The Lonesome Polecat: elebenty-and-one quarterfinal previews
There’s been a lot of complaining, whining and gnashing of teeth ever since the CIAC expanded the football playoffs from four to six divisions at the request of the Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association.
Nobody has yet touched upon the single worst thing about expanding the playoffs — having to write TWENTY FOUR quarterfinal previews.
We’re just a plucky, humble, one-man operation here with moxie and stick-to-itiveness to spare. .... but we just don’t have the time or energy to write lengthy previews a la the mammals over at GameTimeCT/Hearst Inc. monolith who have their own Ghidorah who can share the work.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
1. All games kickoff at 6:30 p.m.
2. All tickets must be purchased online. No money will be accepted at the gate because cash is no longer king (nor is it crypto, it would seem.)
3. We included picks from Mike “Pucks” Fornabaio, Pete Papadappagooga and Sean Patrick Star from the GameTimeCT Monolith because they’re the only other mammals we know who are from a reputable website that picked all the games.
We also include predictions from Ned Freeman’s computer algorithm over at CalPreps.com. His rankings (which can also be found at MaxPreps.com) are used to seed California’s 101 playoff games (at least it seems like there’s that many.)
4. Just because we didn’t pick your team to qualify doesn’t mean we hate you.
Hell, we don’t even know you, man.
6. We encourage YOU to follow all of tomorrow night’s fun on the Twit at #cthsfb.
All semifinals are on Sunday, Dec. 4 and will be played at the higher seeds.
The finals are on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Arute Field at Central Connecticut State and Rentschler Field. Both will host three games at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
LET’S DO THIS
NO. 1 SOUTHINGTON vs. NO. 8 TRUMBULL
WHERE: Fontana Field, Southington High.
RECORDS: Southington 9-1; Trumbull 7-3.
SOUTHINGTON DUDES: Sr. LB Aaron Borkowski; Sr. RB-LB-K Lincoln Cardillo; Jr. QB C.J. DiBenedetto; Jr. LB Christopher Totonis.
TRUMBULL DUDES: Sr. QB Hunter Agosti; Sr. WR Luca Antonio; Sr. LB Jordan Black; Sr. WR Jack Durland.
WORDS: We’d feel a lot better about Trumbull if junior running back Rowan Johnston wasn’t hurt with an undisclosed injury. He missed the Eagles’ 20-17 loss to St. Joseph on Thanksgrabbing and isn’t expected to play. Neither Cheshire nor the flu were enough to stop the Blue Knights from winning on Thanksgiving, 21-14, so we like them in this here game.
CALPREPS: Southington 31-26.
NO. 2 GREENWICH vs. NO. 7 HAMDEN
WHERE: Swanky Cardinal Stadium, Greenwich High.
RECORDS: Greenwich 8-2; Hamden 8-2.
GREENWICH DUDES: Jr. TE-DE Griffin “not ‘Griffen’” Galletta; Jr. TE-LB Johnny Insinga; Jr. RB-LB George Vomvolakis; Sr. QB Jack Wilson.
HAMDEN DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Tyshaun Davender; Jr. QB-LB Jerard Gibson Jr.; Sr. RB-LB Curtis McCray III; Jr. RB-LB Shawn Mills.
WORDS: Both teams should be ornery coming off losses. Greenwich lost to Staples on Thanksgiving, 39-38 (fun fact —its number of losses matches the total number of points its lost by). Hamden lost to the Green Bowl to Notre Dame of West Haven on Thanksgiving, 27-14, its second straight loss. That the Green Dragons lost to ND was a kinda’ surprising, even if we believe in the latter, but we cannot believe they were nearly doubled-up having seen them play live. Key thing to watch here is that Hamden doesn’t like to throw much (which we’re all about) but that’s the Cardinals’ defensive strength.
CALPREPS: Greenwich 41-28.
NO. 3 WEST HAVEN v. NO. 6 GLASTONBURY
WHERE: Ken Strong Stadium, West Haven High, the home office for #cthsfb playoff football.
RECORDS: West Haven 9-1; Glastonbury 8-2.
WEST HAVEN DUDES: So. QB Nick Conlan; Sr. RB-DB Avian Evans; Sr. WR-DB Armani Reid; Sr. RB-DB Deven Robinson.
GLASTONBURY DUDES: Sr. QB-DB Jack Anglim; Sr. OL-LB Jacob Jackson; Sr. RB-LB John Petrone; Sr. RB-LB Jordyn Sams.
