The Lonesome Polecat: Ansonia! Ledyard! Griswold! NWU!
It took two plays for Ansonia to score last Thursday night.
The Chargers hadn't played a game in 641 days after the 2020 CIAC football season was canceled due to the pandemic. They're a little bit behind because of all the lost time, just like every other high school football team in the state. They also have fewer numbers than usual, proving that even one of the greatest programs in state high school history isn't immune to the problems of today.
Ansonia is still Ansonia though, as it showed time-and-time again against Wilby. It scored six touchdowns in the first half as it barreled its way to a 48-6 win at Waterbury's Municipal Stadium in the first game of the year.
"Tonight was great," Chargers head coach Tom Brockett said. "It was bigger than Ansonia. It's bigger than Wilby. It's Connecticut high school returning for a full season that I think these kids deserve.
"I think things are a little slower. You saw some things that were sloppy on both sides. It's going to take a while."
Senior co-captain Darell McKnight said, "It feels good. I haven't felt this feeling in a long time."
Things are a little different for Ansonia this season. For starters, it has fewer numbers. It listed 39 players on its game roster. It's a Class S school with an enrollment of 310 boys.
"We really had to try to get kids out," Brockett said. "I think that's going to be true for more of the smaller schools in the state. It's different. Kids playing for the first time. It's a different animal, especially for us.
"No one can say in a preview, 'hey, we have nobody back.' Nobody has anybody back. You're starting from square one."
The Chargers are also going to spread it around a little more rather than relying heavily on a workhorse running back like Montrell Dobbs, Arkeel Newsome or Alex Thomas.
Ansonia is going to throw, too. Christopher Kaminski, a junior, threw a pass to sophomore Machi Ingram on the game's second play. Ingram took it for a 42 yard touchdown just 56 seconds into the game.
Kaminski completed 6-of-7 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
McKnight ran seven times for 95 yards and two touchdowns and had a sensational 32-yard catch, high-pointing the ball while leaping from behind a defender and landed at the Wilby 4-yard line to set up the Chargers second touchdown.
Junior David Cassetti ran six times for 98 yards and a touchdown, senior Josh Dobbs (13 yards) and senior Eric Rodrigues (18) each ran for touchdowns, and sophomore Paul Palmer scored on a 4-yard catch.
"We had a lot of different guys contribute and I think that's going to be a theme for us this year," Brockett said. "It's a little bit different in my tenure when we had one-or-two real go-to guys.
"We're still trying to get to know these kids. We haven't been with these kids for that much football. You look at Machi, a sophomore receiver. He's a lot different kid than we saw three weeks ago. … He's starting to look like a varsity receiver."
Center Louis Griper (senior), senior guards Carlos Pinto (a co-captain) and Tracey Ray and tackles Ray Badillo (sophomore) and Alex Romanowski (a 6-foot-1, 338-pound junior) allowed Ansonia to roll up 304 yards and six touchdowns on just 23 plays in the first half.
"There's so many challenges," Brockett said. "Trying to get kids out. (Getting) people to believe that kids need to be playing football. It's real important right now. More than ever kids need to be playing sports.
"Bringing these kids together, seeing kids smile that weren't smiling maybe over the summer and last year. So for us, it's been good."
• • • •
There were many memorable moments for Ledyard in its 50-8 win over Griswold/Wheeler last Friday, its first victory under new head coach Mike Serricchio.
Six different players scored touchdowns. Junior Jackson Poulton scored on a 17-yard run and turned a short pass from sophomore Justin Outlow into a 38-yard touchdown. Outlow also scored on a 15-yard run.
Junior James Green ran for a 17-yard touchdown and weaved his way for a 58-yard touchdown on a punt return.
"It felt nice," Green said. "I just slowed down, read the gaps. I wasn't trying to force anything. I just took what the team was giving me."
Junior Jacob Lenz also scored on a 66-yard punt return and classmate Wyatt Crawford scored on a 11-yard fumble return.
"My favorite play," Green said. "(Crawford) hasn't played football in a while and it made me cry."
It was the first time the Colonels scored 50-or-more points since they blew out Bacon Academy, 55-6, in a 2015 CIAC Class M quarterfinal. That was also the final win for then head-coach Jim Buonocore, who retired after that season to become a vice-principal and athletic director at the school.
