The following is the All-State Team. The best of the best. Players who make this list are excluded from the individual class teams.
The 2011 CHSCA All-State Team
QB — CASEY COCHRAN, Masuk
WR — AARON BERARDINO, Windsor
WR — NICK VITALE, Hand
WR — THOMAS MILONE, Masuk
RB — ARKEEL NEWSOME, Ansonia
RB — MIKE MASTROIANNI, Xavier
RB — ALEX MANWARING, Ledyard
RB — BRENDAN LYTTON, Torrington
RB — KYLE McKINNON, New London
RB — DAVE DiGIORGI, Holy Cross
OL — AUSTIN WEZENSKI, Xavier
OL — DYLAN VANO, Ansonia
OL — RENNICK BRYAN, Hillhouse
DL — SEAN MARINAN, Xavier
DL — JOE DeMICHELE, Hand
DL — LUDOVIC RICHARDSON, Notre Dame-WH
DL — COLE ORMSBY, Windsor
LB – TYLER WOOD, Ansonia
LB — SHANE NASTAHOWSKI, Greenwich
LB — AUSTIN CALITRO, Danbury
LB — KEVIN McDONOUGH, New Canaan LB — MARK ZURLIS, North Haven
DB — DELSHAWN WILSON, Norwalk
DB — RYAN MURPHY, Xavier
DB — TOMMY UNDERCUFFLER, Berlin
DB — RYAN JACOBUCCI, Xavier
Continuing our coverage of the 2011 all-state teams with Class LL and Class L.
12 men per team. Players who made the overall Connecticut all-state team are not included.
OFFENSIVE LINE — Chris Simmons, Manchester; Jamie Horosko, Newtown; Zach Voytek, Trumbull; Serg Jean-Baptiste, Fairfield Prep WIDE RECEIVERS – Sebastian Little, Cheshire; Andrew Isaacs, Manchester; Ian Duggen, Hall; Dan Hebert, Newtown RUNNING BACKS — Joey Zelkowitz, Staples; Ervin Phillips, West Haven; Lou Fenaroli, Newtown. QUARTERBACKS – Pat D’Amato, Xavier KICKER — Matt Paola, Pomperaug
DEFENSIVE LINE – Austin Kisling, New Milford; Audrey Fletcher, Hartford Public; Billy Weyrauch, Cheshire. LINEBACKERS — Dan Palmer, Hartford Public; Jovan Santos-Knox, Xavier; Robert Rose, Shelton; Tyler Valenti, Pomperaug. DEFENSIVE BACKS – James Frusciante, Staples; Chandler Foster, Stamford; Tim Dube, Hamden; Devin O’Reilly, Glastonbury; Nick Kelly, Staples. PUNTER – Jon Heil, Staples
OFFENSIVE LINE – Jake Mikos, North Haven; Voghens Larrien, New London; Tim Farina, East Lyme; Nick Salza, Bunnell; Kalin Killinger, New Canaan TIGHT END — Tom Metyers, Coventry/Windham Tech WIDE RECEIVERS — Khaleed Fields, New London; Jason Piontowski, Masuk; Patrick Newton, New Canaan; Jared Vasquez, Bunnell RUNNING BACKS — Justin Potts, Platt; Colin Markus, Masuk QUARTERBACKS – Matt Milano, New Canaan KICKER — Colin Shapiro, New Canaan
DEFENSIVE LINE – Andrew Savinelli, North Haven; Derick Orange, Coventry/Windham Tech; Emir Kuljanicic, Wethersfield LINEBACKERS – Dylan Leeming, New Canaan; Isaiah Thomason, Maloney; Pat Kirkwood, Fitch; Chad Berry, East Lyme; Matt Walsh, Hand; Matt Duignan, Masuk. DEFENSIVE BACKS – Devon Carillo, Middletown; Jevon Elmore, New London; Jawad Chisholm, Bunnell; Shawn Flynn, Masuk PUNTER — Kevin Premto, Wethersfield.
