Zanor column: Former Killingly star Jax still raking, and must-see college football games (2024)

Jimmy ZanorNorwich Bulletin

Just thought I’d empty out my reporter’s notebook while trying to score tickets for Lake Street Dive’s Madison Square Garden concert debut on Sept. 14. The band’s new album Good Together hit record stores last Friday …

Ben Jax a two-sport standout

Watching Ben Jax play baseball last Wednesday had me thinking about first-year Norwich American Legion baseball coach Becker Bordeau and what Bordeau had told me about his players earlier this summer.

“They wouldn't be here if they didn’t love baseball and we wouldn't be here if we didn't love baseball,” Bordeau said. “We just want to have a good time and get after it and have some fun.”

Jax certainly loves baseball.

Jax added to his legendary resume when he crushed a fastball from Tri-Town’s Eric Mathewson over the left field fence at Owen Bell Park’s Ben Desaulnier Field. Jax’s homer was the only run Danielson got against Mathewson, a hard-throwing right-hander who is headed to Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.

Jax also attends Southern. He just completed his redshirt freshman season on the Owls football team. The former Killingly all-state wide receiver has size and speed and is going to be someone to watch on Saturday afternoons over the next few seasons.

Jax was also an all-state outfielder for Killingly’s baseball team. He had one-year of eligibility left forDanielson’s Legion program and he’s making the most of it.

“Unfortunately, this is my last year playing organized baseball and there was no way I was going to let that go away,” Jax said. “I mean, I just love the sport too much to not be out here as much as possible.”

During this week’s two-game series against Tri-Town, Jax put on the catcher’s gear for the very first time.

“Yesterday was the first first time ever going behind the plate and today was my follow up debut,” Jax said. “It’s fun, actually. I like it. I used to play centerfield and it was fun flying around and getting to top speed and tracking balls but now I’m involved in every single play. I have control of the game. I can call pitches and maneuver. I’m just in every play and it gets me more into the game. I love it.”

NFA’s Wadecki to coach cross country

Jeff Wadecki has been named the new boys’ cross country coach at Norwich Free Academy. Wadecki has served as the assistant boys’ cross country coach since 2018. He also recently completed his first season as the girls’ outdoor track and field coach.

“This is an easy move for our team and our program,” NFA athletic director Roy Wentworth said in a press statement. “Jeff is well-known among our student-athletes, and I know this will be a smooth transition.”

Prior to being promoted to the head coach position, Wadecki also worked with the Wildcats boys and girls indoor track teams.

“I know this team well, and I’m excited to take this position,” Wadecki said in a press statement. “We have a deep roster, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do. I’m grateful for this opportunity and excited about the fall season.”

More: Sea Unicorns hold off Bravehearts, close in on first place

Killingly football moves to Class SS

The CIAC recently announced the high school football divisions for the upcoming season and it’s great to see Killingly moving back to where it belongs.

After qualifying for the state playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, winning at least one game in every one of those postseason appearances, and playing in four state championship games, Killingly was moved up to Class L last season.

Chad Neal’s club made a terrific late push and qualified for the Class L playoffs with a 7-3 mark. But their seven game postseason winning streak came to an end with a road loss against state power New Canaan.

The CIAC had always recognized Killingly as a school of choice due to its Vocational-Agriculture program that draws kids from towns outside its borders. Class L schools have a boys enrollment of between 638-761 students and it was absurd having Killingly compete in the Class L playoffs.

This season the CIAC has removed VoAg schools as schools of choice. Thus,, Killingly has dropped three classes and will compete in Class SS (395-320 enrollment) in 2024.

ECC teams Waterford, Ledyard, and Windham are also in Class SS.

As for our other local football teams, Norwich Free Academy remains in Class LL; the Thames River Co-op (Grasso Tech/Norwich Tech/St. Bernard) is in Class MM; the Quinebaug Valley Co-op (Ellis Tech/Putnam/Tourtellotte) is in Class M; and the Griswold/Wheeler Co-op and Plainfield will compete in Class S.

