The Lonesome Polecat (state variant): The king is gone (Bob Barton) but he's not forgotten, YOUR 2019 weekly road map, Top 10 polls .... yeah, we're back, BAY-BAY

Howdy,

A new and ravishing high school football season starts Thursday, which would ordinarily fill me with glee.

We’re a bit melancholy this year, though.

Oh, it’s great that 2019 is about to kickoff, but it has a bit of a hollow feeling because it’s missing something.

It’s missing Bob Barton.

This will be my first season on the beat without my professional and football mentor, Bob Barton, who died last Jan. 13 at 83. Bob was the state’s unofficial state high school football (and Yale athletics) historian, the best damn copy editor I’ve ever met and, most importantly, my friend.

Not to make this all about me, but Bob was a big part of my last 22 autumns. It does not compute, knowing I won’t be bumping into him at some random game in some random town on some cool October Saturday this fall (and him wearing a weathered New Haven Ravens cap). Or that my email won’t be overheating with messages coming from, and going to, him.

How to properly describe Bob and his influence on Connecticut high school football? Here’s a start — if you’ve ever read or heard about a player setting a state-record (or were a player who set a record), then you likely have Bob to thank for it.

There’s a good chance that if Bob didn’t tirelessly track state high school football that no one would have a clue who rushed for the most yards in a season (Ansonia’s Arkeel Newsome). Or scored the most points in a game (Sheehan’s Zach Davis). Or threw for the most career passing yards (Casey Cochran).

The late, great Bo Kolinsky, the long-time Hartford Courant's scholastic schools' editor and pseudo-uncle to many of us, co-founded The Connecticut High School Record Book back in 1997 with Tim Sullivan, then the offensive coordinator at Weaver when it was a state power, and now a Hartford schools administrator.

Bob and Gerry deSimas Jr. became the Record Book’s caretakers after Bo’s sudden death in 2003, and it grew in size and volume.

There’d be a few times a year where Bob would mention that he needed to make a run to the state library and scour their newspaper archives to ensure he didn’t miss any outstanding performances from the previous season that needed to be included in the Record Book. That’s how dedicated he was to the sport and its history. That’s how much he loved Connecticut high school football.

There were many of us over the years who owed Bob a debt of gratitude when it came to tracking stats which, believe me, isn’t as easy as one would think. There are more reporters, scorekeepers and coaches than you would believe who don’t know the stat-keeping rules in the National Federation of State High School Association’s Statisticians Manual, such as there’s NO SUCH THING AS A TOUCHDOWN OF 100-OR-MORE YARDS (all plays are measured between the opposing 1-yard lines).

Bob kept up on the rules. Ansonia was having its way with Bloomfield late in the first half of the 1994 Class SS final when it ran a hook-and-lateral play featuring future Stanford grad Steve Coughlin (yes, THAT Steve Coughlin). The play went for a touchdown, and no one in the press box at West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium knew how to score it.

From the back of the cramped press box rose Bob’s calm voice.

“The receiver gets credited with a catch and the yardage to the spot where he pitched the ball,” Barton said. “The second player gets credit for the yardage where he got the pitch, but not for a catch.”

A bunch of us blankly looked at one another, then quickly jotted down what Bob just said as it were word coming down from the mount.

The New Haven Register started its Top 10 high school football media poll back in 1961. Bob voted every season up through last year. He took it very seriously and put a lot of effort into every ballot because he had to get it right.

I coordinated the Register poll from 1998-2003. That was back in the days before email, kids, and voters had to call in their votes to me on Monday mornings at the office (or, in the case of then-Norwich Bulletin sportswriter Pete Abraham — yes, THAT Pete Abraham — FAX their ballot).

Bob happened to be flying back from Europe after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. He knew something was amiss when he noticed the plane he was on began dumping fuel before turning around back to the mainland.

Bob still called in his ballot.

Yep.

Bob was also the consummate gentleman. Yeah, everyone short of a war criminal is posthumously lauded as an outstanding human, but he was the real deal. He was perpetually friendly with the driest, wryest and most deadpan sense of humor. Never heard him curse, not even on deadline while working the copy desk at the New Haven Register (“oh, fudge” was his version of profanity). And he might have been the smartest man I ever met. Listening to him was often more a history lesson than sports talk.

Bob’s idea of a great TV comedy back in the late nineties was the weekly to broadcast of the UK’s House of Commons (think it was shown on tape delay Sundays on PBS).

