We asked for an upset last week and we got it, with Bethel’s stunning 56-46 victory over Stratford at Ralph DeSantis Field.
That was the only local surprise. Statewide, we saw both NFA (to Stonington) and New London (to Fitch) catch the upset bug and the state playoff picture looked slightly different than they did just days ago.
Of more immediate concern, the SWC playoff race fell out of focus somewhat with Bunnell’s loss. Now it’s anybody’s ballgame for the right to face Masuk at Bunnell on Nov. 16. (Sorry, kids. it’s true. They’re a lock.).
Staples’ win over Darien put the Wreckers and New Canaan’s win over Wilton put those schools in the drivers’ seat for the FCIAC title game. The NVL’s biggest games are coming up this week. The league’s championship picture should be clear before Week 9.
Hand and Xavier remained unbeaten in the SCC. And everybody’s gearing up for that showdown … Oh, wait.
All and all, it was a pretty crazy week, if not for the games then for the snow that dumped on the region turning a handful of games into snowball fights. I’ve never seen anything like it. And it’s still causing havoc across the region. Many towns are still without power. Some schools have, of course, canceled classes indefinitely. The U.S. government had declared a state of emergency.
It’ll be worth watching how long some of these schools remain closed, and how their teams will be affected in the coming days.
In the meantime, if you can read this, here’s look back at Week 7 and a look ahead to Week 8:
- Javon Grey, Notre Dame-WH – 27 carries, 204 yards, four TDs vs. Wilbur Cross
- Arkeel Newsome, Ansonia — 188 yards, 3 TDs on nine carries vs. Crosby
- Brian Birdsell, Bethel – Six touchdown runs vs. Bunnell
- Jack Shaban, Barlow — Ran for 168 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries vs. Oxford
- Lou Fenaroli, Newtown — 169 yards, 3 TDs, including 95-yard run vs. Brookfield
- James Harrington & Austin Calitro, Danbury — Combined for 263 yards rushing and five TDs vs Trumbull
- Matt Milano, New Canaan — 19 of 24 for 298 yards and three touchdowns vs. Wilton
- Bryan Castelot, Bunnell – 28 of 50 for 425 yards and six touchdowns in loss to Bethel.
- Connor Rowe, Ridgefield — 20 of 28 for 217 yards and one touchdown vs. McMahon.
- Casey Cochran, Masuk — Threw for 395 yards and five touchdowns vs. New Milford.
- Matt Paola, Pomperaug — Tied a state record with a 54-yard field goal vs. record-holder Rico Brogna and Notre Dame-Fairfield
- Joey Zelkowitz, Staples — Ran for 188 yards on 15 carries and scored three TDs (including two from 60 yards out) vs. Darien
- Danny Rogers, Weston — Scored the game-winning TD in Weston’s cluch 16-9 win over New Fairfield
- Barry Boderick, Stamford — Punt return touchdown, TD catch vs. Ludlowe
- Joel Arroyo, Greenwich – Caught two long TD passes from Liam O’Neil in Greenwich’s overwhelming win over Westhill
- Donald Graham, Stratford — Ran for four touchdowns vs. Immaculate
- Kevin Kearney, Staples — 18 tackles, pass defensed vs. Darien
- Eddie Kochiss, Shelton – Interception return TD vs. Amity
- Chris Mirra, Ridgefield — Intercepted potential game-winning 2-point conversion vs. McMahon.
- Dylan Leeming, New Canaan — 16 total tackles vs. Wilton
- Brandon Freeman, McMahon — Returned an interception for a TD vs. Ridgefield
- Jack Yule, Pomperaug – 16 tackles vs. Notre Dame-Fairfield
- Shawn Flynn, Masuk — 10 tackles, interception vs. New Milford
- Warde defense — Forced six turnovers, including 2 interceptions apiece from Devon Lofton and Maxx Garrett vs. St. Joseph
- Mike Longo, Greenwich – Returned a fumble 82 yards for a TD vs. Westhill
- Mike Palomba, Trinity Catholic — Interception return TD vs. Bassick
Valiant in Defeat
- Tyler Vallie, Amity – Threw for 131 yards and a TD, rushed for 173 yards and a TD vs. Shelton.
- Chad Lawrence, Central – Ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns in loss to North Haven.
- Jared Vasquez, Bunnell – 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns vs. Bethel
- Nigel Beckford, Notre Dame-Fairfield — 20 carries, 134 yards, 2 TDs rushing, 98-yard kickoff return TD
- John Prutting, St. Joseph — Interception return TD vs. Warde
- Daron Britt, Law — Caught two touchdown passes in loss to Branford.
- Tahir Manning, West Haven – Caught two TD passes to give West Haven a halftime lead in a loss to Hand
- Taquan Broadway, Harding — 100 yards rushing vs. Norwalk
We’ll close the Top Performers section with a clip of Matt Paola‘s 54-yard field goal against Notre Dame-Fairfield. It tied the state record held by former Watertown star Rico Brogna … who just happened to be standing on the Notre Dame-Fairfield sidelines as the Lancers head coach. Paola and Rico posed for pictures afterward. Nice moment.
