In the Shoreline Youth Football Conference finals on Sunday, the Cheshire Junior Football eighth grade team reached a milestone years in the making. With a 34-6 win over Guilford at Cheshire High School, the local boys became the first group to win the championship for five years in a row and finished with a career record of 52-2-1.
Cheshire (top seed, 11-0) shut out Guilford (second seed, 9-2) in the second half and scored the final 27 points of the title game. Jeffery Gonzalez led the way with three touchdown runs and an interception.
To open the game, Cheshire marched down the field and earned a first down and goal at the 8-yard line, but Guilford gave up just six more yards and forced a turnover on downs at the 2-yard line.
Undeterred, Cheshire forced Guilford to punt the ball and then scored first on a 4-yard touchdown run by Matt Jeffery with 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter. For the conversion, Jeffery caught a pass from quarterback Michael Pangaro in the end zone.
After scoring touchdowns in SYFC, conversions are worth one point and kicks equal two points.
Down 7-0, Guilford rallied behind the running of Trevor Ridley, who ran for a 7-yard touchdown with 7:26 left in the second quarter. Guilford tried to take the lead on a two-point kick, but Cheshire blocked the boot and then held their rival scoreless from there.
With precise blocking up front, Gonzalez found the end zone twice on runs in the second quarter. First, he scored on a 14-yard scamper with 3:14 remaining. For the one-point conversion, Jeffery caught another pass from Pangaro.
After pushing Guilford into a punt, Cheshire went up 21-6 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Gonzalez with 28 seconds left in the first half. Gonzalez also scored on the conversion run.
The drive was highlighted by Adam Vernon, who laid out a big block to spring Gonzalez for a 20-yard run to the 5-yard line.
After intermission, Cheshire returned to go up 28-6 with 5:14 left in the third quarter. Pangaro kept the ball on a 3-yard touchdown run and then hit Vernon for a conversion pass.
Defensively, Gonzalez came down with an interception with 3:20 left in the third. To cap the scoring, Gonzalez broke free for a 17-yard touchdown run with 6:51 remaining. Guilford stopped Cheshire on a conversion run to leave the score at 34-6.
Earlier in the day, Cheshire fifth grade (second seed, 9-2) fell 18-7 to top-seeded Southington (11-0). Southington jumped ahead 6-0 on a 38-yard touchdown run by Luke Prozzo with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Cheshire moved the ball with the running of Christopher Pangaro and Hunter Hearrin, but Southington kept them out of the end zone in the first half. Southington extended the lead on a 23-yard touchdown run by Connor Orange in the third quarter and then Nicholas Andrews scored on a 50-yard run with 4:21 remaining.
Cheshire produced a late drive and capitalized with a 5-yard touchdown run by Christopher Pangaro with 1:14 remaining.
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