REDDING, Conn. – The Weston High football team is headed to the Class M state tournament for the first time in decades after defeating Joel Barlow High School in the Thanksgiving Day rivalry game, 21-14.
Barlow needed to win to be guaranteed a tournament berth and is now awaiting the outcome of other games to learn its fate.
The Trojans dominated the contest from the start, relying on solid defense that forced three turnovers and a steady offensive attack led by senior quarterback Tyler Hassett.
Hassett completed nine of 21 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. A 13-yard pass to senior Zach Cannon was the game’s first score and a 5-yard pass to senior Justin Schaffer in the third quarter was the winning touchdown.
Schaffer’s catch, in the corner of the end zone on fourth down, was spectacular. “He had hands in his face, but he leapt up and came down with it,” Weston coach Joe Lato said. “He’s always making catches like that.”
The win advances Weston to the state tournament for the first time since 1989. “I’ve never been to a playoff; now I’m ready to go as far as we can,” Hassett said.
He credited his team's the ability to read the Falcons defense. “They were set against the run, but we found seams against the defense,” he said.
Lato also lauded the defense. “They got into a rhythm in the second half with the inside option, but we played hard and held on,” he said.
Barlow suffered from a weak running attack and an almost non-existent passing game. The team had lost starting quarterback Jack Shaban to a shoulder injury in the Masuk game, the team’s only loss until Weston.
Barlow scored touchdowns on pass plays but were unable to complete others. They turned the ball over three times on a fumbled punt and two fumbles.
Weston is seeded No. 6 in Class M and will play No. 3 Ellington/Somers in a quarterfinal game Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.