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    Friday, February 03, 2023

    The Lonesome Polecat: YOUR semifinal previews

    Howdy,

    One of the many successful, state championship-winning coaches who votes in The Day’s Top 10 state coaches’ poll opined weeks ago that for all the kvetching from those outside the sport about the CIAC expanding from four to six playoff divisions this season (which the Connecticut State High School Coaches’ Association lobbied hard for), the semifinals would have a lot of great match-ups.

    Said coach may be proven right.

    Last Tuesday’s quarterfinals, however, as YOU should know by now, over-delivered after what had been the most wild and chaotic regular season in a long, long time.

    Three No. 8 seeds took down a one seed. To put that in perspective, that happened seven times over 10 seasons in which there were four, eight-team divisions.

    Half of the top 10 teams in The Day’s poll were wiped out — No. 1 St. Joseph (which received five of 13 first-place votes), No. 2 Southington (ditto), No. 5 Newtown; No. 6 West Haven (which had been No. 1 for two weeks) and No. 9 Staples.

    Teams like Cheshire and Shelton, which wouldn’t have qualified in a four-division system with 6-4 records, went on the road and knocked off higher seeds.

    We get why many don’t like six playoff divisions, even though that was a thing from 1981-94, albeit only with a championship game.

    We prefered four divisions. .... but no one cares what we think, so why bother tilting at windmills? This ain’t a fight for basic human rights (which, sadly, is often another instance of a fight that can’t be won.)

    Perhaps next season, and the next 20 seasons, the quarterfinals will be chalk and dull.

    This season, however, the system worked.

    And that, dear reader, were 281 words that have NOTHING to do with what YOU’RE here for and what’s more important than our jibber-jabber. So LET’S GO:

    THINGS TO REMEMBER:

    1. All games kick off at 12:30 p.m.

    2. All tickets must be purchased online. No money will be accepted at the gate because cash is no longer king.

    3. ELEVEN of the 12 games will be streamed on NFHSNetworkcom.

    There’s no camera at Rocky Hill, thus one can only watch Crom/Port vs. Barlow by leaving the house and going to Terriersville.

    4. If there aren’t any stats listed for YOUR team below, it’s because they weren’t to be found at MaxPreps, Hudl, the dark web, etc., when we assembled this very thorough preview.

    5. We included game picks from Mike “Gritty” Fornabaio, Pete Papagoogaa and Sean Patrick Star from the GameTimeCT/Hearst Inc. bonolith because they’re the only other mammals we know from a reputable website that picked all the games.

    We also included 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.) They’re often eerily accurate.

    Mike, Pete, Sean and CalPreps all went 17-7 in the first round.

    We went 18-6 thanks to picking the WARRIORCATS over Foran — Mike picked them, too, but incorrectly picked the Sport & Medical Sciences Academy co-op to beat Wilton.

    6. Just because we didn’t pick your team to qualify doesn’t mean we hate you.

    Hell, we don’t even know you, man.

    7. Let me remind you — this is not a competition. It’s only an exhibition. Please, no wagering.

    8. We encourage YOU to follow all of Sunday afternoon’s fun on the Twit at #cthsfb.

    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.

    Enough jibber-jabber. Let’s do this.

    1-2-3-4....

    CLASS LL

    NO. 2 GREENWICH vs. NO. 6 GLASTONBURY

    WHERE: Cushy Cardinal Stadium, Greenwich High.

    RECORDS: Greenwich 9-2; Glastonbury 9-2.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Greenwich 47, No. 7 Hamden 7; Glastonbury 17, No. 3 West Haven 7.

    GREENWICH DUDES: Sr. TE-DE Dom DeLuca (6-foot-5, 230 pounds); Sr. WR-DB Charlie Dixon (36 catches, 596 yards, 7 TDs); Jr. TE-DE Griffin “not ‘Griffen’’” Galletta (6-2, 235; 12.5 sacks); Jr. TE-LB Johnny Insinga; Sr. RB Jack Konigsberg (117 carries, 822 yards, 14 TDs); Jr. RB-OLB Sebastian Parra (66 tackles); Jr. RB-LB George Vomvolakis (96 carries, 809 yards, 10 TDs); Sr. WR-CB James Wailgum (55 catches, 855 yards, 10 TDs); Sr. QB Jack Wilson (137-of-230 passing, 2,036 yards, 22 TDs, 4 INTs; 45 carries, 189 yards, 12 TDs).

