The Lonesome Polecat: YOUR semifinal previews~!
There's no time for an introduction filled with jibber-jabber — we've got PLAYOFFS to discuss.
Much like BRACKETOLOGY~!, we’re going to try to predict games.
Much like BRACKETOLOGY~!, we’re going to be wrong about a bunch of these predictions and that's cool. Surprises are (usually) FUN.
Much like BRACKETOLOGY~!, just because we picked against you doesn’t mean we don't like you. Hell, WE DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU, MAN.
We included picks made by both Sean Patrick Star and Pete Papagooga of the GameTimeCT/Heart Inc. Monolith and CalPrep’s cold, emotionless computer model.
CalPreps is killing it with an 80 percent success rate (376-94). It was 16-0 in the quarterfinals (as was Pete — a winner is YOU).
YOU MUST buy tickets online as they won't be sold at the game. Click HERE to get yours.
YOU are also encouraged to follow all of Sunday afternoon’s madness on the Twit at #cthsfb. Everything kicks off at 12:30 except where noted.
NO. 5 SHELTON at NO. 1 FAIRFIELD PREP
WHERE: Rafferty Field, Fairfield University.
RECORDS: Shelton 9-2; Fairfield Prep 10-2.
SHELTON DUDES: Jr. OL-DL Mike Camiglio; Jr. TE-DE Joey Giliotti (25 tackles, 10.5 sacks); So. QB Michael Kinik (71 of 132 passing, 993 yards, 5 TDs, 6 INTs); Sr. TE-LB Matt Lockavitch (80 tackles); Sr. RB Tyler Rich (167 carries, 837 yards, 9 TDs); Sr. K Cristiano Rosa (30 of 31 XPs, seven FGs); Sr. RB-WR-CB Shane Santiago (103 carries, 623 yards, 8 TDs; 42 tackles, four INTs); Sr. OL-DL Matt Weiner (44 tackles, 5.5 sacks).
PREP DUDES: Sr. RB Daniel Barnick (131 carries, 868 yards, nine TDs); Sr. DE Jack Mullen (60 tackles, 12 sacks); Sr. LB Ryan O’Connell (80 tackles, five sacks); Sr. QB Connor Smith (114 of 220 passing, 1,484 yards, 16 TDs, 4 INTs; 84 carries, 463 yards, 6 TDs); Sr. WR Tim Pearson (48 catches, 587 yards, 11 TDs); Sr. DB-LB-WR Tymaine Smith (77 tackles, four sacks, one INT).
WORDS: It’s the first of THE REMATCHENINGS~! between the best two teams in the Southern Connecticut Conference. Prep maimed the Gaels on Nov. 5, 54-0, in one of the most shocking results of the millennium because NO ONE does that to Shelton. The Jesuits allowed Shelton one first down and 63 yards.
It was the Gaels’ worst loss since Nov. 11, 2012 when Xavier routed them, 59-17. It was also just the second time that Shelton allowed 50-or-more points since 1982, which is the farthest back The Day's regular-season results go (West Haven beat the Gaels, 59-52, on Nov. 11, 2016).
The Jesuits, ranked third in The Day's Top 10 coaches' poll, took control of Tuesday’s quarterfinal when Greenwich quarterback Jack Wilson was knocked out of the game in the third quarter of their 21-14 win. They didn’t pass well (Smith completed 2 of 12 passes for 13 yards) but ran for 301 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries. Barnick ran 23 times for 158 yards and Smith added 11 carries for 90 yards and a score.
The Gaels want to run, run and run and they did that well in last Tuesday’s 42-28 win over Hall. They ran 54 times for 319 yards with Rich leading the way (28 carries, 175 yards, 3 touchdowns). Prep has been pretty stout against the run (an average of 3.3 yards per carry, 6 TDs) so Shelton may need Kinik to throw more than usual (he’s averaged 13.2 attempts).
PETE SEZ: Fairfield Prep.
SEAN SEZ: Fairfield Prep.
CALPREPS SEZ: Fairfield Prep, 24-13.
POLECAT SEZ: Fairfield Prep.
