Thursday, November 24, 2011

Xavier Roots Middletown 48-6 in Thanksgiving Football Matchup

I could write a traditional game story on the 48-6 beatdown the undefeated and No. 1 in the state Xavier Falcons administered to Middletown this morning, but what’s the point? If you are searching for that type of article, look to the Middletown Press, the Hartford Courant and similar sources. I, on the other hand, have no current desire to write a rigid game story, especially on a Thanksgiving weekend I’d rather spend with family and friends. Instead, let me present you with me with the most significant, irreverent observations on the annual Thanksgiving Day game between Xavier and Middletown.

· Xavier played out of their minds today. Middletown was no match for an opponent that had a huge advantage in athleticism, size and experience and that made absolutely no mistakes. Every tackle by Xavier seemingly had five players in on it, and “X’s” tag team of rushers ran rampant over a Blue Dragons front that gained no traction against the Falcons offensive linemen. Make no mistake: If Xavier didn’t slow down on offense in the second half, they could have won this game by more than 60 points.

· XHS: 418 yards of total offense. MHS: 184 yards of total offense. XHS: 287 yards rushing on 37 carries. MHS: 100 yards rushing on 34 carries. MHS Dario Highsmith: 2-7 passing, though the second pass he completed went for the Blue Dragon’s lone score of the game. First downs: XHS 16, MHS 4. Final Records: XHS 10-0, Middletown 6-4. These numbers say it all. Xavier demonstrated why they are regarded as the top squad in the state, while in their last gasp to possibly grab a Class L playoff spot, the Blue Dragons looked like they were playing a slower and completely inferior brand of football from the first snap.

· The Purple Dragons were a good team all year and their close losses had all been to excellent schools. In addition, Middletown has almost always given Xavier a close game on Thanksgiving, even if they haven’t been able to win the contest. There were no doubts the Falcons had more athleticism and talent, but I figured Middletown would put up a decent challenge, especially if they could catch Xavier looking ahead early. Nope. Sean DiFillipo 14-yard TD catch 49 seconds into the game makes the score 7-0. Mike Mastroianni carries the ball seven times and scores a TD on a 51-yard drive to put the Falcons in front 13-0. Finally, a fumble recovery and a 59-yard run by Mastroianni sets up a third Xavier touchdown with 3:09 still left in the first quarter. The number of ways in which the Falcons are able to score is undeniably impressive, and their ability to take huge leads in the blink of an eye borders on the hysterical as well as the tragic for opposing teams.

· Having this matchup annually is in the best interests of these two programs competitively. Middletown just lost for the 11th time in the past 14 meetings. Xavier has proven to be a more disciplined and talented team time and time again. And it’s not like MHS is having enormous success outside of its Turkey Day battle. Only once in the last seven seasons does the program have more than seven victories (2007, the last time it made the playoffs and defeated Xavier). Locals can grumble about Xavier’s advantage in drawing from a larger area or claim the program recruits players, but the fact remains that there has been a large gap between the performance of Xavier and Middletown for a number of seasons now. Even with the Falcons losing 20 seniors from this year’s squad and the Blue Dragons retaining most of their top players, that gap will probably remain for the foreseeable future. I find it pointless to have an annual contest that is routinely uncompetitive and which one team constantly loses. It is unfair for both squads and for the fans who want to view the best game possible. I know we all want to believe this game promotes education and youth sports in Middletown and helps to strengthen the relationship between Xavier and MHS, and to an extent it may do so. But that’s enough if it’s neither a competitive or fair contest. Let’s consider delaying the Thanksgiving game for a couple of seasons until we can see where Middletown and Xavier are at competitively.

· Xavier, ranked No. 1 in its class and in the state will open its Class LL championship defense against Glastonbury Tuesday night at Palmer Field. I can’t call myself an expert by any means but there’s no reason for anyone to pick against Xavier. They are extremely deep on both sides of the ball, have an excellent coaching staff and posse as much experience as any one team can have. Even more than last season, this is the Falcon’s year. I look forward to chronicling Xavier’s championship run for you great readers in the next week and giving you some great stories you won’t forgot. Have a great rest of the Thanksgiving weekend.

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