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Friday, June 8, 2007

Party like it's 1969

I had to use that line from the old Prince song. Seymour won its first state championship Friday night since 1969, upsetting Waterford 2-0. Pitcher Charlie Chancio befuddled Waterford's all-star lineup, allowing just four hits.
You don't have to be from the Valley to appreciate what the Seymour fans did Friday night. They chanted coach Bob Kelo's name in unison while clapping. The first thing that popped into my mind, being a New York Yankees' fan, was how the Yankee fans serenaded Paul O'Neill during Game 5 of the 2001 World Series because they knew it probably was his final game at Yankee Stadium.
I'm not embarrassed to admit I got goose pimples listening to the chant. Kelo has been almost like an institution at Seymour, coaching the Wildcats when they were still in the old Housatonic League and being the longtime offensive coordinator for the football team. He has gotten Seymour to the brink of a state championship four times before, only to fall short. It just goes to show you how difficult it is to get there - and how much Kelo will appreciate it now that he has a title.
But a vet like Kelo is obviously more happy for the kids than himself. Sure, he got plenty of phone calls and text-messages from well-wishers on Friday, but the game is about the kids and they performed their best when it mattered most, concluding the season on an 11-game winning streak.
Make no mistake: Waterford's team was loaded. Name me another team that has four players headed to Division I schools? And a kid that got drafted (Rob Bono)? Only fellow ECC mate went higher than Bono did in the 11th round to the Astros.
But the thing you can't account for is heart. Seymour showed plenty of it during its run to both the NVL and Class M state championships. Believe me, they hear all about how weak the NVL is for baseball, how superior the SCC is supposed to be and so on and so forth, all the time. Whether that's true or not doesn't matter - at least not this weekend.
So, where will Seymour end up in the final New Haven Register Top 10 poll? It's still too early to tell, but I will jump them somewhere into my top five no matter what transpires on Saturday. The Wildcats are very deserving of that.
How far will Waterford drop? Probably not too far. So, it's Amity in the driver's seat to finish No. 1 for the second straight year. If Newington beats Amity, your guess is as good as mine who's No. 1.

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