Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Xavier Crushes Glastonbury 34-6 in First Round of Class LL Playoffs: Observations on the Game

  1. In defeating Glastonbury 34-6 in the first round of the CIAC Class LL playoffs at Palmer Field Tuesday night, Xavier played about as close to perfect as a team can get. Facing a formidable opponent and with heavy rain coming down constantly, Xavier excelled in every facet of the game. Running back Mike Mastrioanni resembled a pinball as he constantly banged off Glastonbury defenders while picking up easy yards and extending drives. Meanwhile, the Tomahawks had only one drive that produced any success. Time after time, the Falcons blew up Glastonbury drives and caused them to go for negative yardage. The final score did not come close to indicating the smackdown Xavier laid on its opponent. For Glastonbury, they looked like boys playing a men’s game.
  2. Mike Mastrioanni was indispensable in this game. With the help of his phenomenal offensive line, Mastrioanni gained big chunks of yardage on almost every run. He bounced off and shedded defenders, wearing them down and continuing drives. The senior back was in beast mode for the entire contest-he finished with 176 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries-which allowed the Falcons to need very little contribution from the passing game. Quarterback Pat D’Amato tossed a beautiful 39 yard touchdown to Ryan Murphy and ran for a touchdown, but overall Xavier rarely threw the ball and completed only two passes in the overwhelming rain. The Falcon’s really didn’t need to when totaled a staggering 335 yards on the ground. Glastonbury was never a match physically or strategically, not even for one drive.
  3. Until their final drive of the fourth quarter, Glastonbury’s offense was nonexistent. Their performance could only be described as pathetic: zero yards in the first half, only one first down until the Tomahawk’s final drive, 42 yards of total offense. Defensive stalwarts like Matt Craig, Sean Marinan Jr., Ryan Jacobucci and Ryan Murphy reached the backfield with no trouble and tackled their opponent’s offensive players for no gain or significant losses. It didn’t help that Glastonbury’s offense was unimaginative and inefficient, repeating similar draw plays or outside routes even as they went nowhere. Glastonbury needed to put together a stellar offensive performance to match up with Xavier’s defense. They proved that they didn’t have the speed, strength or savvy to do so.
  4. It was hard not to be enchanted by the Falcon’s sheer mastery of the fundamentals on both sides of the ball. This mastery encompassed a number of areas, particularly the way Xavier’s offensive lines and backs work together in the running game and the ability of the team’s defensive backs in defending opposing receivers. Mastrioanni consistently demonstrated his skill in following his blockers and hitting open holes, with varying speeds depending on the situation. And defensive backs like Ryan Jacobucci, who had an interception in the third quarter, smothered Glastonbury’s receivers with aggressive tackles and denied them any extra space. It was a brilliant display by the Falcons and a testament to the skill of both the players and the Xavier coaching staff.
  5. Really, Glastonbury? In the 21st century, there’s no reason why any team, especially one representing a high school, should have a nickname like Tomahawks. It’s disrespectful, dishonest and immoral. A high school is supposed to be a place for learning and calling your football team by this name expresses every negative connotation possible to students about Native American culture. If Glastonbury High School had any sense it would change their team name as quickly as possible.
  6. Kudos to the Xavier and especially the Glastonbury fans for their show of support. 1,500 fans watching the game in such terrible weather, and on a weeknight, needs to be celebrated. The fans were constantly supportive and stayed until the bitter end as both teams fed off their energy. I can’t wait to see enjoy the crowd in the next two rounds.
  7. Xavier Head Coach Sean Marinan stated after the game that this was the strongest all-around game Xavier had played all season. Certainly a nice way to start off your playoff run. I and no one I’ve talked to believe the Falcons can be matched up with on any level, and they seem to be the biggest favorite in the state in a long time. The LL playoffs are a coronation for Xavier. Every other team is just in their way.

1 comment:

Fishmuscle (Stephen H. Devoto) said...

Thanks writing this up, you combine great coverage and insightful analysis. It's wonderful to have a sports section in The Eye!