We move to the Class M and S previews. Just two regional teams reside here, and they’re playing each other. The rest of the contestants are all ECC, Pequot, CSC, CCC and upper-NVL.
The playoff schedule:
- Quarterfinals: Tuesday Nov. 29 – 6:30 p.m. at sites of the higher seed (except Rocky Hill-Valley Regional, which is at 5:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Saturday, Dec 3 at the following sites
- Middletown HS (2 p.m.)
- Cheshire HS (2 p.m.)
- Bunnell HS (2 p.m.)
- Sheehan HS (2 p.m.)
- East Haven HS (2 p.m.)
- Falcon Field, Meriden (2 p.m.)
- Municipal Stadium, Waterbury (2 p.m.)
- West Haven HS (two games at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
- Championships: Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at Rentschler Field (One game on Friday evening at 6:30 / Three games on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.)
No. 8 Bethel at No. 1 Ansonia
WHERE — Jarvis Stadium, Ansonia
RECORDS — Bethel 7-3, Ansonia 11-0 (NVL Champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Bethel 1-2; Ansonia 26-14
LAST APPEARANCE – Bethel: 2009 (1-1, lost to Berlin 46-6 in Class M final); Ansonia (2-1, lost to St. Joseph 42-27 in Class S final).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Bethel: Sr. QB/DB Brandon Schmidt (1,373 yards, 15 TDs rushing; 815 yards, 2 TDs passing); Sr. LB/RB Brian Birdsell (933 yards, 15 TDs rushing; 15 tackles/gm); Sr. OL/DL Peter Serenicsis (8 sacks, 12 tackles/gm); Sr. OL/DL Phillipe Daluz (11 tackles/gm); Sr. RB/DB William Quinn (6 TD). Ansonia: Jr. RB/DB Arkeel Newsome (2,776 yards, 46 TDs rushing); Sr. TE/DE Jake LaRovera; Sr. LB Tyler Wood; Sr. OL/DL Dylan Vano; Sr. OL/DL Tyler Williams; Sr. OL/DL Hakeem Martin; Sr. WR/DB Andrew Matos (472 receiving yards, 5 TD); Sr. QB Elliot Chudwick.
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Ansonia has won the most CIAC state championships in the state: 16. …Arkeel Newsome is the state’s leading rusher and, with 50 touchdowns, recently broke the single-season touchdown record held by former Ansonia all-state back Alex Thomas. …This is Bethel’s third state playoff berth and second in three years. Bethel reached the 1988 finals (lost to St. Joseph). …Bethel upset New London and lost to Berlin in 2009 Class M finals. Schmidt was a tailback in 2009. …Bethel’s has been outscored 108-21 in in its three losses: Newtown (33-7), Pomperaug (45-7) and Weston (30-7). The Wildcats upset Bunnell 56-46 in Week 8.
OUR PICK – Ansonia 49-14
No. 5 Cheney Tech at No. 4 Berlin
WHERE — Scalise Field, Sage Park, Berlin
RECORDS — Cheney Tech 9-1 (CSC runners-up); Berlin 9-1
PLAYOFF RECORD — Cheney Tech: 0-1; Berlin 3-13
LAST APPEARANCE – Cheney Tech: 2008 (0-1, lost to Ledyard 43-0 in Class M semifinals); Berlin: 2010 (0-1, lost to Hillhouse 33-30 in Class M quarterfinals).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Cheney Tech: Sr. RB/LB DaShaun Smith (16.3 ppg); Sr. QB/CB Dejahn Dawkins; Sr. RB/MLB Desean Higgins. Berlin: Sr. WR Tommy Undercuffler (616 yards, 5 TDs rushing; 490 yards, 6 TDs receiving); Soph. QB Mitch Williams (1,467 yards, 14 TDs passing); Jr. RB/LB Wojtus Zak; Jr. OL/DL Chris Meucci (4 sacks).
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Berlin’s Tommy Undercuffler recently committed to Yale… Berlin’s only loss was to Class S playoff participant Northwest Catholic 20-3 in Week 5. … Berlin is ranked in the state’s top 25 in passing yards (1,513). …Cheney Tech is ranked No. 11 in the state in rushing yards with 2,719. …This is the school’s second solo playoff berth. It competed with East Catholic in the 2003 (Class L) and 2004 (Class LL) state playoffs. …Its only loss was to CSC champion and Class S participant Capital Prep, 34-22.
