2012 Class L state quarterfinal preview capsules

Masuk's Thomas Milone

Can anyone beat No. 1?

Matt Walsh, Peter Gerson and the unbeaten defending Class L champion Hand Tigers are back for another run at a glorious 10th state championship. And as of now they’re the favorites to win it all again. After all, they come from the mighty Southern Connecticut Conference and toppled two-time defending Class LL champ Xavier back on Oct. 12.

So who’s going to do what Xavier couldn’t?

How about Windsor?

The talented, high-flying Warriors bring one of the state’s best quarterbacks in Robert Quinn Fleeting and twin monsters Lance and Cole Ormsby. Windsor, which knocked off Notre Dame-West Haven and had New Canaan down before the Rams rallied late and broke Windsor’s heart on a last-second field goal.

Coach Rob Fleeting, the QB’s father, said the team has taken that loss, rededicated themselves and learned from their mistakes. They’re a solid choice to reach the final and take a shot at the champs. (We interviewed Fleeting on the Laxworm High School Football show last Sunday. Listen below.)

Masuk, fresh off its first SWC regular season loss in four seasons, will have to regroup fast to take on talented Middletown and coach Sal Morello. The Panthers had their way with everyone in the league until Newtown. Were some cracks exposed?

And, returning to the state playoffs for the eighth consecutive year is New Canaan. The Rams, suffered their first Thanksgiving loss in nine years and haven’t been as dominant as season’s past. They get to play Avon, a relatively unknown Pequot squad up in Simsbury.

Mike Emery is back in the playoffs with Fitch for the first time since the state championship coach returned. Platt is armed with Justin Potts, but is burdened with a trip to the Surf Club in late November. Good luck.

In the end, Windsor and Hand seem headed for a collision course. But this field has just enough talented teams, don’t be surprised to see a surprise team emerge from the wreckage of a few upsets.


What do you think?

Class L previews

Previews and predictions by the Hearst Connecticut sports staff: Sean Patrick Bowley: Platt-Hand; Fitch-Windsor; Mike Cardillo: Masuk-Middletown; Dave Ruden: New Canaan-Avon.

All games at 6:30 p.m.

No. 8 Platt at No. 1 Hand

WHERE — The Surf Club, Madison
RECORDS — Platt: 8-2 (CCC Division III East champions); Hand: 10-0 (SCC Division I East champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Platt: 1-4; Hand: 18-7
LAST APPEARANCE — Platt 2010 (lost to New London 53-14 in M quarterfinals); Hand 2012 (defeated New Canaan 34-10 in L championship)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Platt: Sr. RB Justin Potts (1,466 yards, 22 TD rushing; 3 TDs receiving); Jr. QB Anton McBride (1,069 yards, 7 TDs, 6 INT); Jr. LB Jason Nelson (10 tackles/gm); Jr. TE/LB Scott Dargan; Hand: Sr. FB/LB Matt Walsh (10 TDs); Sr. DL Peter Gerson; Sr. WR Kyle Anderson (467 yards, 4 TD receiving; Sr. WR Caleb Ewald (519 yards, 5 TD receiving; Sr. QB Brendan Bilcheck (1,493 yards 13 TD, 10 INT; 488 yards, 8 TD rushing); Sr. SS Alex Tuccero.
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Hand has completed the eighth unbeaten regular season in school history with back-to-back 10-0 seasons. …It is riding a 23-game win streak, second only to Ansonia (25) in Connecticut. …Hand’s Walsh is a UConn recruit and has run for 10 TDs this year. …Gerson will play at Yale. …Platt’s Potts is among the top 10 rushers in the state …Including a 34-14 win over then-unbeaten Berlin, Platt has won six straight since a 48-8 loss to Rocky Hill. …It has outscored its opponents by an average of 36-17. …Hand has outscored its opponents by an average of 36-15. …Hand has been ranked the No. 1 team since defeating then-No. 1 Xavier 40-20 on Oct. 12.
SPB’S PICK — Hand 48, Platt 16