Getting these teams are like getting the secret formula to coke.
In this case, you have to drive up to Southington and snap pictures of the few sheets coaches have in their folders out at this secret meeting for all-state pictures.
Done and Done.
Without further ado, the Coaches All-State Teams.
This is the real McCoy.
All-state is divided into five: the four playoffs classes plus an overall all-state team. Players who make the overall team do not make the Class teams. There are 12 men per team.
(Note: Misspellings are courtesy of the lists we’ve obtained. Leave a note, and we’ll fix it).
OFFENSIVE LINE — Joe Carrbonneau, Oxford; Justice Doane, Valley Regional; Wes Hopkins, Northwest Catholic; Paul Spada, Rocky Hill; George Smith, Holy Cross. TIGHT END – Zach Wood, Griswold WIDE RECEIVERS — Mike Antonio, Cromwell; Dillon McMahon, Derby. RUNNING BACKS — Dan German, Haddam-Killingworth; Chris Young, Rocky Hill QUARTERBACK – Ray Kreiger, Derby; Athony Morales, Cromwell
DEFENSIVE LINE — Malek Riley, Northwest Catholic; Mike Sullivan, Cromwell; Matt Keeney, Weston. LINEBACKER – Tim Artuce, Stafford; Alec Corazzini, Coginchaug; Jacob Shippee, East Catholic; Anthony Franco, North Branford. DEFENSIVE BACK – Dan Rogers, Weston; Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn, Valley Regional; Nick Gaynor, Northwest Catholic; Isaiah Wright, Holy Cross. PUNTER – J.D. Simons, Weston.
OFFENSIVE LINE– Kyle Wilson, Ledyard; Chris Meucci, Berlin; Sean Merrill, Sheehan; Jake Basillica, Montville; Hakeem Martin, Ansonia; Peter Serencsics, Bethel; Ken Vollaro, Ellington. TIGHT END – Dave DePoi, Brookfield WIDE RECEIVERS– Brandon Johnson, Montville; Connor Falaguerra, Law RUNNING BACK – Harold Cooper, Hillhouse KICKER – Brodie Corless, Sheehan
DEFENSIVE LINE – Ivar Werta, Waterford; Zach Paquette, Ellington; Jake LaRovera, Ansonia LINEBACKERS — Dave Yerxa, Foran; Dallas Smith, Ledyard; Zach Holloway, Montville; Brian Birdsell, Bethel DEFENSIVE BACKS — Brian Gencarelli, Waterford; Aaron Johnson, Stonington; Andre Anderson, Hillhouse; Devante Bonvillian, Wolcott. PUNTER – Matt Aspinwall, Foran.
The SCC released its All-Conference team a few weeks ago.