There was something about watching a bunch of dignitaries ripping one another with a razor-sharp wit and a voluminous vocabulary that made him entertained him like, say, the first 11 seasons of “The Simpsons” did for others.

Bob was a total original. He had so many quirks and Barton-isms that made me laugh, even when I'm certain he wasn't trying to be funny.

• It snowed like mad the afternoon of the 1976 Class LL final between Fitch and New Britain. Bob described how challenging it was to drive to the game and forever referred to it as, “The Jingle Bell Bowl.”

• Whenever something excited Bob, he would simply exclaim in a sing-song, "o-oooo!", with the word dropping from a high-to-low pitch. I still use that from time-to-time.

• Early in my career, when I was not confident in my scorekeeping abilities on deadline, I'd ask Bob if he would track them for me provided he was at the game. He'd gladly do it. He worked cheap, too, as all I had to pay him was a fresh bag of Chips A’Hoy.

• Any game that was played in two hours-or-less was referred to a “Pelligrinelli Special”, an ode to legendary Berlin coach Al Pelligrinelli and his team's ability to devour the clock via the running game. Perhaps if Bob lived in southeastern Connecticut, he would've call those games a “Mignault Special” after the godfather of Ledyard football, Bill Mignault.

(Bob and I often lamented how the influence of the spread passing game had almost made Pelligrinelli Specials extinct, and increased our love for offenses that emphasized the Manly Discipline of the Running Arts such as the Wing-T, option, GOD’S OFFENSE and GOD’S FATHER'S OFFENSE.)

• Bob would call linemen who were stout, but not necessarily tall, “megatoads”. Anyone who made a particularly bad mistake, “flubbed the dub” (I must use that line much more in life).

• Whenever something excited Bob, he’d simply exclaim, “o-oooo”, the tenor of his voice dropping from high-to-low in the process. Used that a few times in my life. And he’d always bellow “BALL” whenever there was a fumble loud enough for two counties to hear. I also exclaim that from time-to-time.

It can be eye-rolling whenever someone says that you should always tell your loved ones and friends how you truly feel about them before either they or you die. It’s sounds too overly sentimental and syrupy to the point where one could see the sap oozing from the trees, even if, you know, it is absolutely true.

All that written, I’m damn glad I told him years ago that no one had been a bigger, or better, professional mentor than him, in addition to being a valued friend.

I’m really going to miss seeing him around this fall. And the emails.

• • • •

Every newspaper pumps out scads of preseason previews time of the year.

The one I used to look most forward to the “road map”, so to speak, of big games to see each week that Bob wrote for the Register.

Joel Cookson, the CIAC’s Minister of Information, has had me hop on his podcast before the past few football seasons to do my own audio version of the road map. We taped Wednesday and you may listen to my sultry tones HERE.

Never bothered to publish the list before  (why, I dunno) so, in honor of Bob, here it is.

GROUND RULES

• Joel threatens, I mean asks politely, that I don’t repeat teams.

• He also asks that I give only one game per week.

Rules (and bones) are meant to be broken, so there will be multiple recommendations for a few of the 12 weeks, but never on the same day (i.e. the games are on different days).

Also had to include Shelton twice simply because it’s one half of two of the biggest games of the season. I cannot, in either instance, in good conscience recommend another game on those two weeks.

Should you want to learn more about these teams, then get thee to GameTimeCT and read the hundreds of team previews the lads have posted at dem there website. We used more than a few of those previews to fill in the blanks. Ditto Dave Ruden of the Ruden Report and the Waterbury Republican-American.

And it goes a little something like this:

WEEK 1

Derby at Watertown, Friday, 7 p.m.

There’s a gritty, rugged feeling whenever discussing the Naugatuck Valley League. Perhaps it’s because of The Valley, the nickname those in the lower Naugatuck Valley proudly call where they live. Like Derby.

Derby went 4-6 last season and return a Class S All-State defensive back in junior Zerion Montgomery. He also ran for 1,484 yards (at 11.1 yards a clip) and 16 touchdowns last season.

The Indians are coming off a disappointing 3-7 season, made worse because they had made states the previous year for the first time since winning the Class S-I title in 1986. They return eight on both sides of the ball this season, including starting quarterback Xavier Powell and running back Anthony Velardi.

Ideally, we would’ve recommended going to Derby in Week 2 when it hosts Torrington in its first home game in nearly two years at its newly remodeled and swanker-than-swank Ryan Athletic Complex.