WORDS: The Guardians are on a three-game roll, highlighted by a 28-21 overtime win at then-No. 1 Maloney on Nov. 10. They ride Petrone as much as possible as he’s run 228 times on 421 of the team’s offensive plays (for 1,794 yards and 21 TDs). West Haven didn’t play well at all during last Wednesday’s 21-6 to Fairfield Prep. That came on the heels of it being pushed around by Hamden for a good chunk of a Nov. 12 game before the Westies scored the go-ahead touchdown with 38 seconds left for a 27-23 win. Regardless, there are few teams with as much speed as the West Haven and it has more dudes it can count on to score.
CALPREPS: West Haven 28-21.
MIKE: West Haven.
PETE: West Haven.
SEAN: West Haven.
POLECAT: West Haven.
NO. 4 STAPLES v. NO. 5 FAIRFIELD PREP
WHERE: Staples Stadium, Staples High (say that five times fast.) (They oughta’ call their facility “WRECKERSVANIA”.)
RECORDS: Staples 9-1; Fairfield Prep 7-3.
STAPLES DUDES: Sr. WR-DB Tyler Clark; Sr. WR-DB Will Holleman; Sr. TE-LB Michael Nealon; Jr. QB Caleb Smith.
PREP DUDES: Sr. LB Tanner Langis; Sr. RB Malachi Mercer-Robinson; Jr. QB Tyler Smith; Sr. Wally Wuchiski.
WORDS: This is the anti-Greenwich vs. Hamden as both teams are on real good runs. The WRECKERS have won eight in a row with Smith rewriting the school’s record books and playing out-of-his mind. He’s completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 2,793 yards and 27 TDs and rushed for 735 yards and 15 scores. Prep has won its last six, including last Wednesday’s biggie over the Westies. It’s also played a state-high seven playoff teams and gone 5-2 — only Ansonia has beaten as many playoff teams. The Jesuits have used a physical running game and defense to knock off North Haven and West Haven in succession, two teams which will never be called “finesse”. This is the most intriguing of the LL quarters and we’ll take Prep because it’s more battle-tested.
CALPREPS: Fairfield Prep 22-21.
MIKE: Fairfield Prep.
PETE: Fairfield Prep.
SEAN: Fairfield Prep.
POLECAT: Fairfield Prep.
(Dude, I thought we were going to keep these “brief”? WORK FASTER)
NO. 1 ST. JOSEPH vs. NO. 8 CHESHIRE
WHERE: Kennedy Stadium, Bridgeport.
RECORDS: St. Joseph 9-1; Cheshire 6-4.
ST. JOSEPH DUDES: Sr. WR Brandon Hutchinson; Sr. DL Jack Kilmartin; Sr. RB Riley Jordan; Sr. QB Will Singewald.
CHESHIRE DUDES: Jr. RB-OLB Matt Jeffrey; Jr. Jeffery Gonzalez; Sr. TE-DE Brett Rochford; Jr. FB-LB Adam Vernon.
WORDS: Another year, another No. 1 seeding in Class L for St. Joseph. Its tough to ever consider its success a surprise but St. Joe’s played above expectations after graduations, transfers and a tumultuous offseason. That includes going 4-1 against playoff teams, more than anyone else but Ansonia and Prep. The Rams are a fine avatar for the most unpredictable season in recent memory. One week, they’re getting squished by Prep (33-10, Oct. 14). The next week, they’re taking down Notre Dame-West Haven (27-12, Oct. 21). The next week, they get blanked by North Haven (10-0, Oct. 28). They do, however, play in the vicious Tier 1 of the Southern Connecticut Conference’s Tier 1 — five of its seven teams made states. Speaking of the SCC, its schools and those from the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference both pride themselves on being the state’s best in football, so the intensity goes up a bit whenever those league’s hook-up.
CALPREPS: St. Joseph 21-13.
MIKE: St. Joseph.
PETE: St. Joseph.
SEAN: St. Joseph.
POLECAT: St. Joseph.
NO. 2 NEWTOWN v. NO. 7 SHELTON
RECORDS: Newtown 9-1; Shelton 6-4.
NEWTOWN DUDES: Jr. FB-DE Jack Chappa; SR. QB Dylan MAGAZU; Sr. RB-DB Caleb Smith; Sr. TE-LB Mark Sokk.
SHELTON DUDES: Sr. WR-DB Ricky Feola; Jr. TE-LB Ryan Heinz; Jr. QB Michael Kinik; Sr. RB-LB Ayden Sepkaski.
WORDS: Since we’re on the topic of heated interconference rivalries — Newtown may not be from the FCIAC or SCC (it’s a perennial South-West Conference power), but it and Shelton are separated by a mere 12 miles, so things can get a little heated. The Nighthawks haven’t gotten as much attention as other brand name programs but they’ve rolled off nine straight wins since a 34-14 loss to Greenwich in Week 1 (Sept. 9). Their offense runs through MAGAZU while Chappa (10.5 sacks) and Sokk (105 tackles) have been thumping folks. Shelton was No. 1 in The Day’s coaches’ poll earlier in the season before it hit turbulence. Some of that can be attributed to playing in the SCC Tier 1. Some of that was inconsistency, too. Never count a team named “Shelton” out, however. Heinz is averaging 10.7 tackles while Feola has leads the team in all-purpose yards (1,291). We’d be quite happy to watch this game live.
