Game planning comes true in SCC matchup

There was a lot of respect held for their opponent by the respective football coaches, when 8th-ranked Shelton High visited Foran High at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex on Friday night.

“Part of our game plan was to control the football,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said after the Gaels defeated the Lions 35-13 to improve to 4-0.

“We were bigger and able to wear them down. That is a talented team that can score points, so we needed to keep them off the field.”

Coach Jeff Bevino’s Lions dipped to 2-2, but not before making him proud.

“They’re just a very good football with size and athletes all over the field,” he said. “We made big plays, just not enough of them.

“They pound right at you. They have weapons everywhere. They can throw it, they’ve got a threat at halfback (Jason Thompson) every time he touches the ball. The quarterback’s just a tremendous player.”

Gael quarterback Mark Piccirillo ran for 88 yards and rushed for three touchdowns.

The game was going pretty much as advertised, with each team scoring a touchdown in trademark style on its first possession.

Shelton took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on Piccirillo’s 10-yard run and Joe Zoppi’s PAT.

The Lions went to the air, and Jake Kasuba (287 yards) completed passes to Connor Cadrin for 11 and 14 yards, around a 22-yard keeper. That set up Nick Weissauer for a 1-yard touchdown and Sam Olsson for a tying PAT with 5:58 still remaining in the first period.

“We had to switch up our coverage,” Roy said. “They were eating us up in man coverage, so we went to zone, and then mixed things up from there series-to-series.”

Foran put up a goal line stand to stop Shelton at its 6-yard line on the Gaels’ second possession.

Ben Croll, Zach Hubler and Andrew Melendez took on the Shelton front line, while Anthony Kopatch, Nick Griswold, Colin Lydiksen, David McLenithan and Roman Babadzhan filled the gaps.

Weissauer, Josh Mixie, Olsson and Cadrin manned the secondary against the balanced Gaels, who averaged 49 points per game in victories over Trumbull High, Guilford High and Amity of Woodbridge.

After Shelton had moved to the 15, Griswold and Weissauer had tackles. On third-and-one, Kopatch had a big stop, and on fourth-and-one, Cadrin and Hubler were first to the ball to stop Piccirillo.

Foran, with Anthony Raccio, Jesse Aldridge, Chris Young, Andre Siquencia and Hubler providing the blocks, moved the chains four times on its second possession.

Zach White went 32 yards with a slant pass, Stephen Longley took care of the next first down, and Weissauer made a sliding catch for 14 yards to the Shelton 40.

Cadrin took a swing pass and followed Andrew Khon’s block for 10 more yards.

That’s when the Gaels’ Peter Hoff stepped in front of a slant pass and brought it back from the 22 to the 37-yard line.

The teams traded interceptions and punts until midway through the second quarter, when Thompson broke through the line and blocked Sean Deegan’s punt attempt from the Foran 11 and Troy Vasilescu recovered in the end zone.

Zoppi’s second of five conversion kicks gave Shelton a 14-7 lead with 5:04 left in the first half.

“That’s the turning point of the game,” Bevino said. “It’s 7-7 and we’re going toe-to-toe with the No. 8 team in the state.”

Shelton put one more score on the board before the break.

With time winding down and out of timeouts, Piccirillo ran for 11 yards, threw to Michael Pingree for six, and then followed Thompson into the end zone with 12 seconds left in the half.

Foran took the second-half kickoff and looked to shave the deficit in half.

Kasuba found Weissauer for completions worth 24 and 21 yards on consecutive plays to bring the ball to the Shelton 27.

Off play action, Kasuba hit Weissauer for 11 more yards.

From the 16, Kasuba rolled right and under pressure looked to get the ball to Cadrin, but Wadson Petithomme intercepted the ball on the Gaels’ 5-yard line.

Two possessions later, Pingree took a jet sweep for 25 yards and a 28-7 lead with 5:06 left in the third.

Foran put together a 9-play drive from its 44 to the Shelton 34 late in the third period.

White had a march-extending 10-yard catch and Deegan came up with a pair of catches.

On fourth-and-10 from the Shelton 34, the Gaels’ Grasso tipped a pass that was caught by White two yards short of the marker.

Shelton went 67 yards in 14 plays to take 6:15 off the clock, before Piccirillo’s 4-yard run gave Shelton a 35-7 lead with 4:52 remaining.

Foran closed the scoring with 3:14 remaining on a Kasuba-to-Cadrin touchdown pass. Foran will visit Trinity Catholic in Stamford at 1 p.m. on Saturday.