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.