NEW BRITAIN - Some six months after they last suited up for their local high schools, several area players got one last chance to represent their communities in the revived Governor’s Cup senior all-star football game against Rhode Island on Saturday.
Southington’s Joe Koczera, Ian Hall and Tim O’Shea were among those contributing to Connecticut’s 28-7 victory.
O’Shea, a Wagner College commit, was the most impressive of those local players. The wide receiver found openings in the Rhode Island defense all game and recorded three catches and a touchdown.
He was pleased with the event, which hadn’t been held since 2012.
“The Governor’s Cup was awesome,” O’Shea said. “I’m really happy that they picked me. It was a real honor to be in the top 50 in the state. I hope I represented the city of Southington well, my family and my state.”
Bristol had only one player in the game: Gabe Updegraff, an offensive lineman from Bristol Central.
Updegraff was a standout on the Rams’ line this past season, which led to Dathan Hickey tearing up the turf as a running quarterback all fall.
The Western New England commit was excited to be part of the game and he received a good amount of playing time.
“It was pretty great. The competition out there was awesome,” Updegraff said. “It was cool going up against the best kids from Rhode Island. It was a cool experience meeting all the guys on the [Connecticut] team, too. They’re all great players. It was a lot different from the fall. Everybody is on the same level as you, everybody is on the college level. It was like playing a college game. It was a really cool experience and I’m really glad I did it.”
Finally, there were a pair of head coaches from the area on the staff. Mike Drury from Southington and Tim Shea from Plainville both served as assistants on the Connecticut staff.
The game reminded Shea of his playing career growing up.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids,” Shea said. “When I was back in high school they had the old Nutmeg Game, Southwest versus the Northeast, all seniors from Connecticut. It was a great experience. It’s a chance to play with guys that you grew up rivals with and now you get to play with them. You build great relationships here and they carry on. Some of the guys I played with 20-plus years ago I still talk to and for a lot of these guys going to college this is a taste of what it’s going to be like.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com