“When we were at midfield, I said to the offensive coordinator, `Get your two-point (conversion) play ready.’ ” — McMahon coach A.J. Albano, whose 2-point attempt failed in a 14-13 loss to Ridgefield.
“Looking back now, I guess it was nice having that week off. The kids were fresh, their legs weren’t heavy. They were ready to play today.” — Stamford coach Bryan Hocter
“When we play in a tighter game than this it is really going to do us in,” — New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli on his team’s penalty-filled 28-14 win over Wilton
“We were terrible tonight, absolutely terrible. We have to move on to the next one.” – Trumbull coach Bob Maffei, whose team lost its fourth-straight game, keeping Maffei at 99 career wins.
“We want to go out with a bang and set the tempo for next year. Those guys have to work hard and (if they do) this is what happens.” –Danbury senior FB/LB Austin Calitro after beating Trumbull.
“The upset. It’s a powerful thing that can change your season. It’s one of the best feelings a football player can have.” — Bethel FB/LB Brian Birdsell, whose six touchdown runs toppled Bunnell from the unbeaten ranks.
“No. 36 had a great game for them. He was all over the field,” — Bunnell coach Craig Bruno on Bethel FB/LB Brian Birdsell.
“We knew that tonight was a do-or-die situation for us. But we are going to pick our heads up, keep going and finish the season strong.” — Brookfield coach Rich Angarano on his team’s 41-0 loss to Newtown, which dropped it to 3-4.
“I should have punted. Everyone makes mistakes. We were all fired up and we wanted to end the game right there.” — Weston coach Joe Lato on a fourth-down call that led to New Fairfield’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of Weston’s 16-9 win.
“That could have been the greatest third quarter in Staples history.” –Staples coach Marce Petroccio on the Wreckers’ 28-point outburst leading to a 42-23 win over Darien.
“It’s a football players dream to play in the snow. It was awesome.” — Staples RB Joey Zelkowitz.
“I think our kids at the half thought we had the game won, and they are too good an opponent to do that.” — Darien coach Rob Trifone on his team’s 42-23 loss to Staples, in which it held a 17-7 halftime lead.
“That’s our goal right now. It’s really big because none of us have ever been in a playoff game before, in any sport. We can smell it.” — Norwalk QB Delshawn Wilson on the Bears’ shot at breaking a 13-year playoff drought.
A lot of good ones out there this week, most having to do with the blizzard at Staples Field. So we’ve decided to drop this week’s best Tweets into slideshow form
- Cheshire (4-3) at Notre Dame-WH (5-2), Friday, 7 – The Class L playoff door is opened just a crack for the Green Knights. They can’t lose again. And it only gets tougher against the cornered animal that is 4-3 Cheshire.
- Ansonia (7-0) at Wolcott (6-1), Friday, 7 — They’re calling this an NVL showdown for the Brass Division title and a spot in the NVL title game. Or will it be just another Ansonia showcase. (We’re betting the latter).
- Fairfield Prep (5-2) at Shelton (5-2), Friday, 7 — This game hasn’t meant a thing for years. With both teams clinging to faint playoff hopes, it’s pretty big now.
Woodland (5-2) at Holy Cross (6-1), Friday, 7 – Holy Cross can basically wrap up the
BrassCopper Division (I always get those division titles mixed) with a title here. Might want DiGiorgi for this one.
- Seymour (5-2) at Derby (2-5), Friday, 7 — Seymour’s not quite out of the Class S playoff race yet. They’ll need to win out. And, hey, this is a nice rivalry game.
- Bethel (5-2) at Newtown (6-1), Friday, 7 – Amazing what an upset can do. In addition to giving their playoff hopes a boost, Bethel dropped some intrigue into the SWC championship race. It won’t mean much if they can’t solve Lou Fenaroli and Newtown. That 41-0 win over Brookfield was frightening.
- Pomperaug (6-1) at Masuk (7-0), Friday, 7 — Finally! A Game! A game for Masuk. Its road to a second straight title finally starts climbing up hill after two months in perpetual 50-point hell. This is their first game against a winning team. Masuk should be ready. It’s been practicing seven weeks for this. Whaddya got Pomperaug? Your season begins or ends here.
- Central (2-5) at Trumbull (2-4), Friday, 7 — The two Greater Bridgeport powers are down on their luck. I saw one Central player Tweet that a win here would make their season. I’m sure Trumbull feels the same.
New Canaan (7-0) at Stamford (4-2), Saturday,
1:305 p.m. – Moved from Friday (time changed), New Canaan has few hurdles left on the way to the FCIAC title game. The Boderick Brothers and Stamford are dangerous. But so is New Canaan QB Matt Milano.
- McMahon at Greenwich, Saturday, 2 – This game’s of minor intrigue only because of McMahon’s shown it’s capable of knocking off the superpowers, it just hasn’t done it yet. Greenwich has a good shot at reaching state playoffs for the first time since 2007 and an outside shot at the FCIAC final. Game on.
- Weston at Notre Dame-Fairfield, Saturday, 2:45 – Every game’s a big game for Weston from here on. They’re in the running for a Class S playoff but still have to play Masuk. So they’d better enjoy this ride, regardless of what happens next week.