By Larry Kelley
Special to CIACsports.com
ROCKY HILL, Conn. – Seymour football coach Tom Lennon felt prepared heading into the Wildcats’ Class S semifinal Monday against Rocky Hill.
After all, the 8th-seeded Wildcats scrimmaged the 4th-seeded Terriers in preseason and played competitively.
But not an in-person look, dozens of pre-season practice reps or all the film in the world could have prepared Seymour for what it was in for Monday – a Rocky Hill whirlwind of quickness and a nearly perfect first-half of football.
Rocky Hill overwhelmed Seymour with nearly 400 yards of offense to take a 35-0 first-half lead en route to a 42-7 rout and berth to the Terriers’ first state final Saturday against undefeated Ansonia, which has won more CIAC titles than any team in the state.
“I felt we were prepared, especially since we saw them in preseason,” Lennon said. “But they came out with a few new wrinkles [in the double wing offense] and put a thumping on us. Their linemen did a great job up front and their backs were great with their quickness and cutting ability. Ansonia and coach [Tom] Brockett are going to have their hands full Saturday.”
Ansonia beat Seymour (9-3) by a 41-20 score in a Naugatuck Valley Conference game. If it’s possible, Rocky Hill (11-1) won more decisively than the 42-7 score indicated. Only a running clock, which was set into motion after the Terriers took a 42-0 lead with 8:21 left in the third quarter, stopped Rocky Hill.
Rocky Hill wingback Grant Nieves, who gained 178 yards on 12 carries, ran 63 yards on the Terriers’ first play and scored on play later on a 9-yard run.
Seymour drove to the Rocky Hill 4 but was stopped on fourth down. Rocky Hill didn’t waste any time, driving 96 yards to score on Daniel Cavallaro’s 96-yard pass to Dante Baker for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, Joe Catania, who led Rocky HIll with 223 yards on 17 carries, sprang for a 40-yard TD run and a 21-0 lead. Nieves added TD runs of 24 and 3 yards for a 35-0 halftime edge.
“Nieves was quick, stopping on a dime and making cuts over four gaps,” Lennon said. “Number two [Catania] was no slouch either. They just outplayed us.”
Rocky Hill committed just one first-half penalty and had one turnover as Nieves fumbled on the end of a 48-yard reception. Seymour did move the ball, particularly on Jaylen Kelley passes for Alex Massie (5 catches for 165 yards) but the Wildcats bogged down twice inside the 10.
“We came out and played very well in the first half,” Rocky Hill coach Mark Fritz said. “We have a confident group of athletes. We’ve been hungry for the opportunity to advance to our first final all season. It’s nice to be able to do this to a quality opponent with a great tradition like Seymour.”
The Terriers triggered running time (36 point lead in the third quarter) on Catania’s 33-yard TD run with 8:21 left in the third. Damon Lonero’s sixth conversion kick made it, 42-0.
Kelly, who passed for 210 yards and ran for 50, threw a 27-yard TD pass to Jake Larovera with 3:43 left in the fourth to avoid the shutout. Bobby Melms added 90 yards rushing for Seymour.
Linebacker Ricky Montalvo made two sacks and two tackles for losses for Rocky HIll.
Rocky Hill 42, Seymour 7
Seymour (9-3) 0 0 0 7 – 7
Rocky Hill (11-1) 14 21 7 – 42
RH- Grant Nieves 9 run (Damon Lonero kick).
RH – Dante Baker 40 pass from Daniel Cavallaro (Lonero kick)
RH – Joe Catania 40 run (Lonero kick).
RH – Nieves 24 run (Lonero kick).
RH – Nieves 3 run (Lonero kick).
RH – Catania 33 run (Lonero kick).
S – Jake Larovera 27 pass from Jaylen Kelley (Rocco Barduccio kick).
Rushing – RH Joe Catania 17 – 223, Grant Nieves 12-178, Joe Ferreira 6-16, Jordan Jones 4-10, Dante Baker 1-6, Daniel Cavallaro 1-4. S – Bobby Melms 23-90, Jaylen Kelly 23-50.
Receiving – RH – Nieves 1-48, Baker 1-40. S – Alex Massie 5-165, Jake Larovera 1-27, Ian Sadick 1-13, Lucas Bowen 1-4
Passing: RH- Cavallaro 2-2 88 yards. S-Kelley 9-17 210 yards.