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Glastonbury First Half Too Much for Conard to Overcome

Conard's defense makes the stop short of the goal line. Photo by Paul Palmer

The Red Wolves lost 34-10 on Senior Night in West Hartford. It’s been a tough season with QB injuries for the 1-7 Conard football team.

By Paul Palmer

You can learn a lot about a team from its record. You can learn a lot more by watching how they handle adversity. This season has been an uphill struggle for Conard football who fell to 1-7 after a 34-10 Senior Night loss to Glastonbury, but the Red Wolves never give up. “They keep fighting and working. I am so proud of them,” said head coach Matt Cersosimo of his club.

Conard lost starting senior quarterback Julian Schneider to a broken collarbone in the second game of the season. They turned to J.J. Richardson who serves as a wide receiver and backup QB, but he too was injured. Richardson was able to return, and Cersosimo wanted to play to his strengths catching the ball. That meant that sophomore Brady Cersosimo- son of the head coach- was thrust into the starting role. 

On Friday night, Conard mixed things up alternating between Cersosimo taking snaps and the Red Wolves running a wildcat with running back Nathan Blumes running things. “He is our Swiss Army knife,” Cersosimo said of Blumes. “ He just loves to play the game and is a workhorse.”

Friday night, Glastonbury had no sympathy for their opponent, running out to a 16-0 lead with 2:00 to play in the first quarter when Dante Casida ran it in from 10 yards out.  There were some self-inflicted wounds for the Red Wolves as well as a fumbled exchange between Cersosimo and Blumes was recovered by the Guardians at the 3, and Casida took it in again – 22 seconds after his last score – for a 23-0 lead in the second. 

Conard’s Ryan Gillis would recover the Glastonbury fumble in the endzone. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The Red Wolves would get the ball across midfield on its next possession,  but another fumble gave the ball back to Glastonbury. On third and nine for the Guardians, Ryan Gillis came up big for Conard, stopping Glastonbury for a loss on a screen pass and forcing a punt. 

Cersosimo and the offense went to a quicker pace, using Blumes for runs and throwing screens and quick hitters to move the ball with a purpose. But on a carry by Cersosimo, Conard was called for a personal foul, and the ball was moved from the 45 back to the 30, and the drive fizzled. 

On its last possession of the half, quarterback Luke Shannon put together a quick drive that had them 1st and goal at the 6 after a long pass completion to Mason Damato.  A holding call on the next play pushed the ball back to the 16, but Shannon connected with Casida in the endzone and it was 30-0 with :42 to play in the opening half, a lead the Guardians would take into the locker room.

Conard’s Shane Morris tries to stop Dante Casida of Glastonbury from getting to the end zone. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Conard received the kick to open the third quarter but could not manage much on offense and was forced to punt. Glastonbury picked up where it left off and moved the ball down the field, with Bennett Bedard going in from inside the 10, and it was 37-0. 

Sophomore quarterback Brady Cersosimo scored Conard’s only TD of the game with a fourth quarter scramble. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Trailing as they were, especially on Senior Night, you might forgive Conard’s players if they gave up, but that did not happen. When the offense was on the field, it was the defense leading the cheers, and they returned the favor when the defense was back on the field. Their sense of pride was evident, and their desire to continue the fight did not waver. Cersosimo and the offense would put together one of their best drives of the game, and when he hit Derek Perez with the catch and run, the Red Wolves were first and goal at the 9. A penalty would push the ball back 5 yards as the third quarter was ending. Blumes would kick the field goal, and Conard was on the board early in the final quarter.

Derek Perez finds room to run after catching the pass. Photo credit: Paul Palmer.

Glastonbury looked like it was going to go in for one final score with 5:40 to play, but they fumbled the ball into the endzone, where Ryan Gillis recovered it. Conard took advantage and marched the ball down the field using the same running game combined with quick, short passes. They capped off the drive with their only touchdown of the game when Cersosimo took the ball up the middle and sprinted past the defense for the 20-yard score and set off a celebration for the players and fans. 

“The way they played tells me love playing for each other,” said Coach Cersosimo. “ They are not going to be defined by the circumstances and are always going to play as hard as they can.” In seeing his team continue to put in the effort no matter the score of the game or the record of the team, he hopes that his players are learning lessons that will stay with them the rest of their lives, both on and off the football field.

Nathan Blumes of Conard fights for yardage. Photo credit: Paul Palmer.

Nathan Blumes scores Conard’s first game points with the field goal versus Glastonbury. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Quarterback Brady Cersosimo looks for room to run around the block of teammate Chance McCoy. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

Conard will travel to Maloney next Friday to play against one of the state’s best teams. They will finish out the season on Nov. 18 when they head up North Main Street and try to close the season with a win over archrival Hall in the annual showdown.

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Keith Griffin

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