To learn more about this game, read Doug Bonjour’s story over at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith.
NO. 3 DARIEN at NO. 2 NEW CANAAN
WHERE: Dunning Field, New Canaan High School.
RECORDS: Darien 10-1; New Canaan 10-1.
DARIEN DUDES: Sr. FS Christian Alliegro; Sr. RB Tighe Cummiskey; Sr. QB Miles Drake; Sr. DE David Evanchick; Sr. G Beau Hancock (6-3, 270); Sr. WR Matt Minicus; Sr. DT Cole Murphy; Sr. G Connor Sini.
NEW CANAAN DUDES: Sr. RB-S Conor Bailey (65 carries, 331 yards, 3 TDs; 28 tackles); Sr. C-DL NED Brady (6-5, 250); Sr. Henry Cunney (111 of 173 passing, 1,476 yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs; 87 carries, 251 yards, 5 TDs); Sr. RB-LB Vinny Cognetta (104 carries, 714 yards, 7 TDs; 83 tackles, six sacks, three INTs); Jr. K-P Ty Groff (38-of-38 XP; 10 FGs); Sr. G-DL Stephen Luccarelli; Sr. WR-DB Dylan Murray (37 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. TE-DL Chad Russo (63 tackles, 14.5 sacks); Sr. RB-DE Barrett Schmitz (75 tackles, 5.5 sacks); Jr. WR Mack Seelert (41 catches, 562 yards, 6 TDs).
WORDS: Here’s YOUR second REMATCHENING~!and it’s also the main event of the day because it’s Darien vs. New Canaan. New Canaan used a masterful defensive performance to take down the then top-ranked Blue Wave on Thanksgiving, 12-7, for its fourth consecutive Turkey Bowl win and became the state’s new No. 1 team.
Darien averaged a state-best 44 points prior to that game. The Rams’ defense held it to 204 yards offense (3.4 yards per play) with six sacks, a safety, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Cunney had one of the best games of his career during last Tuesday’s 38-14 win over Southington as he completed 17 of 24 passes for a season-high 264 yards and a touchdown. That’s noteworthy because New Canaan has relied much more on the run than any time in recent memory. It also rallied down 14-0 in the second quarter.
The Blue Wave’s offense got back on track during last Tuesday’s 46-19 beating of Hamden. Drake threw for four touchdowns with Cummiskey catching two of them and running for another.
It’s hard to envision the Rams suffocating Darien’s defense a second time, no matter how great they’ve been all season, and we're picking the Blue Wave to win a close one.
PETE SEZ: Darien.
SEAN SEZ: Darien.
CALPREPS SEZ: Darien 20-19.
POLECAT SEZ: Darien.
NO. 5 WINDSOR at NO. 1 ST. JOSEPH
WHERE: St. Joseph, noon.
RECORDS: Windsor 10-1; St. Joseph 10-1.
WINDSOR DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Shawn Bell; Jr. QB Elijah Cromartie; Jr. RB-LB Quincy Davis; So. WR-DB YAYO Rodriguez; Sr. WR-DE Prince Samuels; So. WR-DB Damion Sparrow; Jr. RB-DB Chili White; Jr. WR-DB Jaion Williams; Sr. WR-DB Jaevion Wolcott.
ST. JOSEPH DUDES: Jr. LB Tyler daSilva (70 tackles, eight sacks); Jr. DL Ryan DeMarco (35 tackles); Sr. T George Hallas; Jr. WR Brandon Hutchison (38 catches, 441 yards, seven TDs); Jr. RB Riley Jordan (167 carries, 843 yards, 10 TDs; 16 catches, 196 yards, 2 TDs); So. Ethan Long (50 tackles, seven INTs); Sr. DE Mark Morrissey (89 tackles, five sacks); Sr. QB Matt Morrissey (157 of 272 passing, 1,2,035 yards, 22 TDs, 13 INTs; 82 carries, 307 yards, five TDs); Sr. WR Maxwell Warren (49 catches, 855 yards, 11 TDs; 29 caries, 183 yards, 3 TDs).