No. 5 Middletown vs. No. 4 Masuk

Bulldog Field (Bunnell), Stratford
RECORDS — Middletown 8-2; Masuk 9-1
PLAYOFF RECORD — Middletown: 3-3; Masuk: 13-11
LAST APPEARANCE — Middletown: 2009 (0-1, Lost in Class MM semifinals to New Canaan, 28-0); Masuk: 2011 (1-1, Lost in Class L semifinal to Hand, 35-14)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Middletown: Soph. QB Dario Highsmith; Sr. WR/RB Jha’Kur West; Jr. K Van Uk; Sr. WR Otto Marcello; Masuk: Sr. WR/RB/DB Thomas Milone (2,200 total yards, 36 TDs); Sr. RB Frank Bacarella (13 TDs); Sr. QB Malik Cummings (19 TDs, 4 INTs); Sr. DE Brad Swain; Sr. DB Kyle Fontneau; Sr. DL Bryan Monaco.
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Both teams enter the playoffs off a defeat. … Middletown’s two losses are at the hands of Class L No. 2 seed Windsor and Class LL No. 3 seed Xavier, the latter on Thanksgiving. … Masuk’s lone defeat came on Thanksgiving Eve to undefeated Class LL No. 4 seed Newtown in the SWC championship game. … Middletown’s defense has allowed 124 points, but 81 of those came in the losses to Windsor and Xavier. … The Blue Dragons use a trio of running backs (Shaiquan Turner, Yaamal Jackson and Isaiah Thompkins) and their quarterback, Dario Highsmith, can run and throw. … Masuk’s offense has scored over 40 points in all its victories. … Milone has literally done it all for the Panthers — running, catching, returning, even throwing on occasion. He’ll need to be at his best for Masuk to make the semifinals for the third straight season. … Masuk is 1-0 at Bulldog Field this year, defeating Barlow 42-23 on Nov. 10. … Cummings picked up an ankle injury in the win over Barlow. He didn’t play the next week in a 49-0 win over Weston and returned against Newtown and threw a pair of interceptions.
MIKE’S PICK — Middletown 31, Masuk 21
SPB’S PICK — Masuk 35, Middletown 21

No. 6 New Canaan vs. No. 3 Avon

WHERE — Simsbury High School
RECORDS — New Canaan: 8-2 (FCIAC East second place); Avon: 10-0 (Pequot Uncas champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — New Canaan: 20-6; Avon: 0-2
LAST APPEARANCE –New Canaan: 2011 (0-1, lost to Daniel Hand 34-10 in Class L final); Avon: 2009 (0-1, lost to Berlin 35-28 in Class L semifinals).
PLAYERS TO WATCH — New Canaan: Jr. QB/RB Nick Cacione (1,093 yards passing, 5 TDs; 711 yards rushing, 8 TDs); Teddy Bossidy Jr. QB/RB (619 yards passing, 7 TDs; 358 yards rushing, 3 TDs); Sr. WR Grady Lynch (29 catches, 299 yards, 5 TDs); Jr. DB Cole Harris (111 tackles, 2 interceptions); Jr. LB Michael Root (65 tackles); So. LB Zach Allen (55 tackles, 6 sacks); Avon: Sr. RB Colin Moore (2,003 yards, 29 TDs); Jr. QB Noah Hahn (652 yards, 6 TDs); Jr. LB Jimmy Murphy (123 tackles, 7 sacks); Sr. LB Joe Murphy (111 tackles).
YOU SHOULD KNOW — New Canaan has played in six straight state championship games, but has lost two in a row after winning four straight. … The Rams head into the state tournament off a regular-season loss for the first time in 11 years. … Root has been the impact player he was expected to be on defense since returning in midseason from an injury. … New Canaan has more yards on the ground (1,942) than through the air (1,720) for the first time since adopting the spread offense seven years ago. … Avon and New Canaan are meeting for the first time. Avon has not played an FCIAC school since 1962. …Avon averages 261 rushing yards and 66 passing per game. …Avon has allowed just 96 points, sixth least in the state. Its closest win was 14-7 over Class M playoff participant Ellington/Somers. …Moore is just one of a handful of 2,000-yard rushers.
DAVE’S PICK — New Canaan 28, Avon 14.
SPB’S PICK — New Canaan 35, Avon 14

No. 7 Fitch at No. 2 Windsor

Jack O’Brien Stadium, Windsor
RECORDS — Fitch 8-2 (ECC Large, second place); Windsor 9-0 (CCC Division II West champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Fitch: 7-4; Windsor: 2-4
LAST APPEARANCE — Fitch: 2005 (lost to Staples 27-21 in L semifinals); Windsor: 2011 (lost to New Canaan 27-24 in L semifinals)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Fitch: Jr. QB Devante Anderson (6-5, 200); Sr. RB/DB Saffwan Davis; Jr. RB/DB Robert Johnson; Jr. OL/DL Lester Smith (5-10, 230); Windsor: Sr. QB Robert Quinn Fleeting (2,125 yards, 27 TDs, 3 INT passing; 545 yards, 7 TDs rushing); Sr. RB Devonte Dillon (579 yards, 3 TD rushing); Jr. RB Jalen Berry (496 yards, 7 TD rushing); Sr. WR Ryhieme Moore (771 yards, 8 TD receiving); Sr. LB Cole Ormsby (14 sacks; Sr. LB Lance Ormsby.
YOU SHOULD KNOW — This is Fitch’s first state playoff appearance since 2005, the first since coach Mike Emery’s return to coach the Falcons in 2008. …In his first stint, from 1992-2003, Emery won six playoff games, two state titles and the state’s No. 1 ranking in 2000. …The Falcons average 40 points per game, the ninth-best in the state. …Windsor allows just 8 points per game, the second-least in Connecticut. …Fleeting is the son of coach Rob Fleeting. …The Windsor averages 476 yards per game. This is its second-consecutive unbeaten regular season. Windsor has won 20 of its last 21 games.
SPB’S PICK — Windsor 37, Fitch 21