    GLASTONBURY DUDES: Sr. QB-DB Jack Anglim; Sr. OL-LB Jacob Jackson (63 tackles, six sacks); Sr. RB-LB John Petrone (250 carries, 1,929 yards, 21 TDs; 86 tackles, 5.5 sacks); Sr. RB-LB Jordyn Sams (83 tackles, 2.5 sacks); Sr. WR-DB Derek Thomas (26 catches, 414 yards, 4 TDs).

    WORDS: Cripes, did the Cardinals send a message to the rest of LL loud and clear (and punishing) at Hamden’s expense. Hamden had 10 drives with Greenwich ending four with turnovers, blocking a punt on a fifth and stopping another two more drives on fourth down attempts. The Guardians base their offense around lots of running, just like Hamden, so they’ve got some work to do against a Cardinals defense that’s pretty good at defending it. Glastonbury was certainly able to run against West Haven with Petrone running for 138 of his team’s 293 yards. It also held the ball for all but 1 minute, 16 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Guardians’ defense vs. the Cardinals’ offense is an interesting match-up because West Haven could run and throw with burners across its offense but the Guardians shut ‘em down. How will that match-up go down in this game?

    MIKE: Greenwich.

    PETE: Greenwich.

    SEAN: Greenwich.

    CALPREPS: Greenwich 35-21.

    POLECAT: Greenwich.

    NO. 5 FAIRFIELD PREP vs. NO. 8 TRUMBULL

    WHERE: Rafferty Stadium, Fairfield University.

    RECORDS: Prep 8-3; Trumbull 8-3.

    WATCH/LISTEN: NFHS Network; Trumbull Eagles Network.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Prep 23, No. 4 Staples 22; Trumbull 34, No. 1 Southington 25.

    PREP DUDES: Sr. DB Drew Kral; Sr. LB Tanner Langis; Sr. DL Brice Muller (6-foot-6, 225 pounds); Sr. LB Alexander Petrides; Sr. RB Malachi Mercer-Robinson (5-8, 230); Jr. QB Tyler Smith; Sr. RB Wally Wuchiski.

    TRUMBULL DUDES: Sr. QB Hunter Agosti (151-of-245 passing, 2,312 yards, 21 TDs, 5 INTs); Sr. WR Luca Antonio (37 catches, 780 yards, 8 TDs); Sr. LB Jordan Black (109 tackles); Sr. WR-DB Ben Carley (34 catches, 371 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. WR Jack Durland (35 catches, 565 yards, 5 TDs); Jr. RB Jay Hall; Sr. RB-LB Amr Othman (73 tackles).

    WORDS: It’s the first meeting between these two programs, which is unpossible to believe given both their proximately and how long they’ve both been around. The Jesuits, after playing a state-high seven playoff teams during the regular season (and beating five), survived the final wild seconds of their game against Staples. Jon Morris broke up a pass at the Jesuits’ goal line with 3 seconds left, followed by a 29-yard field goal attempt that was wide left. Prep used Mercer-Robinson and Wuchiski to play keep away against the Wreckers as it had the ball for almost 34 minutes (and yet it was still a close game because Staples can strike fast — just like Trumbull). Mercer-Robinson battered Staples with 26 carries for 115 yards while Wuchiski ran 21 times for 118 yards and two scores. Few teams have been on a roll like Prep, which has won seven in a row against the state’s most vicious schedule. The Eagles’ odds against Southington didn’t look great going in with prolific running back Rowan Johnson (team-high 28 touchdowns) out with an injury. Enter Hall, who went HOSS with one of the season’s best performances — 34 carries for 221 yards and five touchdowns. Sports, like life, are unpredictable. Agosti can certainly sling it and has enough willing receivers. This game should be a beaut.

    MIKE: Prep.

    PETE: Trumbull.

    SEAN: Prep.

    CALPREPS: Prep 26-17.

    POLECAT: Prep.

    • • • •

    CLASS L

    NO. 3 MALONEY vs. NO. 7 SHELTON

    WHERE: Falcon Field, Meriden.

    RECORDS: Maloney 10-1; Shelton 7-4.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Maloney 27, No. 6 New Milford 7; Shelton 21, No. 2 Newtown 20.

