Farmington vs. Middletown football thoughts

I’ve only been covering Connecticut high school football for about a month now, but I have been excited for tonight’s game since I first heard about it.

No. 4 Middletown vs. No. 11? Farmington.

The first football game I covered this year was when the Blue Dragons traveled all the way up to Enfield to play Fermi. This was not going to be a game, but since Middletown has been ranked in the top five all season, they have to be covered. Middletown beat Fermi 43-8. There first real test of the season was supposed to be Hartford Public, but that didn’t pan out (41-7). Two weeks ago Middletown was tested in the first half by Bristol Central, but Dario Highsmith ran away in the second half totaling 346 yards, defeating Central 49-21.

Two weeks ago I went to Farmington for the best game of that week. The Indians hosted Windsor and pulled the upset 13-7. After beating Bristol Central last week 35-0, they set up an undefeated showdown with two of the top teams in the state, both 7-0.

After talking to Middletown coach Sal Morello a few times this year and watching his team play, I truely believe they are one of the top teams in the state. Highsmith might be the most dynamic quarterback in CT and with an expanded playbook, calling more passing plays to open up the run, the Blue Dragons will be fun to watch tonight.

Farmington had a tough time with Windsor (held them to 25 yards in the 2nd half; I believe), but handled Central with ease.

I won’t get into stats, but in my opinion this is the game of the week.


Learning On The Fly

I walked into the quiet Middletown Press office this afternoon without having any idea of what I was going to be doing. I have just opened an email on my phone, a press release from the CT Whale announcing Kris Newbury had just been called up to the New York Rangers. I knew I was going to have to do something with that, but rewriting press releases is not the easiest thing to do, especially since it seems like all the information is already there.

I sat down at my desk in the corner with my new computer that they finally set up for me, then Joe, the sports editor and my boss came over to show me the “system that makes the newspaper work” or something like that. I still don’t know how it works or remember what it’s called, but I’ll get the hang of it. After this 15-20 minutes lesson that the rest of the office had to take a three-day training session on, I was writing the press release for the CT Whale story. I had to do a little bit of research, but nothing crazy, just a few more stats than what the organization released, like how many times Newbury has been called up to the Rangers and how he was acquired by the parent organization three years ago (via trade with the Detroit Red Wings).

As I was finishing this assignment, Joe told me that he was sending me to Middletown High School for the girls basketball game with the photographer. So, I’m going to write a game story? Yup, this was my first chance to get a byline in a real newspaper that thousands of people would read. It sounds like a daunting task, but I wasn’t nervous at all, I embraced the opportunity. Around 6:40 pm I got in the car with Cathy, the photographer and we made our way to the high school where Berlin was set to take on the Blue Dragons of Middletown. After I was introduced to a few people, names and positions I can’t recall, I took my seat at the “scorers table” and started taking notes.

The game was close all the way through. Middletown never held a lead, but only trailed by two at the half and ended up losing 57-51. This was one of the most physical basketball games I have ever seen, which made it exciting, but also boring at times. Combined 35 free throws were taken, so there were a lot of stoppages in time, but as I said earlier, it remained close.

After hearing Middletown’s coach Rob Smernoff yell the entire game, I found him in the hallway after along with the Berlin coach to get my quotes. About a minute and a half from each was enough, but I could have gotten more. I didn’t start thinking about my lead until the ride home when I noticed the Redcoats opened the second half with a 7-0 run which proved to be the deciding factor in the game. If I noticed this before talking to the coaches, I would have asked them about it and made my story that much stronger.

We drove back to the office and I had one hour to write my story. I had the lead, but then the pressure of a 9:45 deadline started to get to me. I resorted back to my usual format of explaining the game and fitting in quotes where they seemed to fit. I finished with about five minutes to spare, which is a loose term, because deadlines are there, but you can be a few minutes late here and there, although editors don’t like it. While all this was happening the photographer was editing her photos to go along with my story. Just sitting there, keeping my cool, this was an awesome experience.