Connecticut High School Football

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

2012 FCIAC football cheat sheet

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Darien's Peter Gesualdi

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DEFENDING CHAMPION

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STAPLES (12-1, Class LL runner-up)

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2012 CHAMPIONSHIP

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Friday, Nov. 16 at McDougall Stadium, Trumbull

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TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEW CAPSULES

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TOP 5 PLAYERS TO WATCH

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  • JAMES FRUSCIANTE, WR/DB, Staples — Few state players are as versatile as the Staples senior. The three-sport star caught 37 passes for 870 yards and nine touchdowns, made 62 tackles, had four interceptions and two sacks to lead the football team to last year’s FCIAC title and Class LL championship game.
  • NICK KELLY, RB/DB, Staples – A key component the large and talented senior class at Staples. The tailback does a little bit of everything. He had 67 tackles and four interceptions on defense, plus 800 total offensive yards and 17 touchdowns.
  • PETER GESUALDI, HB/DB, Darien — With almost 900 all-purpose yards and 17 TDs and eight interceptions on defense, the senior returns as one of the FCIAC’s most dynamic players. Darien figures to rely on him heavily in its drive for a second FCIAC title in three years.
  • TAYLOR OLMSTEAD, LB/TE, Greenwich — With the graduation of Shane Nastahowski, the hulking safety and tight end takes over as the brawn and enforcer for the 2012 Cardinals, who likely need to run the table to win an FCIAC title and reach the state playoffs.
  • CONNOR ROWE, QB/DB, Ridgefield — Versatile senior threw for 1974 yards and 18 touchdowns while running for 314 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. He will be the focal point as the Tigers hope to win their first league title since 1982 and advance further through the playoffs. He’s headed to Bryant with teammate Andrew Barton next year.

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KEEP AN EYE ON…

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JOEY ZELKOWITZ, RB, Staples; HENRY BALDWIN, QB, Darien; ANDREW BARTON, LB, Ridgefield; DUKE REPKO, WR/DB, New Canaan; LIAM O’NEIL, QB, Greenwich; SHAQUAN HOWSIE, RB, Trinity Catholic; KYLE VAUGHN, OL/DL, Staples; VINCENT DERAMO, Central; WILL LOCHTEFELD, OT/DT, Darien; LOUIS HAGOPIAN, RB/LB, New Canaan; TOMAR JOSEPH, RB/LB, Norwalk; MATT D’ANDREA, OL/DL, Darien; NICK ROBERTS, QB, Trumbull; GRADY LYNCH, WR/DB, New Canaan; MAX GARRETT, QB/DB, Fairfield Warde; ALEX McMURRAY, WR/DB, Greenwich; XAVIER HARDISON, QB, Central; MIKE LaSALA, C, Wilton; DANNY O’BRIEN, LB, McMahon; TED BOSSIDY, QB, New Canaan; NICK PULASKI, FB/LB, St. Joseph; COREY CHAFEE, WR/DB, Danbury; NICK PELLETIER, WR/DB, St. Joseph; FRANKIE COLANDRO, LB/RB/WR, Stamford; CHRIS MIRRA, WR/LB, Ridgefield; KYLE JORDAN, RB, McMahon; BRETT PHILLIPS, QB/DB, Wilton; COREY BARRETT, OL/DT, Norwalk; DANNY PAOLINO, WR/S, Trumbull; DARREN JACKSON, CB, St. Joseph; ELIJAH DUFFY, QB, Danbury; VOCHAN FOWLER, QB, Bassick.

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THE FAVORITE

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STAPLES Every star of consequence that had a hand in scripting last year’s out-of-nowhere league title and state championship game run returns. The Wreckers have exceptional skill, led by speedy Zelkowitz, Frusciante, Kelly, and Massie; and have superior brawn led by Vaughn and Lonergan. Show us their equal. We challenge you.

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CONTENDERS

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  • GREENWICH Olmstead and McMurray highlight a class embittered by last year’s loss to Staples in the Thanksgiving/FCIAC title game. That kept a worthy Greenwich squad out of the Class LL playoffs. This year’s schedule is even lighter (no New London), so the Cards can’t afford one slip, losing QB Liam O’Neil for half the season with a broken finger wasn’t what the Cards needed.
  • RIDGEFIELD The Tigers overcame losses to Greenwich and Norwalk to qualify for the LL playoffs, but they were force-fed a spoonful of humble pie when Staples ran ‘em over in the quarterfinals. They’re a year older and, with stars Gravitte, Rowe and Barton at the controls, are primed to correct those setbacks, beginning with Greenwich at Tiger Hollow in Week 1.
  • DARIEN The Blue Wave went 8-2, but was once again undone by off-field shenanigans prior to the finale at New Canaan and saw their playoff dreams dashed. Darien still looks formidable with seniors Baldwin and Gesualdi and hulking linemen D’Andrea and Lochtefeld. If they can take care of business early, home games vs. New Canaan and Staples will make or break their year.
  • NEW CANAAN – The stars of yesteryear are all gone. In its place is a group of no-names anxious to continue the program’s run of six straight state championship games. New Canaan’s schedule, once again, gives it ample time to work out the kinks. By default, the Rams should be knocking on the playoff door come November. We’ll see what they’re made of then.