    MALONEY DUDES: Sr. RB Josh Boganski (252 carries, 1,126 yards, 18 TDs); Sr. WR-DB Joziah Gonzalez (11 TD catches); So. RB-LB Donald Highsmith; Jr. WR-DB Donte Kelly; Jr. RB-LB Zakkai Moore; Jr. OL-DL Rafael Rodriguez; Sr. QB Kyle Valentine; Sr. WR-DB Jaden Vasquez.

    SHELTON DUDES: Jr RB David Dojildko (135 carries, 939 yards, 15 TDs; 15 catches, 120 yards); Sr. WR-DB Ricky Feola (49 catches, 781 yards, 3 TDs; 50 tackles, 3 INTs); Jr. TE-LB Ryan Heinz (112 tackles, 4 sacks); Jr. QB Michael Kinik (149-of-239 passing, 2,075 yards, 15 TDs, 9 INTs); Sr. RB-LB Ayden Sepkaski (92 carries, 459 yards, 6 TDs; 85 tackles, 3 sacks); Jr. WR-DB Kanye Tinney (34 catches, 471 yards, 5 TDs; 26 tackles, 4 INTs); Sr. TE-DE Jeffrey Wojtowicz (76 tackles, 4 sacks).

    WORDS: Maloney showed its resiliency again as it scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after Valentine was knocked out of the game with a concussion just before the half. His status is unknown with Spartans head coach Kevin Frederick telling the Meriden Record-Journal on Friday that the senior is “day-to-day.” Sophomore Ethan Nedinsky stepped in for Valentine and stepped up by throwing two touchdown passes. Kelly also gave his team a lift with five catches (including one for a 21-yard touchdown), two interceptions and scored on a 57-yard punt return while losing a shoe. Boganski shouldered a heavy load once again for the Maloney offense with 27 carries for 130 yards. That won’t change vs. the Gaels. Shelton has been unpredictable since a 3-0 start and lost three of its final five games against an always grueling Tier 1 schedule in the Southern Connecticut Conference. Such a schedule does toughen a team up. Like Prep, it held on to beat Newtown after the Nighthawks missed a field goal with 37 seconds left. The Gaels got strong performances out of Dojlidko (18 carries, 160 yards, TD), John De Camps (5 catches, 62 yards, including a game-winning 7-yard touchdown catch from Kinik early in the fourth quarter) and Sepkaski (12 tackles, INT). Maloney has an edge in speed but will it be enough?

    MIKE: Shelton.

    PETE: Shelton.

    SEAN: Shelton.

    CALPREPS: Shelton 27-26.

    POLECAT: Shelton.

    NO. 4 NEW CANAAN vs. NO. 8 CHESHIRE

    WHERE: Dunning Field, New Canaan.

    RECORDS: New Canaan 10-1; Cheshire 7-4.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: New Canaan 17, No. 5 Naugatuck 7; Cheshire 24, No. 1 St. Joseph 14.

    NEW CANAAN DUDES: Sr. WR-LB A.J. Bell (91 tackles); Sr. WR-DB Walker Blair (61 tackles); Sr. QB-K Ty Groff (46-of-78, 416 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs; 43-of-43 XP, 9 FGs); Fr. WR-DB James McInerney; Sr. TE-LB Matthew Salmini (104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 INTs); Jr. WR-DB Cooper Smith; Sr. RB-DB Hunter Telesco (167 carries, 1,158 yards, 16 TDs); Sr. OL-DL Will Pepe (35 tackles, 8.5 sacks).

    CHESHIRE DUDES: Jr. RB-OLB Matt Jeffrey; Jr. RB-OLB Jeffery Gonzalez; So. QB-WR Aniston Marsh; Sr. TE-DE Brett Rochford; Sr. QB-FS Michael Simeone; Jr. FB-LB Adam Vernon.

