Prep prepping for historic day on Saturday
Saturday is Championship Day for Fairfield Prep.
The Jesuits this week became part of history, sending both their basketball and hockey teams to the state championship finals tomorrow. And defying dizzying odds, St. Joseph of Trumbull will be the opponent in both games.
No single school had ever before sent basketball and hockey teams to state finals in the same year.
"I think I'm dreaming right now," Prep athletic director Steve Donahue said. "It's great to have two schools face each other -- two good Catholic schools."
The double dose of good fortune has electrified the Prep students body and staff and taken older fans down memory lane to the days when Prep and St. Joe played in the same conferences and clashed regularly.
Prep's hockey team will take on the Cadets at Yale University's Ingalls Rink in New Haven at 2 p.m. for the state Division I crown.
The basketball teams clash for the Class LL title at 8:15 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.
Prep qualified to play in the basketball final for the fifth time with its 60-55 win over Ridgefield Tuesday night. The Jesuits won the Class LL crown in 1997 and Class L title in 1969. They lost in the Class L finals in 1967 and 1968.
The Prep hockey team has been a dynasty for the last decade and is going to its sixth state title game in the last eight years. The Jesuits knocked off South Windsor 4-1 on Wednesday night in a state semifinal in New Haven.
Prep has not won the state hockey championship since 2008. The Jesuits lost to Hamden in the final, 6-5 in 2010.
The ninth-seeded basketball team will take on the second-seeded Cadets. The rivalry harkens back to days when the two schools played in a Bridgeport-area league and later in the All Catholic Conference.
"We were secretly rooting for both the hockey and basketball matchup," Donahue said. "I think it's going to be great for both schools."
Both Prep programs will be competing in memory Ryan Brennan -- a senior and one of the top rooters for both squads -- who died Feb. 28 after a battle with cancer.
The dual finals have created excitement at Prep, especially for the coaching staff, who are alumni of the school. Hockey coach Matt Sather said it reminds him of the good old days when Prep and St. Joe would battle on the basketball court and football field.
"When I was a student, it was the biggest rivalry we had," Sather said. "It was crazy, it is nostalgic for me."
Prep basketball guard Kevin Potter also knows a thing or two about the rivalry. His sister Kayla and brother Sean are each graduates of St. Joseph.
"My brother and my sister went to St. Joes," Potter said. "So we've gotta win."
The celebration begins at Prep with a pep rally today. A bus for fans will go to Yale for the hockey final in the afternoon, then continue on to Mohegan Sun for the evening hoops title game.
Prep hockey forward Bryan Puffer insisted his team will head to Mohegan Sun after its game to root for the basketball team.
"The entire school is buzzing," Puffer said. "We try to show up to every game we could and they show up to every game they can, it's a really nice bond between our teams."