Pictured: A happy Teddy Williams (No. 8) after his 332-yard receiving game against Ansonia in the Class S semifinals at Pierson Park. (Photo by Paul Augeri)
By Paul Augeri
Organizations recognize greatness when they retire an athlete’s jersey number. In this spirit, Cromwell/Portland’s No. 8 shouldn’t be worn again.
It might be a silly thought to some. We’re talking about high school football, of course. But after watching the spectacular Teddy Williams between September and Dec. 11, it just wouldn’t feel right to see another Panthers play run around a field in HIS number.
I’ve never seen a high school football player with Teddy Ballgame’s nose for the ball. The senior receiver/linebacker made … things … happen. Sure of himself and modest to a fault. His teammates love him. His coaches believe he is the best player in the state. He’s certainly in the argument as Connecticut’s best all-around player in 2021.
In the Panthers’ Class S championship game victory over Bloomfield, Williams was there to pounce on a fumble that appeared headed out of bounds. Touchdown. He caught a pass less than 10 yards off the line of scrimmage and did the rest himself, slicing through the Warhawks’ defense the rest of the way for a 46-yard score. And he telegraphed a pass play perfectly, cut off Bloomfield’s receiver and returned the interception 66 yards for the back-breaking TD in a 21-6 win.
“I looked at Teddy, saw him catch the ball and running, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s obviously a touchdown,’” teammate Emeka Yearwood said after the game.
In the Panthers’ thrashing of Ansonia in the semifinals, Williams caught nine balls for 332 yards – the fourth-best receiving game in state history (the record of 376 yards is held by Aaron Hernandez). In the quarterfinals, Williams led Cromwell/Portland in rushing and receiving yards against Notre Dame of New Fairfield.
Williams and senior teammate Owen Brunk, also a two-way player, were named to the Top 26 All-State team released Wednesday. Their inclusion precludes them from being included among the Class S All-State offensive or defensive selections.
Williams was voted All Pequot (Sassacus Division) on offense, one of 10 Panthers recognized by the conference. His brother, Jack, a sophomore center, also was voted All Pequot. Morgan senior quarterback Drew Nye, who threw for more than 3,500 yards in 11 games — unofficially the fourth-best passing season in state history, was one of four Huskies selected.
Maybe the Cromwell/Portland coaching staff “can’t locate” the No. 8 jersey next season. I mean, it really belongs to just one guy, right?
The All Pequot selections for 2021:
Quarterbacks: Drew Nye, Sr., Morgan; Cole Brisson, Jr., Cromwell/Portland.
Running backs: Alex Hair, Jr., Cromwell/Portland; Cayden Ortiz, CREC.
Wide receivers: Teddy Williams, Sr., Cromwell/Portland; Alex Fratamico, Sr., Morgan; Garret Garbinski, Sr., Morgan.
Linemen: Matt Binezewski, Soph., Cromwell/Portland; Ian McKenzie, Sr., Valley Regional; Jack Huscher, Sr., Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton; Ethan Philbrick, Sr., Cromwell/Portland; Jack Williams, Soph., Cromwell/Portland.
Kicker: Kevin Cavrell, Sr., Haddam-Killingworth.
Flex: Di’Angelo Jean-Pierre, Jr., Valley Regional/Old Lyme
Quarterbacks: Mark McLaughlin, Stafford/East Windsor/Somers; Zach Killoran, Ellington.
Running backs: Fred Camp, Gilbert; Dylan Jackson, SMSA.
Wide receivers: Mike Bontempo, Ellington; Logan Briggs, S/EW/S; Ian Thompson, Gilbert.
Linemen: Henry Tyus Jr., Rockville; Zach Abbruzzese, Ellington; Cooper Boyd, Granby/Canton; Jayden Woods, S/EW/S; Kyon Wynter, SMSA.
Kicker: Norman Harris, SMSA.
Flex: Aiden Walker, Windsor Locks.
D-backs: James Marsden, Sr., Valley Regional/Old Lyme; Ben Fagan, Jr., Cromwell/Portland; Chris Progano, Sr., Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton; Ryan Duncanson, Sr., H-K.
Linebackers: Owen Brunk, Sr., Cromwell/Portland; Dominic Langello, Jr., North Branford; Ryan Rozich, Jr., Cromwell/Portland; Tommy Rapp, Sr., Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
Linemen: Emeka Yearwood, Soph., Cromwell/Portland; Connor Lunz, Sr., Valley Regional/Old Lyme; Alex Grice, CREC; Jordan Armstrong, Sr., Morgan.
Punter: Ju’san Thomas, CREC.
Utility: Braden Lankarge, Sr., Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton.
D-backs: Hason Green, Rockville; Marquis Thomas, Granby; Nate Russano, Stafford; Tamir Gamble, SMSA.
Linebackers: Dominic Mangiafico, Ellington; Malich Mapp, Rockville; Will Attianese, Granby; Nate Torres, SMSA; Devin Divita, Gilbert.
Linemen: Dante Mangiafico, Ellington; Amir Knighton, Rockville; John Bruhin, Granby; Ifeoluwa Oluburde, SMSA.
Punter: George Horst, Granby/Canton.
Utility: Ellis Thompson, Coventry; De’Shaun Perry, Rockville.