    WORDS: New Canaan’s win over Naugy was a textbook example of its season — win with defense, just enough offense, kicking, and more defense. The Rams ran fewer plays (54-47) and had the ball for less time (28 minutes to 20) but did more with their possessions. Telesco ran for a go-ahead 68-yard touchdown 33 seconds into the fourth quarter and finished with 19 carries for 126 yards. Groff later added a 26-yard field goal. New Canaan’s defense, meanwhile, held the Greyhounds’ high-scoring offense to just a touchdown (they averaged 36.5 points during the regular season.) That’s dang impressive given Naugy’s team speed and bodes well for New Canaan’s D against any offense. They’ll need to do that again against Cheshire after it went on the road and knocked off the top-ranked team in The Day’s coaches’ poll. Jeffery confounded a very good Cadets’ defense has he caught four passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, ran 10 times for 54 yards and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez. “It’s hard because he was everywhere, quarterback, running back, receiver,” St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia told GameTimeCT after the game. “You have to know where he is at all times.” Gonzalez added 16 carries for 102 yards. That Cheshire held the Cadets’ offense to two touchdowns and 213 yards despite having the ball for 28:53, not even New Canaan could do that. St. Joseph put up 293 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 27-14 win at New Canaan on Oct. 28. A game that was played well over a month ago isn’t necessarily an accurate bellwether for Sunday’s game. .... but it does get one thinking.

    MIKE: New Canaan.

    PETE: Cheshire.

    SEAN: Cheshire.

    POLECAT: Cheshire.

    CALPREPS: New Canaan 20-14.

    POLECAT: Cheshire.

    • • • •

    CLASS MM

    NO. 3 KILLINGLY vs. NO. 7 MASUK

    WHERE: Morgan Field, Killingly High.

    RECORDS: Killingly 10-1; Masuk 9-3.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Killingly 34, No. 6 Wethersfield 13; Masuk 46, No. 2 Northwest United 6.

    KILLINGLY DUDES: Sr. WR-CB Noah Colangelo (17 catches, 481 yards, 7 TDs; 33 tackles); Sr. QB-K-P Thomas Dreibholz (63-of-91 passing, 1,616 yards, 27 TDs, 2 INTs; 57-of-66 XPs); Sr. WR-S Ben Jax (34 catches, 1,015 yards, 16 TDs; 51 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. RB-DL Brady O’Donnell (60 tackles, 4 sacks); Sr. TE-OLB Alex Potapskiy (55 tackles, 4 sacks); Sr. FULLBACK-LB Keith Perry (55 carries, 565 yards, 5 TDs; 79 tackles); Jr. FULLBACK-OLB Soren Rief (179 carries, 1,730 yards, 26 TDs; 40 tackles).

    MASUK DUDES: Jr. RB-WR-S Jason Champagne; Sr. WR Ryan Fedeli; Sr. QB Dylan Jackson; So. WR Gavin Walker.

    WORDS: Anyone who’s followed Killingly for the past several seasons knows what it wants to do — RPO (RUN PEOPLE OVER). It has chucked it more than it has over that time because Dreibholz is the best passer it’s had, but Killingly got back to its roots against Wethersfield. Rief smashed his way for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries while Perry ran 14 times for 171 yards. Rief also threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jax. Killingly’s defense played its best game of the season, too, because Wethersfield has dudes and only managed one, first-quarter offensive touchdown. The Panthers are the anti-Killingly (or Killingly the anti-Masuk) because they can score fast rather than pounding a defense into submission. They started their game against Northwest with a screen pass from Jackson to Deven LaRoche that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown. Masuk scored on all six of its first-half possessions and had 349 yards offense at the half. It also showed what it could do early in the season. It rallied from a 20-point deficit to take the lead at Trumbull with 26 seconds left, only for the latter to score with 3 seconds left and win, 49-43 (Sept. 9). Over two weeks later, it scored twice in the fourth quarter at St. Joseph and missed a 41-yard field goal in the final seconds of a 24-21 loss. Very few other semis make us waver on picking a winner as as much as this one.

    MIKE: Killingly.

    PETE: Masuk.

    SEAN: Masuk.

    CALPREPS: Killingly 38-28.

    POLECAT: Masuk.

    NO. 5 NORTH HAVEN vs. NO. 8 WILTON

    WHERE: North Haven Middle School (bring your own lawn chair because there’s limited seating!)

    RECORDS: North Haven 9-2; Wilton 8-3.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: North Haven 50, No. 4 Thames River 0; Wilton 13, No. 1 Sport & Medical Sciences Academy co-op 6.

