Shelton High football coach Jeff Roy’s primary concern after his team’s one-sided 59-17 loss to powerhouse Xavier of Middletown Saturday night at Finn Stadium was how to get his team emotionally ready for its road encounter this Friday night against Hand of Madison.
As good as the Falcons were in earning their seventh win of the season against a lone loss, the Tigers are the only team to beat Xavier this season (40-20 on the road).
“We came in her tonight needing to play our A-game to have any chance of beating them,” Roy said. “I haven’t seen the film yet, but I doubt we played anywhere near what we needed to.
“We hung with them for awhile, but their overall size and speed was too much for us.”
The Southern Connecticut Conference’s scheduling can be tough. This is one of those times where it really went against Shelton.
“We’ll go back to work on Monday,” Roy said. “That’s all we can do.”
Xavier rolled for 630 yards of total offense, with 461 of them coming on the ground and another 169 through the passing lanes.
The Falcons scored eight touchdowns, added eight straight extra points and got a 45-yard field goal from kicker Rick Verre, whose attempt, aided by a tail wind, hit the cross-bar and carried over with 2:37 to play in the fourth quarter.
It pretty much summed up how the evening went for Xavier — which must prepare for West Haven this Friday night.
“I thought we executed well both on offense and defense,” Xavier coach Sean Marinian said. “It was a better effort than we’ve had the past two weeks.”
The Falcons needed 28 unanswered points just one week before to finally overcome Hillhouse, 50-49.
“It was nice to see the defense keep the score down a bit,” Marinian added.
After its defense gave up a score the first time Xavier had the ball (a six-play, 67-yard drive capped off by a 24-yard run by DeAngelo Berry), Shelton’s offense moved it well downfield.
Behind sophomore quarterback Mark Piccirillo, the Gaels drove to the Xavier 45 but looked to be stymied. However, on a fourth-and-14, the Gaels went with the fake and Matt Feigenblat carried the ball 24 yards to the Falcon 24.
Xavier’s defense dug in and stopped the Gaels, who still scored three points on Eddie Groth’s 32-yard field goal.
That four-point deficit was quickly extended to 11 when Berry scored again, this time from 27 yards out on the next series. The score came with 2:55 to play in the opening quarter.
Xavier pushed its lead to 21-3 early in the second quarter, as Andrew Meoli ran it in from 25 yards out and Verre added the extra point.
Undeterred, the Gaels came right back with a lengthy 15-play, 77-yard drive culminated with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Piccirillo to Kyle Drost with 3:14 left.
Groth’s extra point cut the lead to 11 at 21-10.
Xavier, however, proved unstoppable and increased its lead to 28-10 when quarterback Tim Boyle connected with Kris Luster from 30 yards out with just 40.6 seconds to play in the half.
Ferre’s kick improved the lead to 28-10.
The Falcons steadily pushed that out in the second half to 59-10, before Shelton’s unit put together its final touchdown drive from 69 yards out.
Sophomore running back Troy Vasilescu’s 49-yard run produced the score with 26 seconds showing on the clock. Groth kicked the extra point for the final 59-17 score.
In all, Shelton had 295 yards of offense (177 on the ground and another 118 through the air).
Feigenblat led all Gael rushers with 62 yards on 18 carried, while Vasilescu added 56 on three attempts.
The Gaels lost Ed Kochiss early in the game to an ankle injury.
Piccirillo passed for 110 yards with nine completions out of 17 attempts. He was intercepted once.
On the negative side, Shelton turned the ball over five times (three interceptions and two fumbles lost).
The Gaels used Tom Gottschalk, Don Schiffer, Chris Sinko, James Dodge and Austin Peel on their interior offensive line.
Leading on defense were Vasilescu, Michael Pingree, Jaggar Kalagian, Gottschalk, Peel and James Farrell.
Shelton will take a 5-3 record into its game in Madison against top-ranked Daniel Hand (8-0).