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SLEEPERS

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  • ST. JOSEPH – Quite a few players return from last season’s team-in-transition that finished 4-6. The Hogs, who are now two years removed their run of back-to-back state titles, are back on the rise. They have size and veterans. Are they a player in the FCIAC race? We find out Week 1.
  • STAMFORD — The Black Knights lost star players Bryan and Barry Boderick and all-state safety Chandler Foster. But coach Bryan Hocter says this group is the fastest he’s seen at Stamford. Considering the wealth of talent to star at Boyle Stadium over recent years, that’s saying something.
  • CENTRAL — They’re the FCIAC’s version of cicadas. After a period of several years, Central seems to rise from the ground and wreak terror upon the FCIAC season. It’s last whirlwind tour was in 2009, when it was within minutes of winning its first FCIAC championship. Almost three years later, are these Hilltoppers ripe?
  • TRUMBULL – Until last year’s team crashed and burned at 2-7, the last time a Trumbull team won just two games in a season was 1968 — the late Jerry McDougall’s second year as coach. Just two years removed from a state championship game appearance, coach Bob Maffei believes his team of no-names will rebound in a big way. “You’ll know who they are,” he said.

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5 CAN’T-MISS GAMES

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  • GREENWICH at RIDGEFIELD (Week 1: Sept. 14) – Just like last season, this game virtually makes or breaks either team’s season. The winner gets an extreme inside track at playing FCIAC championship game and a possible state playoff berth. The loser will be climbing Mount Everest just to get into the state playoffs, especially Greenwich. For a Week 1 game, this one should be a virtual playoff atmosphere.
  • ST. JOSEPH at DARIEN (Week 3, Sept. 29) — St. Joseph will have already played a huge opening game at Staples in Week 1. This will be Darien’s first test of the year. This matchup usually provides fireworks. We’ll see if the Cadets can contend or not.
  • STAPLES at DARIEN (Week 7: Oct 27) — The game might be upstaged by the two big one going on the SCC, Xavier-Hand, but this midseason clash will be the turning point of the FCIAC football season.
  • NEW CANAAN at ST. JOSEPH (Week 6, Oct. 20) — Everybody’s wondering about these two teams, perhaps New Canaan more than St. Joseph at this point. This will likely be the Rams’ first big game of the year, and a barometer for what to expect from them come November.
  • STAPLES at GREENWICH, (Week 11: Nov. 22) – Regardless of whether this mega Thanksgiving Day matchup serves as the league championship, it will have major state playoff implications. Somebody’s going home without much of an appetite.

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EXTRA POINTS

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Let there be lights: Staples installed lights at its football field, signaling the end of Saturday afternoon football games. Darien, St. Joseph and Trinity Catholic remain the only league teams without permanent lights at their fields. … Non-Confs: This is the final season of open dates for the nine “large” FCIAC schools, five of them found non-conference games: Trumbull (vs. Branford, Week 1); Danbury (vs. Hamden, Week 2); Westhill (vs. Franklin-Mass., Week 5); Stamford (vs. NFA, Week 6); Harding (vs. Hamden Hall, Week 10); The teams playing nine-game schedules are Greenwich (Week 3), Staples (Week 4), Central (Week 7) and Norwalk (Week 8). …New coaches: Former Bassick coach Frank Marcucio takes over at Westhill for Dick Cerone.

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PREDICTIONS

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  • Divisions — West: Staples; Central: Ridgefield; East: Darien
  • Championship – Staples over Ridgefield

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THE BOTTOM LINE
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By all accounts, this is Staples’ league. The Wreckers came into last year as one of the FCIAC’s most inexperienced and left as the best team in the conference. They have all the pieces and are one of the few state teams with a shot to unseat Xavier in Class LL. Greenwich is a solid pick for No. 2 with Taylor Olmstead and Alex McMurray returning. But losing QB Liam O’Neil for half of the season could be devastating, especially if the Cards can’t take down Ridgefield in Week 1. It’ll be an arduous climb after that. We like Ridgefield because of their veteran leadership, but the Tigers must prove they can win a big game beginning Friday. The whole tone of the FCIAC season will hinge on that first game. Elsewhere, New Canaan is a complete unknown at this point. Luckily, their schedule leaves plenty of room for error. Darien has an impressive collection of returning stars. The Blue Wave’s success will come down to that Week 5 game vs. Staples. Look for either Greenwich, Darien, Ridgefield or New Canaan to face Staples for the league title. If there are going to be any surprises — a like last year’s Norwalk — we think it’ll come down to teams like St. Joseph, Central, Trumbull, Stamford and maybe Wilton. But, in the end, we think Staples has far and away the league’s best team. They’re the league’s hope for a state title.

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FURTHER READING
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Categories: FCIAC
Sean Patrick Bowley

9 Responses

  1. Dbagger says:

    HowsIe is best back in fciac by far and one of best in state yes he was hurt last year but kids a great player a top player and I’m not a trinity fan

  2. We’ll get to see, won’t we?

  3. Brian says:

    SPB,

    I think Staples plays at Darien on 10/27 not 10/12 which is Friday. 27th is a Saturday in Darien with no lights.

  4. War Eagles says:

    The “no-names” will wreak havoc for a number of reasons, including being dissed by the FCIAC Preview Capsules!

  5. Was New Canaan not on there? Their cap is on their preview story, I think.

  6. fciacfan1 says:

    No Norwalk? Only team other that New Canaan and Staples to make it to the state semis last year but they can’t even get a sleeper pick? Oh well, guess they’ll just have to keep winning like usual. Already 1-0.

  7. @FCIAC Fan – Nope. Lost a ton of guys – especially Delshawn Wilson.

    The difference is NC has been to 6 straight championships even while turning over its roster heavily.

    Good win last night for Norwalk. But they gotta prove themselves all over again.

  8. Bob woodbridge says:

    Watched Xavier last Friday night. Even though ND was undermanned, the X is loaded.. Big, fast, great QB, defense.

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