Round of Applause
The Woodland football team deserves a hearty ovation before we get too far away from what was a tremendous season. Sure, maybe the ending was a little bit disappointing, but the Hawks somehow made the Class S state championship game when just about nobody — including me — thought it was going to happen. Woodland played some awfully inspired football over the last two and a half weeks of the season, starting with its second-half performance against Seymour in a thrilling victory. The Hawks battled more key injuries than any team in the playoffs, including running back Sean McAllen’s concussion and safety Coby Vaccarelli’s knee injury, and they still managed to play for a state championship. And, hey, when two of a team’s three losses came to the No. 1-ranked team in Connecticut, there’s something to be said about that. Congratulations to Woodland’s coaching staff and players on a tremendous season.
Christmas Eve is the best day of the year, especially with my new title as Head Chef and Czar of Hors d’Oeuvres at our giant family extravaganza. (Side note: Someone needs to figure out a happy medium between hors d’oeuvres and finger foods. The former sounds way too French for my liking; the latter sounds insulting to the quality of food. How about hors d’fingers?) The big attraction of the night is the crabmeat muffins, which fly off the plate like the belt off your pants on Thanksgiving. I’ve actually jokingly told family members that we were removing the crabmeat muffins from the menu several times this year, and I’ve been met with death stares. They’re no joke, and they’re pretty good. One thing that is not on our holiday menu this year is the chocolate fountain, which is the bane of my grandparents’ existence. My uncle decided to bring it back into action last year and total chaos ensued. Chocolate ends up all over the table on which it sits, and cleanup of the fountain itself would be much easier with dynamite and hydrochloric acid. (Apparently you’re not allowed to wash it in the sink because chocolate will harden in the pipes and cause the house to explode.) We replaced the fountain this year with a gnome serving fondue. (Not really, but it’s worth a thought for next year.) Merry Christmas from my family to yours!
Chorus of Boos
The CIAC has a lot of changes it needs to make over the next year, and the most pressing one has to do with the ridiculous scenario Woodland’s boys basketball team found itself in last week. The Hawks played for the Class S state football championship on Dec. 13 and opened the basketball season Dec. 18. Add in two days of rest for the football players coming over to the basketball team, as well as a snow day last Tuesday, and some of the Hawks’ most important players had exactly one day of practice before opening the hardwood season. That’s a travesty to everyone involved. It’s not fair to the basketball team as a whole, which starts the season with a big disadvantage, or the football players who join the squad, who get no rest from a tough season on the gridiron and need to switch gears at the risk of injury. It would be awfully easy to push back the start of basketball season one week later into December and make up for the game or two affected by adding them later into the schedule (it’s not that hard to have a team play three games in a week once or twice; it’s only basketball). This would be the easiest solution to one of many problems the CIAC has involving football. I’m open for consultation, guys!
The Naugatuck Valley League decided to name its new division the Iron Division starting next year. That will be the five-team grouping that includes Woodland, Naugatuck, Wolcott, Torrington and Watertown (in most sports). I’ve got all sorts of issues with the divisional alignment agreed upon by the league’s athletic directors. I will never understand why the league decided to go forward with these divisions, which change around for most sports (many schools don’t offer all the sports sponsored by the leagues) and for many sports will only feature two divisions. It’s all silliness, but that ship has sailed. And now, the new division’s name fits in with the nonsensical approach taken to aligning the new divisions. OK, I get it: The NVL wanted another metal to go along with brass and copper. Cool, but where in the hell did iron come from? I Googled “iron” and the “Naugatuck Valley” and apparently there was a Naugatuck Malleable Iron Company in the mid-1800s and early-1900s. All right, not bad. But how awesome would the new division have been if it were called the Rubber Division? FREAKING GREAT. I would love to win a Rubber Division championship in anything. There’s time to change, guys!
Word from the Woods
Woodland suffered a narrow defeat in its first meet of the year last Wednesday, falling in a 91-81 decision to Sacred Heart. Event winners for the Hawks included the 200-yard medley relay (Andy O’Dell, Alan Katrenya, Aidan Music, Jimmy Jensen), O’Dell (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke), Music (500 freestyle), Katrenya (100 breaststroke) and the 400 free relay (JD Dyckman, Julie Hinckley, Katrenya, Lauren Tompkins). Woodland will take the rest of the calendar year off from dual-meet competition before it returns to the pool Jan. 3 against Masuk.
The Greyhounds dropped their first meet of the season last Friday, losing a 100-86 decision to perennial state powerhouse Glastonbury. Event winners for Naugatuck included the 200-yard freestyle relay (Jake Morrissey, Evan Vaz, Vincent Thoren, John Dean), Mitchell Santos (100 backstroke), Adam Branco (100 breaststroke) and the 400 free relay (Marcus Cruz, Morrissey, Thoren, Dean). Naugy will not return to dual-meet competition until the new year, when it visits Seymour on Jan. 3.