G-N prepares for battle with Plainville in Class M playoffs.
WINSTED- Now that’s something you don’t see everyday around here.
A football team holding a practice, the weekend after Thanksgiving, preparing for another game.
Not that the players from the Gilbert/Northwestern Yellowjackets minded, they are preparing to play in their first ever State playoff game, against the Plainville Blue Devils at Torrington High School on Tuesday night.
Their Class M quarterfinal game had to be moved from Van Why Field to Torrington because there are no permanent lights on the G-N home field and the game will start at 6:30 p.m.
The ‘Jackets earned the “home” game with an 8-2 regular season, punctuated by two big wins in their last two games.
On Saturday, November 20, they shocked most by shutting out the Avon Falcons and their high powered offense in a 7-0 win that gave them a win-and-your-in scenario which they cashed in on by beating rival Housatonic 37-18 on Thanksgiving Day in Falls Village.
On Sunday, in front of the Gilbert School on the field where this defense cut it’s collective teeth over the past three years under head coach Scott Salius, the short time frame of preparation was in full swing.
It has been the defense that has taken the ‘Jackets to this point and if they hope to play again next Saturday in the semi-finals, it will be the “D” that steps up again.
The Blue Devils, who play in the Central Connecticut Conference IV Division (that’s a big conference to have four parts), are also a team on the rise.
In 2009, the Blue Devils posted a 0-10 record, off the heals of a 1-10 mark the season before.
Before a Thanksgiving Day 27-7 loss to Northwest Catholic, the Blue Devils had run off seven straight wins to put themselves in position to play in the post season.
The loss to Northwest Catholic forced Plainville on the road but like the Yellowjackets, team are just happy to still be playing this time of the year instead of collecting uniforms.
The Blue Devils did get some bad news in the Thursday loss, they lost their starting quarterback, Tony Lopizzo to a knee injury and the junior is not expected to play on Tuesday night.
Like the G-N program, the Blue Devils have been fighting for respect after having those tough seasons in the last two.
Don’t count on Salius putting too much stock in Plainville not having Lopizzo in the backfield, Tuesday night in Torrington.
He to is very used to people saying his team can’t win.
“Their quarterback (Lopizzo) main strength seemed to be making things happen with his legs,” Salius said, “The kid taking his place is also a good runner so we will just have to play great defense.”
Plainville likes to run sweeps behind a talented offensive line and the Yellowjackets practiced stopping that on Sunday and more.
Everybody seems healthy for the ’Jackets going into the Tuesday night match-up.
At this point, injuries heal fast when you know you have all winter to heal if you lose.
The debate over playing too many games in a short period of time is not even a thought it seems when a team is in the middle of it.
For these two teams, being there and getting some much earned respect for both programs is a great motivator.
NOTES: Tuesday look for a break down of the offensive and defensive units of the Yellowjackets with wall to wall coverage at the Robert H Frost Complex on Tuesday night.