CALPREPS: Newtown 28-24.
NO. 3 MALONEY v. NO. 6 NEW MILFORD
Where: Falcon Field, Meriden.
RECORDS: Maloney 9-1; New Milford 7-3.
MALONEY DUDES: Sr. RB Josh Boganski; Sr. WR-DB Joziah Gonzalez; Jr. RB-LB Zakkai Moore; Sr. QB Kyle Valentine.
NEW MILFORD DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Jayden Alfano; Jr. WR-DB Jack Balzi; So. QB-DB Darnell Cicero-Bronson; Sr. WR-DB Alfredo Nevarez Jr.
WORDS: The champs are here (Maloney) and are facing a playoff newbie that ain’t just happy to be here. Maloney was the state’s No. 1 team for one glorious week after knocking off Southington in a 31-28, double overtime thriller on Nov. 4. It was beaten a week later by Glastonbury in overtime, 28-21, because the No. 1 ranking has been an albatross for the five teams that had it. Regardless, the Spartans know how to win the big ones with Boganski being one of the state’s top workhorses (225 carries, 996 yards, 18 TDs). The Green Wave have been a revelation this season, most especially Cicero-Bronson. He’s one of those dual-threat QBs you’re always hearing about. He’s thrown for 1,482 yards and 13 touchdowns and leads the team in carries (140), rushing yardage (832) and rushing touchdowns (17). And while this is New Milford’s first dance, it has played five playoff teams with wins over Barlow (31-21, Nov. 11) and New Fairfield (29-14, Thanksgrabbing Eve). Oh, yeah — both teams wear green, which is tied with black for the greatest color in this reality or any other.
CALPREPS: Maloney 31-19.
NO. 4 NEW CANAAN vs. NO. 5 NAUGATUCK
WHERE: Dunning Stadium, New Canaan High.
RECORDS: New Canaan 9-1; Naugatuck 8-2.
NEW CANAAN DUDES: Sr. WR-LB A.J. Bell; Sr. QB-K Ty Groff; Sr. TE-LB Matthew Salmini; Sr. RB-DB Hunter Telesco.
NAUGATUCK DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Michael Deitlebaum; Jr. RB-DB JETT Hall; Sr. RB-DB Cayden Martin; Sr. OL-DL Carmine Navarro.
WORDS: New Canaan has been known for its pass-first, high scoring offenses for almost all of this millennium. Then there’s these Rams which want to choke you out on defense and run, run, run. They’re just one of six teams in the state to hold opponents under 100 points during the regular season (92) and have four shutouts. The Greyhounds may be one of the faster teams New Canaan has seen and, no, we didn’t use “Greyhounds” and “faster” to be funny, bub. Hall and Martin can both scoot while Deitlebaum attacks up the middle. Naugy also has one of the six defenses that allowed under 100 points (72). First team to 14 points wins.
CALPREPS: New Canaan 28-10.
MIKE: New Canaan.
PETE: New Canaan.
SEAN: New Canaan.
POLECAT: New Canaan (could SOMEBODY please go against the consensus?).
(Brevity, man. BREVITY)
NO. 1 SPORT AND MEDICAL SCIENCES ACADEMY vs. NO. 8 WILTON
WHERE: Weaver High School, Hartford.
RECORDS: SMSA 10-0; Wilton 7-3.
SMSA DUDES: Sr. QB Daniel Hernandez; Jr. WR-SS Zahkeer Kerr; Sr. WR-DB Tamir Gamble; Sr. RB-LB Tomal Tillman
WILTON DUDES: Sr. DE Carter Galante; Sr. LB Christian McLaughlin; Jr. DE Owen Theoharides.
WORDS: Guessing not many of you picked the TIGERHAWKS to be the top seed in your preseason Class MM pools but here they are. Hernandez has been as close to a one-man offensive gang as any player in the state this season. He’s rushed for 1,864 yards and 23 touchdowns and thrown for 972 yards and 16 TDs. The rest of SMSA has rushed for 600 yards and four scores. That’s ridiculous. Wilton hasn’t played in almost three weeks (it finished the season on Nov. 10), so it may have some rust to shake off. The Warriors, through no fault of their own, weren’t challenged as much as some of their FCIAC brethren and played just one playoff team (New Canaan, 45-0 loss, Oct. 21).
CALPREPS: SMSA 27-19.