WORDS: It’s the third and final REMATCHENING~! — St. Joseph went on the road and took down Windsor, 45-22, on Sept. 24.
The Cadets have gotten used to winning close games and did so again in overtime last Tuesday against Hand, 21-20. Joe Adzima blocked a 20-yard field goal in the closing seconds to keep the Tigers from winning and forcing overtime. They scored first in overtime but daSilva blocked Hand’s extra point attempt. St. Joseph’s Reilly Jordan tied the game with a 1-yard run and Logan Spoelstra kicked the game-winning extra point. Jordan ran efficiently in the win (23 carries, 97 yards, 2 TDs).
Windsor’s quarterfinal was the equivalent of a tune-up as it tuned Cheney Tech up, 62-0. Elijah Cromartie threw six touchdowns passes including two to Elijah Lopez (38, 18 yards) and another to Shawn Bell (35). Bell also scored on a 15-yard run.
There’s no doubt the Warriors can score. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can slow down St. Joseph’s offense. They couldn’t last time with the Cadets taking leads of 14-0, 21-6 and 45-14.
PETE SEZ: St. Joseph.
SEAN SEZ: St. Joseph.
CALPREPS SEZ: St. Joseph 35-17.
POLECAT SEZ: St. Joseph.
To learn more about this agme, read Scott Ericson’s story over at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith, Kyle Maher’s at the Manchester Journal-Inquirer and Dave Ruden’s at The Ruden Report.
NO. 7 MASUK at NO. 3 MALONEY
WHERE: Falcon Field, Meriden.
RECORDS: Masuk 9-2; Maloney 10-1.
MASUK DUDES: Sr. WR-LB Justin Briganti; Sr. WR Jake Dellapiano; Jr. QB Dylan Jackson, Jr., Sr. RB-WR-DB Nick Saccu; Sr. WR-DB Ryan Saccu.
MALONEY DUDES: Sr. QB Angel Arce (115 of 192 passing, 1,700 yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs; Jr. RB-LB Josh Boganski (222 carries, 1,455 yards, 13 TDs); Sr. WR-DB Tylee Flowers Jr. (18 catches, 339 yards, 5 TDs; 26 tackles, 5 INTs); Sr. WR-DB Joziah Gonzalez (39 catches, 448 yards, 3 TDs); Sr. WR-DB Ian Graham (37 catches, 527 yards, 6 TDs; 26 tackles); Jr. RB-LB Kenny McMillan (58 carries 268 yards, 11 TDs; 83 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. OL-DL Daejon Nixon (68 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. Johnny Rosado (60 tackles); Sr. Rashawn Shelton (42 tackles, 7 INTs); Sr. WR-DB Austin STUDLEY (21 catches, 472 yards, 8 TDs); Sr. RB-LB Kuron Wiggins (61 tackles, 3 INTs).
WORDS: Maloney has been on a dang roll. It's won 10 straight, the last six in which it won by an average of 30.8 points. That includes a resounding 49-18 win over Hall on Nov. 5.
The Spartans' defense put on a show in last Tuesday’s 49-14 rout of Bristol Central. They had three interceptions in the second quarter alone, one of which Spencer STUDLEY returned for a 34-yard touchdown to give them a 28-6 lead. Maloney also held UConn commit Victor Rosa in check. He rushed for over 200 yards in nine of 10 regular season games and had 39 rushing touchdowns. The Spartans held him to 130 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, one of which was a 59-yard touchdown.
The Panthers have gotten very used to winning wild games the previous five weeks. They tied the largest comeback in state history on Oct. 29 when they rallied from a 28-point deficit to beat New Fairfield, 29-28.
Jake Dellapiano’s interception at midfield with 31 seconds left in the game led to a Michael Epifano kicking a 37-yard field goal in the final moments of Masuk’s 24-21 win over Newtown on Nov. 24.
Nick Saccu ran for a go-ahead 9-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 12 seconds left in last Tuesday’s 20-17 road win over second-seeded Naugatuck.
We’re expecting a lot of points and a Maloney win.
PETE SEZ: Maloney.