Here it is:
Division I Offense WR: Nick Vitale (Hand), Tahir Manning (West Haven), Ryan Jacobucci (Xavier) TE: Ryan Murphy (Xavier) OL: Serge Jean-Baptiste (Fairfield Prep), Austin Wezenski (Xavier), Joe Ortoli (Shelton), Dennis Flanagan (Amity) QB: Tyler Vallie (Amity), Pat D’Amato (Xavier), Michael Ecke (Cheshire) RB: Ervin Philips (West Haven), Javon Grey (Notre Dame), Mike Mastrioanni (Xavier), Frank Camerino (Shelton)
Division I Defense DL: Joe Demichele (Hand), Ludovic Richardson (Notre Dame), Sean Marinan, Jr. (Xavier), Tom Spencer (West Haven), Josh Dellacruz (Wilbur Cross) LB: Billy Weyrauch (Cheshire), Robert Rose (Shelton), Anthony Masucci (Notre Dame), Jovan Santos-Knox (Xavier), Matt Walsh (Hand) DB: Vance Giarratana (Hand), Tim Dube (Hamden), Brandon Martin (Notre Dame) P: Xavier Frey (Fairfield Prep)
Division II Offense WR: Connor Falaguerra (Jonathan Law) OL: Rennick Bryan (Hillhouse), Sean Merrill (Sheehan), Derrin Gelston (Guilford), Jake Mikos (North Haven), Mike McInnis (North Haven), Khamil Rangolam (Hillhouse) QB: Billy Gannon (Sheehan), Joe Schwab (North Haven) RB: Harold Cooper, Jr. (Hillhouse), Matt Hoey (Guilford), Joe DeSandre (Lyman Hall) PK: Brodie Corless (Sheehan)
Division II Defense DL: Andrew Savenelli (North Haven), Mark Williams (Branford), Conor Riordan (Lyman Hall), Derrick Gilliam (Hillhouse) LB: Mark Zurlis (North Haven), Dave Yerxa (Foran), Anthony Georgetti (Foran), Joe Costanzo (East Haven) DB: Andre Anderson (Hillhouse), A.J. Pascuzzo (Sheehan), Curtis Sutherland (Branford), Niko Fiorillo (East Haven) P: Matt Aspinwall (Foran)
The 2011 season is over. Girls basketball is already live. Boys basketball and hockey and wrestling etc, etc get underway this week.
But we’re not done with high school football just yet (are we ever?). While football teams from all over say goodbye to their seniors, welcome their freshmen and dive into the long offseason, there’s still one final bow to make in the 2011 season.
It’s time to recognize the best players in the region.
Who was the best of the best of the best?
There is a more involved system going on behind the scenes at Hearst Connecticut Newsgroup for an all-area team that will be unveiled around Christmas week, but here’s a chance for players and fans to lobby for their top picks.
It’s going to require a lot of thought on your part. Picking these teams are tantamount to moving Chess pieces around a board. Typically, we have a bunch of deserving players and only a few spots. So we usually try to slot players into their secondary positions (OL vs. DL etc.) to truly get the best 22 (or so) players on the team.
Here are the categories:
We would like your TOP 2 in the following positions (TOP 5 on the offensive line). There can be NO repeat selections.
OFFENSE: QUARTERBACK, RECEIVER/END, RUNNING BACK, OFFENSIVE LINE (5), KICKER DEFENSE: DEFENSIVE LINE, LINEBACKER, DEFENSIVE BACK, PUNTER ALL-PURPOSE (This spot is reserved for men who excel in a variety of spots and don’t fit into any of the above categories). PLAYER OF THE YEAR: You can pick anybody from above.
Any comments you’d like to make MUST come after the selections.
The Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate, Danbury NewsTimes and Greenwich Time coverage area includes:
All of the FCIAC, all of the SWC and the following schools from the SCC, NVL and CCC: Shelton, Law, Foran, Amity, Notre Dame-WH, West Haven, Fairfield Prep, Ansonia, Seymour, Derby/O‘Brien Tech, Bullard-Havens, Platt Tech, Abbott Tech. (A few fringe teams are being discontinued from our coverage area because they never called our offices to report their games this season).
All other teams are ineligible. This is a regional awards list, so as much as many of you would love to chime in on your favorite players from around the state, please don’t.
Sean Marinan Jr. drops Staples' Nick Kelly behind the line of scrimmage for a loss during Xavier's 42-7 Class LL championship victory over Staples. Xavier was named the No. 1 team in the state for the second-consecutive year.
Welcome to the end of the 2011 season.
The best three teams in the state were Xavier, Hand and Ansonia.
Xavier was No. 1.
The 2011 Falcons looked like the 1985 Chicago Bears out there this season, hammering all opponents into submission with a bone-crushing defense and a huge and physical offensive line that opened massive holes up for its tailbacks, specifically Mike Mastroianni, and allowed its backs and receivers to strike for big yardage and/or scores.
The only thing missing was the Class LL Championship Shuffle video. Why did it have to just come from Ledyard?