• • • •
The Griswold/Wheeler co-op started that game against Ledyard with 31 players. In the entire program.
The Wolverines finished the game with much less than that.
"We got a lot of people dinged up tonight," Griswold head coach Gregg Wilcox said. "I've probably got eight, nine kids that are dinged up right now that may not play (this week). Probably have two concussions."
Freshman quarterback Luke Cassidy had to be stretchered onto an ambulance in the third quarter.
Griswold is a Class S school with the lowest boys' enrollment of the Eastern Connecticut Conference's 14 football programs (258). It began a co-op with Wheeler in 2019.
"I don’t know what the answer is," Wilcox said. "(We) lost a year of football. … We have two kids with varsity experience. Two out of all of them. And now you're going to go out there and play a varsity game and I don't have 50 kids to choose from. We have 31 of which 18, 19, 20 are sophomores and freshman or first-year players.
"We told the kids it's a learning experience. Now no one can say they haven't played some varsity football. We played some varsity football. Now we've got to get better. We're a JV team trying to compete at the varsity level. That's how I look at it. We'll get better. It's a tough way to learn."
• • • •
The Northwest United co-op and head coach Jenn Stango Garzone had one of the most memorable wins of Week 1.
The Work Horses beat Platt Tech on Friday, 26-14, in the program's first game and made Stango Garzone the first female head coach to win a high school football game in state history.
Ben Conti completed 11 of 23 passes for 110 yards with two touchdowns and also scored on a 21-yard run for NWU, comprised of Wolcott Tech (its home base), Wamogo and Nonnewaug.
It's worth noting, too, that the fledging co-op was created from the remains of the hard-luck MCW United co-op made up of Wolcott Tech, Wamogo and Housatonic Regional. It went 0-39 over over four seasons (2016-19).
Housatonic broke away from Wolcott Tech and Wamogo to join the Gilbert/Northwestern Regional co-op.
• • • •
Behold, The Day's Top 10 state coaches’ poll: 1. St. Joseph (1-0, five first-place votes); 2. Darien (1-0, eight first-place votes); 3. Greenwich (1-0); 4. Newtown (1-0); 5. Fairfield Prep (1-0); 6. Southington (1-0); 7. New Canaan (1-0); 8. Cheshire (1-0); 9. Xavier (1-0), and, 10. Hand (0-1).
We’ll address the wackiness of St. Joseph out-pointing Darien for number one despite fewer first-place votes after we get through with the other rankings.
• • • •
The GameTimeCT/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Monolith Top 10 media poll: 1. Darien (11 first-place votes); 2. St. Joseph (four first-place votes); 3. Greenwich (two first-place votes); 4. Newtown (four first-place votes); 5. New Canaan; 6. Southington; 7. Fairfield Prep; 8. Xavier; 9. Hand; and, 10. Killingly.
Four teams receiving first-place votes. VARIETY.
Cheshire was ranked 12th. Killingly was 15th in the coaches' poll.
• • • •
Ned Freeman’s cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps.com: 1. St. Joseph; 2. Greenwich; 3. Southington; 4. Newtown; 5. Fairfield Prep; 6. Wilton (1-0); 7. Hand; 8. Simsbury (1-0); 9. Darien, and, 10. Masuk (1-0).
Uh-hhhh, Darien ninth? Seriously? You OK, computer?
New Canaan, Cheshire and Xavier were ranked No. 12-14, respectively, and Killingly is 16th.
Note that it takes a few weeks of data (games) for Ned’s computer model to form an accurate take on matters. The model often promotes (or demotes) a team before the coaches or media do catch on to them.
• • • •
Okay, back to The Day coaches’ poll — St. Joseph edged the Blue Wave, 370-368 in total points.
The Cadets were voted no lower than third by any of the 13 coaches.
Two coaches voted Darien fourth, which is why St. Joseph ended up numero uno.
Yep, it’s unusual that the team that received the most first-place votes ended up second but things happen, especially when numerologies are involved.
There’s a chance that the Blue Wave could take over No. 1 if one (or more) coaches were to rearrange the top of their order as the weeks pass by and there’s more data (games).
The two teams could decide it on the field. St. Joseph hosts to Darien on Saturday, Oct. 30 (Week 8).
