Football: Motivated Shelton swamps SCC foe West Haven

Having lost to West Haven in last year’s Class LL state playoff quarterfinals, Shelton High had a little extra motivation to come out on top when the Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 1 rivals squared off at Finn Stadium on Saturday.

The unbeaten Gaels put this go-around on ice early with six opening-half touchdowns on the way to a 42-12 victory.

Shelton improved to 9-0 and the Blue Devils fell to 5-4.

“We talked about it, the kids talked about it. Last time they were on this field they beat us,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said.

The final score wasn’t indicative of how lopsided this game was. The Gaels carried a 42-0 lead into halftime and with a running clock and the starters pulled in the third and fourth quarters, the locals played conservatively and coasted to the triumph.

“We definitely wanted to win this game. It meant a lot,” Shelton quarterback Jake Roberts said. “The offense is starting to click. Defense is defense...They’re the core of our team.”

Shelton has held oppositions to 13 or fewer points in eight games this fall.

Roberts rushed for a score and passed for two more, the running game was productive, the defense was stout and special teams solid  — as well as opportunistic — including recovering an onside kick.

“I think it was a great all-around effort. We’re playing our best football of the year right now,” Roy said. “We’ve had some great practices and hopefully we can keep it rolling,” Roy said.

The Gaels, seeded first in Class LL, close out the regular season with a Thanksgiving Day game against visiting Derby at 10:30 a.m. They head into the finale having put up over 40 points in three straight contests.

Roberts scored on a one-yard keeper to break the ice against West Haven. The Gaels led 14-0 after one quarter following a Roberts to Paul Ferrigno 57-yard pass play and another Nick Andrade extra point kick.

Jack Carr scored on a five-yard run early in the second quarter.

Special teams then got in on the act when Michai Lynch Barnes recovered Andrade’s well-executed onside kick. One play later, David Yakowicz found paydirt on a reverse from 45 yards out.

Shelton had doubled its lead from 14 to 28 in a matter of just 14 seconds, with 9:36 to go before the half. The defense continued to shut down the Blue Devils, and the offense piled on more points.

Roberts hooked up with Ferrigno on a 51-yard scoring pass play over the middle, pushing the lead to 35-0 at the mid-point of the second period.

West Haven struggled to move the ball but managed to keep a late-half drive going with a fourth down conversion. But the Gaels dug their heels in. A quarterback sack by Philip Sissick and a tackle in the backfield by Jake Breton helped thwart another Blue Devil drive. Ray Weiner was among the Gaels to come up with tackles as the hosts contained West Haven throughout the game.

“It’s a great team defense. We’ve got a lot of speed on defense and we’re big up front,” Roy said.

The Gaels moved the ball 60 yards in the final 1:05 of the opening half, capped by a Carr two-yard scoring run after he took a direct snap. The TD came with just three seconds left in the half, after Roberts hit Ferrigno for 12 yards on third and eight.

West Haven scored once in each the third and fourth quarters.

This game had been postponed twice. Originally scheduled for Oct. 26, it was put on hold following the passing of West Haven Principal Pam Gardner. The original makeup was also pushed back due to Thursday’s snowstorm.

The Gaels cleared the field on Friday night, and low mounds of snow outlined the playing area.