This Xavier team would have beaten last year’s Xavier team. And it would have beaten it convincingly. It was that good. Last season its offense leaned on defense to produce a 13-0 state champion. This year, all guns were blazing.
Hand was a close second but, overall, didn’t dominate its common SCC opponents the way Xavier did. Hand had it all, however. It was diverse on offense. Smothering and hard-hitting across the board on defense. The mere presence of Peter Gerson and Joe DeMichele on the lines gave playmakers Nick Vitale and Co. room to work its magic.
Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome runs away from the entire Ledyard defense en route to a 95-yard touchdown run in the Chargers' 38-0 Class M title game. Newsome compiled an all-time, state-best 3,763 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns (total) and led the United States in rushing.
Ansonia, the first 14-0 team in Connecticut history, was equally as talented. The Chargers were big and smothering on the offensive and defensive lines, backed them with brick walls like Tyler Wood, had playmakers in the secondary and, of course, it featured Arkeel Newson, one of the best tailbacks in Connecticut history, a sophomore who cast aside records like few before him.
But the best of the best was Xavier. No question. And what a ride it has been: Back-to-back 13-0 seasons, back-to-back No. 1 rankings. Just an awesome, awesome team.
Where would it rank among the all-time best teams? It’s obviously one of the best teams over the last 10 years. Maybe it is the best. I’ve wracked my brains and only a few teams were as good. Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant posed the question to me and Ned Griffen of The Day in preparation for his post-championship column.
It was one of the best teams since 1997-98 Bloomfield. Maybe one of those Ansonia of Greenwich teams of the mid 2000s or maybe Shelton in 2000 would have a case.
Regardless of your opinions in that matter, this run has been nothing short of extraordinary.
The SCC showed it is easily the best conference in the state, with two dominant state championship teams in the large divisions. The NVL produced the other two champions. Holy Cross might not get the credit it is due because Ansonia blasted the Crusaders twice. But that only masked how good the team really was.
The Final Elite 8
Locally, outside of Ansonia, it was an exciting, but not a tremendous year for our fair teams in Shangri-La.
After the 14-0 Chargers, Staples, Masuk and New Canaan were the region’s best. But those three were all shown the door by Xavier and Hand.
Casey Cochran graduates as Connecticut's All-Time leading passer.
MASUK — Despite losing several major components that produced its dominant 2010 team (which remains my pick for No. 1 a season ago), Masuk 2011 had an outstanding second act in 2011.
Masuk ripped through the SWC and won the league title, outscoring teams by an average score 54-9 (as close as you can get to a weekly suspension under the CIAC’s Score Management policy). Despite an off night, they hammered runner-up and eventual Class LL semifinalist Newtown on Thanskgiving.
But in the quarterfinals, North Haven strength exposed some weaknesses on Masuk’s frontlines. And, in the semifinals, Hand took advantage. After a pretty even first half, the eventual Class L champions’ brute strength eventually won out.
This team will have a drastically different look in 2012. You might not even recognize it. Casey Cochran, the state’s all-time leading passer, is off to UConn in a few weeks. Colin Markus, Shawn Flynn and the rest of the gang will be gone. It’ll be interesting to see just where this program goes from here.
STAPLES – Everyone figured Staples would be tough this season. Few could have expected an FCIAC title and less could have predicted a run to the state championship.
Staples' seniors Robbie Wolf and Jon Heil console each other after the Class LL title game loss to Xavier.
The Wreckers had some returning stars, sure. It was still a very young team. But they rallied around their seniors, overcame a few setbacks and grew up a season early. They grew stronger in the playoffs with a surprisingly overwhelming win over Ridgefield and the comeback vs. Newtown. Staples played as best as it could in the Class LL championship game, but Xavier was that much better.
Now 90 percent of this year’s team returns, including Nick Kelly, Joey Zelkowitz, Jack Massie, James Frusciante, Kevin Kearney, Lance Longergan, Pieter Hoets, et. al.