OUR PICK – Berlin 39-0
No. 6 Waterford at No. 3 Ledyard
WHERE — Mignault Field, Ledyard
RECORDS — Waterford 7-3; Ledyard 9-1
PLAYOFF RECORD — Waterford 0-1; Ledyard 8-7
LAST APPEARANCE – Waterford: 2003 (0-1, lost to Brookfield 28-12 in Class SS semifinals); Ledyard: 2008 (1-1, lost to Brookfield 16-14 in Class M final).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Waterford: Sr. FB/LB Kobey Coburn; Sr. FL/DB John Palladino; Sr. QB/DB Brian Gencarelli; Sr. RB Y-Kim Sheppard; Rr. OL/DL Ivar Wirta. Ledyard: Sr. RB/DB Alex Manwearing (2,068 yards, 16 TDs rushing); Jr. QB John Rainey (5 TDs passing); Sr. RB/LB Matt Daggett (12 tackles/gm; 6 sacks); Sr. TE/LB Dallas Smith (4 sacks). Sr. WR Slade Backsley.
YOU SHOULD– Ledyard is 9th in the state in rushing yards (2,819). …Manwearing is fourth in the state and broke Tim Allen’s ECC season rushing record vs Fitch. …The teams met four weeks ago with Ledyard winning 15-7. …Ledyard’s only loss was to Class L participant New London, 33-14; Waterford’s other losses were to Montville (35-2) in Week 2 and CCC’s Windsor 42-13 two weeks ago. Gencarelli and Sheppard were injured in that game, but have returned.
OUR PICK – Ledyard 21-14
No. 7 Wolcott at No. 2 Ellington/Somers
WHERE — Ellington High School
RECORDS — Wolcott 7-3; Ellington/Somers 10-0
PLAYOFF RECORD — Wolcott: first appearance. Ellington/Somers: first appearance
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Wolcott: Jr. QB Mike Nichol (1,481 yards, 14 TD passing; 816 yards, 12 TD rushing); Sr. RB Devante Bonvillian (623 yards, 10 TD rushing; 485 yards, 3 TD receiving); Sr. RB/LB Joe Russo; Soph. LB Mike Coulliard (8 INT); Soph. WR/DB Adam Santopietro. Ellington/Somers: Sr. QB/LB Bryan Rider (537 yards, 5 TD passing); Sr. RB/DB Mitch DiResta (950 yards, 9 TD rushing; 5 INT); Sr. RB/LB Luke Levasseur; Sr. RB/LB Jake Schneider (4 sacks).
YOUR SHOULD KNOW – Wolcott averages 27 points per game, allows 25. It comes into the playoffs having lost two of its final three games, to NVL Championship game participants Ansonia 48-14 and Holy Cross 35-20. …Wolcott has only allowed less than 12 points once, a 14-6 win over Kennedy. …Ellington/Somers allows just 7.1 points per game, 2nd in the state. It has two shutouts and seven victories in which it allowed less than 10 points. …Ellington/Somers’ closest win was a 10-8 victory over Stafford/East Windsor.
OUR PICK – Wolcott 32-14
No. 8 Cromwell at No. 1 Capital Prep/Classical Magnet
WHERE — Dillon Stadium, Hartford
RECORDS — Cromwell 8-2; Capital Prep/Classical Magnet 10-0 (CSC champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Cromwell 4-5; Capital Prep/Classical Magnet: First appearance
LAST APPEARANCE – Cromwell: 4-5; Capital Prep/Classical: None.
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Cromwell: Anthony Morales (2,993 yards, 38 TDs); Derrick Villard (1,550 yards, 21 TDs rushing); Sr. OL/DL Mike Sullivan; Sr. WR/DB/K Brett Director (838 yards, 9 TDs receiving); Capital Prep/Classical: Sr. RB/LB Cre’shon Morrison (1,614 yards, 24 TDs rushing); Jr. QB/DB Antwan Byrd; Soph. RB/LB Mike Jones (6-1, 235), Sr. WR Derrick Sarfo-Darko (702 yards, 3 TDs receiving)
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Cromwell’s Morales is the state’s leading passer; Villard is the state’s seventh-leading rushers. …Cromwell has 5,122 yards of total offense, best in the state. It also owns the state’s top-ranked passing attack and is third-highest scoring team (44.2 ppg). …Cromwell is also No. 3 in sacks (32). …Capital Prep’s Morrison is ninth on the state rushing list and is sixth in the state scoring list with 16.9 points per game. …This is just Capital Prep/Classical’s third varsity season.
