Connecticut High School Football

High School Football news, analysis, commentary and features from the reporters of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

2012 South-West Conference football cheat sheet

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Masuk's Thomas Milone (left) and Newtown's Dan Hebert (right) are two of the top players in the SWC.

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DEFENDING CHAMPION

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MASUK (12-1, Class L semifinalist)

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2012 CHAMPIONSHIP

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Thursday, Nov. 15 at Bunnell High School

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TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEW CAPSULES

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TOP 5 PLAYERS TO WATCH

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  • THOMAS MILONE, WR/RB/QB/DB/KR, Masuk — UConn’s baseball team got its hands on the all-state center fielder. SWC defenses probably won’t be so fortunate. He’ll play everywhere, do everything. [Related: Milone a top baseball prospect, couldn't quit football]
  • DAN HEBERT, RB/WR/QB/DB/KR, Newtown — Dynamic and explosive senior can do just about anything with a football tucked beneath his arm. Right up there with Milone as one of the league’s top players. [Related: Hebert a natural-born playmaker]
  • BRYAN CASTELOT, QB, Bunnell — The senior could be a guard than the state’s most prolific returning quarterback. But while you’re too busy sizing him up, Castelo will cut you deep with daggers thrown half a football field away. [Related: Castelot leads Bunnell's air attack]
  • PETER SERENCSICS, OL/DL, Bethel — The all-state lineman is one of few returning stars from last year’s playoff team. Impressed Ansonia’s staff during last year’s state playoffs. Running his way not advised.
  • BOEING BROWN, QB/WR/DB/P, Brookfield — After spending his first two years as starting quarterback, Brown is being asked to play multiple roles in 2012 to help Brookfield contend for an SWC title while junior Brad Westmark begins the year as the primary quarterback. At 6-foot-3, Brown can clearly fit the bill. “He’s our best athlete,” coach Rich Angarano said.

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KEEP AN EYE ON…

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CONNOR SHANAHAN, QB, New Milford; TYLER HASSETT, QB/DB/P, Weston; JASON KRAMER, RB/LB, Bunnell; DREW TARANTINO, QB, Newtown; BRENNEN DIAZ, QB/LB, Oxford; JOE PACHECO, WR/DB, New Fairfield; JUSTIN DEVELLIS, WR/DB, Newtown; CAL DANIELS, TE/DE, Bethel; NICK GUARDI, FB/DL, New Fairfield; CHRIS DEVANEY, WR/DB, Newtown; JACK SHABAN, QB/DB, Barlow; ERIC BEATTY, QB, Pomperaug; DEVANTE TEEL, WR, Bunnell; JULIAN DUNN, TE/DL, Newtown; FRANK BACARELLA, RB/DB, Masuk; DYLAN McALLISTER, RB/LB, Pomperaug; MALIK CUMMINGS, QB, Masuk; TOM SALVATORE, OL/DL, Brookfield; ANDREW CALZONE, WR/DB, Bunnell; DANA SMITH, RB/DB, Stratford; JELANI ROMAN, OLB/TE, Notre Dame-Fairfield; TERRENCE N’DABIAN, WR/DB, Bunnell; BRAD WESTMARK, QB/DB, Brookfield; ALEX LOCKWOOD, RB/LB, Barlow; ERIC DAMMEN-BROWER, WR/LB, Weston;

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THE FAVORITE

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NEWTOWN — Headlined by Hebert, Tarantino, DeVellis and Devaney, the Nighthawks bring back the most experienced and talented team in the league. But this is a tentative spot. Graduation stripped Newtown of big back Lou Fenaroli and several key linemen. And they still have to psychologically overcome Masuk when it comes title time. Newtown has been demolished in its most-recent trips to the SWC championship game. They haven’t won a league title since its inception in 1996.

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CONTENDERS

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  • MASUK — What? Because Casey Cochran and last year’s massive senior class is gone, now we have to drop the two-time defending champions back to the pack? Masuk was winning titles and dominating the league long before Cochran ever stepped onto a pee-wee football field. They can still play football in Monroe and, with Milone leading the way, this group of no-names should keep up the tradition.
  • BUNNELL — Castelot is back at the controls and, though last year’s stud receivers are gone, he should have few troubles breaking in new troops. Bunnell will score a lot. Their biggest problem might be the defense, which gave up points in bunches last season. The schedule is also tougher than previous years.
  • BROOKFIELD — The Bobcats have big boys on the line, which should give them a significant advantage over most of the league. Brookfield’s in search of a good backs and receivers to move the ball like they did two years ago when they reached the Class M semifinals. Putting Brown into a utility role might do wonders.
  • BETHEL — We know sparkplugs Brandon Schmidt and Brian Birdsell are gone. But there’s still strength up front with Serenscics, Daniels and Trevor Ochs and Joey Piatnik manning the lines. If the Wildcats can find anyone half of Schmidt and Birdsell’s caliber, they’ll be solid.
  • POMPERAUG — This, too, is a tentative position. The Panthers were gutted by graduation in the offseason and its lines are smaller than in year’s past. But it’s Pomperaug. When was the last time the Panthers weren’t a factor? We’re going to give it the benefit of the doubt for now. We’ll find out when they start the season vs. Masuk and Newtown.

