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Article Published December 2, 2019
H-K Loses to Valley-Old Lyme in Finale
Peter Vander Veer

The Haddam-Killingworth football team hosted divisional rival Valley Regional-Old Lyme (VR-OL) in the annual battle for the Principal’s Cup two nights before Thanksgiving. The Cougars took a 20-2 defeat versus the Warriors at H-K High School on Nov. 26 to finish the season with a record of 2-8.

The Cougars saw some struggles in 2019 after going 11-2 and advancing to the Class S state final last year. However, Head Coach Mike Baklik was proud of his athletes for giving him their best right through the final whistle.

“We worked our way through injuries and lots of adversity. To our credit, these kids just played on. Every game, they gave a full effort for four quarters,” said Baklik. “You probably wouldn’t think that we were in that many games if you only focused on the scoreboard. I still thought that we were competitive in every single game.”

H-K gave up a touchdown to VR-OL on the first play of the game. Brian Rankin returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a score to put the Warriors up 6-0 right away.

Later in the first quarter, the Cougars got on the board when senior Chris Moore tackled a Warriors’ ball carrier in the end zone for a safety to make it 6-2. On the last play of the first half, VR-OL increased its lead to 13-2 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jack Cox to DiAngelo Jean-Pierre.

Following a scoreless third quarter, the Warriors iced the game by scoring a touchdown in the final frame. On a trick play, Jean-Pierre threw a 35-yard TD pass to Rankin to push the lead to 20-2. Senior running back Dalton Modehn rushed for 81 yards in his final high school game with the Cougars.

Along with their overall record of 2-8, H-K finished with a mark of 1-5 in the Pequot Conference Sassacus Division after losing to VR-OL. The Cougars started the season by taking losses to Cromwell-Portland (3-0), North Branford (19-6), Old Saybrook-Westbrook (27-6), Gilbert-Northwestern (20-0), Granby-Canton (27-7), and Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton (7-0). After that, H-K got in the win column by earning a 19-14 road victory over divisional opponent Morgan.

The Cougars went on to take a defeat versus Stafford-East Windsor-Somers (26-15) and then beat Coventry-Windham Tech-Bolton-Lyman Memorial (55-43) before losing to VR-OL in their finale.

Junior Alex Riccitelli, a transfer from Lyman Hall, threw for 578 yards and two touchdowns in his first campaign as H-K’s quarterback. Senior Trey Callender and junior Tom Perry had solid seasons for the Cougars while leading the team as its captains.

“Tom started on the offensive line as a freshman and a sophomore, and we had him go both ways this past season,” Coach Baklik said. “Tom, along with Alex, will be two of our better players returning for the 2020 season.”

Baklik believes that H-K can get back on track next year. For that to happen, Baklik said that all of his players need to dedicate themselves to excellence between now and then.

“It’s really up to those coming back. We need to get better,” said Baklik. “Every player has to take it upon himself to work during the offseason.”