    NORTH HAVEN DUDES: Jr. Camren Thompson (45 carries, 308 yards, 5 TDs; 3 sacks); Sr. RB-DB Jeffrey Karavas (18-of-40 passing, 311 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs; 202 carries, 1,224 yards, 20 TDs; 40 tackles, 2 sacks); Sr. RB-LB Brian Lastomirsky (42 caries, 389 yards, TD; 75 tackles); Jr. TE-LB Nicholas Harkins (80 tackles); Jr. RB-DB Adam Pandolfi (78 carries, 717 yards, 7 TDs; 63 tackles); Jr. OL-DL Brendan Ryan (59 tackles, 8 sacks).

    WILTON DUDES: Sr. DE Carter Galante; Sr. LB Christian McLaughlin; Jr. DE Owen Theoharides.

    WORDS: It was amusing hearing a few Thames River fans yell at the team that they should be stopping North Haven’s power running game because “they keep running the same play.” North Haven ran more than one play, of course, and, much like one may know that a fighter is about to punch them, stopping it is another matter. The Nighthawks used GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE (single wing) to run 42 times for 362 yards and seven touchdowns in their rout (their counter play was particularly sweet). Their defense, meanwhile, allowed just five first downs and 130 yards, 51 of which came on one play. That’s what faces Wilton which, quite honestly, hasn’t been as battle-tested as North Haven played an SCC Tier 1 schedule (the Warriors played just one playoff team during the regular season, New Canaan, and lost 45-0.) The Warriors managed just 218 yards (on 55 plays) against SMSA but found a way to win like good teams do. North Haven is a different animal, though.

    MIKE: North Haven.

    PETE: North Haven.

    SEAN: North Haven.

    POLECAT: North Haven 28-6.

    POLECAT: North Haven.

    • • • •

    CLASS M

    NO. 1 BERLIN vs. NO. 4 ROCKVILLE

    WHERE: Sage Park, Berlin.

    RECORDS: Berlin 11-0; Rockville 9-2.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Berlin 35, No. 8 Branford 25; Rockville 28, No. 5 Abbott Tech/Immaculate 7.

    BERLIN DUDES: Sr. RB-LB Josh Clement (69 carries, 503 yards, 9 TDs; 38 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. OL-LB Will Gomes (127 tackles, 4 sacks); Sr. WR-DB Josh Grimm (101 tackles); Sr. WR-DB Luke Maguder (24 carries, 437 yards, 5 TDs; 69 tackles, 2 INTs); So. WR-DB Kyle Melville (63 carries, 462 yards, 4 TDs; 26 catches, 354 yards, 3 TDs; 35 tackles); Sr. QB Lorenzo Miele (91 of 154 passing, 1,461 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs; 92 carries, 383 yards, 8 TDs); Jr. RB-LB Elijah Santos (34 carries, 256 yards, 7 TDs; 12 catches, 202 yards, 3 TDs).

    ROCKVILLE DUDES: Sr. WR-DB Joseph Christian (34 catches, 544 yards, 7 TDs; 35 tackles); Sr. LB JT Dwire; Sr. WR-DB Hason Green (39 catches, 700 yards, 8 TDs; 32 tackles, 6 INTs); Jr. RB-LB Lexington Hunter (31 carries, 224 yards, 7 TDs); So. OL-DL Jonathan Kasamba (6-0, 235); Sr. RB-LB Malachi Mapp (161 carries, 934 yards, 15 TDs; 81 tackles); So. LB Nathan Palmer; So. QB Brady Ramsdell (106 of 210 passing, 1,635 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs).

    WORDS: The Redcoats had a tougher time than perhaps many expected against Branford (the first team to qualify for the playoffs with five losses). The game was tied at 7 at the half before Berlin went up 21-7 and never lost the lead. It had the ball for just 19:58 but, as we’ve pointed out many times these past few years, time of possession doesn’t matter as much as it used to (sadly) because of the forward pass, spread offenses, better athletes, etc. Melville ran a team-high 11 times (yes, 11 carries was a team-high) for 80 yards and caught three passes for 49 yards and a score. One thing we do like to see from that game for Berlin — 37 carries for 295 yards and four touchdowns. That’s a robust 8 yards per carry. APPROVED. The Rams had a workmanlike win over ATI as Ramsdell completed 8 of 20 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score. Palmer had 15 tackles, including a sack, and an interception on defense. Rockville turned it over three times against THE UNITED, which it shouldn’t risk doing against Berlin.

    MIKE: Berlin.

    PETE: Rockville.

    SEAN: Berlin.

    CALPREPS: Berlin 31-21.