SEAN SEZ: Maloney.
CALPREPS SEZ: Maloney 35-24.
POLECAT SEZ: Maloney.
To learn more about the game, read Bryant Carpenter’s stories over at the Meriden Record-Journal and Joe Morelli’s at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith.
NO. 5 BRANFORD at NO. 1 KILLINGLY
WHERE: Killingly High School.
RECORDS: Branford 9-2; Killingly 10-0.
BRANFORD DUDES: Sr. RB-CB Nate Chieffo (135 carries 776 yards, 6 TDs; 41 tackles); Sr. RB-LB Nate Florio (2 INTs); Sr. WR-CB John Frawley (27 catches, 300 yards, 2 TDs; 32 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. OL-DL Nate Mathis (57 tackles); Sr. WR-DL David McDonald (68 tackles); Sr. RB-LB Cameron Paleski (62 tackles); Jr. TE-LB Drew Schwartz (34 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. QB Zachary Turbert (60 of 123 passing, 759 yards, 9 TDs, 7 INTs).
KILLINGLY DUDES: Jr. OL-DL Terrence Allen (50 tackles, 6 sacks); Sr. OLB Seth Dootson (55 tackles, 2 sacks); Jr. QB Thomas Dreibholz (45 of 80 passing, 981 yards, 15 TDs, 2 INTs); Jr. WR-S Ben Jax (22 catches, 607 yards, 8 TDs; 42 tackles, 3 INTs); Sr. TE-DE Nate Keefe (11 catches, 278 yards, 4 TDs; 55 tackles, 4 sacks); Jr. FB-LB Keith Perry (93 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. C-DL Noah Russell; So. FB-ILB Soren Rief (97 carries, 957 yards, 14 TDs; 53 tackles, 3 INTs); Sr. WR-CB Trevin Russ; Sr. RB-OLB Jack Sharpe (190 carries, 1,271 yards, 22 TDs).
WORDS: Killingly head coach Chad Neal and his players knew they didn't play their best last Tuesday even after winning comfortably over the Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic co-op, 49-14. It fumbled away the opening kickoff to set up a Yellowjackets touchdown. It didn't run block as well as it normally does. It also had trouble with the speed and elusiveness of G/N/H running back Fred Camp.
Dootson, Dreibholz, Jax and Keefe played effectively for Killingly, though. Dreibholz completed 7 of 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, one to Keefe (three catches, 74 yards) and the other to Jax (three catches, 55 yards). Keefe also had a sack, Jax stripped the ball from Camp before he crossed the plane into the Killingly end zone to lead to a touchback, and Dootson had two of Killingly's four fumble recoveries.
The Hornets were held to 136 total yards by Avon but eked out a 7-6 win. Nate Chieffo ran 14 times for 68 yards and a touchdown for Branford which, as we've written before, is a team we've been keeping tabs on ever since it stunned Notre Dame of West Haven, 15-12, on Sept. 24. ND had a losing record (3-7) but played a rough schedule with a 36-35 overtime road win against Wilton (Sept. 24). Wilton, as you should know, is the only team that's beaten New Canaan (20-17, Oct. 23).
Branford has taken a few lumps this season — it was shut out by Amity (21-0, Sept. 10) and Guilford (31-0, Nov. 21). Neal has seen enough of Branford to know that it will be a challenge. The Voices also tell us that this game will be closer than most think (including CalPrep's computer model).
PETE SEZ: Killingly.
SEAN SEZ: Killingly.
CALPREPS SEZ: Killingly 31-7.
POLECAT SEZ: Killingly.
To learn more about Killingly, read Jeff Jacobs' column over at at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith or Jimmy Zanor’s story at the Norwich Bulletin.
NO. 6 TORRINGTON at No. 2 ROCKVILLE
WHERE: Rockville High School.
RECORDS: Torrington 8-3; Rockville 9-2.
TORRINGTON DUDES: Sr. RB-DB Sean Clinkscales; Sr. OL-LB Josh Coleman; Sr. OL-DL Mike Iszczak; Sr. OL-DL Brendan McGowan; Sr. RB-DL-LB Devin Morales; Sr. OL-DL Aden Rivera; Sr. RB-LB EXODUS Rosado; Sr. QB-OLB-DB Tyler Semonich.
