Login  /  Register  | 3 premium articles left before you must register.

Xavier used to the comforts of Rentschler Field

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published December 05. 2012 4:00AM
Photo Courtesy of Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
DeAngelo Berry is a dangerous threat out of the backfield for third-seeded Xavier, which can win its third straight Class LL title by defeating No. 5 NFA on Friday night at Rentschler Field.

East Hartford - It was a late October afternoon and Xavier coach Sean Marinan was imploring his team to channel their inner-bully.

The Falcons were getting embarrassed by Hillhouse on Oct. 26. They trailed by 28 points early in the fourth quarter. This kind of thing did not happen to Xavier — two-time Class LL champion Xavier

"You're a big guy - play like a big guy," Marinan said to his many behemoths. "Go out there and be a bully. Push him around. Get physical.

"Let him know where we are."

The Falcons stormed back with 29 unanswered points in that fourth quarter against the Class M finalist. They won, 50-49, tying a state record for the largest comeback.

Xavier has been on a path of destruction ever since, leveling five teams in succession on its way back to the Class LL final.

The third-seeded Falcons will try to win a CIAC record third-straight LL title Friday when they play unbeaten Norwich Free Academy, the No. 5 seed, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford (7:05 p.m.).

"We learned that if we kept playing that we could overcome a lot of adversity," Marinan said. "I think we learned that's why we condition, all those things that pay off, and not give up. Not quit."

The Falcons trailed 48-21 with more than 11 minutes left in the game.

DeAngelo Berry ran for a 1-yard touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion run, to give Xavier the lead with 51 seconds remaining.

"That was an emotional win," Falcons senior quarterback Tim Boyle said. "I was tearing up a little bit, not because we almost lost, but that my team was able to do that and came together and gelled as a unit and came back down 28 points with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. That's crazy.

"We found that 'it' factor and we became a family that day. We haven't looked back since."

Xavier had lost at home two weeks before the Hillhouse game to Class L finalist Hand, 40-20. Marinan referenced that game at halftime of the Hillhouse game.

"We knew that emptiness, that regret that we felt after Hand," said Boyle, who's given a verbal commitment to Boston College.

"Coach talked to us (about that). 'I want you to remember that feeling after the Hand game.' I don't want to ever feel that again."

"Just play physical, fundamental football," Marinan said of his speech to his team. "We've gotten a lot more consistent in our level of play and how hard we're playing."

The Falcons (11-1), ranked fifth in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll, have thumped five winning teams in a row. That included wins over Class LL quarterfinalist West Haven (42-7), Class L quarterfinalist Middletown (41-14), ninth-ranked Greenwich (55-14), and Glastonbury (30-13), which was tied with the latter for ninth.

Xavier has only played three losing teams. Its opponents have a combined record of 85-43, and CalPreps.com rates its schedule as the state's toughest.

NFA (12-0) is ranked eighth in The Day's poll.

"They're always well-coached," Hillhouse coach Tom Dyer said of Xavier. "They always have a very strong offensive line. Their line is very physical. They're able to protect the quarterback and really run the ball when they want to, and defensively they bring a lot of heat. They're very good at it. They're very aggressive."

n.griffen@theday.com

News by Town

Most Recent Poll
The 'grinding' dance style has sparked controversy at East Lyme High School. Should this form of dancing be banned at school dances?
Yes, it's highly suggestive and inappropriate at a school function.
60%
No, teens will be teens. A ban would just encourage them more.
35%
What's grinding? The Charleston is the last dance I learned.
5%
Number of votes: 1118

No current items found

Popular on theday.com