There’s always the chance that either of the two loses before then. Darien, for instance, hosts No. 4 Newtown on Friday, Sept. 24 (Week 3).
The Cadets have quite the interesting schedule between now and Week 8. It plays at Staples (1-0) on Friday, followed by games at Windsor (Sept. 24), at Xavier (Oct. 2), vs. Greenwich (Oct. 16) and at Ridgefield (Oct. 22).
Note, too, that nearly all of the teams receiving votes will play one another and cause the Top 10 to go all cattywampus in no time. We’ll get to that in a moment.
We’re compelled to mention, by the way, that the coaches’ poll is very balanced in an effort to avoid any claims of conference or regional bias — you may be surprised to know that ain't a thing. There are two representatives from six of the state’s eight leagues. They are:
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE: Mike Drury, Southington; Rob Fleeting, Windsor.
ECC: Mike Ellis, Fitch; Tanner Grove, Montville.
FCIAC: Joe Della Vecchia, St. Joseph; Marce Petroccio, Staples.
NAUGATUCK VALLEY LEAGUE: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Joe Lato, Masuk.
PEQUOT LEAGUE: Brian Mazzone, Stafford/East Windsor/Somers co-op.
SCC: Craig Bruno, Amity; Andy Guyon, Xavier.
SWC: Bryan Muller, Brookfield; Bob Pattison, Newtown.
The Connecticut Technical Conference is the only league not represented.
• • • •
We’re compelled to give you a brief descriptions of all the teams who received votes in The Day coaches’ poll.
While doing so, we’ll list each team’s top games, most of which would shake up the poll.
Before we go any further, HATS OFF to the fine mammals at GameTimeCT.com, whose work we cribbed for the majority of these writeups.
ST. JOSEPH: Only team in state history to win three straight state titles in three different divisions (2017 Class S, 2018 Class M, and 2019 Class L). Mike Morrissey completed 7 of 11 passes for 103 yards and four touchdowns and ran four times for 46 yards and a score in last Saturday’s 49-0 mashing of Danbury. The Cadets should pass well (they always do) but are undersized on the offensive line. There’s not a lot of bulk on defense, either, but speed is a great equalizer and St. Joseph has it.
Big games: It plays at Trumbull on Thanksgrabbing (Nov. 25) in addition to the games we already listed.
DARIEN: Played in four of the past five LL finals and won three. Mike Forget, the mastermind of the Blue Wave’s beserker defenses of the past few years, takes over as head coach. Miles Drake threw for 158 yards and three touchdowns — in the first half — as the Blue Wave rolled Fairfield Warde last Saturday, 41-8. Senior defensive lineman David Evanchick had seven sacks as a sophomore (say those last five words five times fast).
Big games: at Norwich Free Academy (Oct. 1); at New Canaan (Thanksgrabbing), plus that St. Joseph game.
GREENWICH: Class LL quarterfinalist in 2019 and 2018 LL champion (also the No. 1 team in both the coaches and media polls). It has one of the state’s top players in receiver Chason Barber (6-foot-4, 190 pounds), the son of former Giants’ great Tiki (Chason is headed to Brown). The offensive line averages 270 pounds. The defensive line will be almost as beefy. Quarterback Jack Wilson completed 9-of-11 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday’s 49-6 thumping of Westhill. The Cardinals' schedule has a lot of marquee matchups.
Big games: vs. Ridgefield at New Canaan (Saturday — Greenwich’s field is under construction); at Shelton (Sept. 24); Fairfield Prep (Oct. 2); at St. Joseph (Oct. 16); at Trumbull (Oct. 22); New Canaan (Oct. 30 — same day as Darien v. St. Joseph. YOWZAH); Staples (Thanksgrabbing, Nov. 25).
NEWTOWN: Neither the coaches nor media had any idea what to expect this year after the cancellation of the 2020 season. The defending LL champion Nighthawks were the rare team with a lot of preseason buzz. They have good depth at running back and receiver. Dylan Magazu completed 10 of 18 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown and interception and ran 10 times for 89 yards and a score in last Friday’s 42-17 win over Pomperaug.
