Game Time in the Northwest Corner. Raiders (6-0) host Chargers (5-0).
TORRINGTON: It’s time.
No more hype, no more stories (except this one), no more videos.
It’s Torrington against Ansonia for the Naugatuck Valley League title.
7 p.m. tonight at what promises to be an electrifying scene at the Robert H. Frost, the likes we have not seen in the Northwest Corner in a very long time, two unbeaten teams come in, one leaves with a blemish.
The Chargers come in 5-0, the Raiders 6-0, their best start since 1948.
History is not on the home team’s side, the last time they walked out of a game against the Class S powerhouse with a win was 28 years ago in 1987 when Torrington staged a second half comeback and came out of Municipal Stadium in Waterbury with a 19-18 win.
How will this night play out?
Several fascinating scenarios will be on display tonight, starting with the crowd which may break records for contests of any kind played at THS. Estimations range from 3-5 thousand, depending on who you listen to.
The Robert H. Frost Complex, just over a year off from its grand makeover that extended the seating capacity enormously on both sides, will be tested like never before.
Fans may be arriving as I write this at 10 a.m. Friday morning because they know they need to. Additional ticket booths will be open tonight at the main entrance to expedite fans coming into the game and arraignments are being made to utilize the practice fields behind the main grandstands as additional parking areas.
The 130 member THS marching band will be located on the infield portion of the track, opening more seats in the grandstand for fans.
Expect the surrounding fenced in areas to be many deep all around the complex.
A challenge but one that because these two teams come in on such rolls, was bound to happen.
Expect every media outlet west of Boston to be on hand. Heck, the New York Mets are not playing until Tuesday when the World Series starts so maybe a few of them may come north.
About the game itself, it’s tough to ever bet against an Ansonia team that is so deep in tradition and one that fits their talent into the system year after year.
There is no mystery when it comes to playing the Chargers. Here we are, here we come, good luck stopping us.
Count on a fundamentally outstanding line on both sides of the ball designed to either open or close holes, depending on who has possession.
Tajik Bagley and Tyler Bailey will be a handful and if the Raiders attempt to cheat in one direction or the other, Ansonia is masterful at switching things up, either with a pass or a reverse at any point.
Making tackles will be crucial for Torrington against a team that won’t give you a second chance to make a first impression when you come face to face with the ball carrier.
Missing injured senior Tyler Marens will hurt the Raiders more on the defensive side of the ball than on the offensive side. Marens is defensive coordinator Bob Reynolds freelance defender and was often left to do what he thought was best on each play.
Ignacio Reynoso is also on the shelve tonight with an injury and will be missed on the defensive side as well.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders still possess many weapons and may need senior quarterback Connor Finn to try and win this one through the air.
In the backfield, senior Newton Frias, in an act of true brotherhood, asked both head coach Gaitan Rodriguez and Marens if he could wear number 7 to honor his injured teammate and both agreed, so adjust your score cards appropriately.
To understate things, making mistakes are not something either team will get away with on Friday night.
It would be tough to imagine a high scoring affair but who knows?
This is the biggest game in the state tonight and what a positive statement about how far the Raiders program has come in the third year under Rodriguez who has instilled a sense of pride that each of these players now understand.
Both teams appear to be on track to play football in December, a familiar happening in the valley, not so much up in the Northwest Corner but before they get there, the business of settling the NVL Champion will be determined by about 9:30 tonight.
Who will step up for both teams on Friday night?
If you want to see it, start out to THS now.