MANCHESTER – The first game in Tommy Seaver’s head coaching career could easily have become the plot of a fairytale.
Seaver led his East Catholic High football team in battle against his alma mater Rocky Hill. And across the field was Terriers coach Richard Dance, a man who coached Seaver in his first year and then gave him his first coaching job as an assistant.
The only thing Seaver, 25, would have changed in Saturday’s game was the result, a 20-7 loss for the Eagles to the Terriers at Cheney Tech.
“Obviously a win would have been nice,” Seaver said with a smile. “But I love these guys on the other side. They helped me get there. It was a pretty cool experience. Knowing their players, knowing my guys and actually having a really good football game, that is. was cool to see. “
Seaver graduated in 2014 from Rocky Hill High, where he played football, basketball and baseball. As a tight end and linebacker, he was an All-State selection in his junior and senior seasons and helped lead the Terriers to the S-Class playoffs each year from 2011 to 2013.
“When Tommy was a freshman football player we knew from the start that this kid would be something special,” said Dance. “Indeed, throughout his four years at Rocky Hill, he was our favorite man and he was a stallion for us.”
Seaver continued his career at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. A member of the Seahawks for four years, Seaver was selected twice at all conferences before graduating in 2018.
When Dance became the Terriers’ varsity coach in 2019, Seaver was one of the first people he had in mind to be an assistant.
He said it was nice to see Seaver’s career take it to the next level when he accepted the Eastern Catholic position in June 2020.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Dance added. “Taking over your own program is a big step. We are pleased. We have already seen a lot of improvements from this team. It will be a booming team for sure. “
Seaver said his match day experience as a head coach was very different from when he was an assistant.
Still, he had nothing to complain about.
“Oh man, that was awesome,” Seaver said. “Just the kids, all the hard work they’ve done to be able to come here and play a soccer game and face a good team. I’m proud of the way my guys competed.”
He admitted, however, that it was a bit odd to be the opposite of Rocky Hill.
“But it was good to be here too,” Seaver added. “I am excited about the direction we are taking and the future of this program. I can’t wait to move forward. “
After the game, Seaver, Dance and some of the other Rocky Hill coaches met at the 50-yard line.
“We just had a great conversation about things we did,” Seaver said. “A little football talk. But also how awesome it was to be here. Whether against each other, against each other. It’s just good to have football. I know these guys for years, since I was a player, to train against them and compete with them. I hope to do so for many years to come. “
Quarterback Tyreice Dominique gave Rocky Hill the lead (1-0) with nine touchdowns and 18 yards in the second quarter. But East Catholic (0-1) reduced the deficit to seven when Mathieu Zazzaro found Ben Carso for a nine-yard pass with 1:09 left in the first half.
Zazzaro almost got another touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, but Dominique came away with an interception in the end zone. Sean Asante put the game out of reach with a 13-yard touchdown with 1:39 to go.
Zazzaro finished with 155 passing yards. Teammate Aiden Mateo caught two passes for 75 yards while Carso had seven receptions for 52 yards. Thomas Stanley had a solid game defensively.
“I’m just happy with how hard they fought,” Seaver said. “I think from the first kick-off to the last whistle they put it all on the pitch. That’s really all you can ask for from these guys.”
Dominique finished with 92 yards in the air and added 125 more rushing for the visitors.
East Catholic returns to action on Friday during its trip to Tolland.
ROCKY HILL (1-0) 0 14 0 6 – 20
EASTERN CATHOLIC (0-1) 0 7 0 0 – 7
RH – Tyreice Dominique 9 run (kick from Brody Troiano).
RH – Dominique 18 run (Troiano kick).
CE – Ben Carso 9 pass from Mathieu Zazzaro (kick from Ryan Carroll).
RH – Sean Asante 13 run (failed kick).
STAFFORD 35, GILBERT 30. In Winsted, quarterback Mark McLaughlin took part in his team’s five touchdowns as the Bulldogs took the victory over Pequot Uncas on Saturday.
With his team down 22-20 in the third quarter, McLaughlin found Logan Briggs for a 63-yard touchdown pass before running it for a two-point conversion to put the co-op Stafford, Somers and East Windsor (1-0 ) for real.
After a McLaughlin touchdown to open the fourth, Gilbert’s Fred Caulder-Camp ran for his own touchdown, but it was too little, too late for the co-op.
McLaughlin finished 16 of 23 for 301 yards and two touchdowns and added 123 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
Briggs finished with five catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns while Evan McKay had three catches for 115 yards.
Dylan McLaughlin had eight tackles, including three for loss, while Connor Marchi and Nate Russano each had interceptions.
Stafford is in Granby / Canton on Friday.
STAFFORD (1-0) 6 7 15 7 – 35
GILBERT (0-1) 7 7 8 8 – 30
S – Mark McLaughlin 11 run (missed kick).
G – Joey Hennessy 7 run (Austin Bayer kick).
S – McLaughlin 6 run (Eric Wyse kick).
G – Aiden Avenia 5 race (Bayer kick).
S – Logan Briggs 30 pass from McLaughlin (kick from Wyse).
G – Fred Caulder-Camp trail 5 (Nolan Reinsdorf trail).
S – Briggs 63 pass from McLaughlin (McLaughlin race).
S – McLaughlin 12 run (Wyse kick).
G – Caulder-Camp track 6 (Avenia track).
For coverage of the Connecticut Sun and professional women’s basketball, the Hartford Athletic pro football team, as well as area high school sports and local youth, follow Adam Betz on Twitter: @ AdBetz1, Facebook: Adam Betz – Sports Writer, and Instagram: @AdBetzJI.