Okay, it's a little late to comment about the final Day coaches' and New Haven Register media Top 10 polls since both were unleashed last Friday.
Me got tied up with life and work the holidaze and what-not, so ….
…. absolutely HATE to bring "me" and "I" into football conversations as who gives a hoot what I think. Everyone knows what opinions are like. That and "me" and "I" often comes off as egotistical.
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I was uncertain about my final No. 1 pick for the first time since I got involved in the process in 1998.
I try not to take voting too seriously. There are (far) more important things in life. The Top 10 is intended to drum up interest in the sport, but shouldn't degenerate into folks bickering like children.
Do want my ballot to make sense, however, and I always feel strongly about who I vote number one. There's never a doubt in my mind that I made the correct choice. Always dwell on the positives instead of the negatives.
That wasn't the case after this season as I kept seeing the negatives about Ansonia, New Canaan and Southington.
The reason me so confused is because I've never seen a season with so much parity. It made voting absolutely daffy all year.
No one finished unbeaten in 2009, but at least voting for No. 1 was easy because Class L champion Notre Dame of West Haven beat Class L champ Cheshire during the regular season.
This year. …. Good gawd, this year. You'll get an appreciation for what coaches and media voters dealt with this season when you read a dizzying list of how often Team A beat Team B then lost to Team C which lost to Team A. It'll break your brain.
Ansonia should be the easy choice as it's the only unbeaten team. It won a state record 15 games in one season, for Boots Jarvis' sake.
The Chargers' schedule kept me conflicted, however. Sometimes that doesn't matter. It didn't matter in 2006 when it beat out Greenwich for the nod (it did beat Class SS champion Holy Cross, 27-13, in the NVL final)
The schedule really didn't matter to me when it rolled current Washington tight end Jordan Reed and New London (35-0) in 2007 and earned the ranking instead of Greenwich (whose only loss was at powerhouse Naples, Fla.)
The NVL was more uninspiring than usual this year, though. Woodland was the only other team it sent to the playoffs (it was crunched by Ansonia in the Class S final, 51-12). The NVL also lost the interleague series against the South-West Conference. It didn't help that Class S had the weakest field of the four divisions.
Ned Freeman's computer rankings for CalPreps.com and MaxPreps.com have become an invaluable resource when I vote. They're not infallible, but they take out all the emotion and rely on results. The algorithm has tracked Connecticut football for 10 seasons, and eight times its final No. 1 was the same as both the coaches and the media.
Ansonia finished sixth in the computer's final rankings. It was dragged down because the algorithm took into account the weaknesses of both the NVL and the Chargers' schedule.
The Chargers also had a rare struggle as they edged Seymour, 21-20, on Nov. 7. They trailed until the final six minutes of the game. They also needed Seymour to miss a 28-yard field goal with less than two minutes left. Seymour finished 6-5, which included a 24-21 loss to Amity (5-6). That made me question how Ansonia would've fared in a better league and didn't have to sit its starters for an entire half so it didn't break the score management rule. Or how it would've held up physically getting banged around each week.
The Chargers took care of their business on the field, however, which New Canaan and Southington didn't. That counts for something. That and Newsome was like a queen on a chess board with his ability to shred defenses.
Yes, New Canaan played a better schedule than Ansonia. It beat Class M champion St. Joseph twice (62-21, and 31-20) and mowed through a Class L field that featured two other Top 10 teams (Darien and Middletown).
The Rams had their chance to be No. 1 in November and played their worst as soon as they took the ranking from the Chargers. They scored 21 fourth-quarter points to pull away and beat Wilton (35-7) on Nov. 8. They were lethargic in the first half of their FCIAC championship win over St. Joseph. They were sloppy in their 28-24 loss to Darien on Thanksgrabbing. It all makes it tough to rank New Canaan number one.
Quarterback Nick Cascione getting concussed in the second quarter of the Wilton game may have affected the Rams, but they admitted they didn't play well in the FCIAC final or on Thanksgrabbing.
