Football: Shelton guts out 19-15 win over Prep

Football teams are made up of three units — offense, defense and special teams— each squad equally important to a team’s success.

The one element coaches want more than any other is commitment to detail and belief in the system.

That is a two-way street, as players expect nothing less from their coaches.

That is what made Shelton High’s 19-15 come-from-behind victory over Fairfield Prep all the more impactful to Gael coach Jeff Roy.

“I believe in them,” Roy said after Shelton rallied back to win this SCC matchup before a large bi-partisan crowd at Edward Finn Stadium.

“I believed them we went for it on fourth down (and were stopped midway through the fourth quarter) and I believed in them with less than two minutes left and needing to score.”

Junior quarterback Jake Roberts, after completing a 31-yard pass to David Yakowicz, ran for a 2-yard touchdown to finish off a 6-play, 59-yard drive that began with 1:53 remaining.

Roberts and Yakowicz, both turned questions about their performances into opportunities to praise their coaches.

“It was a two-minute drill that we work on every week,” said Roberts, making his third varsity start at quarterback. “It’s all because of how we practice and how my coaches got me to settle down. As a team we stay hungry.”

Yakowicz said, “Every week our coaches tell us that each of us is being counted on to do something special. Tonight, they called the play and it was my time. If it wasn’t for our coaches none of it would have happened.”

They both gave shout outs to the offensive line of Jaryd Witkowski, Eddie Radizon, Eric Zelanin, David Youngquist, Ray Weiner and Jake Breton.

The win was Shelton’s second straight, as the Gaels held off Daniel Hand by a score of 21-19 in week two.

“Every Friday night, what we do is is we come out and play with heart,” Roy said. “That is what we did tonight. The players made us proud.”

Fairfield Prep, after wins over Notre Dame of West Haven and Amity, pushed Shelton to the limit.

After its defense turned Shelton over on downs, Prep took possession at the Gaels 47 with 5:18 remaining to be played.

Jesuit quarterbacks Will Lucas (on fourth down) and Connor Boyle each ran for first downs, before Shelton’s Georgio Ghazi, Tyler Janik, Zach McEwen and Radzion made plays to force a 4th-and-17 from the 30.

Lucas dropped a pass over the head of two defenders and into the arms of Phillip DeJesus, who caught the seam pass in stride on the eight-yard line and ran into the end zone with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Boyle ran for the two-point conversion and a three-point lead.

Shelton’s Paul Ferrigno returned the kickoff 33 yards to the 41-yard line.

Roberts faked a handoff to Carr, who them went in the flat and caught an 11-yard pass to move the sticks inside Prep territory.

Yakowicz caught an 8-yarder and Jake Oddo a 7-yarder for a first down at the 33.

With the clock running, Roberts was given enough time to pump fake a throw and then throw over the top down the near sideline for Yakowicz to lay out and make the catch at the two.

Roberts went off the left side for the go-ahead touchdown and Nick Andrade added the PAT.

Prep had one last chance, but three incomplete passes and a scramble run gave Shelton back possession with 25 seconds left.

Prep’s Henry Houghton recovered a fumbled punt on the Shelton 16, and three plays later Lucas hit DeJesus with a 21-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 2:52 left in the opening period.

Roberts put the finishing touches on a 57-yard, 9-play drive with a 2-yard TD run at 5:33 of the second period. The two-point conversion pass failed.

Shelton’s Ray Weiner recovered a fumble at the Gael 20.

Jack Carr broke off 44-yard run to jump-start the attack.

Brian Berritto made a nice cut to get open at the nine, and slipped out of a tackle attempt to score on a 27-yard 3rd-and-12 play. Again, the two-point conversion try failed but Shelton led 12-7 with 1:57 on the clock.

Prep mounted a two-minute drill of its own, only to have Yakowicz tackle Chris Duffy two yards shy of paydirt as time ran out in the half.