    POLECAT: Berlin.

    NO. 2 NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN vs. NO. 3 LAW

    WHERE: Veterans Memorial Field, West Haven.

    RECORDS: ND 8-3; Law 10-1.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Notre Dame 42, No. 7 Hartford Public 0; Law 42, No. 6 RHAM 13.

    NOTRE DAME DUDES: Sr. OL-DL Josh Kuczynski (5-11, 235; 39 tackles); Jr. OL-DL Christian Lewis (5-11, 250; 44 tackles); Sr. WR-DB William Panza (42 catches, 338 yards, 2 TDs); Sr. WR-DB Mattaeo Petruzziello (21 catches, 297 yards, 2 TDs; 47 tackles); Sr. QB Matthew Piechota (131-of-204 passing, 1,585 yards, 10 TDs, 6 INTs; 100 carries, 487 yards, 7 TDs); Sr. RB-LB Jacob Staton (158 carries, 1,025 yards, 10 TDs; 87 tackles, 2 sacks); Sr. TE-LB Cooper Torrey (79 tackles, 4 sacks).

    LAW DUDES: Jr. RB AMADEUS Betancourt; Sr. WR Matt Hagerty; Sr. DL Brandon Leslie; So. DB Connor Malin; So. DB Michael Merchant; Jr. DL JT Nelly; Sr. QB John Neider; Sr. LB Jack Sellman.

    WORDS: It’s some HOT SCC-on-SCC ACTION. .... even if both play in near different worlds. ND toils in the SCC Tier 1 whereas Law plays in the much easier Tier 3. There’s a big disparity in play between the two divisions and there’s very little crossover for a reason. The Green Knights began states by rolling over Public. Staton, the Tier 1 Player of the Year, ran 16 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns while Jonathan Evans added 12 carries for 81 yards and a score. Piechota was an efficient 9-of-11 passing for 132 yards and two scores and ran 11 times for 60 yards. Here’s how well it went for the ND on Tuesday night — it punted just once. The Lawmen have one of the more electric players in the SCC in Neider, the two-time Tier 3 Player of the Year. He did a number on RHAM as he rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 54-yard touchdown pass and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from his younger brother, Michael. Hagerty also ran for a touchdown and a caught a touchdown pass. Law has had one of the best seasons in program history, highlighted by its first playoff win, but is taking on an opponent above its weight class here.

    MIKE: ND.

    PETE: ND.

    SEAN: ND.

    CALPREPS: ND 35-19.

    POLECAT: ND.

    • • • •

    CLASS SS

    NO. 1 CROMWELL/PORTLAND vs. NO. 5 BARLOW

    WHERE: Rocky Hill High School.

    RECORDS: C/P 10-1; Barlow 9-2.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Cromwell/Portland 43, No. 8 Ledyard 34; Barlow 28, Granby/Canton 14.

    CROM/PORT DUDES: Sr. QB Cole Brisson; Sr. RB-DE Alex Hair; Jr. LB Alex McKiernan; Sr. WR-LB Ryan Rozich; Jr. WR-DE Emeka Yearwood.

    BARLOW DUDES: Sr. WE-TE Evan Corazzelli; Sr. OL-DL Tristan Counter; Jr. WR-DE Liam Kiernan; Sr. RB-DB Mason Leavitt; So. RB-DB Scott Romano; Jr. RB-LB Cole Peterson; Sr. QB-LB Danny Shaban; Jr. RB-DB Dylan Taylor.

    WORDS: Two fine teams with different offensive philosophies. Crom/Port wants to spread the defense out and spread the ball around. The Falcons want to both wear out — and confuse — a defense with the triple option. The Panthers, last year’s Class S champion, were tested right away last Tuesday by Ledyard. They trailed 26-17 in the third quarter but scored twice off turnovers to pull away. Crom/Port’s defense needs to be better as it gave up 310 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries to Ledyard which, like Barlow, runs option. Shaban is a different kind of quarterback directing it, though. One coach described him as a fullback playing quarterback in that he has the strength to fight off tacklers. He ran 25 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns against Granby/Canton and completed 6 of 7 passes for 149 yards and a score. The Falcons’ defense did have some struggles with the Bears’ offense, though. Will Migliaccio completed 26 of 46 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown and G/C got to within 20-14 with over 9 minutes remaining before Shaban scored on a 5-yard run with 4:13 remaining. Brisson and the Panthers aren’t shy about throwing, so that’s worth keeping an eye on.