Southington didn't receive any first place votes in either poll, but one can make a case for it. It won arguably the toughest division (Class LL) — half of the teams in the final coaches' poll were in LL. It also played its best ball of the season during the second half of its 52-34 championship win over Fairfield Prep.
The Blue Knights, however, lost to Hall (49-37) after blowing huge leads. They wasted leads of 21-0 (after one quarter) and 37-21 (after three quarters). That doesn't fit the definition of a number one team.
Some argued Ansonia shouldn't be ranked because it was in Class S.
It's senseless to have a Top 10 if you're going to exclude a team based on its division. That and no one was using that pretzel logic when Bloomfield was mashing teams in 1998 and 1999. Or when the Chargers were ranked No. 1 in 2007.
It's been nearly impossible for Ansonia to earn the top ranking when it and another state champion are unbeaten, too. Its schedule gets used against it. Using against it when it's the only unbeaten team seems like a form of double jeopardy.
I cannot say with certainty that Ansonia would beat New Canaan or Southington.
I can't say with certainly that New Canaan or Southington would beat the Chargers, either.
Again, Ansonia did what it had to by winning all 15 of its games. There's something to be said for that and consistency, especially when everyone wants to take you down.
Eh, who cares what I think? Remember — poor white trash. Houston.
• • • •
HATS OFF to Ansonia as it was announced Friday that it will receive the Joseph W. Kelly Award, given by the Walter Camp Football Foundation to the state's top football team. It is the fifth time the Chargers have earned the honor, passing Cheshire for the most in history.
"With its potent offensive rushing attack, Ansonia was outstanding on its way to winning the NVL and Class S state titles," said Walter Camp Football Foundation President James Monico said in a release. "We salute Coach Tom Brockett, his staff and players on a phenomenal season."
Ansonia will be honored at Walter Camp's annual national hoe-down on January 11, 2014 at the Yale University Commons.
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We present to you these results so that you know how difficult it's been ALL FREAKIN' SEASON to be a voter in either The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll, or the New Haven Register media poll:
■ Barlow beat Bethel (24-14). Brookfield beat Barlow (28-26). Bethel beat Brookfield (20-0). Brookfield beat Bethel (22-21).
■ New London beat Middletown (23-21). Middletown beat New London (49-14).
■ Hand beat Fairfield Prep (35-27). West Haven beat Hand (46-35). Fairfield Prep beat West Haven twice (29-20, and 29-28).
■ Ledyard beat New London (21-3). NFA beat New London (32-14). New London beat NFA (9-7).
■ North Haven beat Xavier (42-28). Hand beat North Haven (21-6). Xavier beat Hand (28-14).
■ St. Joseph beat Darien (28-14). New Canaan beat St. Joseph twice (62-21, and 31-21). Darien beat New Canaan (28-24). New Canaan beat Darien (44-12).
■ Southington beat Glastonbury (16-9). Glastonbury beat Hall (35-28). Hall beat Southington (49-37).
■ Trumbull beat Greenwich (50-44). Staples beat Trumbull (49-42, OT). Greenwich beat Staples (27-7).
■ Woodland beat Naugatuck (25-22). Holy Cross beat Woodland (37-18). Naugatuck beat Holy Cross (56-20).
■ Hall beat Southington (49-37). West Haven beat Hall (51-26). Fairfield Prep beat West Haven twice (29-20, and 29-28). Southington beat Fairfield Prep (52-34).
• • • •
Should you care, Greenwich (2006) and Masuk (2010) were the two instances in which Freeman's computer rankings finished with a different number one than the coaches and media. Both teams finished second in both of the polls.
Masuk was rated a full 10 points better than Xavier in 2010, the highest spread between first and second since the computer has tracked the state. That makes us feel even better for voting the Panthers numero uno that season.
The only time an unbeaten state champion finished lower than Ansonia did this season was in 2004. Woodland and Hyde placed seventh and eighth, respectively.
Branford had the lowest finish for a state champion (27th) after winning the 2005 Class MM title. The Hornets (10-2) were shutout by Fairfield Prep (34-0) and Class M runner-up Hillhouse (43-0) that season.