Costs began piling up when construction began, which is when Joan Payden stepped up, as documented by GameTime’s Michael Fornabaio. She is the daughter of Joseph Raymond Payden, Derby High’s 2015 valedictorian.

Alas, we must recommend another game for Week 2, but don’t let that stop you from going to Derby.

WEEK 2

Bunnell at North Haven, Friday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Truth — the Connecticut High School Football Alliance is one of the best things to happen to state high school football since Fitch began, and mastered, GOD’S OFFENSE back in the nineties.

League rivalries and conference titles are great, but football hasn’t never had the same number of interleague games that other sports, such as hoops, have enjoyed.

The Alliance changed that when the ECC, SCC and SWC banded together to help one another with scheduling and provide (cough) “scheduling relief” (cough) for its smaller schools.

The CCC and FCIAC have gotten involved, thus 84 teams will mix it up against other like-sized schools from across the state.

Bunnell and North Haven both qualified for the Class L playoffs last year and look to return this fall.

Bunnell has a new head coach in Tywan Jenkins, and the former New London standout lineman inherits a program that never, ever lacks speed. The Bulldogs return seven on both offense and defense. Senior QB Brian Carrafiello threw for 1,322 yards and 12 TDs last season, and Jovan Eggleston is slated to be the new lead tailback. He had 50 tackles and four interceptions at defensive back last year, too.

North Haven are the state’s masters of GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE. It ran 437 glorious times last season, and hopefully it’ll run even more this season after (gag) attempting 48 passes.

The Indians use a very democratic running game and fed six dudes with 41-or-more carries last season. Senior Corey Hooks led them all with 91 carries (along with 525 yards and five TDs). He’s also the most experienced back, um, back.

Whoever joins Hooks in the backfield gets to enjoy the benefits of an experienced offensive line, featuring large individuals such as seniors Luke Maruca (6-2, 255) and Joe Ranciato (5-9, 287).

WEEK 3

Hillhouse at Bloomfield, Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.

Yet another Alliance match-up between two programs with a lot of state titles between them.

The Academics won four of their last five games last season and return eight starters on both O and D. Defensive tackles Greg Chambers (109 tackles) and Kinard Fuller (82) were their two top tacklers.

The House will need their defensive line better get a heavy pass rush on the WARHAWKS as the defending Class S champions have one of the state’s best receiving tandems in senior Anthony Simpson and sophomore Jayvon Massey.

Simpson had 17 catches for 482 yards and eight touchdowns last year. He especially shined in the S final with a game-high five catches, 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Jayvon Massey led Bloomfield in catches (30), receiving yardage (607) and receiving TDs (14). He’s also a man-sized at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds.

Daron Bryden starts his third season at QB. He completed 63.2 percent of his passes last year for 2,306 yards with 37 touchdowns (to 11 INTs).

WEEK 4

St. Joseph at New Canaan, Friday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m.

THIS GAME.

Could it be the FCIAC game of the year? Probably.

St. Joseph won Class S two years ago, so the CIAC moved it up to Class M

St. Joseph won Class M last year, so the CIAC moved it up to Class L.

The CIAC may move St. Joseph to the FCS after this season as it is loaded and will be one of the top threats to Hand’s Class L title defense.

Speaking of defense, that should be the Cadets’ strength as they return seven, including linebacker Alex Pagliarini (89 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks) and nose guard Jermaine Williams (5-11, 290). Offensively, St. Joseph needs to break in a new QB with All-Stater David Summers now at Syracuse. Jack Wallace will be taking over that job and, as he gets acclimated, he can hand off to Jaden Shirden as often as needed. The senior ran for 1,377 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.

New Canaan played for the Class LL title last year. It, too, moved into Class L this season, yet another threat for Hand to keep tabs on.

Drew Pyne starts his fourth season at QB (yes) with Notre Dame awaiting him in 2020 (yes). He completed 64.7 percent of his passes last season for 30 TDs (to six INTs). He’s also seventh on the career passing yardage list (7,304).

New Canaan has some holes to fill up front and at receiver, so its defense could help carry things early with seven starters back. Senior lineman Matt Rigione had a team-high nine sacks (in nine game), and junior DB Chris Canet let the team in both solo tackles (49) and total tackles (78).

Oh, yeah — St. Joseph has beaten the Rams two years in a row, including last season’s 28-0 skunking.

WEEK 5

Newtown at Shelton, Friday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.

There’s not a better-looking Alliance game on paper than this sucker. Both qualified for Class LL last year and they’re both going to do it again while smushing many smaller opponents along the way.

