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Fairfield County still filling all
TRUMBULL Name, number, where you from, where you playing?
These were the questions Hall of Fame Football Classic Chairman asked as players from Fairfield County shuffled by him last Wednesday to receive their jerseys for the team picture. Fortunately Criscuolo was using a pencil to
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write down the names for the game's program since, at the time, the Fairfield County roster was in a bit of flux.
Pat Roeker, a lineman from Danbury, was the last member to join the team as coach scrambled to find healthy and willing bodies to take on Ansonia star and the rest of the New Haven County in Friday night's Hall of Fame Classic at West Haven High. One of those willing to play was Harding linebacker , who found out about the game through his cousin Stamford's and asked the coaching staff himself if he could play.
"I heard they needed some guys," said Gordon, who'll play at Western Connecticut. "I have a passion for the sport, so it's a privilege to come here and give it my all."
A week later Fairfield County has locked in on a roster of 32 players, down from the initial list of 45. Six players from 2010 Class S champion St. Joseph lead the way, including Hearst Connecticut Newspapers AllStars Tyler Matakevich and Joe DellaVecchia, the coach's son. The roster also includes three players from Masuk's 2010 Class L title team: , , and , the latter two were Hearst AllStars. Other Hearst AllStars for Fairfield County are Trumbull receiver/cornerback and Pomperaug's imposing defensive lineman .
Missing from the team are players who previously committed from schools like Brookfield, Bunnell and Staples. FCIAC champion Darien isn't represented, nor are other perennial league powerhouses like Greenwich, New Canaan or Greenwich. Two of the top players in the state, New Canaan's and Ridgefield's are already off to Notre Dame and Florida, respectively.
The roster is picked by coaches, who nominate their players with the goal of every being represented. New Haven County leads the alltime series 104 and has dominated in recent years, winning seven of the last eight games.
"I've talked to a couple other coaches. They're just as perplexed about it as I am," the elder DellaVecchia said. "I've called every single kid we've picked. We called 45 kids, we've emailed them. We've had meetings. We've done everything we could possibly do to get them here."
What's left is a group of kids who want to strap on their high school helmet one last time and aren't concerned about who is or who isn't playing in Friday night's game. "I love playing football," Trumbull fullback said last week. "I'd rather be here than the beach."
Meanwhile at New Haven County practice in West Haven, filling out the roster was hardly a concern for coach as players bonded quickly, trading helmet decals and acting like they've been playing together for years. The coach credited President for that.
"If you don't send your best kids, you'll hear about it. . in a positive way," McCarthy said last Friday.
Actually there was one position New Haven County was lacking on the eve of its first practice kicker.
McCarthy thought back to how Shelton's impressed him two years ago, since the schools didn't play in 2010. Problem was, Groth hurt his right foot handing the ball off in the first game of the 2010 season and didn't kick again. Groth didn't even think he'd play football again after breaking his right ankle on Thanksgiving against Derby.
"You get one more shot at the high school experience, playing with some great kids, kids you only usually get to hear about," Groth said. "It's fun to watch these guys, that's for sure. It's really laid back."
McCarthy's been so impressed by Groth's ability to put the ball into the endzone on kickoffs during practice the coach said he's going to try to help the Shelton player attempt to walkon at North Carolina.
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