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but…
Well, you figure it out.
Matt Milano broke Kurt Horton's records at New Canaan.
NEW CANAAN — Other than some cosmetic trophies missing from the display case, New Canaan fans couldn’t ask for much more from this outstanding team. They overcame all kinds of obstacles on their way to a 11-1 season. They leaned on QB Matt Milano early, roaring back to beat Warde and McMahon. Though Milano’s wasn’t around to help the Rams attempt a comeback vs. Stamford, New Canaan merely tuned up its defense and run game to and won four straight — including arch-rival Darien to reach the playoffs and then New London and Windsor.
Alas, like Masuk, New Canaan just wasn’t on par with the eventual Class L champion. Though New Canaan was beat up in the final for the second straight year, it was still an outstanding team.
And, like Masuk, it will have a drastically different look in 2012. Milano, the program’s all-time leading passer, Kevin McDonough, Bobby Distler, Thomas Rochlin and Co. are out the door. But New Canaan’s fall is never too far.
Greenwich's Shane Nastahowski
GREENWICH — You really had to feel for Greenwich. The Cardinals were bit by some disabling injuries early in the year. Losing QB Liam O’Neil to a concussion greatly contributed to the Cardinals’ 51-33 loss to New London in Week 3. But behind senior leaders Kyle Camacho and Shane Nastahowski, they regained their dominant form and played for the FCIAC championship vs. Staples.
But the program just couldn’t take that last step-forward. Staples rallied to beat Greenwich, knocking it out of the playoffs. In any other season, Greenwich would have qualified easily in Class LL. But having all three of the FCIAC’s winless teams on its schedule denied Greenwich crucial playoff points and the Cards went home, perhaps a bit too early.
Though some players return, Greenwich will miss Camacho and Nastahowski tremendously. Hard to foresee where the Cardinals go from here. Their state playoff drought is now up to four years.
[Aside: We kill the SWC, but the FCIAC's scheduling policies are, perhaps, the most confounding thing on the planet. Though the league took a proactive step by grouping its teams into three size-based divisions, it remains tremendously unbalanced and forces the top programs to miss each other throughout the year. Yes, I know the 19-team setup hurts, but something's got to be done to figure this out.]
Norwalk's Delshawn Wilson helped the upstart Bears go all the way to the state semifinals.
NORWALK — As devastated as Greenwich felt, Norwalk was sky-high this year. The Bears literally came out of nowhere to produce the best season in school history. They brought in a vibrant new coach in Sean Ireland, took one of their best athletes, Delshawn Wilson, and put him a quarterback, then built a big and strong defense around Kwazee Rice and Gil Arujo, and went to town.
Norwalk reminded us of Trumbull last year. A big and aggressive defense and athletes who ran around and made big plays on offense. Their only regular-season loss was to New Canaan and, though they missed top FCIAC clubs like Greenwich, Staples and Darien (ugh), the Bears still proved their mettle in the playoffs, reaching the state semifinals before getting run down by eventual champion Xavier.
Like most clubs, Norwalk has some serious rebuilding to do. A large senior class including Wilson, Arujo, Rice, Derek Edwards, Bobby Stringfellow, Johnny Anzalone and Patrick Whalen are gone. While there is plenty of emerging talent remaining like DL Cory Barrett, we wouldn’t be shocked to see the Bears take a step back.
Then again, after what they accomplished this season, we wouldn’t be shocked to see them do it all over again.
Led by back Lou Fenaroli, Newtown went all the way to the Class LL semifinals.
