Having pulled off one upset in the state Class M playoffs the Weston High football team had thoughts of another.
The sixth-seeded Trojans, who held off third-seeded Ellington-Somers in the quarterfinals, set their sights on Berlin in the semifinals last week. Their opponent had other ideas, however.
The second-seeded Redcoats went up early and their defense did not allow the Trojans many opportunities before going on to a 21-7 win on Sunday, Dec. 2, at Bunnell High in Stratford.
The loss ended the season for Weston, which finished with a 9-3 overall record.
The playoffs started on a winning note for the Trojans last Wednesday, Nov. 28, when they visited Ellington-Somers. Overcoming a few penalties here and there, they stepped up for a 29-22 victory, their first-ever Class M playoff win.
Weston started the scoring after Ellington-Somers went three and out on its first series. Justin Schaffer got the ball to the Ellington 37 and Tyler Hassett hit Peter Lummis with a first down pass and on second and goal Zach Cannon caught another Hassett pass for the touchdown. Cannon then added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 8:21 left in the first quarter.
Ellington-Somers had an apparent three and out on its next series, but a roughing the kicker call on the punt gave it the ball back. Two offside calls on the Trojans moved the ball to the Weston 45 yard line.
Then, on a fourth down and four situation, Weston was called for offsides yet again. Ellington-Somers scored a touchdown after running back Christian Schneider scored from a yard out. Mike Casciano ran it in for the two-point conversion and it was 8-7 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
The Trojans did drive again after Hassett and Schaffer helped move the ball within the 10 yard line, but came away with no points after a blocked field goal and it remained an 8-7 game at halftime.
“We were off schedule on the scoring drives,” said Weston head coach Joe Lato on the first half. “We had some penalties down there, some self-inflicted wounds like a couple offsides, stuff like that.”
The second half was where the offense really started to happen. Hassett scored from two-yards out on a run and although the two- point try was no good Weston led 13-8 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
Ellington-Somers answered back when running back Neal Janiga scored on a 51-yard jaunt, making it 14-13 with 2:35 left in the quarter.
Weston was at the Ellington-Somers 26 as the period ended. The drive continued and Aaron Pomerance ran it in from nine-yards out with 10:06 left in the game. A run by Hassett for the two-point try made it 21-14.
Ellington-Somers answered right back on the first play of its next drive when quarterback Joseph Leslie found Austin Tautkus for a 45-yard score, making it 22-21 following Casciano’s run for the two-point conversion with 9:44 left in the game.
The onside kick failed and Weston got the ball on its 47 yard line. Schaffer helped get the Trojans into the red zone by getting down to the two before Hassett scored. Schaffer was on the receiving end of the two-point try, making it 29-22.
Weston held Ellington scoreless after on two possessions and clinched the victory on a fourth down stop with 1:33 left in the game.
“I’m super proud of our kids,” said Lato. “They played tough when it was really on the line, the whole team stepped it up.”
The Trojans faced an uphill battle early in the semifinal game against Berlin. The Redcoats scored on their first series when Mitch Williams found wide receiver Tyler Undercuffler on a fourth down pass for 39 yards for the score. Kicker Pat Lomagio tacked on the extra point, making it 7-0 just one minute and 37 seconds into the game.
The Trojans had the ball on their own 45 following Cannon’s kickoff return but it was brought back to the 35 on a holding call. The drive stalled and it had to punt after getting to Berlin’s 38.
Berlin held the ball until the second quarter and scored on a four-yard run by Kevin Main just 22 seconds into the period, making it 14-0. Weston was driving the ball on the next possession but fumbled on the Berlin 18.
Hassett later intercepted a Berlin pass and the Trojan offense moved to the Berlin 49. On fourth down Hassett tried a deep pass to the right side targeted for Cannon that fell incomplete and the half ended with the score still 14-0.
Weston got the ball at its 45 to start the second half. Hassett converted on third down with a pass to Cannon on the sideline to bring the ball to the Berlin 10. Hassett then found the end zone for the only Trojan touchdown of the game on a four-yard run. Cannon added the extra point to make it 14-7 with 9:02 left in the quarter.
Weston did not find success on its next series as Hassett had to punt the ball. Berlin took the ball and on a third and six Williams found Scott McLeod for a 52-yard touchdown pass, making it 21-7 with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans moved the ball into Berlin territory again after Hassett found Cannon for a 40-yard completion but came up short on fourth down and the Redcoats took over on their own 3o.
Berlin was moving the ball well into Trojan territory before Erik Dammen-Brower intercepted returned the ball all the way to the 20 but lost it on a fumble.
The Trojan offense got the ball back with 2:20 left in the game and no time outs. Four incomplete passes gave the Redcoats back the ball with 2:03 left and they let time expire, earning a trip to the title game.
“The kids should be proud of what they did,” said Lato, looking back at the season. “We want to get here every year. They got us in here, the kids got the feeling of playing in the playoffs, and we are not surprised we’re here.”
The game also marked the final high school one for Cannon, Pomerance, Hassett, Schaffer, Michael Smith, Austin Gomar, Jimmy Brasco and Tom McGlone.
“They are great kids,” said Lato. “They are going to be great leaders. They are amazing people.”