Big games: at Darien (Sept. 24); Ridgefield (Oct. 1); Cheshire (Oct. 22); at Shelton (Oct. 29); New Fairfield (Nov. 12); Masuk (Thankgrabbing Eve).
FAIRFIELD PREP: We start with this bit of minutiae — the Jesuits have a school-record 150 boys in the program. Yes. And with numbers like that there’s bound to be some quality talent. Start with quarterback Connor Smith. He threw two touchdown passes and had a ludicrous scramble for a 27-yard touchdown (WATCH THIS CLIP) during last Friday’s 29-16 win over Hand. Sean Patrick Star of the GameTimeCT/Hearst monolith texted after the game that WR-LB-DB Tymaine Smith (6-2, 195) is a dude.
Big games: at Greenwich (Oct. 2); at Notre Dame-West Haven (Oct. 15); Fitch (Oct. 22); Shelton (Nov. 5); at Xavier (Nov. 12); at West Haven (Thanksgrabbing Eve).
SOUTHINGTON: Qualified for the LL playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons and won twice. Deep at WR, return two offensive linemen (Nate Hunt and Joe Mazzarella) who played for Southington’s independent football team last season as well as four back on defense. Ryan DelMonte took a pass from Jack Barnum for a game-winning 42-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining in last Friday’s 13-7 win over Maloney.
Big games: at Glastonbury (Friday); at Hall (Oct. 1); vs. East Hartford (Oct. 29); at Simsbury (Nov. 5); at Conard (Nov. 12); Cheshire (Thanksgrabbing).
NEW CANAAN: The Rams have had an absurd 15-year run. They’ve made the playoffs every year, played in 11 finals and won eight. Head coach Lou Marinelli is the winningest coach in state history (340-102-6, 39 seasons). New Canaan has one of the state’s best players in Ned Brady (GREAT first name), a 6-5, 240-pound two-way lineman. Ned received offers from the likes of Boston College, Rutgers and Syracuse but will go to West Point instead. Walker Blair scored on a 25-yard interception return and Christopher Bopp had a 25-yard scoop-and-score during last Saturday’s 49-0 thrashing of Bridgeport Central.
Big games: at Hand (Sept. 24); Wilton (Oct. 23); at Greenwich (Oct. 30); Darien (Thanksgrabbing).
CHESHIRE: A 2019 Class LL quarterfinalist. Senior Christian Russo has started at DB since his freshman year. He’s also a running back and came through for the Rams last Friday. He ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-ending 18-yard score that gave Cheshire a 26-20 overtime win over Notre Dame-West Haven.
Big games: Staples (Sept. 24); Xavier (Oct. 15); at Newtown (Oct. 22); NFA (Oct. 29); at West Haven (Nov. 5); Shelton (Nov. 12); at Southington (Thanksgrabbing). The SCC’s Tier I is the state’s most difficult division. That the Rams are also drawing Newtown in a Connecticut High School Football Alliance game, in addition to Southington being their Thanksgrabbing rival, so so much EEP.
XAVIER: Senior Drew Kron is headed to UConn to play baseball next season. For now, he’s the Falcons’ quarterback. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 139 yards and ran for 155 yards in last Friday’s 31-19 win over NFA. He’s got a fine tailback to give the ball in D.J. Wright. He ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns Friday.
Big games: at Ridgefield (Oct. 24); St. Joseph (Oct. 2); Cheshire (Oct. 15); Maloney (Oct. 22); Notre Dame-W.H. (Nov. 6); Fairfield Prep (Nov 12); Glastonbury (Nov. 20).
HAND: Erik Becker became the Tigers’ fourth head coach in the program’s 50-year history over the offseason. He was the offensive coordinator for the team’s Class L 2011-12 championship teams under former head coach Steve Filippone. Hand received preseason hype as it was ranked third in the media poll and received three first-place votes. Last Friday’s loss to Prep gives it little margin of error to make states given its schedule. Patch Flanagan completed 12 of 30 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and interception and ran nine times for 67 yards against Prep.
Big games: Sheehan (Friday); New Canaan (Sept. 24); at Masuk (Oct. 1); at Shelton (Oct. 15); at Notre Dame-W.H. (Nov. 19).
ANSONIA: We already told you about the Chargers. PAY ATTENTION.