NEWTOWN – After a 16-9 loss to Pomperaug around midseason, 2011 Newtown was looking a lot like its predecessors. But the Hawks made some adjustment and rallied behind seniors FB Lou Fenaroli, Hunter Bassett, Mike Lord, James Horosko, Mac Morlock and Cory Fisher and talented underclassmen like Dan Hebert, Drew Tarantino, Chris Devaney and freshman Juilian Dunn to script one of the program’s best seasons in the last 20 years. Newtown won its next five games convincingly, including an insane overtime win over Bunnell that put them in the playoffs. Though Masuk wiped Newtown out in the Thanksgiving SWC title game, the Hawks rallied again in the state playoffs, beating Hall in the quarterfinals and taking a 14-0 lead over Staples before falling.
Though the Hawks will take a severe hit next year — who will carry the ball like Fenaroli? — many SWC observers say this is a program quickly on the rise. They’ll be a favorite to compete for a long-awaited SWC championship and further playoff success.
NOTRE DAME-WH — Led by a three-headed rushing attack and a staunch defense, Green Knights played, perhaps, the toughest schedule in the state and was in every game except its opening loss to eventual Class LL champion Xavier. They were everyone’s favorite to make a run in the Class L playoffs. But ultimately, Notre Dame couldn’t rally past its offensive shortcomings in a loss to Windsor. Still, losing all three games to a pair of state champions and a state semifinalist is nothing to sneeze at.
The Green Knights of 2011 were as good as, maybe better, than most teams. It graduates a significant portion of its team, including Amihr Bess, Malik Tinney, Anthony Masucci, Eamon DeToro, Javon Grey and many of its linemen. ND might take a step backward, but it’s always a team to fear.
Ridgefield graduates a good senior class, but it will return many of the players who helped script an 8-3 playoffs season, particularly Sam Gravitte and Connor Rowe on offense. The Tigers might be better in 2012. …Darien, which once again suffered some late-season shenanigans by some of its players, will return a pretty good group led by HB Peter Gesualdi and QB Henry Baldwin. …Stamford, which once again finished strong to script one of its best seasons in 15 years, graduates a large and talented senior class. The Black Knights have some serious work to do. …Bunnell loses stars in Jawad Chisholm, David Camille, J.J. Bivona, Jared Vasquez. But outstanding QB Matt Castelot returns. …Pomperaug loses a good senior class, particularly LB Tyler Valenti and WR/K Matt Paola and some linemen. The Panthers might take a hit next year, but shouldn’t fall far. …Shelton loses quite a few seniors, but showed late in the season that its underclassmen are going to be pretty good. … Weston is a team to watch in the SWC with returning talent like RB Danny Rogers.
You can watch replays of ALL the CIAC State championship games this week on the new CPTV.Class L and LL games will also be on MSGVarsity.
We are quickly compiling our 2011 Hearst CT All-Star Team, comprising 50 teams from Fairfield County and New Haven County. Coaches, expect to see a ballot sheet in your email boxes ASAP and, for some, a phone call. The team will be released around Christmas.
And that about wraps it up from here at CT HS Football Central.
It’s back to real life for me. Thanks for following along all season. It was our pleasure to entertain you. And, for the hard-working football players out there, thank you for providing great theater and allowing us to chronicle a big part of your young lives.
Thanks for all the kind comments of the last last few months. It’s been a labor of love, as always.
But now I need a break.
If anyone needs me or has a request (for videos or what-not), I’ll be on the ski slopes. Email me at email@example.com.
Class S champion and NVL runner-up Holy Cross (12-2) chimed in at No. 8.
Locally, FCIAC champion and Class LL runner-up Staples (11-1) took the No. 4 spot. SWC Champion and Class L semifinalist Masuk (11-1) comes in at No. 5. Class L runner-up New Canaan (11-2) finished No. 6.
Class L semifinalists Windsor and New London finished No. 7 and 9, respectively. Notre Dame-West Haven, which lost to both Class LL and L champions and then Windsor in the Class LL quarterfinals, rounded out the poll at No. 10.
Xavier was also a unanimous No. 1 in the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance Poll.
Xavier got all but one of the No. 1 votes in The Day’s state coaches poll.