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DARK HORSES

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  • WESTON — Hassett returns at quarterback for the third season and is one of the league’s most outstanding players. Losing all-state players like defensive lineman Matt Keeney and J.D. Simons hurts. Losing Dan Rogers is a crushing blow. Coaches from across the league have been talking up the Trojans. We think Weston should be good. As a state playoff team? Let’s see if any other players emerge first.
  • NEW MILFORD — Connor Shanahan has earned praise across the league as one of the most underrated players. He can play, but can’t do it all on his own. Who will carry and catch the ball? We keep waiting for the Green Wave to break through. Until they win a big game, we’ll wait on calling them a contender.
  • NEW FAIRFIELD — Have good skill players, especially big back Nick Guardi, tailback Joe Pacheco. The lines are new, so it remains to be seen if the Rebels can get them room to roam.

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5 CAN’T MISS GAMES

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  • POMPERAUG at NEWTOWN (Week 1, Sept. 14) – Forget Pomperaug’s opening clash against Masuk. That one’s big, no doubt. But this game will decide whether the Panthers will be SWC players or not. Pomperaug won this match-up last season, nearly derailing Newtown’s playoff hopes.
  • BUNNELL at BROOKFIELD (Week 2, Sept. 21) — This early-season clash of SWC heavyweights will make a contender of the champion. The loser will have to look for redemption elsewhere.
  • MASUK at BUNNELL (Week 4, Oct. 5) — The rivalry, which dominated the second half of the last decade, is rekindled after a one-year absence from the schedule. At Week 4, this is a statement game of the season.
  • BUNNELL at NEWTOWN (Week 10, Nov. 9) — This game’s always a nail-biter. Last year’s match-up turned out to be the game of the year, a 48-42 overtime victory that sent Newtown to the Class LL playoffs.
  • NEWTOWN at MASUK (Week 11, Nov. 24) — For the last two seasons, this Thanksgiving clash has served as the SWC title game. Even without that designation, this match-up always has major state playoff implications.

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EXTRA POINTS

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Switch-a-roo: The SWC has realigned for the 2012 season. There are now three divisions based on school size: The Colonial (Masuk, Newtown, New Milford, Pomperaug); The Yankee (Bunnell, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Stratford, Barlow); The Patriot (Weston, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Oxford, Immaculate). The SWC championship game participants will be decided based on overall record, with head-to-head and SWC power points used as tiebreakers. Two teams from the same division can reach the title game. The realignment almost assure the league’s top teams will play each other more often than years past. …New coaches: Tom Taylor, whose last stint in the league resulted in New Milford’s only SWC title game appearance, takes over for Bryan Pinnabell at Immaculate; Dawon Dicks takes over for Rico Brogna at Notre Dame-Fairfield. …Notable transfers: Weston lost twins Dan and Pat Rogers, to Hand-Madison. Dan Rogers was the Trojans’ leading rusher and scorer a year ago. Notre Dame-Fairfield lost do-everything back Nigel Beckford to a prep school in Virginia. … Turf war: Oxford and Stratford are building turf fields. Oxford’s field is being constructed on its practice field, so home games will remain at Oxford. Stratford will play the majority of their games at Bunnell, but hopes to return to Penders Field for Senior Night in November … Next year: The league will play the NVL next season when the CIAC allows 11-game schedules.

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PREDICTIONS

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  • Champions — Colonial: Masuk; Yankee: Brookfield; Patriot: Weston. SWC Champion: Masuk over Newtown
  • Playoff TeamsMasuk (L), Newtown (LL), Brookfield (M).

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THE BOTTOM LINE

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Masuk’s two-year reign of terror is over. …Or is it? We’ll find out early just how far Milone can carry the two-time defending champions. We don’t think they’ll fall far, if at all. By all accounts this is Newtown’s league to win. Maybe. Though the Hawks return the most talent, they’re not the slam-dunk pick like Masuk has been the previous two seasons. They do have the experience edge early in the season. Expect to see some haymakers over the first four weeks of the season as the usual heavyweights, Newtown, Masuk, Bunnell, Pomperaug and Brookfield, face each other. Whomever emerges unscathed after Week 4 will have the inside track to the state playoffs and the league title game. Weston earned a lot of preseason praise. There’s reason to expect they can make a run at a Class M playoff berth. New Milford and New Fairfield have a few standouts, but still must prove themselves. Oxford will be playing a lot of juniors and might be a year away. Barlow has ballcarriers, but who will block for them? Notre Dame and Immaculate have new coaches, but are far from being the forces they were 10 years ago. We like Masuk to frustrate everyone by edging Newtown for the league title. State champions from the SWC might be a stretch this season.

Sean Patrick Bowley

3 Responses

  1. Everybody. Comments are now accepted here. Quick note: Please no disparaging players.

  2. R-MAC says:

    Let the games begin ! I am on the Masuk bandwagon for yet another season. I have been watching these boys grow up playing football since they were Monroe Lions in the AYF league. Never a dull moment with this bunch. Milone is the standout player and will play both sides of the ball. The Panthers are well coached and well conditioned and has a quick overall team in general. Go Panthers !

  3. John Flynn says:

    i dont understand why people are saying the Cochran era is over..before Cochran there were no names and they won and won but now that Cochran and company left there going to drop. this is a very dangerous football team. they might not put up 50 but they will play with heart and physicality WATCH OUT swc and and class L

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