Hillhouse in Gilbert's way to `Big House'
Hillhouse in Gilbert's way to `Big House'
WINSTED – Gilbert / Northwestern has been thinking a lot about “the big house” these days. And the Yellowjackets know that the road to the “big house” goes through Hillhouse.
The finest football season in school history continues today for G-N at Municipal Stadium with a 2 p.m. Class M seminfinal contest against the No. 8 Academics. The winner plays for a championship at a venue most high school players only get to visit as fans – UConn’s Rentschler Field.
“The carrot on the stick is that we want to play in the big house. It’s not playing for the championship it’s getting there,” said G-N coach Scott Salius. “Either they are going to go we are going. We took the players to UConn’s game against Texas Southern early in the season knew the high school championships were here. We talked about playing there. These kids are realizing they are close to doing something incredible.”
G-N (9-2) rolls into the game with a right to feel good about itself. The Yellowjackets ended the season with a flourish and flat out dismantled Plainville in the quarterfinal Tuesday night by a 41-6 margin that wasn’t that close.
The Yellowjackets defense suffocated the Plainville offense limiting the Blue Devils to minus-16 yards in the first half and a total of 121 yards, 67 coming on a late TD run.
The offense was at peak efficiency with quarterback Bobby Lippincott throwing for 127 yards and three touchdowns and running back Devon Molway piling up 88 yards on the ground.
Off the field, G-N also likes what has happened.
“We got a good draw against teams we can play with and our first game was at Torrington,” said Salius. “ Playing at Municipal Stadium is good for us. I’m not unhappy at all at the way things have gone.”
Some will think, in fact maybe many, that this is where the fun stops with Hillhouse on the other side of the ball. After all, the Academics (8-3) have won three titles, the last one in 2006 and are coming off an impressive 33-30 come-from-behind victory over previously unbeaten and top-ranked Berlin.
Big city team with speed to burn against the unknowns with no championship football pedigree. Mismatch? Not so fast says Salius. In fact, take another look.”
“Look, they’re a three-loss team and they also played some other teams that don’t have great records in close games,” said Salius. “They are not a team that is going to roll you, 40-0. They have three losses for a reason and as far as we’re concerned, they are not at another level. They find a way to win, but, this is a reachable game for us.”
Don’t in any way, shape or form mistake Salius’ thoughts for disrespect. He has the utmost respect for a great opponent. He just thinks his Yellowjackets can play in this game.
What Hillhouse does bring to the line of scrimmage is a team that barely lost to the state’s top-ranked team, Xavier, 9-6, and a load of speed. Senior Taurese Washington and sophomore Andre Anderson along with quarterback Je’Vaugn Moore who can be lethal with their legs.
“They have size and speed, what you want in a football team,” said Salius. “Their most dangerous thing is the quickness in their running backs. The offensive line is average, their backs make plays on their own. Enfield had a back like they have and Torrington’s Brenden Lytton is a comparable – a slasher with speed.”
The Yellowjackets’ goal is to contain.
“We have to stop them before they get going,” said Salius. “We can’t let them get into one-on-one situations on the corner. We have to turn it in. We have to pursue.”
G-N will be looking to lineman Charlie Shea, linebacker Kyle Jones and defensive back Drew McCarthy to spearhead the defensive effort.
Hillhouse brings a huge defensive front line and quick linebackers that could make yardage difficult for Molway. But, there might be some space in the air.
“I don’t think if we keep running it up the gut we’re going to be successful the whole game,” said Salius. “But, I think we will be able to get some receivers open. We’re going to need to get Bobby (Lippincott) outside the pocket to make him more mobile.”
Bottom line? Salius expects one heck of a game if his team plays with the same intensity it has brought to the field the last month.
The Yellowjackets know they’ll need a big effort. After all the winner gets to the “big house.” And a big dream. And they believe it is doable