• • • •
REFRESHER — The Day of New London state coaches' poll to conclude another magnificent season: 1. Ansonia (15-0, nine first-place votes); 2. New Canaan (14-1, four first-place votes); TIE, 3. St. Joseph (13-2) and Southington (12-1); 5. Darien (12-2); 6. Fairfield Prep (11-3); 7. Glastonbury (10-2); 8. West Haven (10-3); 9. Middletown (11-2); and, 10. Hall (9-2).
• • • •
REFRESHER — the final New Haven Register Top 10 media poll: 1. Ansonia (21 first-place votes); 2. New Caanaan (seven first-place votes); 3. Southington; 4. St. Joseph; 5. Darien; 6. Fairfield Prep; 7. Middletown; 8. West Haven; 9. Glastonbury; and, 10. Newtown. Hall was 18th. Voters done forgot about that Glastonbury-Hall-Southington triangle. Haters.
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Ned Freeman's cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps.com and MaxPreps.com: 1. New Canaan; 2. Southington; 3. St. Joseph; 4. Fairfield Prep; 5. Darien; 6. Ansonia; 7. West Haven; 8. North Haven; 9. Xavier (7-3); and, 10. Glastonbury. Middletown finished 16th and Hall 17th.
The algorithm rated Hand's schedule the toughest in the state. It had wins over Fairfield Prep (35-27) and Shelton (44-41), and lost to New Canaan (50-21), Darien (31-29), West Haven (46-35), and Xavier (28-14). Its opponents had a combined 96-51 record, and the Tigers still finished 8-4 and qualified for states.
St. Joseph's opponents had the state's best-combined win-loss record — 123-64 (.658).
• • • •
Behold, the FINAL ballot submitted to Pooch Diggity Dog, comptroller of the New Haven Register media poll:
1. Ansonia: Our preseason No. 1 finished where it started.
2. New Canaan: Played better than any team we saw from Weeks 1-8.
3. Southington: Still cannot believe it gave up 28 fourth-quarter points to Hall.
4. St. Joseph: Beat everyone it played other than New Canaan. That includes wins over No. 5 Darien (28-14) and No. 6 Fairfield Prep (36-34) .
5. Darien: Gets credit for road wins at New Canaan and North Haven (36-7), and for grinding out playoff wins over Hand (31-29) and Middletown (13-7).
6. Fairfield Prep: Still cannot believe it was outscored 38-6 in the second half of the LL final.
7. Glastonbury: Beat Hall (35-28). It's two losses were to third-ranked Southington (16-9) and sixth-ranked Prep (33-23)
8. West Haven: Routed Hall in the LL quarterfinals (51-26). Its three losses were by a combined 11 points to Greenwich (22-21), and Prep (29-20, and 29-28).
9. Hall: It earned a spot in the Top 10 again thanks to Southington's state title.
10. Xavier: Here's where it all got murky. Think it played a tougher schedule than, say, Greenwich. On the flip side, the Cardinals had the best win as it beat West Haven in Week 1. The Falcons lost to said Westies in overtime (35-34) after getting stopped on a two-point conversion.
11. Hand: Yep, we voted for an 8-4 team. Reckon the number of teams that would've done better against its schedule can be counted on two hands.
12. North Haven: Gets credit for the win over Xavier and for blowing out Platt on the road in the L quarters (35-0). Lost to three playoff teams — New Canaan (17-0), Darien and Hand. Also a mark for GOD'S FATHER'S OFFENSE.
13. Greenwich: In hindsight, we should've ranked it ahead of Xavier based on head-to-head results against West Haven. The loss to Trumbull (50-44) spooked us. Thankfully, our vote didn't affect the the top 10 in the final Top 10.
14. Ridgefield: Struggled to choose which FCIAC team to vote higher — Ridgefield or Greenwich. The Tigers best wins were over McMahon (44-7) and at Newtown (35-33) in the LL quarters. It lost to No. 3 Southington (45-0), No. 3 St. Joseph (41-12) and No. 5 Darien (19-14). Greenwich played a tougher schedule, though. The Cardinals had the magical Austin Longi, too.
