The fall season in high school sports is already half over and I'd like to provide a report card on what I've seen and what I gather from talking to our coaches.
The Wethersfield boys secured the top spot in the state in last week's coaches' poll and promptly lost to Bristol Central.
I saw the Eagles' previous game against Fermi and while they were creating many excellent chances, they weren't finishing to coach Rob Jachym's satisfaction. Perhaps the 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Rams will push the Eagles to work just a little bit harder, for if they do, a state title is surely within their reach. ...
I haven't seen Steve Waters' Farmington squad yet but hope to soon. The Indians just may supplant Wethersfield as the state's top team, although powerful Simsbury may have something to say about that.
The problem with seeing Farmington has been two-fold. They outclass most of the teams they play in the Northwest Conference and when they do play an East Catholic or a Rocky Hill, it's on a Friday night when The Herald is obliged to bring you all the local football games.
Waters used to have the flexibility to schedule a Glastonbury on opening day and a Hand, Simsbury or Xavier in the regular-season finale, but when Rocky Hill and RHAM joined the NWC, that opportunity was lost. The coaches who vote in the poll surely consider the general condition of the NWC when they evaluate the Indians.
The fun will begin next year when Waters and his boys join the CCC and get Conard, Hall and Wethersfield in home-and-home sets, and will see the best of what the other three CCC divisions have to offer, like Simsbury, Glastonbury, Bristol Central, Southington, South Windsor and E.O. Smith.
A slate like that will prepare Farmington for the rugged Class LL tournament and the evolution will be fun to watch.
The NWC, as usual, belongs to Farmington and Berlin, but the Redcoats suffered their first loss at the hands of Northwest Catholic. The teams battled to a scoreless tie in their first match (it had to be on a Friday night. Rats!). Their second one should be a doozy and it's on a Thursday. Alright, schedule-makers!
And here's a tip of the Herald cap and a deep bow for Southington coach Sal Penta. Faced with what looked like a rebuilding season, Penta has his Blue Knights among the best teams in the region if not the state. Things looked bleak when his stellar senior captain Jackie Marchetti went down with a knee injury in the preseason, but Shauna Edwards, Danielle Bottaro, Molly Alfieri and Pauline Koziol among others have stepped up.
When you start listing great local coaches, don't forget Berlin's Bob Tarigo and Laura Arena of Farmington. They have great teams, yes, but they have programs where the talent goes deep into the junior varsity and beyond.
Berlin was missing big hitters Katelyn Zarotney and Sarah Byrnes for the match against always-potent Avon Thursday but Tarigo received sensational play from their understudies. Avon fell in three games. Ronnie Roche is the quiet leader of the Redcoats.
Both Berlin and Farmington, however, are looking up at RHAM, which clearly was the class of the conference in the first half. The Sachems give up plenty of size against both of them, but make up for it with incredible cohesiveness and athleticism. A win over RHAM for either Farmington or Berlin would be a major coup as the teams wind toward tourney time.
In the CCC North, New Britain is coming along under coach Michelle Abraham and has a future star in Angelika Zygo. Southington coach Rich Heitz, like Arena and Tarigo, has built quite the dynasty. The Knights will be in great tourney shape if they can knock off defending Class L titlist Bristol Eastern in their rematch Oct. 22.
Farmington is back.
The Indians don't have the superstar they had last year in Laura Burdick, but coach Nelle Andrews has a host of excellent players in Lauren Schweighoffer, Amy Lee, Carly Piraneo, goalie Erin Corcoran, Kristy Rider, Meghan Murray, etc.
It's a young team, too, so Andrews should make quite a splash when the independent Indians get a chance to play in the CCC next year.