Monday, January 14, 2008


Placing a forefinger on the pulse of sports in the greater New Britain area ...
High school football in central Connecticut was well-represented in the NFL playoffs.
One-time Bloomfield High All-Stater Dwight Freeney plays for the Indianapolis Colts, although he was placed on injured reserve Nov. 14 with a left foot injury. Freeney, 27, who played his college ball at Syracuse, is in his sixth season.
Freeney and his parents, Hugh and Joy, are good friends with Newington High girls basketball coach Al Ford, who coached Dwight in baseball at Bloomfield.
Freeney’s high school teammate Andrew Pinnock is a 5-10, 250-pound fullback for the San Diego Chargers, making me wonder who their high school coach and former New Britain mentor Jack Cochran was rooting for Sunday. Pinnock, 27, played collegiately at South Carolina.
Former Plainville High star Niko Koutouvides, a 6-2, 238-pound linebacker, is in his fourth year with the Seattle Seahawks. Koutouvides, 26, was a star at Purdue after prepping at Milford Academy.
Koutouvides’ parents Stelios and Niki own The Stonewell Restaurant on Route 6 in Farmington, where Niko bussed tables as a high school lad.
Ex-NBHS back Justise Hairston is on the Colts’ practice squad, and if Tebucky Jones hadn’t torn a pectoral muscle in 2005, he may have been with the Patriots.
Not bad for a state with a dismal football reputation, and an area that many pundits feel lags behind New Haven and Fairfield counties in the state. ...
The area isn’t exactly attracting the pollsters’ interest in boys hoop this winter either.
From what I’ve seen, Windsor and Northwest Catholic are the region’s two best teams. I haven’t had the chance to see East Catholic yet, but Luke Reilly’s club has won six straight since losing to undefeated New London at the Doc Hurley Tournament on December 22.
Windsor is a well-balanced, defense-first juggernaut led by 6-6 Adrian Satchell. The Warriors had close calls against E.O. Smith (57-53) and Bristol Central (75-71), but bludgeoned their other eight foes.
Northwest Catholic snapped Farmington’s 23-game home winning streak Thursday to raise its record to 7-1. Coach John Mirabelli’s West Hartford squad, with St. Joseph’s-bound guard Chris Prescott scoring about 30 points per game, lost at East Catholic in overtime, 58-53 on Jan. 5.
East is 7-1 after surviving a one-point battle at St. Paul Thursday.
Most of the state’s sports writers, however, don’t believe that any of the local teams are in the class of New Haven powers Wilbur Cross and Hillhouse, FCIAC monster Trinity Catholic and the upper echelon of the Naugatuck Valley League. ...
Girls basketball pollsters generally are of the mind that New Britain belongs behind Holy Cross and Mercy. I beg to differ.
New Britain’s loss came in the first game when Tyler Kimball (groin) and Cassie Bell (car accident) were unavailable and coach Karen Byrne had to turn to a trio of untested underclassmen to do battle with Windsor’s widebodies.
Nobody has come remotely close to the Hurricanes since.
Holy Cross competes in the NVL, which offers little opposition. The ’Canes have beaten Mercy in the tournament the last two years and the teams aren’t remarkably different than they were in March.
If anybody can beat the ’Canes, I’d venture to say it’s Bulkeley, and the Bulldogs fell double-digits short when they gave it their first shot.
Two straight Class LL championships, a surefire Division I player in Symone Roberts, an vastly underrated center in Tyler Kimball and hustling Sarah Sideranko haven’t been enough to persuade the voters who’s best. I guess it’s going to take a third straight title. ...
The biggest enigma on the girls’ side is Berlin.
On paper, the Redcoats have great balance. Katelyn Zarotney, Kaitlyn Bovee and Sarah Byrnes have good size and genuine frontcourt skill. Meagan Guy, Kristin Legenza and Alexys Vazquez are good backcourt players.
But Berlin has lost five straight since beating one of the FCIAC’s best teams – St. Joseph – in the first round of the Wethersfield Christmas Tournament. Can the Redcoats recover and play to their potential by tournament time? We’ll see. ...
Plainville is the polar opposite of Berlin. The Devils have one of the state’s finest female athletes ever in Desiree Pina, but one player does not a team make. Alyssa Martino has emerged as a true star while Alex Petit, Val Caron and Sarah Dinda are role players who play marvelously within themselves.
Coach Lisa Mandeville is the first to give all the credit to the kids, but she will admit that in her husband Lou, Jennifer Micowski (Gombotz) and Steve Compson, the Devils have a A-1 coaching staff. ...
Farmington has struggled all season. Coach Russ Crist knew the loss of Division I players Joelle Nawrocki and Laura Burdick would take a toll, but the crusher was losing Sarah Sylvester to a knee injury.
Sylvester, a victim of post-concussion syndrome that wiped away her sophomore year, led the Indians in scoring in the season’s first game. She went down in the second and the Indians have not been able to replace her scoring ability from the perimeter. ...

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