GHS Football Touchdown Club
Welcome to the GHS Touchdown Club website!
Check this site often for news and information about the upcoming season. Player and family registration for the Touchdown Club will open soon. Details about off-season activities, volunteer opportunities, schedules and other information will be shared here throughout the year.
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Guilford Football Wins 35-33 Thriller Versus Jonathan Law
Guilford Football Wins 35-33 Thriller Versus Jonathan Law
Guilford Football Wins 35-33 Thriller Versus Jonathan Law; Both Cross Country Teams Finish 2nd in SCCs (zip06.com)
The Guilford football team earned an exhilarating 35-33 road victory versus Jonathan Law in an SCC Tier 3 contest on Oct. 21. The Grizzlies improved their overall record to 4-2 to go with a mark of 4-0 in the division after defeating the Lawmen in a game that came down to the final play.
Guilford held the lead for most of the night, although Law kept coming back to stay in the game. Trailing by 2, the Lawmen drove to the Grizzlies’ 15-yard line in the final minutes, but then turned the ball over on a fumbled snap. However, Guilford was unable to run out the clock and had to punt the ball back to Law with just 30 seconds left in the game.
Law’s offense made it to midfield for the final play of the contest. Law’s quarterback heaved up a deep pass that was knocked down at the 10-yard line, solidifying the 35-33 win for the Grizzlies. Head Coach Anthony Salvati called it one of the most exciting games that he’s ever been a part of.
Senior Mike O’Brien turned in a huge performance by rushing the ball 42 times for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns for Guilford in the victory. Junior quarterback Tyler Hilgert went 13-of-19 passing for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns, in addition to carrying the ball 6 times for 58 yards and a TD.
Hilgert tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass to senior Dillon Burlakoff in the second quarter and then connected with junior Brady Hallihan for a 20-yard scoring strike in the third quarter. Junior Trevor Ridley had 2 catches for 49 yards to aid Guilford’s aerial attack.
Senior Alejandro Colberg-Martinez lead all tacklers with 9 on the night to go along with a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. Senior Luke Carignan and fellow senior Liam Alberti made 8 tackles apiece for the Grizzlies’ defense.
On special teams, freshman Zisis Vasiliou went 4-for-5 on his extra point attempts to help Guilford come away with the victory.
Guilford will be on the road to play a non-conference game against Woodstock Academy (3-2) at noon on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Guilford High School Senior Makes School History
Guilford High School Senior Makes School History as First Girl to Score Touchdown
By Gabrielle Lucivero • Published October 24, 2022 - Guilford High School Senior Makes School History as First Girl to Score Touchdown – NBC Connecticut
A couple of weeks ago, Guilford High School senior Brianna Seixas made school history: she became the first girl to score a touchdown.
“I just had my arms out and the ball was just placed in my chest,” said Seixas. “I looked down and I was like,” that’s where Seixas pauses, she knows it’s a big deal, she just wishes that it wasn’t.
“Just because I’m a girl doesn't mean I want any more recognition than the others, that's what I told coach,” said Seixas. “I didn't choose to be a girl playing football, I chose to be a kid playing football.”
You only need one hand to count how many girls have scored a touchdown in any high school football game across the state, but that list could be getting longer, soon.
In Connecticut, the CIAC tells NBC Connecticut that 56 girls were on rosters in the 2021-22 school year and in 2011-12, that number was just 18. Across the country, the National Federation of State High School Associations released a survey that shows girls participation in football is up 39% since just three years ago.
“Since I was a freshman, I always wanted to play football, but I never took the chance,” said Hall High School senior Carly Dulitsky. “I was a little scared when I was younger and then this year I was like, it’s my senior year, I might as well.”
Dulitsky chose the sidelines over the student section for her senior year, not worried what anyone else might think.
“People are like 'why are you playing?' it's no different than why any other guy out here is playing,” said Dulitsky. “I just want to play the sport.”
Seixas is used to playing outside the box. She’s already a state wrestling champion and now, she can add history-making touchdown to the list.
“I'm not as fast, I’m not as strong, but you know I do have the knowledge of seven years of football,” said Seixas.
She started playing with the blessing of her mom, Ashleigh. The two have shared the goal of her scoring a touchdown since those early days. This time though, Seixas’ mom wasn’t there to see it. Her mom is deployed in Germany with the Navy, so Seixas settled for a very early morning phone call, excited to tell her mom what she’d done.
“You know, she told her whole unit,” said Seixas. “She's always wanted me to score, she always wanted me to be on the field.”
A goal usually reserved for teenage boys shared instead between a teenage girl and her mom. Because that’s the thing about girls playing football: it’s not just for the girls who come after them, but for the women who came before them and didn’t get the chance.
“I've had a lot of moms, especially that come up to me. If I didn't [play] I’d be in the same boat as they were,” said Seixas. “And I'd be telling the same little girl ‘I wanted to do this. I wanted to do that.’ So it shows me how something that I thought was so little impacts other people so much more than I thought it would.”
Grizzlies Striving to Keep Climbing on the Gridiron
Grizzlies Striving to Keep Climbing on the Gridiron
09/06/2022 - Grizzlies Striving to Keep Climbing on the Gridiron (zip06.com)
The Guilford football team shook off the rust and battled through many obstacles to earn some respect in the Southern Connecticut Conference last season. With a new campaign about to get underway, Head Coach Anthony Salvati has his squad primed for more success on the gridiron and wants to see the Grizzlies fare even better this time around.
After seeing the 2020 campaign get canceled, Guilford bounced back from an 0-2 start to win six of its last eight games and finish with a 6-4 record last fall. The season proved beneficial for several sophomores who gained key experience due to a wave of injuries that hit the team.
Coach Salvati is anticipating that the experiences from last year will lead to some breakthrough moments for the Grizzlies in 2022. Guilford kicks off its season with a home game versus Fitch at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9.
“Going into this season, now we have an abundance of experience coming back. On paper, with all of the returning starters and younger guys, I think we’re all poised,” Coach Salvati said. “I think we’re excited to do some nice things in Guilford this year.”
Guilford heads into its new season with some holes to fill on both sides of the ball. On offense, Grizzlies said good-bye to wide receiver Eric Dolmus, who earned All-SCC Tier 3 honors as a senior before graduating. Guilford also graduated three seniors who received All-SCC Tier 3 accolades on defense in Jack O’Brien, Eddie Barlage, and Aiden McBrierty. Barlage, Dolmus, and O’Brien served as Guilford’s captains last season.
“Last year, that senior class was special. The work that they put in over the years that they were with me is going to be missed altogether,” said Salvati. “I think we have some young guys now with some experience that can step into that role nicely. They could have that potential for us.”
The Grizzlies are bringing back a pair of All-SCC Tier 3 honorees from last year as they take the field for the 2022 campaign. Senior running back Mike O’Brien and senior lineman Luke Carignan will both play major roles as two of the team’s four captains on the heels of their All-Conference seasons. Coach Salvati calls O’Brien the “pulse of the offense,” while Carignan will lead the wall of linemen on both sides of the ball for the Grizzlies.