    MIKE: Barlow.

    PETE: Barlow.

    SEAN: Barlow.

    CALPREPS: Barlow 31-24.

    POLECAT: Barlow.

    NO. 6 VALLEY REGIONAL/OLD LYME vs. NO. 7 GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN/HOUSATONIC

    WHERE: Richard B. Blythe Field, Valley Regional.

    RECORDS: VR/OL 10-1; G/N/H 9-2.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Valley/Old Lyme 26, No. 3 Foran 13; G/N/H 34, No. 2 Windham 0.

    VALLEY/OLD LYME DUDES: So. WR-LB Matthew Cooper; Sr. WR-DB Nick Cox; Sr. WR-DB DiAngelo Jean-Pierre; Sr. OL-DL Joseph Montazella; So. RB-LB Max Novak; Sr. RB-OLB Jake Rand; Sr WR-DB Andrew Yermenson.

    G/N/H DUDES: So. OL-DL Owen Adams (3 sacks); Jr. RB-MLB Aiden Avenia (86 carries, 725 yards, 14 TDs; 91 tackles); Sr. RB-WR-CB Fred Camp (99 carries, 1,075 yards, 19 TDs; 9 catches, 353 yards, 5 TDs; 6 INTs); Sr. TE-LB Devin Divita (7 catches, 125 yards, 3 TDs; 83 tackles); Sr. WR-OLB Ethan Koenig; Jr. QB-CB Nolan Reisdorf (18 of 39 passing, 492 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs; 62 carries, 492 yards, 5 TDs).

    WORDS: The WARRIORCATS probably didn’t expect to get a home playoff game as the sixth seed but here we are. Their defense was fantastic as they held Foran to a season-low in points (it hadn’t scored fewer than 29 during the regular season). They had six sacks, two interceptions and gave up the Lions’ last touchdown with 14 seconds left. Rand returned one of those interceptions for a 55-yard touchdown with over 2 minutes left. Lacourciere threw touchdown passes to Jean-Pierre (26 yards) and Nick Cox (20 yards) while Rand added a 26-yard touchdown run. The DEATHBUGS (Yellowjackets) had Tuesday night’s most stunning performance, not that they won, but that they choked out an offense that averaged 44.2 points during the regular season. Killingly couldn’t do that against Windham (the Whips won, 41-26, Oct. 14). Ledyard couldn’t do that against Windham (Ledyard won in overtime, 26-20, Nov. 4). G/N/H held the Whippets’ high-scoring rushing game to a meager 85 yards on 32 carries. Ridiculous. No one should be surprised the DEATHBUGS won, however, as they did give Ansonia one of its toughest games of the season (they led the Chargers after three quarters before losing, 30-20, Sept. 30.) They also kept it respectable against Naugatuck in a 21-6, season-opening loss (Sept. 9). They also have Camp, a 2021 Class M All-State running back. He ran 17 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns against Windham and added a 77-yard touchdown catch. The WARRIORCATS have proven themselves time-after-time this season and can play any style but what the DEATHBUGS’ defense did to Windham overrides everything in our (weird) brain.

    MIKE: DEATHBUGS.

    PETE: DEATHBUGS.

    SEAN: WARRIORCATS.

    CALPREPS: DEATHBUGS 31-21.

    POLECAT: DEATHBUGS.

    • • • •

    CLASS S

    NO. 1 ANSONIA vs. NO. 4 WOODLAND (THE REMATCHENING!)

    WHERE: Ritzy Ryan Field, Derby High.

    RECORDS: Ansonia 11-0; Woodland 9-2.

    HERE: WATCH.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Ansonia 43, No. 8 North Branford 13; Woodland 35, No. 5 East Catholic 0.

    ANSONIA DUDES: Sr. RB-LB David Cassetti; QB Chris Kaminski; Sr. RB-LB Machi Ingram; Sr. OL-DL Tracey Ray (6-3, 260), Jr. TE-DE Preston Dziubina (6-3, 218).

    WOODLAND DUDES: Sr. T-DT-K Brian Babo (5-9, 235); Sr. LB Nate Cook; Sr. QB Darren Gasparri; Jr. RB-WR-S Mason Mastropietro.

