The Weston High football team fell a step short of Rentschler Field as its run through the Class M state playoffs came to an end on Sunday.
After picking up the program's first-ever state playoff win in the quarterfinals, the sixth-seeded Trojans were eliminated by No. 2 Berlin 21-7 in the semifinals at Bunnell High School in Stratford.
Trailing by 14 with just over six minutes left, Weston appeared to get back into the game when linebacker Erik Dammen-Brower intercepted Berlin quarterback Mitch Williams at the Weston 15. Dammen-Brower returned the interception 60 yards but was chased down and fumbled the ball right back.
"We told the kids just get us to the fourth quarter," Weston head coach Joe Lato said. "We're comfortable with that situation, it just didn't happen tonight. That was tough."
Berlin moved to 11-1 on the season and will face No. 4 Hillhouse (10-2) in the state final at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Saturday at 2:05 p.m.
Weston, which was plagued by miscues early in the loss, finished its season at 9-3.
With Berlin leading
plagued by miscues early in the loss, finished its season at 9-3.
With Berlin leading 14-0 in the second quarter, Weston was driving before turning the ball back over to Berlin on a fumble. On the Redcoats' ensuing drive, Weston's Tyler Hassett intercepted a pass.
"We had a couple turnovers in that first half that threw us off schedule," Lato said. "Credit to Berlin, they were hitting hard and they created those takeaways."
Weston came out strong in the second half though as Zach Cannon's outstanding catch brought the ball inside Berlin's 10-yard line. Hassett got Weston on the board in the third quarter with a 4-yard quarterback keeper.
Berlin answered later in the quarter on a 3rd-and-8 from its own 48 as Williams hit wide receiver Scott McLeod for a 52-yard score.
The Redcoats controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage the rest of the game with their bigger offensive line.
"It felt like we hardly had the ball," Lato said. "They did a great job of moving the ball and controlling the clock. It felt like we just weren't able to get a rhythm."
He added, "Our kids fought hard. I'm proud of their effort."
Afterward, Lato made it clear what he wants for his program in coming years.
"This isn't the finish line," he said. "We want to get here every year. It's always toughest the first time you do something and now we've done this and got this far. The underclassmen gained experience and got to see what it's like to play in playoff games.
"I'm really proud of what this team has done for Weston football."
BERLIN 21, WESTON 7
WESTON 0 0 7 0 --7
BERLIN 7 7 7 0 -- 21
B--Tyler Undercuffler 37 pass from Mitch Williams (Pat Lomaglio kick)
B--Kevin Main 4 run (Lomaglio kick)
W--Tyler Hassett 4 run (Zach Cannon kick)
B--Scott McLeod 52 pass from Williams (Lomaglio kick)
Records: Weston 9-3, Berlin 11-1.