Guilford will also be led by senior captains Liam Alberti and Hayden Eldridge. Salvati is expecting Alberti to fill the role that Barlage held as a linebacker last year. Eldridge, who Salvati calls “Mr. Consistent,” has started for the Grizzlies since his freshman season and is a staple of the offensive line at the center position.
Coach Salvati knows that Guilford’s captains have been integral to the rise of the program, but he feels that the Grizzlies are also going to receive great leadership from the other members of a special senior class. Guilford’s senior corps also includes Dillon Burlakoff, Alejandro Colberg, Dan O’Connell, Zachary Ellesio, Leo Farricielli, Rence Jewett, and Brianna Seixas.
“This is my first full group [of seniors] that I’ve had come through for four years. They’ve done everything that I’ve asked, and they bought into the system for the past four years,” Salvati said. “Their hard work and dedication has gotten us into this point that we’re in going into the season.”
Salvati is looking forward to seeing the impact that O’Connell is going to make on the offensive and defensive lines this season. O’Connell has proven himself as a force in the trenches throughout his high school career.
“He’s the most physical kid,” said Salvati of O’Connell. “He’s that nasty kind of lineman that we need, but he’s a great kid.”
Coach Salvati is also excited about seeing Burlakoff help the Grizzlies move the sticks on the offensive side of the ball. Salvati refers to Burlakoff as Guilford’s sparkplug on offense due to the senior’s versatile skillset.
As Salvati looks for playmakers on offense, he feels confident in the abilities of junior quarterback Tyler Hilgert, who saw plenty of snaps under center last year. Salvati said that Hilgert has looked poised, focused, and comfortable in the pocket throughout the preseason.
With the loss of Dolmus, Coach Salvati is looking for juniors Jake Jahnige and Joe Tafro to carve out big roles at the wide receiver position this year. Salvati said that Jahnige has the ability to stretch out opposing defenses downfield and added that Tafro is reliable option for the Grizzlies in the slot.
Coach Salvati knows that every single player will need to be on board as Guilford strives to take another step forward and increase its win total this season. Injuries hampered the Grizzlies in their quest to make the playoffs last year. This year, Salvati wants to see his team’s chemistry on full display as Guilford pursues a successful season in 2022.
“I think we have to play together. You can’t have any cracks in the foundation,” Salvati said. “We are a pretty tight-knit group from the seniors all the way down to the freshmen. For us to reach our goals, we have to stay together, even in tough times and adversity.”
This year marks the 50th season of the Guilford football program. The Grizzlies’ season will feature appearances from program alums each week to go along with an alumni dinner that will precede its annual finale against Hand on Wednesday, Nov. 23.
With an experienced lineup returning to the field, the Grizzlies are champing at the bit and ready compete this season. Guilford’s athletes have major goals and are motivated to become the best football team they can be with hopes of making some noise in the playoffs by the end of the year.
“We’re happy with the 6-4 season we had last year, but that’s just a stepping stone for us. Now, we want to take the next step and show to everyone, prove to ourselves, and represent Guilford to that next step to be at that next level of football,” said Coach Salvati. “Guilford football as a whole, from top to bottom, should be excited for what this year is about to become.”
2022 Guilford Football Schedule
Friday, Sept. 9: vs. Fitch at 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16: at Branford at 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23: at West Haven at 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30: vs. Lyman Hall at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 14: vs. Bassick at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 21: at Jonathan Law at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29: at Woodstock Academy at noon
Friday, Nov. 4: at Foran at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17: at East Haven at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 23: vs. Hand at 7 p.m.
50th Season of Guilford High School Football
We have officially kicked off the start of the 50th season of Guilford High School Football. Help us celebrate all season beginning with our home opener on September 9th as we host Fitch at Kavanaugh Field.
A limited supply of commemerative apparel with the 50th logo will be available for purchase at the start of the season. Limited quantities while supplies last. Get yours before they are gone!
Annual Lift-a-thon Was a Success!
The annual GHS Football Lift-a-thon was a huse success on Saturday, August 6th. The team was moving weights and looking strong. Players did a great job collecting pledges to support their lift goals. The Touchdown Club provided food, refreshments and player apparel for the 2022 season. Great job by all!
Guilford Football Family Picnic
On July 31st the Touchdown Club hosted the first annual Guilford Football Family Picnic with players, parents and Coach Salvati as the unofficial kick-off to the 2022 season. It's almost go time! The Touchdown Club provided lunch with the Naples Pizza Truck and parents donated drinks and deserts and brought yard games for all to enjoy. Thanks for all who attended and supported this new tradition.
GHS Football Season Kick-Off Picnic
Please join us on Sunday, July 31 from 1:00-4:00 pm as we celebrate the kickoff to another season of GHS Football!! Coaches, players, families and friends are invited for a fun day at Martin Bishop Field. The Naples pizza truck will be there for everyone to enjoy. We will also have music and plenty of yard games for a little friendly competition. The TDC is covering the cost of the Pizza truck and we are seeking volunteers to provide games, drinks and desserts. Please see the Sign-Up Genius for specific requests.
There are plenty of tables and seating under the pavillion but you may still want to bring an extra chair or two.
We hope to see everyone there!!
UPDATED 2022 Guilford Football Schedule
Save the Dates (some dates are tentative and subject to change)
We are excited to be planning for the upcoming season of Guilford High School football! We have several important dates to share with you to mark your calendars and plan accordingly. Coach Salvati wants families to know the offseason activities listed below are optional/voluntary but attendance is strongly encouraged. When the season officially begins in August, all team activities are mandatory and players are expected to be in attendance.
Save the Dates (some dates are tentative and subject to change)
Incoming Freshman Player Meeting – Wednesday, May 4th from 3pm-4pm at Adams Middle School. Please have your son make every effort to attend. Coach Salvati is eager to meet the incoming players.
Guilford Football Golf Outing (Parents only)- Friday June 3rd, at Laurel View Country Club in Hamden. See GYFC website for details. www.guilfordyouthfootball.com
Incoming Freshman Parent Meeting – Monday, June 13th at 6:00 pm in the bleachers at the main turf at GHS. All parents are strongly encouraged to attend.
GHS Football Car Wash – Sunday, June 12th beginning at 9:00 am. Coach Salvati encourages all players, including incoming freshman, to attend.
Team Weight Training – Mon., Tue., Thur. & Fri. throughout the summer at GHS. Time TBD, likely 4:00-5:30pm.
Madison 7v7- Wednesday’s beginning July 6th at 6:00 pm at Hand. Runs through the first week in August. Varsity and JV.
Lift-a-thon Fundraiser – Saturday, August 6th 9:00 am. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend. Additional information to follow.
First Day of Practice – Thursday, August 11th.