MIKE: SMSA (finally, someone dared to be different).
NO. 2 NORTHWEST UNITED v. NO. 7 MASUK
WHERE: Nonnewaug High School.
RECORDS: Northwest United 10-0; Masuk 7-3.
NORTHWEST UNITED DUDES: So. LB Tyler Baillargeon; Sr. RB-DE Jacob Bourgoin; Sr. RB-LB John Paul Cuccia; Jr. QB-DB Ben Roden
MASUK DUDES: Jr. RB-WR-S Jason Champagne; Sr. WR Ryan Fedeli; Sr. QB Dylan Jackson; So. WR Shane Walker.
WORDS: NWU may be the state’s best story this season because it never had success in previous incarnations and, in the second year of their new form, have made states. Boden leads the team in rushing yardage (516 with nine TDs) and thrown for 1,067 yards and nine more TDs. The Panthers may have three losses but they gave both Trumbull (49-43, Sept. 9) and St. Joseph (24-21, Sept. 24) hell in those losses. Champagne and Jackson have been a dangerous duo for them. It’s been a season NWU will never forget but it’s a big underdog in this one.
CALPREPS: Masuk 42-17.
No. 3 KILLINGLY vs. NO. 6 WETHERSFIELD
WHERE: Morgan Field, Killingly High.
RECORDS: Killingly 9-1; Wethersfield 8-2.
KILLINGLY DUDES: Sr. QB-K-P Thomas Dreibholz; Sr. WR-S Ben Jax; Sr. FULLBACK-LB Keith Perry; Jr. FULLBACK-OLB Soren Rief.
WETHERSFIELD DUDES: Sr. TE-DL Kaleb Garcia; Jr. RB-CB Jova'n Hill; So. QB-FS Cam Righi; Sr. RB-SS Luke Whitaker.
WORDS: Killingly, the state’s finest conductors of the RPO (RUN PEOPLE OVER), have moved up a division after winning Class M last season. Rief has shined in his first season as the lead back (1,574 yards, 23 TDs) but what has made this Killingly team different than those in previous seasons is its passing game. Dreibholz has taken opponents apart with play-action and completed 71.1 percent of his passes for 1,567 yards and 27 TD. Wethersfield opened the season (and some eyes) with a 21-20 win over Windsor (Sept. 9) and kept on winning. Righi is a big fella’ (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) who led the team in rushing (1,105 yards, 14 TDs) and threw for 791 yards and nine TDs. It could’ve have been fun to have been a defensive back seeing Righi breaking through the line and running towards them. Hill has rushed for 909 yards and eight TDs, too. The Eagles are coming off a confounding 17-13 loss to Newington (3-7) last Wednesday, costing them a home game, so we’re not sure what to expect from them here.
CALPREPS: Killingly 28-14.
NO. 4 THAMES RIVER vs. NO. 5 NORTH HAVEN
WHERE: Grasso Tech.
RECORDS: Thames River 10-0; North Haven 8-2.
THAMES RIVER DUDES: Sr. OL-DL David CLANG; Sr. RB-LB Seth Cunningham; Sr. RB Ryan Outlow; So. QB Jack Philistin.
NORTH HAVEN DUDES: Sr. RB-DB Jeffrey Karavas; Jr. TE-LB Nicholas Harkins; Jr. RB-DB Adam Pandolfi; Sr. RB-LB Jayden Roby.
WORDS: Add Thames to the list of playoff newbies after they ripped through the regular season in record-fashion. It was the state’s second-highest scoring team (485) while allowing just NINETEEN POINTS, by far the best in the state. That included seven shutouts, tying it for 13th for most in a season, according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. The Nighthawks had to do things the hard way playing in the Division of Death (SCC Tier 1) and beat the likes of Cheshire (10-0) and Shelton (18-10). They’re losses were close, too, to Notre Dame-West Haven (14-7) and Prep (17-13). North Haven is the state’s maestro at GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE (single wing) and played some pretty stiff defense itself (76 points). There’s no doubt that the Crusaders have gamebreakers but the concern has been what happens when a team hits back, which hasn’t happened yet. And the Nighthawks love turning games into scrums.
CALPREPS: North Haven 41-7.
MIKE: North Haven.
PETE: North Haven.
SEAN: North Haven.
POLECAT: North Haven.
(If you don’t stop prattling on, you’re not going to get through writing until 2 a.m.)
NO. 1 BERLIN v. NO. 8 BRANFORD
WHERE: Sage Park, Berlin.
RECORDS: Berlin 10-0; Branford 5-5.
BERLIN DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Josh Clement; Sr. OL-LB Will Gomes; Sr. WR-DB Josh Grimm; Sr. QB Lorenzo Miele.
