What a pleasure going over to venerable Muzzy Field Tuesday night for the Class M semifinal football game between Berlin and Bristol Eastern.
Since I wrote for The Bristol Press from 1991 to 1995, I made lots of friends there and spent many happy hours covering baseball and football at that quaint old lady in Rockwell Park.
As I walked through the old archway guarding Muzzy's entrance, I saw one of my favorites in former Bristol Eastern athletic director Jimmy Tetro. I've never seen Jimmy when he wasn't smiling, and what he's done for Eastern athletics would require a whole website instead of a blog. Just ask Lancers football coach Paul Philippon.
Walking along the concourse, the delightful fragrance of pine invigorates me for the 54-step ascent to the press box -- one of the best for football but a horror for baseball. A visit to the Muzzy press box wouldn't be the same without a friendly greeting from Dave Greenleaf. Dave, a revered math teacher at Bristol Central, has done more for a city's athletes than anybody I know has ever done anywhere. Again, I'd need a website to elaborate, but you can check the new-and-improved CCC site to sample his handiwork.
Seeing those silver helmets and blue uniforms brought back memories, and it was good to see the Lancers back in the postseason after almost 20 years. But as happy as I was for the Eastern faithful, I have been at The Herald for more than 12 years and the Redcoats are near and dear to my heart.
There was a certain confidence to the way they took the field for pregame workouts. Their body language exuded supreme confidence for a team playing a road game against an opponent that dominated virtually every team it met. I hadn't seen Eastern, but figured any team that pounded once-beaten Newington by 25 and a good Wethersfield group by an unthinkable 47 had to be quite the juggernaut.
Berlin quarterback Jimmy Connelly was sensational. He stood back in the pocket and fired lasers at his talented receiving corps. His uniform virtually was unsoiled at the end of the game, a testament to the exceptional work turned in by the offensive line.
The underdog Redcoats showed Eastern what they could do in the first half, then dropped the hammer in the fourth quarter with two unanswered touchdowns. Eastern, which bases its attack on running the football, wasn't adept at playing from behind.
Now it's on to the 'M' final for a date with Ledyard, yet another classy outfit led by the state's all-time winningest coach, Bill Mignault. Yet another game where I hate to see somebody lose, but the local boys are carrying themselves like destiny's darlings. Get your tickets early!