Look back at 2018 Sox

Seeing Chris Sale (Braves) and J.D. Martinez (Mets) still flourishing has me reminiscing about the 2018 Boston Red Sox. The Sox went 119-57 during the regular season and playoffs and throttled the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win the World Series.

I didn’t research this but I’d wager there haven’t been many pitchers in MLB history who threw the first and last pitch in the Fall Classic. Sale started Game 1 against the Dodgers at Fenway and then got the save in the clinching Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

Must-See games

It is advertised on the cover as the “book the experts can’t do without.” It’s a magazine that has been annually published now for 29 straight years. And I just picked up a copy at a local Barnes and Noble for the 29th consecutive year.

Phil Steele’s “College Football Preview” is widely considered the Bible for college football fans. There’s more information in Steele’s magazine than the latest omnibus bill headed to the United States Congress.

One of the first things I look at while perusing through the pages is each team’s schedule. There are a number of games this fall in places like Chestnut Hill, South Bend, Ann Arbor, Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge that just jump off the pages. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fordham at Bowling Green, Aug. 29: The Seven Blocks of Granite invade Ohio! It’s always great to see my alma mater, Fordham, open its season against a non-traditional opponent. Go Rams! Joe Conlin, the former whiz-kid offensive coordinator at Yale, begins his seventh season in The Bronx with enough aerial power to make those old Southwest Conference teams blush.

Boston College at Florida State, Sept. 2: Can’t think of a better way for the Bill O’Brien era at Chestnut Hill to begin: a Monday night in Tallahassee against an angry bunch of Seminoles who are coming off a 63-3 defeat against Georgia in the Orange Bowl, the biggest blowout loss in bowl history.

Texas at Michigan, Sept. 7: The Longhorns against the defending national champs! This is Big Boy football at its finest. It’s amazing that these two legendary programs have never met during the regular season. They did meet in the 2005 Rose Bowl with Texas and quarterback Vince Young edging the Wolverines, 38-37, in one of the best Rose Bowl games of all time.

Maine at Oklahoma, Nov. 2: Not sure how many Black Bear sightings there have been in Norman over the years. And I’m also not sure if the guy who scheduled this one should get an award or be fired.

Notre Dame versus Army, Nov. 23: College football pomp and circ*mstance doesn’t get any better than this. And it's back where it all started: Yankee Stadium. The Irish and Black Knights have played in The Bronx 22 times, the last meeting in 1969. The game is the 100th anniversary of the fabled Four Horsem*n - Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher - who were immortalized by sportswriter Grantland Rice in the New York Herald Tribune after Notre Dame's 13-7 upset of Army in New York on Oct. 18, 1924. “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsem*n rode again,” Rice wrote in one of the most famous leads in sports writing history.

Connecticut at UMass, Nov. 30: For the Yankee Conference championship!

More: Zanor column: From convertibles to Duck Boats

Stuck in the '70s

On June 30, 1979, Carl Yastrzemski broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth inning with a deep home run into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium, giving the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 50,253 in The Bronx.

Yaz, who went 3-for-4 and was a couple of months away from getting his 3,000th career hit, blasted his clutch homer off former teammate Luis Tiant. Yup, Tiant had signed a free-agent contract with the rival Yankees following the 1978 season.

It was strange seeing Tiant wearing the blue and white pinstripes. A fan favorite in Beantown, Tiant was instrumental in helping the Red Sox win the American League championship and then nearly upsetting the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” Reds in the 1975 World Series.

Tiant’s Red Sox departure really didn’t hit home until I saw his son and my high school classmate, Luis Tiant Jr., walking around the halls of Boston College High School that spring wearing a Yankees cap.

Jimmy Zanor is a sportswriter for the Norwich Bulletin and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@jzanorNB.

Zanor column: Former Killingly star Jax still raking, and must-see college football games (2024)


Is there a college football All Star game? ›

East-West Shrine Bowl – The NFL provides the coaching staff, game officials and four Legends captains for the nation's oldest all-star college football game. The game is an opportunity for emerging assistant coaches to gain valuable experiences and showcase their coaching and leadership skills.

