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Cold Wasn't Enough to Keep Falcons' Fanatics Away

Xavier supporters prove mettle at frigid Rentschler

A frigid forecast wasn't enough to keep fans away from Xavier's 24-13 toppling of Trumbull in the Class LL state football championship game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford Friday night.

As expected, the atmosphere was lively and fans were optimistic about their team's chances.

"It's going to be a close game, but we're [Xavier] going to win," Xavier junior Tyler Cardi said before the opening kickoff. "Our defense is going to slam them and our running game is just going to run it down their throat."

Durham resident Ryan Murphy couldn't have agreed more.

"As long as Xavier doesn't make mistakes, they'll win. They're bigger, faster and the more athletic team. They should absolutely win this game," Murphy said. "This is the best defensive team I think in my years of watching (and) coaching high school football. Offensively, we've had our challenges. We have two young and inexperienced quarterbacks, but at the end of the day we have the most athletic group of kids in the state, no doubt."

Of course, Trumbull fans had some opposing theories as to how the big game would unfold.

"This is the best team I've seen come out of Trumbull High since the 10 years I've been following them," UConn freshman and Trumbull alumnus Kevin Jarboe said. "They've got no quit in them, so I think they deserve to be here. I've been talking to them and know they're excited to be here."

Fans' opinions aside, one aspect of the game was glaringly obvious: The Xavier fans outnumbered Trumbull's by a longshot.

"Xavier clearly has about three times as many fans as we have, but the fans that came here are dedicated and the team knows that we've got their back. We'll be cheering for them all night no matter what," Jarboe said.

In the Golden Eagles' defense, the so-called neutral field was not so neutral in terms of each team's commute.

"I think we could have had more fans," Trumbull High School junior Emily Riehl said as she watched her Golden Eagles during the first half from the midfield stands. "Maybe it should have been more local. It's only 25 minutes for [Xavier] to get here, but it was about an hour and a half for us."

No matter how far the commute, one thing was for sure: Both teams came ready to do battle, ice-cold conditions -- and fan-base sizes -- notwithstanding.

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