First Scrimmage – August 24th at Hamden High School.
First Game of the Season - Friday, September 9th vs. Fitch at Guilford High School.
Registration for the 2022-2023 season will be open soon on the Touchdown Club (TDC) website. Registration will be required to participate in summer activities. Please note that you will need to register on the TDC website as well as through the GHS athletic department (Family ID). We will send additional information within the next few weeks but please know that your child will need an up-to-date physical AND they will need to sign-up for ImPACT testing through the high school. Be on the lookout for an email from the GHS athletic department this summer with more information.
Summary of Required Registration Steps:
Player Communication: Coach Salvati utilizes Hudl to share information with players. This summer, players will be invited to join the GHS Football Hudl account.
The Touchdown Club is seeking a Treasurer to join the board as well as a class of 2026 Class Rep. Please contact me if you are interested in either role for the 2022-23 season.
Any questions please let me know. We look forward to meeting you at GHS Football activities and games this coming season.
President and Class of 2023 Rep
GHS Touchdown Club
Follow GHS Football on social media:
Facebook: Join the GHS Football Touchdown Cub
2nd Annual Guilford Football Golf Classic
After a successful inaugural event in 2021, the Guilford Football Golf Classic is back on Friday, June 3rd at Laurel View Country Club! Hosted by Guilford Youth Football & Cheerleading this event is open to all current Guilford Football parents (youth AND high school), friends and supporters as well as alumni players and parents. In our continued effort to build a strong and successful Guilford Football program from top to bottom, all proceeds from the event support both the high school and youth programs.
There is a Golf Classic committee comprised of youth and high school parents who have been working to plan a fun and successful event. Now we need your help! Please consider joining us as a sponsor or golfer with foursome or as an individual player. Not a golfer? Volunteers are needed at the event. See link below to sponsor and/or register online.
Guilford Youth Football - Powered byPlayAYF
See you on June 3rd!
Captains Named for the 2022 Season
Congratulations to the four captains recently named for the 2022 season, as voted on by their teammates and coaches.
We look forward to them leading the Grizzlies to the next level!
National Signing Day 2022
Congratulations to seniors, Eddie Barlage (Mass Maritime), Eric Dolmus (Maine) and Jack O'Brien (St. Lawrence) on their commitments to continue their academic and athletic pursuits at the next level! We are incredibly proud of their accomplishments and look forward to following them as their journey continues beyond Guilford.
With these commitments, Guilford Football has helped 15 players over the past three seasons continue their football careers. The culture has changed in Guilford. We are full steam ahead and the time is NOW! Go Grizzlies!
Barlage Brings Home All-SCC Honors for Grizzlies
Barlage Brings Home All-SCC Honors for Grizzlies
Article Published January 6, 2022 - Barlage Brings Home All-SCC Honors for Grizzlies | Zip06.com
By Dean Bibens
Eddie Barlage was as integral of a member of the Guilford football team as any athlete during the 2021 campaign in which the Grizzlies finished 6-4 overall.
A senior captain and outside linebacker, Eddie was one of six Guilford players to earn All-SCC honors, and he couldn’t have been happier with how his final season concluded.
“I started playing football in 7th grade,” says Eddie. “Playing backyard football with my friends was definitely one of the most fun things I did growing up, so I decided to go out for the real thing. I feel like this season went really well as a whole, and I have high hopes for next year’s team. I feel that we seniors have done the right things to put the program in a great position for the future.”
In Eddie’s 10 games played, he earned a team-best 68 tackles and averaged nearly eight tackles per game. Eddie was also first in forced fumbles with two and tied for third in sacks with three.
“The best part about the sport is the competition,” says Eddie. “I love competing, especially in football because it exemplifies all the areas I pride myself in, including athleticism and mental toughness. One of my favorite moments from this season came against Branford. It was far from my best game statistically, but it was amazing to see my teammates play their hearts out and come away with a big victory.”
Eddie credits Coach Salvati for helping him grow as a player. The senior captain says Coach Salvati is one of the smartest coaches he’s had the chance to work with.
“Coach Salvati and I have a great relationship where we joke around when appropriate, but also understand when it’s time to work,” says Eddie. “When Coach Salvati got to Guilford, I was very impressed with his knowledge of the game. That’s a feeling that I still have today. More importantly, I admire how he cares for all the players and goes out of his way to help us when we need it.”
Coach Salvati describes Eddie as one of the hardest workers both on and off the field, and a true mentor to all of his teammates.
“Eddie is the epitome of hardest worker in the room,” says Coach Salvati. “He has worked non-stop, 365 days a year to accomplish his goals and become a leader and captain of this team. To see him grow both on and off the field over the past three years has been one of my biggest highlights as a coach. His leadership and presence on the field and in the locker room will be greatly missed.”
Aside from football, Eddie is also a captain on the Guilford wrestling team, which is off to a 1-0 overall start to its winter campaign. The Grizzlies bested Morgan 54-12 in their opening meet of the season.
“I give lots of credit to wrestling for my success as a football player,” Eddie says. “Wrestling introduced me to great physical and mental challenges that I had to overcome.
“Wrestling develops a mindset that I think is hard to get from other sports,” he adds. “The mindset is to be intense and to push through pain while also respecting your opponent. Wrestling definitely gave me the mental edge over my opponents on the field.”
Above all, Eddie was ecstatic he and his teammates were able to complete an entire football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wasn’t worried about playing through the coronavirus, rather grateful for the opportunity,” says Eddie. “After seeing all of the seniors last year go without their last season, I appreciated the opportunity to play even more.”
Local Football Players Earn All-SCC Honors
Local Football Players Earn All-SCC Honors
Article Published December 17, 2021 - Local Football Players Earn All-SCC Honors | Zip06.com
Several football players from local high schools were recently selected to the All-Southern Connecticut Conference Team based on their performances during the 2021 fall season. The athletes included students who attend Branford, Daniel Hand, East Haven, and Guilford high schools.
Branford had six players selected to the All-SCC Tier 3 Team this season. Senior Nate Mathis made the team as an offensive lineman for Branford. The Hornets’ other All-SCC selections were senior David McDonald (defensive line), senior Cameron Paleski (linebacker), senior John Frawley (defensive back), and sophomore Nate Florio (defensive back).
Four athletes from the Daniel Hand football team earned All-SCC Tier 1 accolades on the offensive side of the ball. Seniors Seth Sweitzer (wide receiver), Patch Flanagan (quarterback), Ethan O’Brien (running back), and Brendan Walsh (offensive line) were the All-SCC selections for the Tigers this year.
Senior Shea Carasone and junior Mekhi Morrison of East Haven made the All-SCC Tier 3 Team this fall. Carasone made the team as a punter, and Morrison earned All-Conference honors as a defensive lineman on behalf of the Yellowjackets.
