Shelton High took care of business against Derby on Thursday in the 107th meeting between the two schools.
The Gaels beat Derby 49-8 before about 1,500 at Finn Stadium in Shelton on Thanksgiving Day to earn the second-seed and a first-round Class LL quarterfinal home game against seventh-seeded West Haven (8-2) on Tuesday at 6:30. Shelton defeated West Haven, 38-28, when the SCC rivals played last month.
This year’s Thanksgiving Day game was played at Finn Stadium, due to renovations to Derby’s Ryan Field.
“We wanted to get out of here healthy, with the win and secure home field advantage,” said Shelton coach Jeff Roy. “We knew Derby was going to come and throw some different wrinkles at us and they played us tough early. We made the adjustments, and the kids made the plays in the first half and the second quarter to take control of the game.”
It was the 15th straight time that Shelton (9-1) defeated Derby (3-7) and the Gaels now lead the series 57-43-7. The Gaels have won 18 of the last 19 games against Derby, and are 28-6-1 over the last 35 years.
An undermanned Derby squad made things interesting in the game’s opening minutes.
After forcing Shelton to punt after three plays, the Red Raiders picked up a couple first downs before Shelton sophomore Michael Lockavitch recovered a fumble at the Derby 37.
That proved to be the spark Shelton needed to start taking control.
Game MVP Jake Roberts started the onslaught with a 9-yard touchdown pass to fellow junior Brian Berritto for a 7-0 Shelton lead.
Lockavitch, who made his own play for MVP, partially blocked a Derby punt to set up a Roberts’ 3 -yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. Nick Andrade made his second of seven PATs for a 14-0 Shelton advantage.
The Gaels scored twice more in the second quarter, with Roberts connecting with Michael Casinelli and Jack Carr from 10 and 16 yards out respectively, to make it 28-0 Shelton at the intermission.
The Gaels’ Georgio Ghazal returned a punt 45 yards to open the second half scoring and make it 35-0.
After Derby scored its only touchdown of the day, against a Shelton defense made up mostly of reserves, Ghazal helped Shelton quickly answer with a 49-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Sophomore Michai Lynch Barnes closed out the scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter for the final margin of 49-8.
The easy win allowed Shelton to rest many of its starters in the second half, given the short week ahead.
“It didn’t really matter who we played,” said Roberts, who earned MVP honors behind 8-of-14 passing for 133 yards and three touchdowns, to go with a rushing TD. “West Haven is a great team. We just have to come out and play our regular Gael football.”
Lynch-Barnes led the Shelton rushing attack with 65 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Ghazal added 55 more yards and another score.
Carr, Shelton’s starting running back, rushed for 28 yards on five carries and turned his only reception into a touchdown in a limited role.
Berritto, David Yakowicz and Casinelli each had a pair of catches.
Defensively, Lockavitch paved the way with one fumble recovery, a blocked punt, a sack and four tackles for loss.
“A big sophomore, he plays aggressive and he’s big, strong, fast,” said Roy of Lockavitch.
Jaryd Witkowski, Ray Weiner and Casinneli all played well, as the Shelton defense limited Derby to just 68 first half yards.