BRANFORD DUDES: Jr. RB-S Nathan Florio; Sr. FULLBACK-LB Gregory Kealey; Sr. WR-DL Drew Schwartz; Sr. QB Zach Turbert.
WORDS: Berlin returns to the playoffs as a top seed after missing them last season, a rare occurrence. It was expected to be here after returning so many starters, including Miele. He’s thrown for 1,349 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for nine TDs. The Redcoats don’t rely on any one person, however, as Miele leads the team in carries with a mere 85. The Hornets become the first .500 team in CIAC football history to qualify for states as their season didn’t go as expected. Senior running back Nate Chieffo, one of the Branford’s catalysts, suffered a season-ending injury in week one and things went sideways on it. Florio has picked up a lot of slack as he led the team in rushing (165 carries, 1,003 yards, 12 TDs) and had 37 tackles and three interceptions.
CALPREPS: Berlin 38-14.
NO. 2 NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN VARIANT vs. NO. 7 HARTFORD PUBLIC
WHERE: Veterans Field, West Haven.
RECORDS: Notre Dame-West Haven 7-3; Hartford Public 6-4.
NOTRE DAME DUDES: Sr. WR-LB Alexander Labadia; Sr. QB Matthew Piechota; Sr. RB-LB Jacob Staton; Sr. TE-LB Cooper Torrey.
HARTFORD PUBLIC DUDES: Sr. QB Jansyn Booth; Sr. RB-LB Zy’on Hymes; Sr. WR-DB-LB Trevon Ortiz; Sr. WR-S Elijah Perry.
WORDS: The Green Knights are the heavy favorites in this division because of their talent and having played an SCC Tier 1 schedule, capped off with a Thanksgrabbing Day win over Hamden. Staton was the SCC Tier 1 Player of the Year as he led ND in carries (158), yards rushing (1,025), rushing touchdowns (10), tackles (86), was tied for the team-lead in interceptions (three) and added two sacks. Public had a curious regular season as it earned a forfeit win over Northwest Catholic on Nov. 18, later forfeited a season-opening win against Rocky Hill, then went out and beat New Britain, 28-26, to save its playoff hopes. Booth threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were caught by Ortiz (six catches, 90 yards), in that win. The Owls list just 27 players on their roster which is kinda’ concerning in football.
CALPREPS: Notre Dame-West Haven 38-3.
MIKE: Notre Dame-West Haven.
PETE: Notre Dame-West Haven.
SEAN: Notre Dame-West Haven.
POLECAT: Notre Dame-West Haven.
NO. 3 LAW v. NO. 6 RHAM (why can’t the other games have such easy school names to type up?)
WHERE: LAWMEN Stadium, Law.
RECORDS: Law 9-1; RHAM 7-3.
LAW DUDES: Sr. WR Matt Hagerty; Sr. DL Brandon Leslie; Sr. QB John Neider; Sr. LB Jack Sellman.
RHAM DUDES: So. C-LB-DE Caden Bellmore; Sr. RB-MLB Michael Marquis; Sr. RB-S Max Nylen; Sr TE-DE Tommy Puetzer.
WORDS: The Lawmen are enjoying their best season in like, um, a long time (we’re not quite sure just how long), whereas the Raptors are making their playoff debut. Two reasons to watch this game — Neider and Nylen. Neider, get this, threw for 1,998 yards and 27 touchdowns and ran 95 times for 1,320 yards (13.9 ypc) and 22 touchdowns. Nylen ran 180 times for 1,380 yards and 18 touchdowns, including seven that he ran for in a 69-39 beating of Plainville on Oct. 7.
CALPREPS: Law 49-14.
No. 4 ROCKVILLE v. NO. 5 ABBOTT TECH/IMMACULATE
WHERE: Rockville High.
RECORDS: Rockville 8-2; ATI 8-2.
ROCKVILLE DUDES: Sr. LB JT Dwire; Sr. WR-DB Hason Green; Sr. RB-LB Malachi Mapp; So. LB Nathan Palmer.
ATI DUDES: Jr. OL-DL Nathaniel Greene; So. WR-LB Brendan Kelly; Jr. QB-DB Aiden McGrath; Sr WR-LB Noah Benjamin Miller.
WRAP IT UP: Rockville has enjoyed a resurgence over the past few seasons, culminating in last year’s trip to the Class M final. It wants the title this year, though. Palmer (117 tackles, 8 sacks) and Dwyer (14 sacks) have put up some ludicrous defensive stats while Green has six interceptions. Mapp, a converted lineman, has rushed for 934 yards and 15 touchdowns. The UNITED have run a balanced offense with McGrath at the helm and Miller leading a rushing attack by committee.
CALPREPS: Rockville 31-7.