Six athletes from the Guilford football squad garnered All-SCC Tier 3 accolades. Senior Eric Dolmus (wide receiver), junior Mike O’Brien (running back), and junior Luke Carignan (offensive line) were the Grizzlies’ selections on offense. Seniors Jack O’Brien (defensive back), Aiden McBrierty (defensive line), and Eddie Barlage (linebacker) were named to the team on defense.
O'Brien Goes All-SCC for the Grizzlies
O’Brien Goes All-SCC for the Grizzlies
Article Published December 9, 2021 - O’Brien Goes All-SCC for the Grizzlies | Zip06.com
By Dean Bibens
When Jack O’Brien broke his collarbone two weeks before the Guilford football team started its season, the senior captain was heartbroken. The first question that rushed through Jack’s mind was whether he would he be able to play football at all after missing his entire junior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I broke it in a preseason scrimmage two weeks before the first game, coming down catching a ball,” says Jack. “It was very mentally challenging at first after putting in so much work in the offseason for the first game. Then finding out I couldn’t play for several weeks was very tough.”
Jack wound up missing the first three games of the season, but then got back on the field and made a big impact for the Grizzlies upon returning. Jack finished the year with 26 catches for 400 receiving yards and 8 total touchdowns, two of which he scored against East Lyme in his first game back in action. The senior also made the All-SCC Tier 3 Team for his play as a defensive back.
“I knew I had to do my part as a captain of the team and still be a leader, so I always brought energy to the team, regardless if I was padded up with them or not,” Jack says. “The recovery process was not bad. At times it was tough mentally, but I followed doctor’s orders very responsibly and was blessed to be back on the field as early as I was.”
Jack helped Guilford finish with a record of 6-4 after the Grizzlies had lost their first two games of the year. Head Coach Anthony Salvati believes that Guilford could have been a playoff team had Jack played the entire campaign. Salvati credits Jack for his persistence to return to the field and his performance once he got back out there.
“Jack is an exceptional leader on and off the field,” says Salvati. “His presence was clearly missed when he missed the first [three] games of the season. The offensive production became far more balanced once he returned, as well as more explosive. Jack also gave us the versatility on defense to bring pressure from different areas, while he was able to cover receivers.”
Jack’s relationship with Coach Salvati has strengthened during his tenure in the program. Jack says that Salvati always puts the team before himself, and he admires his coach’s dedication to the game.
“He’s so supportive and is so committed to making the whole team and I better players and young men,” Jack says of Salvati. “He cares about everything we do. He always emphasizes being good students and people in the community. I know he will do anything for me, and I can say the same.”
In addition to having a stellar season on the gridiron, Jack has also been succeeding academically at Guilford, posting a 3.5 grade-point average during the football season. Now, Jack’s sights are set on attending prep school next fall in order to have a better opportunity to get recruited by top colleges for football.
“Next year, I will be playing at a post-grad prep school. I have yet to decide where, but I have already talked to a handful of schools,” says Jack. “My plan after prep school is to play at the highest level I possibly can, while receiving a good education.”
Along with playing football, Jack also competed for the Guilford boys’ basketball team in his sophomore year. However, once he became a junior, Jack decided to dedicate himself to football exclusively, and that decision paid dividends this year.
“I spend a lot of time working on my route running and my catching,” Jack says. “I stopped playing basketball after my sophomore year to focus on football, and I feel like that really paid off.”
Grizzlies Blank East Haven for Fourth Win in a Row
Grizzlies Blank East Haven for Fourth Win in a Row
Article Published November 20, 2021:
Grizzlies Blank East Haven for Fourth Win in a Row | Zip06.com
The Guilford football team posted its third-straight shutout and fourth win in a row when the Grizzlies claimed a 48-0 home victory against East Haven last week. The Grizzlies improved to 6-3 on the year heading into their season finale versus Hand on Thanksgiving Eve.
On Nov. 18, Guilford hosted SCC Tier 3 opponent East Haven and blanked the Yellowjackets by a 48-0 score. In addition to picking up their sixth win of the year, the Grizzles improved to 3-1 in the SCC Tier 3 standings by shutting out the Yellowjackets.
Junior Mike O’Brien had a night on the ground by carrying the ball 11 times for 186 yards and four touchdowns for Guilford in its win over East Haven. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilgert went 9-of-12 passing for 125 yards and a touchdown, including a 28-yard scoring strike to senior captain Eric Dolmus. Overall, Dolmus had four receptions for 49 yards and the TD.
Sophomore Dillon Burlakoff ran the ball six times for 74 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run. Senior captain Jack O’Brien kicked six extra points and also had two catches for 31 yards on the night. Sophomore Jake Jahnige added a 35-yard reception for the Grizzlies.
Senior captain Eddie Barlage led the defensive effort for Guilford by making eight tackles, forcing a fumble, and also recovering a fumble for a touchdown. Senior Aiden McBrierty, junior Luke Carignan, and junior Dan O’Connell each recorded a sack in the victory.
Guilford finished the 2021 season by facing Hand on the road in the annual Thanksgiving week matchup between the two rivals on Nov. 24 (after press time). Like Guilford, Hand came into the game with a record of 7-3 on the year.
Guilford Football Dominates in Shutout Win Over Rival Branford
Nov. 12, 2021 Updated: Nov. 15, 2021 3:34 p.m.
Guilford football dominates in shutout win over rival Branford (ctinsider.com)
GUILFORD — Dominating.
That’s the perfect word to describe Guilford’s performance Friday night as the Grizzlies blanked Branford 31-0 Friday night at Kavanaugh Field in a Southern Connecticut Conference football contest.
It was probably the best performance in the three-year tenure (not counting 2020’s COVID-canceled season) of Anthony Salvati as head coach of the Grizzlies.
“It’s definitely up there,’ Salvati said. “To play against a rival like this and a playoff team, we came out and played well today.”
Defensively, Guilford didn’t allow the Hornets to get past the Grizzlies’ 24-yard line.
“We played Guilford football — go to the ball, stay low and gang tackle and went to the ball. We’re finally healthy with everyone coming back from injuries and it showed.”
Branford also shot itself in the foot all night as every time the Hornets started to mount an offensive drive, the Hornets were set back by penalties and never recovered.
“Hats off to them. Their staff put together a great plan,” Branford coach John Limone said. “They outplayed us and outphysicaled us. We picked a bad time to have a bad night.”
And Guilford took advantage of it. The Grizzlies opened the scoring late in the first quarter when quarterback Tyler Hilgert connected with Jack O’Brien for a 32-yard touchdown pass. With O’Brien’s first of four extra-point kicks, it was 7-0.
“We went with a new snap count for them because we thought they knew our cadence,” Dolmus said. “It worked every time.”
Just three plays later, a collision right as a Zachary Turbert pass hit one of his receivers sent the ball into the air and Guilford’s Erick Dolmus picked it off and returned the ball 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter.
“I came in full speed, caught it and I knew I was going to the crib,” Dolmus said.