Final NHR State Media Poll
Others receiving votes: Norwalk (9-2), 225; North Haven (9-2), 192; Ledyard (11-2), 186; Newtown (9-3), 169; Cromwell (10-3), 144; Greenwich (8-2), 84; Hall (9-2), 81; Berlin (10-2), 52; Valley Regional/Old Lyme (10-2), 51; Northwest Catholic (9-3), 21; Conard (9-2), 20; Ellington/Somers (10-1), 17; Glastonbury (8-3) and West Haven (7-3), 11; Wolcott (8-4), 9; Pomperaug (8-2), 7. The following voted: Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin; Bob Barton, New Haven Register; Bill Bloxsom, Hersam-Acorn; Sean Patrick Bowley, Connecticut Post; Don Boyle, Sporting News CT; Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press; Bryant Carpenter, Meriden-Record Journal; George DeMaio, WELI; Mike DiMauro, The Day of New London; Matt Doran, MSG Varsity; Kevin Duffy, Danbury News-Times; Tom Evans, Norwalk Hour; Noah Finz, WTNH-8; Ned Griffen, The Day of New London; John Holt, WFSB-3; Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American; Ken Lipshez, Patch/West Hartford News; Mike Madera, Elm City Newspapers; Joe Morelli, New Haven Register; Dave Phillips, Shore Line Newspapers; Mike Pucci, New Haven Register; Dave Ruden, Stamford Advocate; Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant; Mike Wollschlager, New Haven Register; Jimmy Zanor, Shore Line Newspapers.
Final Day Coaches Poll
Also receiving votes: Notre Dame-West Haven (8-3), 107 points; Cromwell (10-3), 104; North Haven (9-2), 91; Norwalk (9-2), 73; Newtown (9-3), 50; Conard-West Hartford (9-2), 35; Greenwich (8-2), 29; Berlin (10-2), 26; Valley Regional/Old Lyme (10-2), 25; Hall-West Hartford (9-2), 18; Northwest Catholic-West Hartford (9-3), 17; Farmington (9-1), 15; Bunnell-Stratford (8-2), 8; Tie, Waterford (7-4) and West Haven (7-3), 7. The following coaches voted: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Jim Buonocore, Ledyard; Craig Bruno, Bunnell-Stratford; Dave Cadelina, Bridgeport Central; Steve Filippone, Hand-Madison; Rob Fleeting, Windsor; Tanner Grove, Montville; Jude Kelly, St. Paul-Bristol; Tim King, Valley Regional-Deep River; Sean Marinan, Xavier-Middletown; John Murphy, Masuk-Monroe; Marce Petroccio, Staples-Westport; Bob Zito, Maloney-Meriden.
Dave Cadelina of Bridgeport Central could not be reached to vote.
CSWA Media Poll
Also Receiving Votes: Ledyard 11-2 114; Norwalk 9-2 106; Newtown 9-3 85; Cromwell 10-3 80; North Haven 9-2 60; Greenwich 8-2 32; Hall 9-2 21; Berlin 10-2 19; Valley Regional/Old Lyme 10-2 16; Shelton 8-2 8; Northwest Catholic 9-3 5; Conard 9-2 4; North Branford 4; Wolcott 8-4 3; Darien 2; Farmington 9-1 2; Bunnell 1 Voters: Brian Barreto (NVL Blog), Bob Barton (CT H.S. Football Record Book), Bill Bloxsom (Hersam Acorn), Jim Bransfield (Middletown Press), Kyle Brennan (Waterbury Republican-American), George DeMaio (WELI Radio), Gerry deSimas (Collinsville Publishing Co.), Bill Donovan (WXLM 980 AM), Mark Fijalkowski (CT Sports Network), Dave Greenleaf (Bristol Press), Mike Guerrera (Southington Citizen), John Holt (WFSB Channel 3), Larry Kelley (SE Conn Patch), Bob Lazzari (Valley Times), Greg Lederer (Cheshire Herald), Ken Lipshez (Farmington/W. Hartford Patch), Robert Mayer (Berlin Patch), Eric Montgomery (Minuteman Newspapers), Sean Patrick Bowley (Connecticut Post), Dave Phillips (Shoreline Newspapers), Mike Pucci (New Haven Register), Paul Rosano (Meriden Record-Journal), Dave Ruden (Stamford Advocate), Elliott Schickler (Westport News), Mike Suppe (Hersam Acorn Newspapers), Peter Vander Veer (Hersam Acorn Newspapers), Tom Yantz (Hartford Courant), Rich Zalusky (Willimantic Chronicle), Jimmy Zanor (Shore Line Times).
