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Julian Banerji and the Hand football team began the Dave Mastroianni era on a triumphant note by posting a 34-16 win against Hillhouse at home last week. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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The Hand football team opened a new chapter with Head Coach Dave Mastroianni by posting a 34-16 victory over defending Class M state champion Hillhouse at the Surf Club on Sept. 8. Quarterback Phoenix Billings was 18-of-26 passing for 174 yards, and he also carried the ball 15 times for 54 yards. Billings had two passing scores and a pair of rushing touchdowns on the night.
“Our offense had confidence in our new system. Our staff works hard on keeping it simple for them. They were able to go out and execute. [Offensive coordinator] Mike Ciotti helped make the game manageable for Phoenix and the offense,” Coach Mastroianni said. “No matter the situation, being 1-0 is great. You want to always win your first game and your last of the season, so you have that momentum. The win provided validation for our guys and their hard work. They are such great kids. They worked for it and were rewarded.”
The Tigers scored TDs on their first two drives against the Academics. First, Billings ran it in from 12 yards out for a 7-0 lead, after which he converted 27-yard scoring pass to Ian Butler, who had four receptions for 39 yards in the win. In the second quarter, Billings found Chris Bartosic (8 catches, 88 yards, 4-of-5 on extra-point attempts) on a 28-yard touchdown toss to make it 21-0, which stood as the halftime score.
Moving to the third quarter, Billings scampered in from two yards away to continue Hand’s big night. In the fourth, the Tigers’ defense picked the right time to strike when Ryan Coady scooped up a fumble and returned it 23 yards to the house to make it 34-0. The Academics picked up a couple of TDs late in the game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Tigers’ sizeable advantage. Hand held Hillhouse to 267 yards of total offense and only 17 in the first half, while forcing the Academics into four turnovers.
On defense, the Tigers collected three sacks, two interceptions, and a pair of fumble recoveries. Brian Casagrande had 11 total tackles (6 solo, 4 for a loss, plus 1 forced fumble), Butler had an interception to go with his four tackles, Jack Flanagan had the other pick and a sack, Julian Banerji had a fumble recovery, and Mike Tarantino and Tristen Dougherty each had a sack with Dougherty also causing a fumble for Hand.
“If you were to tell me that we would shut them out in the first half and hold them to 17 yards in the first half, I would’ve called you a liar,” said Coach Mastroianni. “We dominated the field-position game. I couldn’t be more proud of our defense and their execution of the game-plan. Every kid that stepped on the field buys into the team idea and played Hand football.”
Hand next travels to Shelton (0-1) on Friday, Sept. 15 with the kickoff slated for 7 p.m.Field Hockey
Hand played one game last week to start the year, and it was a huge victory against a SCC rival. The Tigers opened the 2017 season with a 4-3 overtime win over Cheshire on Sept. 8.
Hand scored its lone goal of the first half when Jacqui Sandor found the back of the net at 22:24 thanks to assists from Taylor Leckey and Glenna-Kate Gies. Later, Erickson Richard (from Kathryn Donahey and Leckey at 27:14) tied the game at 2-2. After a Rams’ score on a penalty stroke with 14:14 to go in regulation, Richard knotted the game up again following feeds from Sophie Schreck and Leckey with 8:58 remaining in regulation. Leckey then ended the game by scoring a goal at the 4:50 mark of the extra session on another Schreck assist. Kylie Garguilo made seven saves in the cage for the Tigers.Boys’ Soccer
The Tigers opened their 2017 campaign with a trip to SCC adversary Hamden. Hand started its defense of its Class L state title with a 2-1 win over the Green Dragons on Sept. 9.
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