A 27-yard field goal by O’Brien and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Nico Messina to Dolmus in the second quarter made it 24-0 at halftime.
The only scoring in the second half came on a six-yard run by Michael O’Brien.
Going into the game Branford (6-2) was the second seed in the CIAC Class M playoffs, but the loss will drop the Hornets in the seedings. They’ll probably have to beat Law and East Haven in their final two games to have any chance to return to the state playoffs.
“They are all must wins,” Limone said. “We have to worry about one game at a time. Yes, it’s Coach speak, but it’s coach speak because it’s true.”
Guilford (5-3) also remained alive in the Class L playoff hunt. The Grizzlies play East Haven next week and close out their season on Thanksgiving Eve night against Hand. They’ll obviously have to win both games and get a lot of help.
“Our goal is 7-3 but we can only get there if we win against East Haven next week,” Salvati said. “I tell the kids that every week is a playoff game. That’s how we play every game.”
Guilford Football Routs Brookfield, 43-6
Guilford Football Routs Brookfield, 43-6
By Dean Bibens
Guilford Football Routs Brookfield, 43-6 | Zip06.com
When the Guilford football team entered its bye week, Head Coach Anthony Salvati knew that the Grizzlies needed some time to recuperate from a hard-fought loss against Hillhouse on Oct. 15. Guilford returned to the field ready and refreshed last week and notched a convincing win versus Brookfield.
Guilford hosted Brookfield for a non-conference contest at the Surf Club in Madison on Oct. 28. The Grizzlies routed the Bobcats by the final score of 43-6 to level their record at 3-3 on the year.
“Brookfield is a very physical team and a team that we knew we couldn’t overlook going into this matchup. I was really proud of the way everyone played,” Coach Salvati said. “Every week, I feel like we get better. We had a rough start with injuries, but I feel like we are really starting to hit our stride now.”
Guilford’s offense essentially turned in a flawless performance in the team’s win over Brookfield (2-5). Senior quarterback Nico Messina went 14-of-17 passing for 227 yards and three touchdowns for the Grizzlies in the victory. Two of those touchdowns went to senior captain wide receiver Eric Dolmus, who had seven receptions for 148 yards on the night. Fellow receiver Jack O’Brien, also a senior captain, finished the game with five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns to help Guilford win with authority.
“I was really proud of the way our senior wide receivers performed in this game,” said Salvati. “Eric has been a consistent playmaker for us all season, as has Jack, and it was nice to see both of them get a couple of touchdowns on the night.”
Junior running back Mike O’Brien had 15 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown for Guilford. Senior Eddie Barlage also found the end zone on an 11-yard TD rush.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilgert got some playing time under center in the game. Hilgert completed seven passes for 65 yards and also ran for a 1-yard touchdown to finish off the scoring for Coach Salvati’s squad. Sophomore Brady Hallihan kicked an extra point in the game.
“I like the way that we rebounded this week. We didn’t really put that Hillhouse team away when we had a chance to a couple weeks ago. This week, our defense was strong all-around,” Salvati said. “We had no missed tackles and made a lot of great plays, which put our offense in a favorable position. It was to our benefit that Brookfield was playing on a short week, as well.”
Junior linebacker Liam Alberti aided the defensive charge for Guilford by making 10 tackles in the win. Sophomore safety Jake Jahnige had a huge game that saw him snag three interceptions to go with five tackles. Barlage had seven tackles for the Grizzlies, while senior defensive end Aiden McBrierty made six tackles to go with one sack.
“I think Aiden had one of the biggest impacts on the game,” said Salvati. “He had several quarterback pressures, which contributed to several bad throws for Brookfield and led to some interceptions for us. He had a tremendous game.”
Coach Salvati views the injuries that his team went through at the beginning of the season as both a curse and a blessing. While it was difficult seeing some of Guilford’s best players get sidelined, those setbacks also gave some of the younger athletes a chance to gain varsity experience—something that has ultimately benefited the entire team.
“The younger kids who didn’t have varsity experience at the beginning of this season are finally playing like varsity players,” Salvati said. “It’s great to see us coming together like this. We’ve got four games left this season, and the kids’ goal is to finish 7-3.”
Guilford’s next game is on the road against fellow SCC Tier 3 opponent Bassick (1-6) on Friday, Nov. 5. The game gets underway at 6 p.m. at Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport. After that, the Grizzlies will conclude their regular season by playing home games versus Branford and East Haven, followed by their finale at Hand on the night before Thanksgiving.
“I’m looking forward to seeing these guys compete,” said Salvati. “We are finally fully healthy, and my expectations for the team are high for the rest of the year. We just want to take it week by week.”
Dolmus Proving a Big-Time Playmaker
Dolmus Proving a Big-Time Playmaker
By Dean Bibens
Dolmus Proving a Big-Time Playmaker | Zip06.com
Eric Dolmus has been making plays all season long for the Guilford football squad. A senior captain who plays wide receiver and cornerback, Eric is proving a consistent contributor for the Grizzlies with his performance on both sides of the ball.
Eric first stepped on the football field in his freshman year at Guilford. Eric’s friends talked him into joining the team, and he’s been working hard at getting good on the gridiron ever since.
“My favorite aspect of the sport is that I get to take all the pain I feel inside and take it out on the field. I also love that you get to play for your team” says Eric. “It’s a team sport, and everything you do has to be 100 percent. You have to leave every out on the field for your teammates.”
At 5 feet, 9 inches and 170 pounds, Eric may not be most physically imposing wide receiver on the football field, but he has the work ethic of an athlete who is never satisfied and is always grinding to improve his skill set. Eric has already received Division I scholarship offers from Central Connecticut State University and the University of Maine.
“This whole offseason, I lifted a ton. I do wide receiver drills and agility drills a lot. I also do a lot of speed drills to get faster,” Eric says. “What drives me to become a better player is the future that I can give to myself and my family if I go far with football. I want to play in the NFL and think with hard work, passion, and grit, I can make it. What makes me stand out from the rest of receivers is my speed and my ability to get the ball wherever it is.”
Through five games this season, Eric accumulated 400 receiving yards on 30 catches to go with four touchdowns. As a cornerback, Eric has three interceptions, two pass deflections, and 26 tackles for the Grizzlies.
Eric set the tone for his senior season when he scored a touchdown during Guilford’s first game of the year.
“So far, my favorite moment as a player came in our first game this year, when I scored my first touchdown,” says Eric. “We were playing Law, and I took a slant 51 yards to the house at the start of the game. It was an awesome feeling.”
Head Coach Anthony Salvati says that Eric brings impressive athleticism to the field for Guilford. Salvati praises Eric for his ability to remain unfazed in pressure situations, in addition to how well his senior captain has been performing in the classroom.
“Eric started for us at corner as a sophomore, but the most exciting part has been being able to watch Eric mature off the field,” Salvati says. “Eric has turned his academic career around since his freshman year and is a solid 3.0 student, which will benefit him well as he chooses which school to attend and play next fall.”
