah Balancier received for 275 of those) and six touchdowns as Montville broke a 17-game losing streak with a 38-28 victory over Bacon Academy.

Luke Watson, Farmington: Scored on runs of 1 and 62 yards and caught a 55-yard touchdown pass in a 30-8 win over Avon that snapped a 12-game losing streak.


Rashard Williams, Southington: The junior caught six passes for 145 yards, including four of C.J. DiBenedetto’s five touchdown passes, and the Blue Knights’ 49-21 win over Hall was the 100th in coach Mike Drury’s career.


(“Will you come see me Thursdays and Saturdays? (Hey) (Hey) (Hey)” (Stephen Stills, 1945-))

Danny Hernandez, SMSA: Scored his touchdown on third-and-goal from the 5, and Tristan Gaddy’s extra point was the difference in a 7-6 win over Rockville.

Tom Ligi, Holy Cross: Three more rushing touchdowns. One more receiving touchdown. A 54-12 win over Watertown.

Melakai Maddox, Fitch: In Thursday’s 47-6 win over New London, he ran for 178 yards, scored two rushing touchdowns, scored on a 47-yard interception return and scored on a 57-yard fumble return. 

Declan McCann, Conard: Scored three touchdowns, including the last-minute game-winner, lifting the Red Wolves past Newington 36-33. He converted two fourth downs on the winning drive.

Coaches/stat folks, next week please send us your Thursday and Friday stars by Saturday morning at Email us your Saturday stars at the same address ASAP. (And only because his coach did that while this concept was in flux, a note that Bullard/Kolbe’s Armani Gulley ran for 242 yards, scored two touchdowns, had two picks and forced two fumbles in a Week 1 win.) 


On to Week 3:

Stratford (1-1) at Avon (0-2), Friday, 6 p.m.: “The (Red) devil hath power/T'assume a pleasing shape” —Hamlet II.2, mostly

Bloomfield (2-0) at Killingly (2-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Fun fact: Ansonia is the biggest school in Class S this year. Killingly had a boys enrollment last year one larger than Ansonia. It is in Class MM because of “success modifiers” and whatnot. Anyway, here’s basically a Class S playoff game that isn’t.

Staples (1-0 pending Saturday’s game at St. Joseph) at Newington (0-2), Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Six playoff divisions with eight teams apiece means it’s hard for it to get late early for anybody this year... except maybe in Class L, where Newington follows this with Glastonbury and Maloney.

Barlow (2-0) at Wethersfield (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: A nice SWC-CCC game in the Alliance.

Fairfield Prep (1-1) at New Canaan (2-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: This week’s No. 6 visits No. 2. The Jesuits bounced back from its out-of-state loss to beat Xavier; New Canaan handled McMahon.

Holy Cross (2-0) at Seymour (1-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: Last year this came a lot closer to the end of the season and pretty much clinched a Crusaders playoff berth. This year’s will paint a bit of an earlier NVL/Class S picture.

Maloney (2-0) at Darien (0-1 pending Saturday’s game vs. Bridgeport Central), Friday, 7 p.m.: Last year’s Class L champ against last year’s Class LL champ!... except they’re both in Class L under the new six-division format... and they could meet again... ehh, still fun.

Newtown (1-1) at Hand (1-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: Idle “wouldn’t this’ve been a gas in 2019, two top-three teams” deleted. Has the potential to be plenty fun in 2022, too, two also-receiving-votes teams, one of whom will fall to a “those are two tough ones” 1-2.

Shelton (2-0) at Windsor (1-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: It’s even harder for it to get late early in Class MM. Even after its win over New Britain, Windsor could probably use a break, with Southington still to come (not to mention Bloomfield to close the season, their first meeting since 2010). This is not that break.

Masuk (1-1) at St. Joseph (1-0 pending Saturday’s game vs. Staples), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: The last time Masuk played a team from Trumbull (you know, a week ago), the teams combined for 92 points. That’s six-and-a-half times the combined total in the first St. Joe’s game. Masuk coach Steve Christy called this “the biggest game of our lives.”

Southington (2-0) at Greenwich (2-0), Saturday, 3 p.m.: Another potential playoff preview in the Alliance regular season.


Notable Week 3 bye among teams who received votes in the most recent GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll: Rockville (1-1).