Week 1 Notes Column: Muzzy a field of dreams for Mills
Yes, it's true. You can now put the Lewis Mills football team in the same sentence as Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and Fred Lynn.
When the Spartans took the field Saturday at Muzzy Field in their first-ever varsity game, they joined that aforementioned list to play at the historic Bristol field. Sure, that's all they may have in common, but it's a pretty cool distinction nonetheless.
And the program, which defeated Granby 20-13 in front of over 400 fans, seems to like its new digs.
"This is a fantastic place," Lewis Mills Athletic Director Dave Tanner said during Saturday's game. "It really doesn't get any better than this. The kids are really excited to play here."
Muzzy Field opened in 1912, and has outlasted many classic venues, most notably Yankee Stadium and Tiger Stadium. Babe Ruth, in a Red Sox uniform, homered in a 1919 exhibition at Muzzy. Wade Boggs hit .311 and .325 in 1978 and 1979, respectively, for the Bristol Red Sox.
And perhaps the greatest college baseball game ever played took place at this park in 1981. Future New York Met Ron Darling tossed 11 no-hit innings for Yale University before losing the no-hit bid and game in the 12th inning of a 1-0 defeat to St. John's. The pitcher for St. John's that day? Darling's future Met teammate, Frank Viola.
While the Spartans' opener Saturday will not go down in history as those events have, it was still memorable to those involved. Dylan Celone scored the first touchdown in team history on a two-yard run in the first quarter and Dave Orie rushed for two scores to seal the win.
Lewis Mills did catch a break with the schedule as Granby was also playing its inaugural varsity game, but that's something people won't remember years down the road when reminiscing about the first-ever Spartans game.
"You can see the excitement from everyone involved," Tanner said. "It's been a couple of years in the making (Lewis Mills fielded a junior varsity team the last two seasons) and we are really happy that we took our time developing this program. Last year, these kids were not ready to play on the varsity level. Today, they are."
Making a statement
One score that may have had high football followers do a double-take Saturday morning was Torrington 20, East Lyme 14. In East Lyme, no less.
A terrific season-opening win for the Red Raiders on the road against a state finalist from last season. Brenden Lytton had the game of his life, rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score on a 16-yard run in the fourth. Jared Williams also found the end zone for Torrington on a one-yard run in the first, while Franklin Sosa added 50 yards rushing.
The Torrington defense picked off East Lyme quarterback Al Loyd twice and held him to only 10 completions in 27 attempts.
This win sets up an interesting home and Naugatuck Valley League opener for the Red Raiders Friday night as they will play host to Naugatuck. The Greyhounds pounded Seymour, 54-6, this past Friday.
On the right path
After one game, Deron Bayer's Housatonic squad matched its 2009 win total by defeating the Sports Science Medical Academy, 28-14, Saturday night in Hartford.
Tanner Brissett carried the load, rushing for 169 yards on 29 carries. He scored three of the Mountaineers' touchdowns and added two rushing conversions on two-point attempts. Jake Sutterland rushed for 69 yards and Donyell Williams scored on a four-yard run.
Housatonic will play a rare home game under the lights Friday night (7 p.m.), playing host to Canton in Falls Village.
On the brink
Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky had to enforce a strategy Friday night that he, along with many, is not a fan of: do not score.
With his Greyhounds up 54-6 against Seymour, one more touchdown would have put Plasky up for suspension this week. For those that do not know, by CIAC rule a coach is suspended for one game if his team wins by 50 or more points. The rule is in place to prohibit coaches from running up scores to improve their team's point rating.
"I hate the rule," Plasky said. "It puts coaches in a hole and forces the kids not to finish a play. That's not what we are teaching them."
While the spirit of the rule is understandable, it puts coaches in tough situations. Covering the game, it was apparent Naugatuck was not running up the score. It threw only one pass in the second half and Seymour could not stop the Greyhounds' running attack. Not to mention Seymour could not move the ball.
Once the advantage reached 48, Plasky told his players not to advance any potential fumbles or interceptions so the lead would not increase. It may not seem like a big deal, but usually the kids in the game at that point are either underclassmen or seniors not good enough to play first string. A touchdown for them would be an invaluable experience.
Trust me, as a lifelong backup in all the sports I played, garbage time was very important. And this rule is taking that away.
The Torrington-Naugatuck game this week highlights three local games on Friday night. Lewis Mills will visit Valley Regional and Housatonic, as previously mentioned, will entertain Canton.
On Saturday, Wolcott Tech will look to win its first game of the season as Coginchaug visits Torrington. Gilbert will travel to Granby as it looks to go to 2-0.