Eric appreciates all the effort that Coach Salvati has put into to helping him become a better football player since his freshman season. Eric knows that he wouldn’t be where he is today without Salvati’s guidance.
“My relationship with Coach Salvati is great. He’s always been my go-to guy for almost everything in life,” says Eric. “He’s shaped me into the man I’m becoming, and I appreciate that a lot. He’s helped me a ton with my recruiting to play college football.”
Aside from football, Eric enjoys hanging out with his friends and family. Even when he isn’t competing, Eric loves watching both NFL and college football games.
Guilford has a record of 2-3 at the midway point of the 2021 season. Eric wants to the Grizzlies to finish the year strong and cap off their campaign by earning a win versus their crosstown rival.
“I’m hoping we can win out this year and go 7-3,” Eric says. “I really want to beat our rival Daniel Hand, too.”
Guilford Football Defeats East Lyme, 34-12
GUILFORD — Guilford Football Defeats East Lyme, 34-12; Soccer Squads Battle Hand | Zip06.com
The Guilford football squad traveled to East Lyme to take on the Vikings for a non-conference clash on Oct. 8. The Grizzlies notched a 34-12 win against East Lyme to even their record at 2-2 on the season.
Junior running back Mike O’Brien had a huge game for the Grizzlies by carrying the ball 24 times for 277 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Senior quarterback Nico Messina went 4-of-6 passing with two touchdowns—one to senior Eric Dolmus and the other to senior Jack O’Brien. Sophomore QB Tyler Hilgert was 7-of-10 for 72 yards with a touchdown toss to Jack O’Brien, who had six catches for 45 yards and two TDs on the night. Dolmus had three catches for 37 yards and the one touchdown.
The Grizzlies also had their fair share of standouts on defense in their win against East Lyme. Barlage had 16 tackles with a sack, junior Liam Alberti made 11 tackles, and senior Aiden McBrierty had nine tackles and a sack. Freshman Melvin Omeragic made nine tackles and had a sack, while junior Alejandro Colberg-Martinez recorded eight tackles to go with a sack. Dolmus had six tackles and also snagged an interception for Head Coach Anthony Salvati’s squad.Senior Eddie Barlage had eight rushes for 41 yards to aid the Guilford offense. Sophomore Buddy Gambardella had two catches for 19 yards, and sophomore Jake Jahnige reeled in a 9-yard reception.
Guilford’s next game is on the road versus Hillhouse on Friday, Oct. 15. The game gets underway at 7 p.m. at Bowen Field in New Haven.
Burlakoff Making the Most of His Junior Campaign
Burlakoff Making the Most of His Junior Campaign
By Dean Bibens:
Burlakoff Making the Most of His Junior Campaign | Zip06.com
Coming off a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Dillon Burlakoff couldn’t wait to begin his junior campaign with the Guilford football squad this fall. Dillon, a running back, is making immediate contributions for the Grizzlies in both their rushing and passing attacks.
Guilford lost its first two games of the season, but bounced back with a 21-0 victory versus Pomperaug to improve to 1-2. With that first win out of the way, Dillon believes that the sky is the limit for the Grizzlies in 2021.
“My expectations are the same as everyone else’s on the team. We want to win a state championship for Guilford,” says Dillon. “But we must all believe it and play as a team to fulfill our expectations.”
Dillon has 10 carries for 97 yards to go with 10 receptions for 50 yards thus far this season. He’s also been contributing for Guilford on special teams. Dillon’s love for the gridiron stems back to him watching his favorite NFL team on television as a youngster.
“I’ve been playing football for seven years. Watching the Dallas Cowboys as a kid really got me into the sport, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since,” Dillon says. “My favorite aspect of the sport is the offense, because all 11 players are involved in the play. Everyone has to do their job in order for the play to work.”
Head Coach Anthony Salvati commends Dillon for the tenacity that the junior brings to the gridiron. While Dillon isn’t the biggest player, Salvati says that he’s constantly competing his hardest, while displaying lots of heart.
“Dillon is a quiet workhorse. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with heart, tenfold,” says Salvati. “Dillon has great vision and instincts, which allows him to hit the smallest of holes and create a big gain when running the ball. He is always a very dangerous punt and kick returner that can flip the field in our favor at any moment.”
Dillon says that his relationship with Coach Salvati is among the strongest he has with anyone at Guilford High School. Dillon views Salvati as a friend and a mentor who he can go to with questions both football-related and otherwise.
“My relationship with Coach Salvati is great. He is a really smart coach and is turning Guilford High School football around,” Dillon says. “I’m confident that we are going to have a strong season, and big reason is because of all the effort he has put into us during the offseason. I’m looking forward to seeing how we finish.”
Guilford was able to play a little football last year by competing in a 7-on-7 touch league. The fact that the Grizzlies couldn’t play their traditional campaign motivated Dillon to put in extra work during the offseason, so he could come back stronger as a junior.
“I worked really hard this offseason to improve my game,” says Dillon. “I lifted weights, worked on footwork, and studied a lot of film for the most part.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger as Guilford competes this season. Dillon isn’t too worried about playing through the pandemic, because the Grizzlies are following all of the proper safety protocols.
“Our coaches believe that it is safe to play, and they let us play,” Dillon says. “I trust them to do what is best for the team, and I know Coach Salvati has everyone’s best interest in mind.”
Aside from football, Dillon also plays basketball and golf with his friends for fun. He also enjoys gaming. Dillon is interested in continuing his football career at the next level after he graduates from Guilford.
“Football is and always will be my main sport, and I’m hoping that I can play in college once I graduate next year,” says Dillon. “I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can, and I’m hoping that all my hard work pays off.”
Guilford Football Back in Action This Fall
BY DEAN BIBENS • 09/13/2021 04:00 A.M. EST • LAST UPDATED 09/13/2021 02:45 P.M.
Guilford Football Back in Action This Fall | Zip06.com
Guilford Head Football Coach Anthony Salvati knew that going two years without having a football season was going to take a toll on his team. The only question for the Grizzlies was just how much of a toll that time away from the game would take.
Guilford opened its 2021 season by playing Jonathan Law on Sept. 10 and lost by a 34-7 score in a home game at North Branford High School. Senior quarterback Niko Messina and a few of his teammates had to sit out the Grizzlies’ season opener after suffering recent injuries.
“We had three key injuries going into this game with one being our starting quarterback Niko Messina. He banged up his knee during our final preseason contest, and we think it’s a bone bruise,” Coach Salvati said. “The issue with the bruise is he can’t plant and fire in the pocket how we would like him to, so we’re not going to rush him back.”