Big games: Holy Cross (Sept. 24); Seymour (Oct. 21); at Woodland (Nov. 5); at old friend Derby (Nov. 12); vs. even older friend Naugatuck (Thanksgrabbing).
SIMSBURY (1-0): A 2019 Class LL semifinalist features brawny twins Begench and Dayanch Kulyyev (both 6-3, 260). GREAT NAMES. RB John Mairano placed fourth at 138 pounds at the 2020 State Open wrestling championships. Well, now he’s 180 pounds, so he must be joy to tackle. He ran 12 times for 112 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 54 yards during last Friday's 37-0 rout of New Britain. QB Evan Wallace was the Trojans’ standout, though. He ran nine times for 80 yards and two TDs, completed 15-of-20 passes for 125 yards and a TD and scored on a 42-yard interception return. Should you care, he runs a 4.6 second 40-yard dash.
Big games: at Hall (Sept. 17); at Maloney (Sept. 24); Glastonbury (Oct. 1); Windsor (Oct. 22); at Conard (Oct. 29); Southington (Nov. 5); vs. East Hartford (Nov. 12); at Bloomfield (Nov. 23). Jeez, it got quite the CCC schedule.
SHELTON (1-0): Another program under new management. Mike DeFelice, the team’s former OC, has taken over. Just missed the 2019 LL playoffs due to losses to LL champ Newtown, L finalist Hand and LL quarterfinalist Cheshire. Starting a sophomore at QB (Michael Kinik) and have depth at WR. Offensive line will rebuild around 2020 LL heavyweight champion wrestler Matt Weiner (6-3, 315) and Mike Camiglio (6-0, 250). That duo also starts on the defensive line. John De Camps (6-3, 175) caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kinik and had another catch of 79 yards to set up the Gaels’ final score in last Friday’s 23-3 win over North Haven.
Big games: Greenwich (Oct. 24); at Trumbull (Oct. 1); Hand (Oct. 15); at NFA (Oct. 22); at Fairfield Prep (Nov. 5); at Cheshire (Oct. 12).
SHEEHAN (1-0): YOUR defending Class S champion. The Titans tore into the regular season, and East Haven, last Friday. Jacob Shook ran 10 times for 124 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-6 rout. Sheehan scored all those points in the first half.
Big games: at Hand (Friday); at New Fairfield (Sept. 24); Amity (Oct. 15); Hillhouse (Oct. 29); at Hamden (Nov. 18).
KILLINGLY (1-0): A local coach gave us greatest scouting report ever when describing Killingly — “they look like they could beat you in a bar fight.” Connecticut’s home office for the RPO (RUN PEOPLE OVER) has the lead back it needs in Jack Sharpe (5-10, 220 pounds). He ran for 2,021 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2019 to help Killingly reach the Class M final. Sophomore Soren Rief had a fine debut in last Friday’s 42-14 win over Waterford, scoring on a 39-yard run and a 72-yard interception return. And then there’s linemen Terrance Allen (6-1, 319 pounds), Justin Baker (6-3, 264), Shane LeDuc (6-4, 330), Ryan Miller (5-9, 227) and Noah Russell. HOW does a school with 335 boys have so many BEHEMOTHS?
Big games: at East Lyme (Friday); NFA (Nov. 12).
BLOOMFIELD (1-0): Many years ago, a wise coach mused about how such a small school (266 boys) consistently has so many outstanding athletes. He ain’t wrong (the WARHAWKS boys’ indoor track and field team, for instance, won the 2020 State Open title). They have new players everywhere but they’ll reload. Dallas Rose ran 15 times for 103 yards and a touchdown in last Friday’s 7-6 win over Bristol Central, led by UConn-bound quarterback-athlete Victor Rosa. Bloomfield rolled up 354 yards of offense but kept stalling. The defense allowed just 167 yards. The Warhawks play in the CCC’s Tier III and there may not be anyone left in that division who can challenge them.
Big games: Plainville (Friday); RHAM (Oct. 1); Simsbury (Nov. 23).
WINDSOR (1-0): The Warriors have been one of the CCC’s most consistent winners with seven playoff berths over the last 10 seasons, including a 2014 Class L-Small title. Junior QB Elijah Cromartie started as a frosh (1,209 yards, 11 TDs). He threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more in last Friday’s 41-19 win over Manchester. Two-way linemen AlecZander McCoy (6-5, 275) and Cameron Ortiz return to anchor both lines.