(If you star writing less, then we’ll make sure some of those voices quiet down in your noggin for the week.)
NO. 1 CROMWELL/PORTLAND vs. NO. 8 LEDYARD
WHERE: Pierson Park, Cromwell.
RECORDS: Cromwell/Portland 9-1; Ledyard 8-2.
CROM/PORT DUDES: Sr. QB Cole Brisson; Sr. RB-DE Alex Hair; Sr. WR-LB Ryan Rozich; Jr. WR-DE Emeka Yearwood.
LEDYARD DUDES: Sr. FB-FS James Green; Sr. HB-LB Jacob Lenz; Sr. QB Jackson Poulton; Sr. OL-DL Jaden Tetlow.
WORDS: There was a time in which folks snickered behind the Pequot Football Conference’s back, mocking them for its small towns and numerous co-ops spread out across the state. Then the likes of Cromwell/Portland and Valley Regional/Old Lyme starting winning state titles. WHOSE LAUGHING NOW. Crom/Port returned the majority of last season’s Class S championship team, including Brisson, who runs the team’s spread offense. Hair recently returned from a broken leg. Ledyard likes to keep defenses guessing with the triple option which has been deftly directed by Poulton. Green has been as good as any player around the southeastern Connecticut territories (165 carries, 1,745 yards, 26 touchdowns. None of these Colonels have ever been to states, so we’ll find out if that gives the Panthers an edge.
CALPREPS: Cromwell/Portland 28-17.
No. 2 WINDHAM vs. NO. 7 GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN/HOUSATONIC
WHERE: E.O. Smith High School, Storrs.
RECORDS: Windham 9-1; G/N/H 8-2.
WINDHAM DUDES: So. G-LB Malachi Fowler; Sr. Travis Mangual Jr.; Sr. FULLBACK-LB Victor Mejia; Sr. QB-S Zachary Robinson-Smey.
G/N/H DUDES: Jr. RB-MLB Aiden Avenia; Sr. RB-WR-CB Fred Calder-Camp; Sr. TE-LB Devin Divita; Jr. QB-CB Nolan Reisdorf.
WORDS: Windham is another veteran team in this division and has the distinction of being the only team to beat Killingly over two seasons (41-26, Oct. 14). The Whippets have burners they can deploy out of their tried-and-true Wing-T, led by Robinson-Smey with Mejia smashing away up the gut. Head coach Randall Prose has raved all season about Fowler, who has over 100 tackles. G/N/H moved from the Pequot to the NVL this season and more than held its ground. It was the rare team that gave Ansonia fits and led after three quarters before losing, 30-20. Calder-Camp may be the state’s best player few have heard about. He’s the team’s leading rusher (82 carries, 979 yards, 17 touchdowns), caught four touchdown passes and intercepted five passes. A curious quarterfinal, this one.
CALPREPS: Windham 35-31.
NO. 3 FORAN vs. NO. 6 VALLEY REGIONAL/OLD LYME
WHERE: Foran High.
RECORDS: Foran 9-1; Valley/Old Lyme 9-1.
FORAN DUDES: Sr. WR-OLB James Cobain; Sr. QB-DB Jack Cushman; Sr. WR-DL Joseph Gaetano; Sr. RB-DB Matt Miller.
VALLEY/OLD LYME DUDES: Sr. WR-DB Nick Cox; Sr. WR-DB DiAngelo Jean-Pierre; Sr. OL-DB Joseph Montazella; Sr. T-DE-OLB Jacob Rand.
WORDS: The Lions, like their friends over at Law, are also having their best season in, like, a while. It helps that they returned the combination of Cushman and Gaetano (which sounds like a law firm, by the way). Cushman, a two-year starter, has thrown for over 2,600 yards with nine touchdowns and Gaetano (6-3, 215), in the words of Valley/Old Lyme head coach Hill Gbunblee, looks like a “mini-Gronk.” The WARRIORCATS have been bolstered by the return of Rand, who Gbunblee called the team’s missing link. He was sidelined last season by COVID, then mononucleosis and then broke his hand. The more times that Valley/Old Lyme gets the ball in Jean-Pierre’s hands, the better. He also had six picks.
CALPREPS: WARRIORCATS 31-28.
NO. 4 GRANBY/CANTON vs. NO. 5 BARLOW
WHERE: Granby High.
RECORDS: G/C 8-2; Barlow 8-2.
G/C DUDES: Sr. QB William Migliaccio; Sr. RB-LB Luke Maher; Sr. QB William Migliaccio; Sr. QB William Migliaccio; Sr. DE Tristan Sidrane.
BARLOW DUDES: Sr. RB-DB Mason Leavitt; Jr. RB-LB Cole Peterson; Sr. QB-LB Danny Shaban; Jr. RB-DB Dylan Taylor.
