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There are a mere 23 games in this abbreviated Week 11, but don't you dare confuse quantity with quality.
There are three conference championship games. We'd like to see them abolished as it forces kids to play an extra game in a season in which a state finalist could play 14 games. It's still football, though.
There are also games that will affect the playoff rankings. Among the most notable:
• Gilbert/Northwestern Regional qualifies for Class M with a win over unbeaten Valley Regional/Old Lyme on Friday.
• Bloomfield qualifies for Class M with a win over winless Fermi on Friday.
• Hall qualifies for Class LL with a win over Conard on Friday.
• Glastonbury would clinch a home quarterfinal if it beat Simsbury on Saturday.
• Coginchaug (Haddam-Killingworth), Ledyard (Waterford), New London (East Lyme), Morgan (Sports Medical/University), and Stonington (Killingly) all must win to keep pace in their respective playoff races.
Here are the games that YOU SHOULD attend:
Okay, expect (another) Ansonia win, Woodland is a heavy underdog, etc. Crazy things happen this time of the year, though. The forward pass is the Hawks' basest instinct as QB Tanner Kingsley has averaged 271 yards a game with 41 touchdowns. Soph Sean McAllen (1,249 yards, 12 TDs) has emerged as a dangerous runner, too. Speaking of running, Ansonia is the home office for the manly discipline of the rushing arts. UConn-bound Arkeel Newsome has rushed for 2,235 yards and 37 touchdowns. Linebacker Saiheed Sanders has played at an all-state level.
Do these two really need to play again? The Nighthawks lumped Brookfield back on Sept. 27, 35-7. They also have to play at Brookfield. That ain't right. Newtown asks Andrew Tarantino to chuck it a lot (249 yards per game, 30 TDs). Linebacker Tim Krapf has almost double the number of tackles as anyone on the team (79). The Bobcats are a much different team than the Nighthawks saw months ago as all their youngsters done grown up. They've averaged 320 yards with soph Bobby Drysdale lead the way (1,644 yards, 23 TDs). Classmate Austin Reich (middle linebacker) has a team-high 69 tackles.
Here's your Class M TRANSMOGRIFIER of the week — VR/OL is ranked first in the division, G/NR is fourth. Tony Ortiz has averaged 167 yards rushing with 14 TDs for the Yellowjackets while QB John Lippincott has averaged 133 yards passing with 13 TDs and 12 INTs. The WARRIORCATS have already qualified for states are and would secure the top seed if they won out. Phil Cohen has completed 71 percent of his passes for 1,429 yards with 22 TDs to two INTs. Running back-linebacker Justin Cheverier is one tough dude.
Here's another game we've already seen — the Rams fried the Cadets to begin this month, 62-21, and vaulted Ansonia for No. 1 in both The Day's Top 10 state coaches' and New Haven Register media poll. This meeting may have a twist to it as New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione has missed two straight games to a concussion, and head coach Lou Marinelli told Dave Ruden of The Ruden Report on Monday that Cascione still hasn't been cleared. Cascione completed 20 of 26 passes for 379 yards with six touchdowns in the first St. Joseph game. Senior Teddy Bossidy or sophomore Mike Collins would start if Cascione doesn't get cleared. Bossidy alternated at QB with Cascione last season, and Collins started the last two games. New Canaan linebackers Cole Harris and Mike Root lead one of the state's most beastly defenses. The Cadets' Mufasa Abdul-Basir ran well against the Rams on Nov. 1 (25 carries, 134 yards, one TD). He ran for a school-record 268 yards (with four touchdowns) in last week's win over McMahon. QB Jordan Vazzano (217 yards per game, 28 TDs) is all-state quality.
It's the Constitution State Conference's RAGNARÖK. To the winner goes the conference crown. Both teams have already qualified for Class S, and the odds are in C/C/A's favor that it would earn the top seed with a win here. C/C/A has been a force of nature and even clobbered the likes of New London (52-14). Soph Bennie Fulse III averages 13.52 yards a carry and run for 13 TDs. Classmate Rayshawn Phillips averages 133 yards passing per game with 15 TDs. Senior Mike Jones is as good as linebacker as you'll see this season. Prince has run its way to nine wins. Soph Vernon McAlmont averages 164.9 yards and scored 15 times and has been leaned on heavily ever since starting quarterback Miguel Cartagena went down to injury during a 19-18 win over Cheney Tech on Oct. 26. Senior linebacker Roekwan Holmes averages 11.7 tackles.
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Adam Baker, Waterbury Republican-American: It's Ansonia vs. Woodland again for league title.
Doug Bonjour, Hearst Amalgamated: Ansonia looks to add to NVL legacy with another title.
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated and lifelong Ansonia townie: NVL championship capsule.
Sean Patrick Starfish, JRC Amalgamated: Plays of the week.
• • • •
Thanks for reading. More later.
East Lyme returned just five players with any varsity experience and lost its first four games. It's made gradual improvement and downed Woodstock Academy last Friday, 42-7, its second-straight victory.