Newtown, for those of you who may have forgotten, ended Darien’s three-year reign of terror in Class LL last November. It had a burly team last season that took pleasure in trampling opponents with the run (HC Bob Pattison said after routing NFA, 51-14, last October that the team motto was, “Meet me in the A-gap” — we nearly hugged him for such commitment to the run game.)

The Nighthawks may have graduated some burly dudes, but they’ll be replaced with other burly dudes. FULLBACK Jared Dunn (6-3, 220) will likely be the team’s new hammer with mashers Kyle Good (6-3, 275), Zach Loomis (5-11, 220) and James Knox (6-4, 240) ready to block for him.

Shelton has been one of the SCC’s best-run programs going on three decades now and always seems to have a quarterback who can bring down death from the sky.

The Gaels will be breaking in a new QB (and receivers) this season, but that’s okay. See, Shelton has some mas mass it may use to trample teams on the ground.

Georgio Ghazal (5-11, 230) gets to be the lead back after running a combined 111 times the past two seasons. At 6.9 yards a carry. For eight touchdowns.

Oh, it gets better (and beefier). The Gaels’ offensive line is as follows — center Kyle Corby (6-1, 281), guards James Anderson (6-1, 270) and Craig Ferris (6-2, 250), and tackles (Jacob Falcioni (6-4, 261) and Isaiah DeLoatch (6-6, 325).

HULKS SMASH.

Shelton HC Jeff Roy also told GameTime that they’ve added some GOD’S FATHER’S OFFENSE to the playbook.

Yes, we’re drooling.

WEEK 6

Sheehan at Barlow, Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.

Yes, it’s MOAR hot Alliance action.

The two schools are separated by over 40 miles of the Merritt Parkway, yet have seen a bit of one another the past two years.

Barlow went to Wallingford two years ago and stunned the third-ranked Titans in the Class M quarterfinals, 47-34, en route to reaching the final.

Sheehan got its pound of flesh last year as they fried the Falcons in their return to Wallyworld, 49-6.

Sheehan has moved down to Class S this fall and graduated a lot, but don’t mistaken “smaller” for “lesser talent”. Senior Terrence Bogan rushed for a state-high 2,481 yards (10.3 ypc) and 34 touchdowns in 12 games last year. Opponents can’t sell out to stop him, either, as classmate Jordan Davis had 27 receptions for 380 yards and seven touchdowns.

Brookfield were skilled practitioners of the Manly Discipline of the Running Arts for 19 years thanks to Rich Angarano, who retired as head coach after last season. The Bobcats will continue the discipline as former player and longtime assistant Bryan Muller is calling the shots. Senior Nick Henderson (1,300 yards rushing, 15 TDs) is back to carry the run game.

We don’t know how many state schools still run a true triple option anymore, so it warms are dead heart that Barlow continues to wave its Veer flag high. Senior QB Brett Hugo was last year’s leading rusher (102 carries, 771 yards, 11 TDs) and classmates Dave Cusick and James Porter and junior Aidan Gale combined to rush for 803 yards and 7 TDs. The Falcons will also have their first new coach since the nineties as T.J. Cavaliere takes over for Rob Tynan, who retired after 27 years.

Bullard-Havens at Abbott Tech-Immaculate, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2 p.m.

We MUST include at least one Connecticut Technical Conference game on this list, and B-H and ATI are going to represent it.

The Tigers made states last season (Class S). ATI just missed Class M. And both might be the class of the CTC.

B-H returns several on both O and D, including senior Cyrus Cotto. He threw for 1,454 yards and 15 TDs last season and ran for another 422 yards and two scores.

The UNITED has much-much back. Like Anthony Frasier (1,094 yards rushing, 17 TDs; 19 catches, 264 yards, two TDs). And C.J. Cianfione (763 yards passing, 8 TDs).

The Tigers squeezed past ATI last October 14-8. Let’s see what the two have got for us this Rocktober.

WEEK 7

East Hartford at Southington, Friday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.

The last two games between these two were wild. East Hartford scored twice in the final 2 minutes, 16 seconds to stun the Blue Knights, 27-20, in 2017.

Last year, Southington trailed by 14 twice in the first quarter. It then scored 28 unanswered points to win, 42-27.

The Blue Knights and Hornets both graduated the majority of their starters, the latter more than the former. Southington has been a factory, though, that just keeps churning out players and depth.