Big games: St. Joseph (Sept. 24); at Wethersfield (Oct. 1); at East Hartford (Oct. 8); Simsbury (Oct. 22); at Berlin (Nov. 5).
BERLIN (1-0): It's one of the CCC’s smaller programs (468 boys) but is such a consistent winner that it was placed in Tier II. The Redcoats return their leading tackler LB (Jonathan D’Amore) while RB Jamie Palmese had nine TDs in 2019. They had one of the state’s most eye-popping wins in Week 1 as they blanked Middletown last Friday, 33-0 (the Blue Dragons rarely get squished that badly). Sophomore Toby Lavender ran 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns in that win.
Big games: Wethersfield (Friday); at Maloney (Oct. 8); Hall (Oct. 22); Windsor (Nov. 5); New Britain (Nov. 19).
MALONEY (0-1): Proved its toughness by taking Southington to its limit. It has a veteran quarterback in senior Angel Arce, who quarterbacked the 2018 team to the Class L final. He threw for 178 yards and a touchdown in last Friday’s loss. The defense allowed only eight first downs, all in the first half.
Big games: Conard (Friday); Simsbury (Sept. 24); at East Hartford (Oct. 1); Berlin (Oct. 8); Xavier (Oct. 22); Hall (Nov. 5); Glastonbury (Nov. 12); Platt (Thanksgrabbing).
RIDGEFIELD (0-0): Coaches across the state have dealt with players not returning after the lost pandemic season. Then there’s the double-whammy the Tigers were hit with — it lost leading rusher Kai Prohaszka and, potentially, its top receiver (Ryan Colsey) because both have committed to Division I lacrosse teams (North Carolina and Virginia, respectfully). Regardless, Ridgefield has been a consistent winner in the FCIAC, and it did have one player return to school — offensive lineman Cameron Smith (6-4, 300 pounds). He spent last season at Union Military Academy. The defense is projectd to be a team strength.
Big games: vs. Greenwich at New Canaan (Saturday); Xavier (Sept 24); at Newtown (Oct. 1); St. Joseph (Oct. 22); Wilton (Oct. 30); Trumbull (Nov. 5); at Staples (Nov. 12).
STAPLES (1-0): Return a lot from group which played four independent games last season. Nick Armentano had a team-high 34 receptions for 531 yards and four TDs in 2019 and Ryan Thompson moved from WR to QB. Charlie Howard’s 73-yard interception return with 17 seconds left gave the Wreckers a 27-20 win over Trumbull last Friday.
Big games: St. Joseph (Friday); at Cheshire (Sept. 24); Ridgefield (Nov. 12); at Greenwich (Thanksgrabbing).
MASUK (1-0): Steve Christy, the offensive coordinator for the Panthers’ 2017 Class L runner-up, is the new head honcho. Seniors Nick Saccu (QB-DB) and Lucas Shamos (RB-LB) both started as sophomores. Saccu ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns and added an interception in last Friday’s 37-15 win over Bunnell.
Big games: Hand (Oct. 1); at Notre Dame-W.H. (Oct. 22); New Fairfield (Oct. 29); at Newtown (Thanksgrabbing Eve).
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN (0-1): One of the biggest shockers this offseason was that the Green Knights had dropped to Class M. They’d be one of the favorites if they qualified but that’s a huge “if” because, despite having an enrollment of 495 boys, they play in the SCC Tier I. They nearly took down Cheshire last Friday. Matt Piechota completed 17 of 33 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown and ran 15 times for 100 yards and a TD in that loss.
Big games: Fairfield Prep (Oct. 15); Masuk (Oct 22); at West Haven (Oct. 29); at Xavier (Nov. 6); Hand (Nov. 19); Hamden (Thanksgrabbing).
WEST HAVEN (1-0): The Blue Devils had an incredibly un-Westies-like season in 2019 as they finished 2-8. Five of those losses were by eight points or less (including a 21-14 loss to Newtown). One of their wins was over Class LL quarterfinalist NFA (27-13). They have four starters back from that team, including lineman Kyshawn Togba. Check this out — he’s 6-1, 332 pounds and set a record at the Berlin Lineman Challenge in July, benching 185 pounds 34 times. To think that he once played soccer (yes). Another big positive for West Haven is that it dropped to the less dangerous SCC Tier II. It mashed Harding last Friday, 52-16.