15. Newtown: Gets credit for an unbeaten season.
• • • •
Most wins in a season (15).
Most points in a season (770).
Most touchdowns in a season (113).
Most yards rushing in a season (6,059). Take a bow, Saiheed Sanders (fullback), Jai-Quan McKnight (quarterback), Tajik Bagley (tailback), Matt Simon (right tackle), Ryan Hovan (right guard), Corey Dzienkiewicz (center), Antone Mack (left guard), Tyler O'Connell (left tackle, and Newsome for earning red belts in the manly discipline of the running arts.
Alex Jamele, Southington
Most touchdown catches in a season (29).
Arkeel Newsome, Ansonia (of course)
Most yards rushing in a season (3,867).
Most touchdowns in a season (68).
Most points in a season (424).
Most career rushing yards (10,672).
Most career touchdowns (187).
Most career points (1,162).
Peter Swindell, New Canaan
Most field goals in a season (12). The sophomore tied Staples' Santiago Cuartas, who kicked 12 in 13 games during the 2009 season.
Most points kicking in a season (115). Cuertas
• • • •
Wanted to get some numbers out there today about the playoffs even though we're not going to address the format today.
The CIAC added a quarterfinal round four years ago to allow eight more teams to participate in the postseason.
Bigger hasn't been better because the higher seeds have ruled.
A bottom four seed has beaten a top four seed just 31.6-percent of the time the past four seasons (30-65).
The state finals are still ruled by the top seeds, too — 15 of the last 16 titles have been won by a seed ranked one-through-four.
Hillhouse is the only team seeded lower than fourth to win a state title. It was No. 8 when it won the 2010 Class M championship.
A breakdown of state champions by seed:
No. 1 seed: Six state titles.
No. 2: Four.
No. 3: Two.
No. 4: Three.
No. 8: One.
We like the quarterfinals. It's also helped one-and-two loss teams who play tougher schedules than, say, an unbeaten team that whupped up on cupcakes.
The numbers do make one think twice, though.
• • • •
There's were four coaching resignations and two hirings by Dec. 20 (i.e. the day after the Class LL final).
Rob Cersosimo retired after 30 seasons at Conard, as first reported by Tom Yantz of the Hartford Courant. Cersosimo was the winnginest coach in school history (186-118-3), coached the program to all five of its postseason appearances, and was a swell science teacher. The smart money is that son Matt will take over. Matt Cersosimo left UConn to become the Chieftains offensive coordinator this past fall. Matt would also keep the program in the family as Rob is the son-in-law of Bob McKee, who was Conard's first head coach (1957-1983). And, dear, sweet Methuselah, one Polecat Worldwide staffer should feel real old as they were a Conard sophomore when Cersosimo got the Conard gig. Thankfully, said staffer is only as old as he acts. Tom Yantz
T.J. Cavaliere was named the new head coach at Stratford. He's taught at the school for eight years and was the program's offensive coordinator from 2004-09 before taking the same gig at Law. He takes over for John Svatik, who was 10-31 over four seasons.
Dave Brennan is out at Masuk after one dysfunctional season. It isn't known whether he resigned or was bounced. Heaven help whoever takes over.
David Roach resigned after three seasons at Pomperaug. He went 16-20 in three seasons with the Panthers.
Sean Patrick Starfish of JRC Amalgamated got his Jay Glazer on and was the first to report about Brennan, Cavaliere, and Roach. An industrious lad, that Starfish.
• • • •
Kountry Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: Kountry reveals his final Top 10 ballot; and, his Top 10 stories of the season.
Bryant Carpenter, Meriden Record-Journal: For seniors, it was Mission: Possible. He's talking about Southington.
Pooch Diggity Dog, JRC Amalgamated: His final notebook of the season.
Mike DiMauro, TEAM DAY: He profiled Ledyard's Jordan Kowalski, The Day's All-Area Player of the Year. He also wrote about this December's weather-related angst.
• • • •
Thanks for reading. More later. We hope.
Vaya con dios….