WORDS: This is a nifty conflict of styles — G/C wants to keep things balanced offensively whereas the Falcons, Ra love them, want to run-and-run-and-run-and-run. Maher leads the Bears in carries (108) and yards (645) with six touchdowns. Migliaccio has thrown for 1,573 yards and 18 touchdowns and has spread the ball around to four main receivers. Barlow relies a little more on one game-breaker which is A-OK because its Shaban. There’s no need to run fullback dive because Shaban runs with the physicality of a fullback and the speed of a halfback. He’s by far the team’s leading rusher (163 carries, 1,594 yards, 27 touchdowns), thrown for 452 yards and nine TDs, is the fourth-leading tackler (58) and has a team-high eight sacks.
CALPREPS: Barlow 35-26.
NO. 1 ANSONIA vs. NO. 8 NORTH BRANFORD
WHERE: DeFilippo Field at Ryan Sports Complex, Derby (Ansonia playing a home game in Derby? Times sure have changed.)
RECORDS: Ansonia 10-0; North Branford 6-4.
ANSONIA DUDES: Sr. RB-LB David Cassetti; QB Chris Kaminski; Sr. RB-LB Machi Ingram; Sr; Sr. OL-DL Tracey Ray.
NORTH BRANFORD DUDES: Jr. T-LB Luke Blomster; So. RB-LB Tommy Hansen; Sr. QB-DB Mason Provencher; Sr. OL-DL Ty Serenson.
WORDS: Another season, another Class S playoff in which the Chargers are the top seed. They may not have the same level of speed as some past teams but that’s quite alright because they can still mangle a defense with the run. Cassetti is the latest in a long series of fine Ansonia running backs with Ingram to give him some relief. It’s nice for them that they Ray (6-3, 260 pounds) chucking defenders out of their way. The Thunderbirds had a weird ride to states in that they lost to Haddam-Killingworth, 15-14, on Oct. 21, then won their next three games to pull behind the former for the eighth seed in Class S. H-K lost to Valley/Old Lyme last Tuesday and North Branford won the following night to clinch a berth. The T-Birds have some dudes with crazy defensive stats such as Serenson (130 tackles). Or Blomster (11.5 sacks).
CALPREPS: Ansonia 38-17.
NO. 2 BLOOMFIELD vs. NO. 7 SEYMOUR
WHERE: Phil Rubin Stadium, Bloomfield.
RECORDS: Bloomfield 8-2; Seymour 6-4.
BLOOMFIELD DUDES: So. QB Darrien Foster; Jr. WR-FS Davion Kerr; Jr. WR-FS Davien Kerr; Sr. OL-DL Ryan Phillips.
SEYMOUR DUDES: Jr. TE-LB Trevor Burns; Sr. QB Caden Drezek; Jr. TE-LB Dylon Ospina; Jr. WR-DB Michael Rossetti.
WORDS: This game could run long given how both teams dig the forward pass. Foster has thrown for 1,895 yards and 20 touchdowns with the Kerr twins being his top targets — please note that DAVION Kerr is No. 6, and DAVIEN Kerr is No. 3 (which is half of six, just to confuse you more). The twins have combined for 61 catches, 1,249 yards and 14 TDs. The Wildcats throw partly because they have Drezek and partly because they don’t have much size — they have just five players 220 pounds-or-more with no one heftier than 230. So the WARHAWKS have the edge in size in addition to speed. Foster (1,895 yards passing, 20 touchdowns) to Rossetti (42 catches, 1,167 yards, 18 TDs) has been a thing much of this season for Seymour. MINUTIA — the Wildcats will have played Ansonia (41-21 loss, Sept. 10), Woodland (31-7 loss, Thanksgrabbing Eve) and Bloomfield in succession. What vengeful god did they tick off? Yeesh.
CALPREPS: Bloomfield 42-13.
NO. 3 HOLY CROSS vs. NO. 6 NEW FAIRFIELD
WHERE: Municipal Stadium, Waterbury.
RECORDS: Holy Cross 8-2; New Fairfield 7-3.
HOLY CROSS DUDES: Jr. RB-WR-DB Marquis Campbell; So. QB Drew Caouette; Sr. RB-LB Tom Ligi; Sr. OL-DL Donald Shivas.
NEW FAIRFIELD DUDES: Jr. RB Drew Colesworthy; Sr. WR-DB Chris Kakos; Sr. QB Justin McCormack; Sr. OL-DL Douglas Traynor.