“Tyler was in his first varsity game as a sophomore. He made mistakes, but I liked his poise in the pocket,” said Salvati. “He didn’t have that doe-eyed look that a lot of kids get when it’s their first real game. He threw the ball on time, and he missed in all the right spots. I was very pleased with how he performed for us.”Sophomore Tyler Hilgert started for Guilford at quarterback and threw a touchdown pass to senior captain Eric Dolmus on the team’s first drive of the game. The touchdown helped the Grizzlies go up 7-0 just two minutes into the game, but that score proved to be their only TD of the evening.
While Guilford wound up losing the game by a wide margin, Coach Salvati said that the final score wasn’t truly indicative of his team performed against Law. The Grizzlies were only down by one score, trailing 13-7 midway through the quarter, before Law scored the last three touchdowns of the game.
“We’re a bit undersized, but our guys weren’t backing down at all. They were flying around the field. We were legitimately a play away from being in control of that game,” Salvati said. “We have a young group of kids, with six or seven sophomores starting for us, so it’s going to take time for us to develop as a team.”
In addition to Messina, another key player that the Grizzlies were missing versus Law was senior captain wide receiver Jack O’Brien, who suffered an injury during the preseason. O’Brien, Dolmus, and Eddie Barlage are the team’s senior captains this season.
Sophomore wide receiver Jake Jahnige was injured in the contest with Law and couldn’t play on the offensive side of the ball. Guilford also saw a few other players leave the game with injuries.
“These injuries definitely hurt us coming into this game. And then we had three more injuries during the game, which sets us back even more,” said Salvati. “I think a lot of it has to do with the layoff. Your body is not accustomed to the beating it takes when you are playing a full-contact sport and you take almost two years away from the game.”
Junior running back Mike O’Brien, sophomore wide receiver Trevor Ridley, and defensive end Ian Myers were also forced to leave the Law game due to injury. While he was sad to see that, Coach Salvati also felt pleased with how some of Guilford’s younger athletes stepped up in the game. This includes players like junior running back Dillon Burlakoff.
“One of the biggest bright spots of the game was Dillon Burlakoff. He was running hard every single play, and it took three or four guys to bring him down,” Salvati said. “I think that’s a positive for us going into next week. I know some of these younger guys are eager to get some playing time, and they are going to get the chance to prove themselves.”
Burlakoff had 10 carries for 97 yards, while Mike O’Brien ran the ball 19 times for 85 yards in Guilford’s season opener. Hilgert went 8-of-15 passing for 82 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Dolmus caught six passes for 62 yards and one TD.
One aspect of the Law game that Coach Salvati felt pleased with came on the defensive side of the ball. Guilford changed formations from a 3-4 to a 4-3 at the beginning of this season, and Salvati feels that is going to pay dividends for the Grizzlies.
“I’m still confident in that formation, even though we allowed 34 points. Our defense had to play a lot, and they were in a bad spot most of the game, because the offense couldn’t get anything going,” said Salvati. “I’m excited to see how this formation continues to grow on us.”
“I knew this game was going to be a dogfight. Law has great size, and they ran the spread really well against us,” Salvati said. “We have to learn from our mistakes and be better the next time we hit the field.”As he begins his third year as Guilford’s head coach, Salvati wants to see his team grind it out on the gridiron. The Grizzlies will look to bounce back from their loss to Law when they play a non-conference road game against New London on Friday, Sept. 17.
2021 Guilford Football Schedule
Sept. 10: Jonathan Law 34, Guilford 7
Friday, Sept. 17: at New London at 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24: at Pomperaug at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8: vs. East Lyme at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15: at Hillhouse at Bowen Field at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 29: vs. Brookfield at Guilford High School at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 5: at Bassick at Kennedy Stadium at 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 12: vs. Branford at Guilford High School at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 19: vs. East Haven at Guilford High School at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 24: at Hand at Surf Club at 7 p.m.
SCC Football 2021: Guilford Preview
SCC Football 2021: GUILFORD preview
Aug. 19, 2021
SCC Football 2021: GUILFORD preview (ctinsider.com)
COACH — ANTHONY SALVATI (2nd season, 4-6)
CONFERENCE — SCC Tier III
PLAYOFF CLASS — L (569 boys enrollment)
HOME — Kavanaugh Field, Guilford
2019 RECORD — 4-6
2021 OPENER — Sept. 10 vs. Law, 7 p.m.
TEAM WEBSITES — Guilfordfootball.com | Twitter: @GHSfootball19; Instagram: @guilfordfootball | Maxpreps
ERIC DOLMUS, Sr., WR/DB (5-10, 180)
JACK O’BRIEN, Sr., WR/DB (6-0, 185)
EDDIE BARLAGE, Sr., WR/LB (5-10, 175)
MIKE O’BRIEN, Jr., RB (5-10, 195)
HAYDEN ELDRIDGE, Jr., OL/DL (5-10, 240)
LIAM ALBERTI, Jr., QB/LB (5-10, 185)
DAN O’CONNELL, Jr., OL/LB (6-0, 230)
LUKE CARIGNAN, Jr., OL/DL (6-1, 225)
Who will run Guilford’s spread offense? That remains to be determined. Coach Anthony Salvati has three candidates available: senior Nico Messina, junior Liam Alberti and sophomore Tyler Hilgert.
Even when the Grizzlies make that decision, Salvati said the possibility exists to use specific packages to have multiple quarterbacks on the field at the same time.
Whoever ends up under center will have two primary targets running pass patterns: Jack O’Brien and Eric Dolmus. Salvati expects both seniors to be playing in college next season. Dolmus recently announced an offer from Central Connecticut State.
Mike O’Brien should make life easier on whoever starts behind center. The junior back saw significant varsity action as a freshman in 2019 despite having an all-state performer in Charles Walcott seeing most of the action. Dillon Burakoff will also get carries. Both backs will work behind an offensive line that Salvati says might be undersized, but has the necessary skill and experience to offset it.
Guilford will switch from an odd front on defense to an even one due to a surplus of quality linemen and linebackers. They will benefit from an athletic secondary, led by Dolmus and O’Brien, that should be able to disguise coverages.
The program is looking to earn its second winning season in three years under Salvati -- who would become the first Guilford coach to have two winning seasons in at least 20 seasons. The Grizzlies got off to a promising start in 2019, winning their first three games. But they lost five of six to finish the year 4-6.
Guilford, a member of SCC's Tier III, faces New London, Pomperaug, Brookfield and East Lyme in its Connecticut Football Alliance schedule.
Guilford's home Kavanaugh Field is being refurbished and should be ready for the team's second home game on Oct. 8. The Grizzlies will face Law in its opener at a site to be determined.
Sept. 10 — LAW, 7 p.m.**
Sept. 17 — at New London, 6 p.m.#
Sept. 24 — at Pomperaug, 6:30 p.m.#
Oct. 8 — EAST LYME, 7 p.m.#
Oct. 15 — at Hillhouse, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 29 — BROOKFIELD, 7 p.m.#
Nov. 5 — at Bassick (Kennedy Stadium), 6 p.m.**
Nov. 12 — BRANFORD, 7 p.m.**
Nov. 19 — EAST HAVEN, 7 p.m.**
Nov. 24 — at Hand, 7 p.m.*
Home games in CAPS
** Tier game
# CT Alliance game
The 2021-22 GHS Football season is officially here! Team practices have begun. Attendance is mandatory. The practice schedule is linked below. Schedule is subject to change. Coach Salvati will communicate responsibilities and schedule changes directly with players via Hudl.
