Connecticut High School Football

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

Sunday Crunch: Attack of the Creatures from the Pits!

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Prepare yourself!

Prepare to scream in TERROR!

Deep! Deep from the depths of the nether regions, come creatures to vile, so merciless, so unrelenting, they threaten to ruin the season of your favorite high school football team!

You’ll experience Thrills! and Chills! as these nightmares come to a football field near you.

You grab your girlfriend or boyfriend tight! You won’t want to let go!

You’ll be petrified in sheer terror as these dark creatures run amok across this land!

They are, the Creatures from the Pits!

This is no B-Movie.

This is real.

Here at high school football central, we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop — heavily, like in some Monty Python skit — on long-dormant, often muddling programs.

Yet these teams, most of whom have served as fodder for the traditional powers over the years, don’t look like they’re going away any time soon.

Trinity Catholic handled Norwalk. The Crusaders are unbeaten. Westhill crushed Central 40-0 to move to 3-1. Barlow hammered Stratford, they’re 4-0. Weston defeated Immaculate. They’re 4-0. Fairfield Prep crushed Shelton. They’re 3-1. Derby, New Fairfield and Oxford are all 3-1.

It’s been quite a year for the underdog programs in southwestern Connecticut.

Sure, the usual suspects still rule. Masuk and Newtown are ruling the SWC. Staples, Greenwich, St. Joseph, Darien and New Canaan (for the most part) are in control in the FCIAC. Xavier, Hand, Hillhouse and North Haven are handling the SCC. Ansonia, the NVL.

But these underdogs — many of whom have been down on their luck recently (Prep), or haven’t had a winning season in a long time (Westhill) — are adding some extra spice to the 2012 season.

They’re giving us reason to be excited about the possibilities — the possibilities of seeing new names and faces playing big games entering the second half of the 2012 high school football season.

But who among these teams are legit?

Who among them are just passing fads?

Let’s take a look at these creatures from the pits who have risen up and are running wild among the citizenry.

Trinity Catholic

Last winning season: 2008 (7-4)
Record: 4-0.
Signature win: 35-28 (OT) over New Canaan.
Why they’re winning: The FCIAC’s top tailback in Shaq Howsie, and a class determined to win.
What’s their limit?: The Crusaders have answered the bell. A huge game with rival Stamford is up next. Win that, and Trinity Catholic will be set up wonderfully for a legitimate run at a postseason berth in Class S. Monster games with Darien and St. Joseph in Weeks 8 and 9 will determine their postseason fate.

Barlow

Last winning season: 2006 (7-3)
2012 Record: 4-0
Signature win: 34-14 over New Fairfield
Why they’re winning: The triple option has been unstoppable under the direction of star QB Jack Shaban and HB Alex Lockwood. 1,700 rushing yards in four games? Yow.
What’s their limit?: We can’t see this freight train grinding down anytime soon. They’re looking good at least until November, when the Falcons finishe with big games vs. Brookfield and Masuk. They’d have to beat both to reach their first league title game since 1987 (when the SWC was the WCC). That’s a tall order. Then there’s a suddenly huge Thanksgiving Day game with Weston, which figures to have major Class M playoff implications.

Fairfield Prep

Last winning season: 2008 (8-2)
Record: 3-1
Signature win: 42-3 over Shelton
Why they’re winning: Third-year coach Tom Shea has mined his roster of 80 players, found the right pieces and has them in the right spots, especially sophomore back John Moten.
What’s their limit?: Prep’s only loss was to Xavier. It avoids Hand. The only heavy hitter left on the schedule until Thanksgiving is Cheshire. That’s Friday. Win, and the Jesuits can start thinking big — like state-playoff big, like old school need-to-beat-West-Haven on-Thanksgiving big. This is not in dispute: After last week’s result, we can say Fairfield Prep is back.

Westhill

Last winning season: 1986 (8-2)
Record: 3-1
Signature win: 37-30 (OT) over Trumbull
Why they’re winning: Davell Cotterell has given the Vikings a weapon they haven’t had in years. Now, team confidence after its 40-0 win over Central is at a level unseen in almost two decades. While their victories to date have been against struggling programs, Westhill is taking care of business. That’s something, oh, about 26 predecessors could never say.
What’s their limit?: Expect Westhill to continue its rise in the standings for at least two more weeks. They’ll be favored vs Franklin, Mass. and Danbury. Then Greenwich comes calling at the end of October and Staples two weeks later. Hard to believe Westhill is ready to play at that level. But they do have a great shot at winning at least seven games, which would be an incredible feat for this program.

Weston

Last winning season: 2011 (7-3) … but before that, 2003, 8-3.
Record: 4-0
Signature win: 22-21 victory over Pomperaug
Why they’re winning: As expected, QB Tyler Hassett (900 yards total offense) is having a great season. His teammates have elevated their games to match. The Trojans have yet to play any of the SWC’s heavyweights. That’ll change this week.
What’s their limit?: It gets tougher, of course. Weston takes on struggling, but cornered Bunnell on Friday. New Fairfield, Masuk and Barlow loom in the season’s second half. If Weston wins the first two, they’ll be in a good place to make their Thanksgiving Day game vs. Barlow for a playoff spot.

Derby

Last winning season: 1996 (6-5)
Record: 3-1
Signature win: 21-20 over Naugatuck
Why they’re winning: The Red Raiders have relied on a nice roster of talented playmakers, Dillon McMahon, Jordan LaRue and Tyrae Small (to name a few).
What’s their limit?: Derby hasn’t had a winning season since 1996. Winning a Week 6 game at Wolcott would be huge step toward making that a reality. The Red Raiders also have tough opponents remaining in Torrington, Seymour and Shelton. They haven’t beaten the Gaels since 2003. They’ll need to beat at least two of those teams to reach those elusive six victories.

