REDDING, Conn. – Joel Barlow High School’s football team meets Gilbert/Northwest Regional High in its first trip to the state playoffs on Tuesday. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. at Western Connecticut State University.
The Falcons (9-2) are seeded third, while Gilbert (9-2) is seeded sixth. The winner advances to the semifinals on Saturday.
Barlow had already qualified for the playoffs before its 46-14 win over Weston on Thanksgiving. The archrival Trojans beat Barlow in 2012 to eliminate the Falcons from the state playoffs.
Barlow, which is 17-4 over the past two seasons under veteran coach Rob Tynan, lost to Newtown and Brookfield this fall. Both of those teams are in the state tournament. Brookfield is the No. 5 seed in Class M. Bethel, another South-West Conference rival, earned the No. 4 seed. Barlow beat Bethel, 24-14, in the first game of the season.
The Falcons are led by splendid quarterback Jack Shaban, who has rushed for 1,841 yards and 32 touchdowns. He scored three touchdowns and ran for 195 yards against Weston. Shaban missed the last two games last season with an injury but still rushed for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns. Shaban has also thrown five touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
Junior running back Harry Wilson (864 yards, 11 touchdowns) is another offensive threat for Barlow. Alex Gallaer (nine sacks), Matt Falcone and Davis Bigelow are some of the top defensive players for the Falcons.
The combination team of Gilbert and Northwest Regional, from Winsted, lost to North Branford Valley Regional/Old Lyme in its two losses this season. The Yellowjackets surrendered an average of 38.5 points in those two losses. Senior running back Tony Ortiz (1,673 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns) and quarterback John Lippincott (13 touchdown passes) are the team’s primary offensive threats.