WORDS: Both teams have changed over one season stylistically in that both are throwing more. The skills of Caouette and Campbell have allowed Holy Cross to be more balanced rather than leaning on the run (which we always endorse.) Ligi still gets a lot of work (and is a pain to take down). The REBELS have a new head coach (Greg Schwarz) who has moved them away from the ground-and-pound ways (which we love) of former head coach Anthony Fata. McCormack has thrown for 1,731 yards and 20 touchdowns and leads the team in rushing (913 yards, 15 TDs). Kakos has been his favorite receiver (48 catches, 673 yards, 8 TDs).
CALPREPS: New Fairfield 27-24.
MIKE: New Fairfield.
PETE: New Fairfield.
SEAN: New Fairfield.
POLECAT: New Fairfield.
NO. 4 WOODLAND vs. NO. 5 EAST CATHOLIC
WHERE: WOLVERINE Field, Oxford High.
RECORDS: Woodland 8-2; East Catholic 7-3.
WOODLAND DUDES: Sr. T-DT-K Brian Babo; Sr. LB Nate Cook; Sr. QB Darren Gasparri; Jr. RB-WR-S Mason Mastropietro.
EAST CATHOLIC DUDES: Sr. OL-DL Aiden Liptrap; Sr. QB-LB Kaeden O’Connell; Sr. RB-WR-DB Ehtan Rainha; Sr. OL-DL Braden Rogers.
WORDS: Okay, so we haven’t seen either team. Neither have bothered to post stats at MaxPreps for which we could add to this write-up either, thus this will be brief. Woodland has certainly played the better schedule with wins over both Holy Cross (20-7, Nov. 4) and Seymour (31-7, Thanksgrabbing Eve). Oh, and head coach Joe Lato votes in The Day Top 10 coaches’ poll. An-nnnnd that’s all we’ve got.
CALPREPS: Woodland 27-12.
• • • •
Forty eight teams qualified for the playoffs. Here’s how many each of the state’s eight conferences sent:
SCC (21 teams): 10 (47.6% of the league). Footnote: Seven of nine teams in its Tier 1 qualified for states. Ridiculous.
CCC (32 teams): Nine (28.1%).
FCIAC (16): Six (37.5%)
NVL (16): Six (37.5%)
Pequot (16): Six (37.5%)
SWC (12): Five (41.7%)
CTC (11 teams): Three (27.3%)
ECC (14): Three (21.4%)
• • • •
BEHOLD, The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. St. Joseph (five first-place votes); 2. Southington (five first-place votes); 3. New Canaan; 4. Maloney (two first-place votes); 5. Newtown; 6. West Haven; 7. Fairfield Prep; 8. Greenwich; 9. Staples; 10. Ansonia (one first-place vote).
• • • •
The New Haven Register/GameTimeCT.com Monolith Top 10 media poll: 1. Southington (18 first-place votes); 2. St. Joseph (five first-place votes); 3. Maloney (one first-place vote); 4. New Canaan; 5. West Haven; 6. Staples; 7. Greenwich; 8. Ansonia; 9. Newtown; 10. Fairfield Prep.
• • • •
Ned Freeman’s cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps and MaxPreps: No. 1 St. Joseph; 2. No. 2 Greenwich; 3. Southington; 4. New Canaan; 5. Staples; 6. West Haven; 7. Fairfield Prep; 8. Newtown; 9. Maloney; 10. Notre Dame-West Haven.
Fairfield Prep finished the regular season with the top-rated schedule. It played seven teams that made states and beat five — Cheshire (33-10, Oct. 14), Shelton (16-15, Oct. 28), Notre Dame-West Haven (16-15, Nov. 4), North Haven (17-13, Nov 10) and West Haven (21-6, Thanksgrabbing Eve).
The Jesuits lost to New Canaan (14-7, Sept. 23) and Hamden (42-27, Sept. 30).
Prep played just two teams with losing records.
Greenwich (64-36) and Prep (64-37) have the best opponent’s win-loss records. Prep played Belen Jesuit of Miami, which played 11 games and accounts for Prep’s opponents having one more loss than Greenwich’s.
• • • •
Dig the ballot Polecat HQ filed for the GameTimeCT media poll:
2. St. Joseph: Wavered back-and-forth between voting it or Southington number one.
5. Fairfield Prep: So, so glad that a voter in The Day’s coaches’ poll influenced me to jump on the Jesuits bandwagon back when they were 2-3.
7. New Canaan
8. West Haven: So, so flat in the Prep loss.
9. Notre Dame-West Haven: Meet your 2022 Class M champion.
10. North Haven
11. Newtown: May be voting it too low
13. Hamden: Stunned it was nearly doubled up by ND on Thanksgrabbing.
14. Ansonia: See Newtown
15. Cheshire: Wavered between it and Shelton. The Gaels thumped Cheshire (34-14, Nov. 5). The Rams, however, beat two playoff teams and Shelton beat one, so we went with the former.
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Thanks for reading.