August Practice Schedule
September Practice Schedule (partial)
The game schedules can be found in the horizontal menu on the left side of the homepage.
Seixas Continues to Make History with Guilford Athletics
GUILFORD — Seixas Continues to Make History with Guilford Athletics | Zip06.com
Like many children in Guilford, Brianna Seixas began her athletic career on the soccer field as a youngster, although she didn’t fall in love with the sport. Brianna decided to give cheerleading a try in elementary school, and that decision wound up changing the course of her athletic career.
After speaking with one of the football players, Brianna became intrigued by the sport. When Brianna was in 4th grade, one of her friends who played football would often tell her stories about the practices and the games. This piqued Brianna’s interest enough for her to join the Guilford Youth Football program as a 5th-grader.
Now, Brianna is a member of the football team, the wrestling team, and the girls’ lacrosse squad at Guilford High School, where she recently finished her sophomore year. Brianna sure is glad that she had that all-important chat that steered her toward the gridiron.
While her family was surprised at first, they supported Brianna in her new endeavor. Brianna feels thankful to both her late grandfather, Matthew Middleton, and late great-grandmother, Shirley Middleton, for their encouragement as she started playing football. Both of them passed away earlier this year, although they were able to see Brianna continue with football as she entered high school. They also saw Brianna take up two new sports with wrestling in 8th grade and lacrosse as a freshman.“I was cheering at a game, and a player ran off the field right next to me,” says Brianna. “He was in his pads and we talked a little bit, and I thought it was really cool.”
“I picked up wrestling a lot faster than football and was the only girl since I joined the 8th-grade team,” Brianna says. “Since I was new, I didn’t win a lot, but I won my last match by pin and realized I could pin another person again. I wanted to test my motivation and continued in high school.”
Brianna also tested her mettle by signing up for the football team at Guilford High School. While Brianna and her competitors were similarly sized throughout youth football, she saw this change at the high school level as many of the other players were taller and now outweighed her by at least 40 pounds.
“The first time I got hit at that level was during practice, and I was told that I was going to be scared at first. But once I took the hit and got up off the turf, that was my adrenaline,” says Brianna, who is a tight end and outside linebacker. “One hit can’t stop my love for what I want to do. If you find love in it, there’s nothing stopping you.”
Guilford football Head Coach Anthony Salvati remembers the first time that he and Brianna met. Brianna demanded that she receive no special treatment as a female player on the team.
Coach Salvati adds that he’s eager to see Brianna hit the field and fight for playing time as a junior next season.“Brianna is amazing and has earned the respect from her coaches and teammates by working as hard as everyone, sometimes harder,” Salvati says. “She knows what her position responsibilities are on both offense and defense at all times and always helps her teammates if they are struggling to comprehend.”
“Brianna will be competing for varsity playing time this fall against players at her position who outweigh her by 50-plus pounds, but one thing is for sure: She will be ready to compete and she will not back down,” says Salvati. “Brianna and I share a common goal, and that goal is get her to be the first female to score a varsity touchdown in school history.”
Brianna is grateful for Salvati’s support in their quest to make Guilford history. Brianna is already the first female in Guilford to complete more than one season of youth football and high school football. Brianna does offseason training at Pro Limit Athletes in North Haven with Ike Igbinosun, who was a member of several NFL franchises.
Brianna has received support from many other people, including her mom Ashleigh Fritz, who Brianna says, “really pushes me,” along with her teammates, team captains, and her classmates at Guilford. Brianna recently realized that her accomplishments have inspired other people.
“I didn’t realize how many girls actually supported me and thought it was cool and I was brave,” says Brianna, who also plays the violin and shows cattle. “Last fall, a little girl from Southington messaged my mom and asked me to come to her football game. I went and her eyes lit up and she was so happy to see me and wanted pictures. I didn’t realize I had an impact on younger kids.”
Another lesson that has always resonated with Brianna was one from Ron Lecointe, her lineman coach. Leconite gave her an assignment of watching the 1997 film Gattaca and reporting the movie’s message to him the next day.
“The message was that genetics don’t define your potential,” Brianna says. “That is something that has stuck with me through football, wrestling, and lacrosse, and will hopefully stick with me when I’m wrestling in the Olympics.”
Brianna has been working toward her goal of qualifying for the Olympics. After earning the pin that inspired her to continue in 8th grade, Brianna joined the team at Guilford High School, where she wrestles at 145 pounds. Brianna competed in enough varsity matches to earn her varsity letter as a freshman last year. Although she got injured midway through the season, Brianna came back to compete at the inaugural Girls’ Wrestling Invitational, where she finished in fourth place for the 145-pound division.
Brianna became the first female wrestler at the high school to finish a full season and also to first to place at a state competition. When COVID-19 took away the 2020-’21 wrestling season, Brianna’s coach recommended that those interested should join a club. Brianna had previously competed among 99 wrestlers at the Women’s State Championship and became familiar with Ella Nichols, who won the state title.
“A few months after that tournament, she texted me and asked if I’d go to KT Kidz [in Rocky Hill] with her to drill,” says Brianna. “As a mediocre fourth-in-the state wrestler going against a girl who was fifth in the nation pushed me and made me see what I could work toward.”
Brianna then joined the Overcomer Training Center in Middletown, where she worked on her technique several days a week. With that club, Brianna traveled to Nationals in Virginia Beach and won a match in the women’s brackets.
Brianna went on to compete in women’s tournaments in Gatlinberg, Tennessee and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Brianna took first place in folk-style and second in freestyle at both events, making her a two-time All-American wrestler.
“I’d only worked on freestyle for about a month,” Brianna says. “So, I just wanted to test what I’d learned in those tournaments, and I ended up knowing a decent amount.”
Even with all of these achievements, Brianna is hardly satisfied and has some big goals for herself going forward.
“I really push myself a ton to get what I want. You have to be the best to stand out,” says Brianna. “I’ve made town history four or five times and state history with a record 99 girls going to the state tournament, but there’s still more I want to do.”
Congratulations to our senior players on their commitments to continue their football careers beyond Guilford High School. We are all incredibly proud of your accomplishments and can't wait to watch you perform at the next level.
Evan Chapman - Nichols College
Ian Derda - SUNY Maritime College
Sam Huffman - Mass Maritime Academy
Aeden McDermott - Canterbury School
Nico Tartagni - Nichols College
Your Guilford Football Family will be cheering you on every step of the way. Go be great!
Additional pictures from the signing day can be found by clicking on the Pictures tab in the top navigation bar.