ROCKVILLE DUDES: Sr. RB Travon Edmondson (123 carries, 748 yards, 10 TDs; 34 tackles, 9.5 sacks); Jr. WR-DB Hason Green (15 catches, 278 yards, 5 TDs; 29 tackles, 7 INTs); Fr. RB-LB; Amir Knighton (23 carries, 365 yards, 6 TDs; 59 tackles, 13.5 sacks); Jr. OL-LB Malachi Mapp (106 tackles, 3.5 sacks); Fr Sr. RB-DB Deshaun Perry (83 carries, 644 yards, 9 TDs; 16 catches, 218 yards, 3 TDs; 24 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. WR-DB John Ryan (17 catches, 348 yards, 3 TDs; 30 tackles); Sr. QB Matt Ryan (79 of 186 passing, 1,164 yards, 12 TDs, 10 INTs; 33 carries, 120 yards, 3 TDs); Sr. G-MLB Ashton Szrejna (63 tackles, 7 sacks).
WORDS: Rockville attacks opposing defenses with a group instead of just one-or-two stars. Ryan completed 6 of 12 passes for 111 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in last Tuesday’s 27-0 shutout over Ellington, the second time it had beaten the Purple Knights in six days. Green (3 catches, 71 yards) caught both touchdown passes and Edmondson ran 14 times for 93 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Rams held Ellington to 38 yards total offense in the first half.
The Raiders had arguably the gutsiest quarterfinal win. They only had 24 players due to quarantine protocols and were missing seven defensive starters but scored late to beat Canton/Granby, 39-27, the program’s first playoff win.
Torrington has the Polecat seal of approval because it’s a disciple of The Manly Discipline of the Running Arts and uses GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE (single wing). Tyler Semonich ran 20 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns and completed 3 of 6 passes for 85 yards, including a go-ahead 55-yard touchdown pass to Mason Stannard with 57.8 seconds remaining in the game against C/G. Sean Clinkscales added 19 carries for 111 yards and a score.
We’re picking Torrington to knock off another higher seed because it's more battle-tested with a win over Naugatuck (27-19, Sept. 19) and losing to three Class S playoff teams — Holy Cross (34-18, Sept. 10), Seymour (35-22, Sept. 24) and Ansonia (35-15, Oct. 29).
Yes, the Raiders use of GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE may be swaying us, too.
PETE SEZ: Rockville.
SEAN SEZ: Torrington (finally, differing opinions).
CALPREPS SEZ: Rockville 28-27.
POLECAT SEZ: Torrington.
To learn more about this game, read Adam Betz’s story over at the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Jeff Jacobs' column over at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith or Mark Jaffee’s story over at the Waterbury Republican-American.
NO. 5 NEW FAIRFIELD at NO. 1 BLOOMFIELD
WHERE: Phil Rubin Stadium, Bloomfield High School.
RECORDS: New Fairfield 9-2; Bloomfield 11-0.
BLOOMFIELD DUDES: So. QB Darrien Foster (96 of 136 passing, 1,358 yards, 20 TDs, four INTs); Sr. DE-LB Jakar Jenkins; Jr. WR-LB Trey Ortiz; Jr. RB-LB Conellius Patrick; Sr. RB-LB Dallas Rose.
NEW FAIRFIELD DUDES: Sr. RB-DB Jason Caswell (233 carries, 1,746 yards, 17 TDs; 10 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD); Sr. SB-DB Ryan Fata (16 catches, 279 yards, 5 TDs; 24 tackles); Sr. WR-DB Matt Grauert (49 tackles, 4 INTs); Jr. RB-WR-LB Thomas Leary (96 tackles, 4 sacks); Jr. HB-DE Kevin Martinson (81 tackles, 7 sacks); Jr. QB Justin McCormack (56 of 117 passing, 859 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs; 80 carries, 527 yards, 12 TDs); Sr. HB-DE Shane Rattigan (44 tackles, 5 sacks).