OUR PICK – Cromwell 49-7
No. 5 Northwest Catholic at No. 4 North Branford
WHERE — Colafati Field, North Branford
RECORDS — Northwest Catholic 8-2; North Branford 9-1
PLAYOFF RECORD — NWC 1-4; North Branford 2-5
LAST APPEARANCE – NWC: 2009 (1-1, lost to Hyde 21-0 in Class S final); North Branford: 2008 (0-1, lost to Ansonia 28-0 in Class S semifinal).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – North Branford: Jr. QB Brandan Basil (2,010 yards, 29 TDs passing); Jr. RB/LB Dale Hausman (783 yards, 12 TDs rushing); Jr. Joe DeLucia (491 yards, 11 TDs receiving); Jr. LB Gary Falanga; Sr. G/LB Anthony Franco (13.1 tackles/gm).Northwest Catholic: Sr. QB/DB Tyler Calitri; Sr. RB Anthony Carter; Sr. WR David Blackwell; Jr. WR/RB/S Nicholas Gaynor; Sr. C/DT Malik Reilly; Sr. OG/DT Wesley Hopkins; Sr. DB Christian Farrell
YOU SHOULD KNOW – North Branford lost the season-opening game 48-47 to Valley Regional and has since won nine straight. …The T-Birds are seventh in the state in scoring (40 ppg) and 12th in total offense. …Basil, the son of coach Mark Basil, is ranked 11th in the state in passing yards. …DeLucia is the 20th ranked scorer in the state (12 ppg). …NWC has allowed 66 points, No. 1 in Connecticut, including five shut outs. NWC averages 34 points per game. …It’s losses were to CCC Division II West foes Rocky Hill (14-13 on Thanksgiving) and Bloomfield (29-28 in OT).
OUR PICK – Northwest Catholic 23-20
No. 6 Rocky Hill at No. 3 Valley Regional/Old Lyme
WHERE — Valley Regional High School, Deep River – 5:30 p.m.
RECORDS — Valley Regional/Old Lyme 9-1; Rocky Hill 8-2
PLAYOFF RECORD — Valley Regional/Old Lyme 1-1; Rocky Hill 0-2
LAST APPEARANCE – Valley Regional/Old Lyme: 2010 (1-1, lost to St. Joseph 44-7 in Class S semifinals); Rocky Hill: 2008 (0-1, lost to Seymour in Class SS semifinals).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Valley Regional/Old Lyme: Sr. QB/FS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn (936 yards, 13 TDs passing; 1,305 yards, 22 TDs rushing; 11.8 tackles, 6 INT); Sr. DB/RB Jordan Santil; Sr. DT/G Justus Doane (6-0, 248); Rocky Hill: Soph. RB/LB Chris Young (1,438 yards, 20 TDs rushing); Jr. RB/LB Alex DeNardo (913 yards, 12 TDs rushing); Sr. WR/DB Matt Clapp; Sr. G/LB Nick Carducci (5-8, 140).
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Rocky Hill was 2-2 near midseason and finished with six straight wins, including a 13-12 upset of Northwest Catholic, to qualify for its third state playoff berth. …Rocky Hill has the eighth-most rushing yards in Connecticut (2,819 yards); has only passed for just 154 yards and 2 TDs this year on 32 attempts. …Valley is 14th in the state in rushing, and 18th in total offense, led by Sonn, who is among top 25 leaders in rushing yards, interceptions and tackles. …The team won nine straight to start the season before a 6-0 upset vs. Haddam-Killingworth on Thanksgiving eve. …Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Sr. DT/OT Owen Guarino and Sr. TE Colin Devlin are both injured and questionable.
OUR PICK – Valley Regional 29-20
No. 7 Haddam-Killingworth at No. 2 Holy Cross
WHERE — Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
RECORDS — Haddam-Killingworth 8-2; Holy Cross 9-2
PLAYOFF RECORD — Haddam-Killingworth 0-1; Holy Cross 3-5
LAST APPEARANCE – Haddam-Killingworth: 1994 (0-1, lost to Putnam 20-14 in Class S final); Holy Cross: 2009 (0-1, lost to St. Joseph 56-6 in Class SS semifinals)
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Haddam-Killingworth: Sr. RB/LB Dan German (1,724 yards, 22 TD; Jr. QB Alex DiMauro-D’Amico (681 yards, 7 TD passing); Jr. FB/LB Nathan Cruz (488 yards, 11 TD rushing; 10 tackles/gm); Sr. SE/CB Tyler Genoveseio (6 INT) Holy Cross: Sr. RB/LB Dave DiGiorgi; Sr. QB Zach Brown; Sr. LB/OL Anthony Jemele (6-0, 215); Jr. RB/LB Adrian Brown; Sr. WR/DB Paul Cotter; Sr. LB Joe Parent.
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Haddam-Killingworth started the season 1-2. It won seven straight, including a 6-0 upset of Valley Regional, to qualify for its second state playoffs. …H-K has the 12th-most rushing yards in Connecticut (2,982), led by RB Dan German, who is ranked sixth Connecticut and 12th in scoring (13.2 ppg). …H-K averages just under 300 rushing yards per game. …Cruz might be out after an injury vs. Valley Regional. …Take away two losses to Ansonia, Holy Cross is 9-0 and has outscored its other nine NVL opponents 298-122, or an average of 30-12. …The Crusaders have won six of their last seven games, including a 33-0 loss to Ansonia in an non-CIAC sanctioned NVL championship game. Ansonia also defeated HC 45-13 in the regular season.
OUR PICK – Holy Cross 36-12