In the end it came down to defense, as it usually does for Xavier (Middletown)
football. The Falcons' D brought home the school's second Class LL championship Friday night and helped lay claim to the state's No. 1 ranking.
Xavier (13-0) gave up an early touchdown to Trumbull in the LL title game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, but the Falcons completely eliminated the Eagles' ground game and intercepted three passes to stop almost all other scoring threats in a 24-13 victory.
That's not to say Xavier's offense didn't do its part. Quarterbacks
and Tim Boyle
put the ball in the hands of junior Mike Mastrioanni
(5 feet 9, 175 pounds) and he rumbled through the middle or off-tackle for 229 yards on 39 carries and two touchdowns.
"We've had great games, but we had a great offensive night tonight," Mastroianni said. "Our run was working, our pass was working. It was just clicking today."
"He's shifty," D'Amato said. "He's got great agility and I think his size kind of gives him an advantage. He's sneaky in between our big offensive line and he's just a tough-nosed runner."MaxPreps' Connecticut football playoff brackets
The Falcons didn't go to the air much but D'Amato was effective when he did. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown, including long strikes to Kosy Broderick
(four catches, 162 yards) for 65 and 69 yards, the second for a touchdown. Boyle's only completion was a 23-yarder to Broderick, who also intercepted a pass.
After Graham Stewart
, who will attend Boston College next fall, returned the opening kickoff 34 yards to the Trumbull 46, Xavier marched right through the Eagles for its first score in seven plays ending with a Mastroianni 3-yard run.Trumbull
(11-3) responded with a nine-play, 71-yard drive of its own, keyed by passes from Ian Milne
to Tom Pauciello
of 16 and 29 yards. An 8-yard completion to Bryan Dewalt
to the Xavier 1 set up an fourth-and-goal and Don Cherry
busted in for the score.
But that would be all in the first half for Trumbull. Xavier limited the Eagles to 20 rushing yards on 11 carries while piling up 182 of its own. At halftime, Xavier held a 309-101 edge in total offense and would end a yard shy of 500 for the game. Trumbull finished with 209 yards total offense.
"We were running around to the ball a lot faster (in the second half) and we knew as long as we didn't let them score that our offense could keep the ball on a steady pace and gives us good position, so we could prevent them," said Stewart, who had one sack and one interception.
Defensive end Sean Marinan
, whose father Sean coaches the team, led the Falcons with seven total tackles, while cornerback Ryan Jacobucci
and strong safety Gerry Basadonna
each added four.
"It's a little better than the '05 team," said head coach Sean Marinan, referring to Xavier's other title team defense that he also coached. "It has a lot to do with (defensive coordinator) Andy (Guyon) and his schemes. It's his schemes, his pressures that brought the best out in the kids.
"(This title) it's a little sweeter because my son's on the team. And this is really, really special for me."Joseph Lynch
kicked a field goal from 25 yards with 1:53 left in the first quarter and Mastroianni picked up his second TD on a 5-yard run with 3:30 left for a 17-7 halftime lead.
Xavier broke it open on Broderick's 69-yard reception with 1:44 left in the third. Trumbull's second score came following a special teams breakdown when Ryan Pearson
blocked a Boyle punt and it was recovered by Ryan Monaco at the Falcons' 24. Three plays later Brian Gallo, in for Milne, found Pauciello for a 4-yard touchdown pass on the right side of the end zone.
"I think so," said Mastroianni about deserving the No. 1 ranking over Class L winner Masuk (Monroe), also 13-0. "We showed it tonight. We're Class LL, the biggest class there is. We came in the No. 1 team, undefeated and I think we proved it tonight."OTHER CLASS FINALSMasuk (Monroe)
made its claim to the state's top ranking with a 50-20 rout of New Canaan
(11-2). The Panthers, who won their third state title, broke open a game they led 24-20 at halftime with 27 unanswered points in the second half.
Masuk quarterback Casey Cochran
, the Gatorade State Player of the Year, went 22-for-32 for 309 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Colin Markus
gained 178 yards on 32 carries and scored three times.
New Canaan's Matthew Milano
put up big passing numbers as well, 30-for-48 for 362 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted twice, both by Jon Testani
The state's three final polls, two writers and one coaches, will be released Tuesday. Xavier entered the playoffs No. 1 in two of the polls and the teams were tied for the top spot in the third.
* In Class M, Hillhouse (New Haven)
(10-3) pulled out an improbable Class M title from the No. 8 seed with a 7-0 victory over New London (10-3). The only score came in the fourth quarter on Harold Cooper's
8-yard run. Stephen Dejournett's
43-yard reception from Je'vaughn Moore
set up the score. It was the Academics' fourth state title.
* St. Joseph (Trumbull)
won a shootout with Ansonia 49-28 in Class S for the Cadets' 10th state title. St. Joseph's Tyler Matakevich
scored four times, rushing for 122 yards and gaining 51 yards receiving. The Cadets (9-3) overcame Montrell Dobbs' 303 yards rushing and three scores for Ansonia (11-2).Paul Rosano, the former assistant sport editor of The Hartford Courant and sports editor of The New Haven Register, covers Connecticut for MaxPreps.com. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.