    WORDS: These two played way back in Week 2 (Sept. 6). It went very well for Ansonia as it opened the game with three successive touchdowns and thrashed the Hawks, 42-7. The Chargers’ defense, meanwhile, held Mastropietro to 63 yards on 18 carries and aggravated Gasparri (6-of-19 passing, 65 yards). May-yyyyybe the REMATCHENING~! is closer the second time around but we cannot rationalize any other outcome but an Ansonia win, even if Dziubina and Ingram are banged up.

    MIKE: Ansonia.

    PETE: Ansonia.

    SEAN: Ansonia.

    CALPREPS: Ansonia 31-14.

    POLECAT: Ansonia.

    NO. 2 BLOOMFIELD vs. NO. 3 HOLY CROSS

    WHERE: Phil Rubin Field, Bloomfield High.

    RECORDS: Bloomfield 9-2; Holy Cross 9-2.

    WATCH: HERE.

    TICKETS: HERE.

    ROSTERS: HERE.

    QUARTERFINALS: Bloomfield 42, No. 7 Seymour 21; Holy Cross 42, No. 6 New Fairfield 36.

    BLOOMFIELD DUDES: Sr. OL-DL D’Andre Alvelo (6-0, 228; 50 tackles); So. QB Darrien Foster (117 of 173 passing, 2,143 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs); Sr. RB-WR-OLB Ja'Den Jesurum (33 carries, 313 yards, 5 TDs; 24 tackles); Jr. WR-FS Davien Kerr (50 carries, 513 yards, 4 TDs; 35 catches, 834 yards, 11 TDs; 53 tackles, 3 INTs); Jr. WR-FS Davion Kerr (33 catches, 641 yards, 7 TDs; 50 tackles, 3 INTs); Sr. RB-LB Damion Lewin-Gaynor (46 carries, 365 yards, 6 TDs); Sr. Travis Murray (6-3, 235; 43 tackles, 5.5 sacks); Sr. OL-DL Ryan Phillips (85 tackles, 8 sacks); So. RB-LB Edwin Rodriguez (78 carries, 525 yards, 7 TDs; 18 tackles); Sr. WR-DE Howard Simpson (6-5, 220; 86 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 INTs).

    HOLY CROSS DUDES: Jr. RB-WR-DB Marquis Campbell; So. QB Drew Caouette; Sr. OL-DL Donald Shivas.

    WORDS: Holy Cross would have better odds had senior running back-grinder Tom Ligi not broken his leg in its quarterfinal win. Campbell more than elevated his game to help the Crusaders get by New Fairfield (33 carries, 208 yards, four touchdowns; 3 catches, 76 yards, TD) but the more weapons one has against Bloomfield, the better. The WARHAWKS took chunks at a time out of Seymour in last Tuesday’s win. Foster completed 10 of 14 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns. DAVIEN Kerr, meanwhile, ran five times for 120 yards (yipes) and a touchdown and caught three passes for 75 yards and two scores. DAVION Kerr added four catches for 151 yards and two scores. Bloomfield’s defense, meanwhile, kept the Wildcats to 4.3 yards per play. Comparative scores don’t mean everything. .... but Holy Cross beat Seymour, 28-21, on Sept. 23. Bloomfield scored 28 in the first half against those same Wildcats. And, again, the Crusaders don’t have Ligi.

    MIKE: Bloomfield.

    PETE: Bloomfield.

    SEAN: Bloomfield.

    CALPREPS: Bloomfield 35-27.

    POLECAT: Bloomfield.

    • • • •

    Ned Freeman’s cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps and MaxPreps: 1. Greenwich; 2. Fairfield Prep; 3. New Canaan; 4. St. Joseph (9-2); 5. North Haven; 6. Trumbull; 7. Maloney; 8. Southington (9-2); 9. Shelton; 10. Cheshire.

    Here’s where the other semifinalists are ranked: No. 12 Notre Dame-West Haven; 13. Glastonbury; 16. Ansonia; 17. Killingly; 22. Masuk; 23. Law; 24. Berlin; 25. Barlow; 26. Bloomfield; 27. Cromwell/Portland; 29. Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic; 32. Holy Cross; 37. Woodland; 38. Valley Regional/Old Lyme; 46. Rockville.

    • • • •

    Thanks for reading.

    More soon.

    Adios....

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