We start every new football season looking back on the season that preceded it, transferring what we remember from the December before and planting it in September. Week by week, we readjust our preconceptions from there.
Teams are never what they were the season before. A team may feature the same names and duplicate its predecessors accomplishments, but, really, it’s never the same team. The kids you knew grow older, bigger, faster over the course of 12 months. New players bubble up through the depth chart. You may not notice them at first, but they eventually make their contributions.
We began 2011 trying to cut through the Masuk-Xavier No. 1 debate from 2010, hoping we could somehow get closer to ending the debate. And we went through the season like that. Masuk? Xavier? Masuk. Xavier.
But, of course, these weren’t the same teams from a year ago. Masuk 2011 wasn’t Masuk 2010. Xavier 2011 wasn’t Xavier 2010. This was a new season with new players, improved players and new stars.
As we all found out, Masuk 2011 wasn’t as good as Masuk 2010. Not even close. As we all found out. Xavier 2011 was better than Xavier 2010.
We also found out Hand-Madison had a damn good football team. An incredibly dominant one.
And we discovered the exponential improvement of the Ansonia team that fell a few touchdowns short in 2010.
So now with four new state champions crowned and the 2011 season’s curtain coming down like an anvil, we ask you now to develop an acute case of amnesia. Erase, once and for all, the memories of 2010 and take a look at August until last Saturday.
Who was the best team in the state?
Xavier, of SCC Division I West, which finished 13-0, bludgeoned all opponents by an average score of 43-8, including three playoff games by a combined score of 131-27. Xavier allowed under 400 total yards in the state playoffs and crushed the FCIAC champion 42-7 in the title game. Xavier showed it could win every which way this year. It only trailed once all season, 7-6 to Norwalk in the Class LL semifinals vs. Norwalk. Staples coach Marce Petroccio endorsed them for No. 1.
Hand, of the SCC Division I East, which also finished 13-0, beat its opponents by an average score of 37-10. Hand had tremendous offensive balance, with both a first-year quarterback Henry Foye, and outstanding offensive players Nick Vitale and, later in the season, tailback Kevin Frey, who torched Masuk for 155 yards and New Canaan for 211. Hand’s defense allowed just 127 points all year. They won a title in, arguably, the toughest of the four state playoff divisions. They got New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli’s vote for No. 1.
And finally, you have Ansonia, the first 14-0 team in state history which boasted the Nation’s top tailback, Arkeel Newsome, who finished with a state-record 3,763 yards rushing and record 62 total touchdowns. Ansonia’s defense allowed just 154 points all season, usually in the late-stages of games, and scored a state-best 624 points. Ansonia also defeated Class S champion Holy Cross twice, 45-13 in the regular season and 33-0 in the NVL championship game.
To me, I think it’s a no-brainer. But, as we’ve seen from the comments on the previous post, there’s plenty of other opinions out there.
So… Who’s No. 1?
What’s your Top 10?
The final polls will be unveiled today and we’ll wrap the whole season up shortly and start picking our all-star teams, which will be unveiled around Christmastime.
Many of you have already posted your No. 1 and your final Top 10 (or 5) on the previous post. Since the comments might have been buried, feel free to repost here and make your case for No. 1.