Big games: at Hamden (Friday); at Hillhouse (Oct. 22); Notre Dame-W.H. (Oct. 29); Cheshire (Nov. 5); Fairfield Prep (Thanksgrabbing Eve).
FITCH (1-0): Folks in the southeastern territories said that the Falcons, along with Killingly and NFA, looked like the teams to beat during the preseason. Seniors Aidan Greaves (WR-RB), John Luethy (OL-LB), Ethan Sisson (OL-DL), Greg Santora (RB-LB) and Thomas Williams (RB-DB) are all veterans. Senior Shawn Beebe was slated to be the starting quarterback but suffered a hip flexor injury during the preseason. Sophomore Ben Perry was the next man up and completed 5-of-6 passes for 78 yards and ran for a 9-yard touchdown during Friday’s 13-7 win over Stonington. Santora added 90 yards on 20 carries and junior Melakai Maddox scored on a 13-yard run. Fitch must be more efficient, though, because it had a 230-88 yard edge in total offense but struggled to put the Bears down.
Big games: at New London (Sept. 24); New Fairfield (Oct. 8); at Fairfield Prep (Oct. 22); at NFA (Nov. 5); East Lyme (Nov. 12); at Ledyard (Thanksgrabbing).
NORWICH FREE ACADEMY (0-1): The Wildcats had horrific luck with quarterbacks in 2019 as both their starter and lead back-up suffered season-ending injuries. Then-sophomore Jayden Desilus stepped up and played admirably in the team’s final four regular-season games as well as a Class LL quarterfinal at Newtown. Desilus is back and has one of the ECC’s top targets in Maxon Pierre Louis (6-4, 180 pounds). Desilus ran for two touchdowns and threw another to Pierre Louis in Friday’s 31-19 loss at Xavier. He also has the benefit of playing behind linemen Jordan Ribeiro (6-2, 300 pounds) and University of Rhode Island-bound Treyvon Christian (6-3, 310 pounds), a transfer from New London.
Big games: East Lyme (Sept. 24); Darien (Oct. 1); Shelton (Oct. 22); at Cheshire (Oct. 29); Fitch (Nov. 5); at Killingly (Nov. 12); at New London (Thanksgrabbing).
NAUGATUCK (1-0): The Greyhounds had the most notable off-season coaching hires — Chris Anderson. He was the first head coach at Woodland and, in its fourth season, won back-to-back Class SS titles (2004-05). The Greyhounds are consistently one of the NVL’s larger schools (670 boys) and always have talent so they and Anderson could lead to great things. They opened their season with a 22-0 win over Oxford on Friday. Cayden Martin ran 14 times for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Big games: Holy Cross (Oct. 29); Woodland (Nov. 12); at Ansonia (Nov. 25).
• • • •
Dig the ballot Polecat HQ filed for the aforementioned media poll. Also, it's early, so we're still trying to figure this mess out:
1. Newtown: The last Class LL champ.
3. St. Joseph
4. New Canaan
6. Fairfield Prep
9. Hand: Not dropping it after losing to our sixth-ranked team
10. Staples: Don't have any idea about the Wreckers yet, but they beat Trumbull who was in our preseason poll, so they're in.
12. Maloney: Upon further review, perhaps we should've voted it after Southington since that game went down to the wire. We could fix it next week if needed.
13. Killingly: Of course we're going to vote for TEAM RPO. Is this your first time reading the blog?
14. Berlin: That Middletown rout made us blurt out, "WHAT."
15. Sheehan: The last Class S champion.
• • • •
We’re going to pass on writing the NOTABLES~! section of this blog this week because we’ve already written enough damned words and we're a one-man operation. We need to power down sometimes.
We will, however, promote the following because we are the biggest advocate for the Manly Discipline of the Running Arts — Jason Caswell ran 26 times for THREE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN YARDS and five touchdowns for New Fairfield in its 42-14 win over defending Class M champion Weston on Friday.
HATS OFF, Jason.
• • • •
That's all for now. We appreciate your patronage.
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