Darien at Greenwich, Saturday, Oct. 26, 4 p.m.

A little FCIAC late-afternoon delight here featuring the last four LL champions.

Darien’s motivation is pretty simple this season — it didn’t win LL last season after its three-year stranglehold on the division.

The Blue Wave are ready to unleash their rage, and they have a defense that could embodied that nastiness. Senior linebacker Sam Wilson finished tied for the team-lead in tackles last regular season (79), and classmate Will Bothwell was a menace as a first-year starter at end.

The defending LL champion Cardinals graduated dang-near everyone it seems. Heck, head coach John Marinelli even left to take an assistant coaching gig at Arizona after building Greenwich into an uber-power.

There are some Cards back. Assistant (and former player) Anthony Morello is the new HC. Ditto junior A.J. Barber. He put on a show during the LL final by catching 10 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another (28 yards) on a receiver option play as Greenwich squished New Canaan, 34-0.

It helps, too, that Greenwich has the state’s third-largest boys’ enrollment (1,408). And 102 players listed on its varsity roster. And it most certainly helps that the town takes winning very seriously.

WEEK 8

Platt at Windsor, Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Windsor has run the CCC’s Division II almost every season for the last something-something years. Platt wants to run things this season.

Platt HC Jason Bruenn wasn’t thrilled when circumstances forced him to run GOD’S OFFENSE to knock off city-rival Maloney last Thanksgrabbing.

Bruenn might want to consider using it this season based on his personnel. He’s got four linemen back, including Lashaun Hill (5-11, 275) and Jaylen John (5-11, 255). He also has a bell-cow in Roberto Salas (1,330 yards rushing, 11 TDs).

(We have a copy of Hugh Wyatt’s “Dynamics of the Double Wing” with the DVD if you need it, Jason).

(Lest anyone think we’re showing favor to Platt here, well, Warriors’ HC Rob Fleeting and I both lived in Chase Hill on the glorious campus of Southern Connecticut State University, so there).

Windsor is going to be Windsor again this season. Courtenay Jackson is back to QB. Jaiden Murphy, who was slated to be the top running back last season before tearing his ACL, gets another crack at it this fall. The offensive line, while returning just Kobe Foster, has a lot of large fellows looking to take one of the jobs.

WEEK 9

Killingly at NFA, Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m.

These two produced the ECC’s best game last season as Killingly won in overtime (and a downpour), 12-6.

That game was played grass (as the good lord Odin intended) at Killingly. This year, the Wildcats get to play host on their turf.

Killingly has been the state’s home office for the RPO (RUN PEOPLE OVER). Jackson Lopes (665 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns) will likely take over as the lead running back. He’ll be enabled by an offensive line that returns three — seniors Ben Morin (guard, 5-10, 271) and Justin Maiato (tackle, 5-9, 286) and junior Jacob Galarza (tackle, 6-4, 245).

The Wildcats return even more offensive linemen than Killingly — four, including junior guard Joe Klick. Classmate Sean Preston also has a chance to be the league’s best running back after rushing for 899 yards and 10 TDs last fall.

WEEK 10

Shelton at Hand, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.

It’s THE SCC game of the year.

We’ve already run down how formidable (and meaty) Shelton should be.

Hand is YOUR defending two-time, two-time Class L champion. The defense has some holes to fill, whereas the offense is experienced and should be a menace again.

Two-year starter Phoenix Billings is back for year three at QB and might be the state’s best at the position. He completed 64.2 percent of his passes last season for 1,740 yards and 23 TDs (to four INTs), and 578 yards rushing (with a robust 14.5 ypc) with 11 TDs.

Bruiser Colin McCabe returns, too (1,364 yards rushing, 33 TDs). And Ethan Haberman (22 catches, 411 yards, 6 TDs).

Hand needs to reload its defensive secondary. It helps, then, that Columbia-bound senior Ben Corniello (6-2, 250, 11.5 sacks) is around to make sure opposing QBs don’t have any time to throw.

WEEK 11

Berlin at New Britain, Friday, Nov. 22, 6:30 p.m.

These two were hit pretty hard by graduation. Yeah, and they both always have enough talent to replenish themselves.

The other reason to go — this might be the state’s most bitter rivalry. Like a lemon smothered in dark chocolate and dunked in the blackest coffee bitter.

Another reason to go — New Britain’s band has as much groove and funk as it does numbers. They’re awesome.

Hall at Conard, Saturday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m.

It’s the battle of West Hartford. ‘Nuff said.