WORDS: Bloomfield is one scary team.
The WARHAWKS, too, weres missing several starters on both sides of the ball last Tuesday but still ripped Morgan, 50-18. Backup Jansyn Booth made his first start in place of Darrien Foster and completed 11 of 15 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Robert Dunkley.
Bloomfield still had its 1-2 punch of running backs Rose and Patrick, so that certainly helped. Rose ran six times for 154 yards and three touchdowns and Patrick ran for 92 yards and a touchdown and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Defensively, the WARHAWKS held down a Morgan passing game that was averaging over 300 yards a game. They led 44-6 at halftime and allowed over seven points in a game for just the first time.
New Fairfield made it look easy last Tuesday night as well as it ran down Holy Cross, 41-7. McCormack ran 15 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more. Jason Caswell, the focus of the REBELS’ run game all season, added 17 carries for 138 yards and a score while the defense allowed 172 total yards.
New Fairfield has gotten more used to adversity than Bloomfield this season and playing in tight games with wins over both Sheehan (14-13, Sept. 24) and Notre Dame-Fairfield (29-20, Nov. 5) and close losses to New Fairfield and Newtown (10-7, Nov. 12). The WARHAWKS haven’t faced as challenging a schedule and blown out opponents by an average of 36 points.
We’ve liked the REBELS to win the division since watching it beat Fitch on Oct. 8 (37-27) and generally side with the team that’s played tougher games and a tougher schedule.
(If we’re wrong, then it's Bloomfield all the way.)
PETE SEZ: Bloomfield.
SEAN SEZ: Bloomfield.
CALPREPS SEZ: Bloomfield 28-19.
POLECAT SEZ: New Fairfield.
To learn more about New Fairfield, read Will Aldam’s story over at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith.
NO. 3 ANSONIA AT NO. 2 CROMWELL/PORTLAND
WHERE: Pierson Park, Cromwell.
RECORDS: Ansonia 10-1; C/P 11-0.
ANSONIA DUDES: Jr. FB-LB David Cassetti; So. TE-DL Preston Dziubina; Sr. RB Joshua Dobbs; Sr. OL-DL Louis Gripper; So. WR-DB Machi Ingram; Jr. QB Chris Kaminski; Sr. RB-DB Darell McKnight; So. WR-DB Paul Palmer; Sr. OL-DL Carlos Pinto; Jr. OL-DL Alex Romanowski (6-1, 330).
C/R DUDES: Jr. QB Cole Brisson; Sr. RB-LB Owen Brunk; Jr. RB-DE Alex Hair; Jr. WR-LB Ryan Rozich; So. C-DL Jack Williams; Sr. WR-LB Teddy Williams; So. WR-DE Emeka Yearwood.
WORDS: Crom/Port wasn’t tested much through the regular season as it outscored its Pequot Conference opponents, 394-64.
The PANTHERLANDERS did win a close one for the second time in three weeks in last Tuesday’s 29-20 win over Notre Dame-Fairfield. Teddy Williams caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and set up his team’s other three touchdowns while Cole Brisson threw two touchdown passes and Alex Hair scored on a 4-yard run.
The Chargers, meanwhile, beat up on Seymour again last Tuesday, 35-14. Tailback Darell McKnight damaged the Wildcats (again) by rushing for 190 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries while FULLBACK David Cassetti ran 11 times for 67 yards and a score.
We learned long ago not to pick against Ansonia unless the opponent was far superior. We think it’ll use its run game to grind out a win and head to its state-record 32nd CIAC championship game.
PETE SEZ: Ansonia.
SEAN SEZ: Cromwell/Portland.
CALPREPS SEZ: Ansonia 21-20.
POLECAT SEZ: Ansonia.
To learn more about about the game, read Bill Bloxsom’s story over at the GameTimeCT.com/Hearst Inc. monolith or Lori Riley’s over at the Hartford Courant.
• • • •
The plan is to post a blog late Sunday afternoon (or early that night) with a rundown of all the semifinals.
Thanks for reading. More soon.