New Fairfield

Last winning season:2009 (6-4)
Record: 3-1
Signature win: 41-24 over Bunnell
Why they’re winning: Joe Pacheco has given the Rebels a bona fide star at tailback. He’s second in the state (behind North Haven’s Jalon White) with 787 yards rushing. They haven’t had a player of his caliber in… over a decade? Maybe?
What’s their limit?: As good as this feels, New Fairfield’s road gets significantly harder. It heads to Masuk on Friday (yipes), then it plays Weston, Oxford, Pomperaug and Brookfield, before wrapping up with New Milford. The Rebels probably won’t beat Masuk (sorry, guys), so that means the they must win out to have a decent shot at a Class M playoff berth. As fun as this team has been since losing its opener to Barlow, that’s a lot to ask.

Oxford

Last winning season: Never (program began in 2008).
Record: 3-1
Signature win: None
Why they’re winning: Give them credit, QB Brennan Diaz and Wolverines have rallied around the memory of Brandon Giordano and have taken care of the SWC’s lesser squads.
What’s their limit?: They’re solid. But the Wolverines may not be ready for prime time, as a recent 32-14 loss to Weston showed. They host the Newtown juggernaut on Saturday and still must play New Milford, New Fairfield, Bunnell, Stratford and Pomperaug. A winning season is not too much to ask, but the Wolverines have work to do to secure the program’s first one.

Platt Tech

Record: 3-0
Signature win: Cheney Tech 24-14
Why they’re winning: In the realm of the Tech schools, Platt Tech has been the surprise of the CSC so far. The pitch, catch and run combo of QB Anton Graham and RB Lamont Barham have been solid.
What’s their limit?: The Panthers have all three of the CSC’s top teams yet to play: Bullard-Havens, Capital Prep and Prince Tech. They’ll need to beat two, if not all three of those teams to make a significant dent in the Class L playoff standings (and make a few Class L coaches pretty unhappy, to boot).

Seymour

Last winning season: 2008 (11-2)
Record: 3-1
Signature win: None
Why they’re winning: Undefeated after facing three teams that are a combined 1-11, the Wildcats faced their first strong NVL squad in Wolcott last Week and lost, 48-19. The Cats have been getting solid play from its few seniors, QB Mike Conlan and RB Jimmy Vartelas (7 TDs), in particular.
What’s their limit?: The Wolcott loss was a wake-up call. The Cats will get a slap in the face when they play Ansonia on Thursday night. Luckily, the schedule gets significantly softer afterward. Seymour have a good shot to squeeze three more wins against the likes of Crosby, Watertown and Wilby for a winning season. They also must play Derby and Woodland.

A bit late, but here are Saturday’s results and links:

Sean Patrick Bowley

13 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Great artwork SPB on the picture heading, Love it!

    I think TC will beat Stamford. They won’t beat Darien or Joes. Wilton on Thanksgiving will be for a class S spot.

    Prep will beat Cheshire and West Haven will lose to Hand and X. T-Day will be for a playoff spot.

    A few of the other teams u list above have some hard games left but the M and S schools have a shot with 2/3 losses.

  2. Sawthat says:

    SPB this is a great commentary and right on the money. Your doing HS football a great service

  3. johnnyribbs says:

    Sacred Heart beat Eli Whitney (both of which Seymour beat) so there is ONE win among those three teams Seymour opened up with. Doesn’t really change anything, just being annoying. thanks!

  4. @Ribbs – Oh, riiiight. 1-11. Spooky!

  5. fair enough says:

    when will the recaps and power rankings be posted?

  6. @fairenough – Recaps this evening, Elite 8 on Tuesday.

  7. spartans97 says:

    @Brian – Prep does not play Hand this year…will have one loss going into Turkey day. That Prep vs. West Haven game will be one of the biggest ones as of late because a playoff spot will be on the line. Last years Prep/West Haven game came down to the wire with almost 80 points being scored between the two.

  8. Xhs says:

    SPB, why does FIAC teams like Staples and Greenwich only schedule 9 games while most of the state plays 10? I know they have some sort of playoff but that game doesn’t count. They are not penalized when the CIAC does the rankings (and playoff position)? Just doesn’t seem fair to other teams. Excuse my ignorance but I would be interested in your opinion. Thanks

  9. @XHS – FCIAC also has 19 teams. Like a few SCC teams, there’s a rotating bye. Unlike a few FCIAC teams, Greenwich and Staples ate typically so strong, they have trouble filling dates because nobody in the state who shares their open dates ever want to step up & play them. (New London did with Greenwich last year, a rarity).

    So its either take an open date, or try to schedule out of state, which is not easy.

    The CIAC’s minimum for football games is something like 5 or 6 (somebody check me on this) so there’s no penalty.

    The playoff points are by average points per game, so that evens the field.

  10. HS Sports says:

    Sean – just curious will the SCC-FCIAC games that are coming next year? – make a difference in terms of the number of games – does the FCIAC require 9 games? Just wondering if these team can swap a useless game for one that may matter for both leagues.

  11. @HS Sports – Next year and 2014 are 11-game schedules. So aside from the extra week, nothing’s changed.

  12. Brian says:

    Greenwich was supposed to have a home and home with New London. They played at Greenwich last year and NL should have hosted week 3 this year but they backed out this summer. GHS couldn’t find a game. New london changed a few things around and got North Haven instead.

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