What two teams played in the first college football game what state are both of these teams from? ›

1869 Princeton vs. Rutgers football game
First College Football Game Princeton at Rutgers
1 Total Princeton 4 4 Rutgers 6 6
DateNovember 6, 1869
LocationNew Brunswick, New Jersey
2 more rows

What was the first organized college football game? ›

Rutgers and New Jersey (later known as Princeton) faced off in what is considered to be the first American football game ever played on Nov. 6, 1869. The game took place in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with an audience of about 100 on hand, according to Rutgers. Rutgers won 6-4.

What was the site of the first college football game? ›

Rutgers University and its neighbor, Princeton, played the first game of intercollegiate football on Nov. 6, 1869, on a plot of ground where the present-day Rutgers gymnasium now stands in New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers won that first game, 6-4.

Did the Super Bowl champs ever play the College All Stars? ›

Believe me, we never would forget it.” On July 23, 1976, the Super Bowl champion Steelers played what would become the last College All-Star Game.

Has a college team ever beaten an NFL team? ›

“Has there ever been a college football team that could beat an NFL team?” Actually this has happened. Though it was a college “all-star” team. That team beat the World Champion Green Bay Packers in an 20-17 upset win on August 2, 1963.

What is the oldest college football team? ›

The Michigan Wolverines and Rutgers Scarlet Knights lay claim to being the two oldest football programs in FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) history, with the former first playing in 1879 and the latter even earlier in 1869.

What college is the birthplace of college football? ›

Rutgers, the Birthplace of College Football, began playing at the site of SHI Stadium on November 5, 1938.

What is the oldest college football rivalry? ›

The Yale-Princeton rivalry is the oldest in college football, dating back to 1873. Yale and Princeton dominated the college football scene when this rivalry began, with Yale claiming 13 outright national titles and Princeton claiming eight between 1869 and 1894.

What is the oldest college football bowl game? ›

The Rose Bowl was the first college football bowl game and started on Jan. 1, 1902. The 11-0 Michigan Wolverines beat Stanford 49-0 that day and thus began a century-old tradition. There's a reason why legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson called it "The Granddaddy of Them All."

What University invented football? ›

Although there is debate over when and where the first college football game occurred, it is generally accepted to have been in 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers. In the 1870s the game continued to be played by these two colleges and was also adopted at schools such as Yale, Harvard, Pennsylvania, and Columbia.

What is the birthplace of football? ›

Both games have their origin in multiple varieties of football played in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century, in which a football is kicked at a goal or kicked over a line, which in turn were based on the varieties of English public school football games descending from medieval ball games.

What is the oldest NFL team? ›

The Arizona Cardinals are the oldest established team in the NFL. They were established in 1898 as an independent team and joined the NFL in its founding year of 1920.

Who is the founding father of football? ›

A respected businessman, Walter Camp eventually ended up running the company, one of the largest manufacturers in Connecticut at the time. Walter Camp is credited with altering the rules of rugby to create the game of modern North American football we are familiar with today.

Do college football players get paid? ›

Did you know that college athletes can now make money? They are not paid by their colleges or universities, but they can receive gifts from boosters; make deals with companies to use their names, images and likenesses; and endorse products.

What channel is Shrine Bowl 2024 on? ›

The 2024 Shrine Bowl will air live on NFL Network and stream on NFL+.

When was the last college all-star game played? ›

The final College All-Star Game was played on July 23, 1976 when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the College All-Stars 24-0. The following year the Chicago Tribune decided to not renew the contract with the NFL for the game citing difficulties in recruiting and high insurance premiums for the players.

Does football have an all-star game? ›

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL include AFL All-Star games in their statistics for the Pro Bowl. After the AFL–NFL merger of 1970, the name of the NFL's all-star game was changed to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. Six days after Super Bowl IV, Buffalo Bills rookie running back O.J.

Where can I watch the Hula Bowl 2024? ›

The Hula Bowl will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network, and on streaming in FUBO, letting college football die-hard fans who can't attend take a front-row seat to watch the game.

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