WEEK 12

Valley Regional/Old Lyme at Haddam-Killingworth, THANKSGRABBING EVE EVE (Tuesday, Nov. 26), 6:30 p.m.

H-K ruined the Warriors Thanksgrabbing holiday last season as it beat them for the first time in seven years, claimed a Class S playoff berth, and kept their Pequot rivals from qualifying in that division.

The Cougars went on to just their second state final in 43 seasons.

VR/OL offensive and defensive lines look to be a strength this season with seniors Ben Conrad and juniors Kyle Metz and Weston Belisle.

H-K should be a nightmare for most defenses given its size on the offensive line. There’s senior Trey Callendar (6-2, 270) and classmate Chris Moore (6-6, 215), and junior Thomas Perry (6-1, 260). They’ll be trucking defenders and giving room for Dalton Modehn to run. He rushed for 1,383 yards and a team-high 21 touchdowns last season.

Oh, yeah — the Cougars run GOD’S OFFENSE. They ran it 627 sexy times last year for 4,065 yards and 60 touchdowns. We suddenly just became very flush.

West Haven at Fairfield Prep, THANKSGRABBING EVE (Wednesday, Nov. 27), 6 p.m.

The unexpected often happens in this rivalry with the underdog getting the win.

The unexpected certainly happened last November, albeit it in a different manner — Prep scored seven first-half touchdowns and laid waste to the Westies, 63-12.

No one drops that many points on the Westies. No one. And you can their coaches will remind them of that score more than once leading into this game.

The Jesuits have to fill a few spots in their lineup after going all the way to the LL semis last year. It doesn’t have to worry about quarterback as J.P. Iaropoli returns after throwing for 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns last year.

Ansonia at Naugatuck, THANKSGRABBING DAY, 10:30 a.m.

There are so many great rivalries one could go see on this day. Darien v. New Canaan has been perhaps the wildest over the last several years. Stonington vs. Westerly draws as well as any rivalry in the nation’s oldest continual Thanksgrabbing Day game.

Ansonia v. Naugatuck continues to be one of the day’s marquee matchups no matter what. And hopefully the 120th edition can live up to last Thanksgrabbing’s.

Ansonia led the Greyhounds by 14 points twice, only for quarterback John Mezzo to rally his team back and tie the game with 7:54 remaining. He threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

The Chargers came right back with Sheldon Schuler throwing an 8-yard touchdown to Tyler Cafaro with 4:19 left. Shykeem Harmon later added a 41-yard touchdown run as Ansonia won for the eighth straight year, 34-22.

Harmon ran 36 times for 308 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

Harmon is back this season. So are Cafaro, Schuler, and Mezzo.

Let’s hope the oldest of Valley rivals both pick up where they left off.

• • • •

Behold, the preseason ballot (via dart throws) Polecat Inc. submitted for the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register media poll.

1. Hand: It is the two-time, two-time Class L champ and last season’s resounding numero uno.

2. St. Joseph: Some of The Voices (in our head) have insisted we rank the Hogs number one based on all they have back.

3. New Canaan: Get to see the Rams live without having to travel west because they’ve headed southeast to play at New London on Friday. Neat.

4. Shelton

5. Newtown

6. Darien

7. Greenwich

8. Fairfield Prep

9. Southington

10. Bloomfield

11. Windsor

12. North Haven

13. Platt

14. Ridgefield: When in doubt, vote FCIAC

15. Ansonia

• • • •

The GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Monolith Top 10 media poll:1H 1. Hand (13-0, 22 first-place); 2. St. Joseph (12-1, three first-place votes); 3. New Canaan (10-3); 4. Greenwich (13-0); 5. Darien (9-2); 6. Shelton (10-1); 7. Bloomfield (12-1); 8. Newtown (11-1); 9. Southington (10-1); and, 10. Windsor (9-3).

• • • •

!!!!~PROGRAMMING NOTE~!!!!

We’re not sure what how much Polecat we’ll be giving YOU to start the season.

North America’s Team, the Connecticut Sun, is our summer gig, and they’ve both qualified for the WNBA playoffs and earned a double-bye all the way into next week’s best-of-five semifinals.

It could get be a bit tricky juggling two beats while the Sun are still standing. It might take slow production at this here blog for a week-or-two.

Once El Sol finishes their season, we’ll be back here pushing things into the red and stuffing your eyeballs with more foot balls then you can handle.

Thanks for reading.

More soon. Whenever “soon” is.

Adios.

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