Finally, we talked state playoffs on the Laxworm High School Football show on Sunday. Hear Kyle Brennan of Re-Am, Ned Griffen of The Day and myself break it all down. Special guest was coach Rob Fleeting of Windsor.

Listen to internet radio with Laxworm Radio X High School on Blog Talk Radio
Sean Patrick Bowley

19 Responses

  1. SMASHMOUTH says:

    Did the New Canaan Rams give the Thanksgiving game to Darien,knowing that a win would have matched them up with Daniel Hand. Did Coach Lou really go through five quarterbacks in that game. This is what has been going around the next station to heaven. Say it aint so Lou. I was not there but a lot of parents from New Canaan and Darien think so. I could care less what they think, the Rams have won their share of state champonships, and who am I to question the coach’s integrity.

  2. I love conspiracy theories. I’ll admit, that’s the first thing I thought.

    Though I think not.

  3. SMASHMOUTH says:

    Masuk got what they deserve in losing to Newtown. Did Jack Cockaroachran help the Nighthawks out on the sideline in that game, he was there with the Nighthawks blessing. Maybe the Panthers defense is only as strong as the weak teams in the SWC. Whatever spin you wanna put on it, the Panthers offense was Thomas Milone with 14 pts. Is it that hard to beat Masuk and hold them to only 2 touchdowns or did Newtown have some help in how to get the job done.

  4. Dave Lib says:

    Darien was the better football team that day. Period. NC has received some good draws over the years, and this is another one. Not New Canaan’s doing…..just luck. I also love a good conspiracy theory…but this is not one.
    No way did NC throw the game vs. Darien. How would Lou know that Ledyard was busy upsetting Fitch, 28-27, at the same time?
    Yes, NC has a good draw vs. Avon….but let’s not take away anything away from Darien. The Wave were a good football team.
    As I’ve said…this is not vintage New Canaan. Lou and his staff have done a GREAT job after the loss to TCHS. A lot of new starters this year.

  5. jasper says:

    New Canaan did not get a good draw. Avon is an underrated football program. Colin Moore is the best running back in the state. It will by no means be easy

  6. Honus says:

    – Platt v Hand – No contest. Hand flattens Platt.
    – Middletown v Masuk – Masuk regroups and puts a beating on Middletown.
    – NC v Avon – Moore will get his yards early until NC figures it all out, then pulls away in the second half.
    – Fitch v Windsor – Windsor will give Fitch fits, and everyone else in Class L.

  7. mooncake says:

    After watching the Masuk-Newtown game, I cannot be a buyer of Masuk. Way overwhelmed in the 2nd half. No answers. They need to get Milone involved more (duh…). More quick slants, more wildcat. Up to the coach to make that happen. Is he up to it? Not so sure…Also the Masuk fans were saying the second string QB should be playing since the first string QB did not look so good. Look for a change during the game.

  8. SPB wanna-be says:

    Wednesday (or maybe Thursday) Morning’s Headlines:

    Panthers “Hand”cuff Tigers Platt 32-17
    Warriors De-claw Falcons Windsor 49-6
    Dragons Turn Masuk Blue Middletown 40-21
    Avon Calls, Rams Don’t Answer Avon 21-10

  9. R-MAC says:

    Now this is football weather, I was gonna make the ride up to sage park and take in the Berlin/Bullards game, but with a chance for icy conditions in that part of the state it might be better to stay put and look into something closer to home like the Masuk/Middletown game. I know that Bullards Haven is most likely the biggest underdog playing tonight. Sloppy weather could make that game a little more evened out , but Berlin’s team is solid enough and won’t let a little bad weather trip them up. Berlin is the best team that the Tigers will have played so far this year, things could get ugly fast if Bullards defense is not ready. The Tigers have not played well on the road this year and I am not expecting them to win this big game but I am rooting for them none the less. Smashmouth is stirring things up as usual on the blog. Coach Lou would never do anything to hurt his teams chances of winning another state title. But then again that game meant nothing if the Rams won anyway right ?

  10. SCC says:

    Mooncake, you hit it on the nail. Murphy was absolutely outcoached by George. Some of the worst playcalling i have ever seen. No gametime and more importantly, no halftime adjustments. 4th down play with playaction by millone was yet another example of no clue murphy.

  11. jeb says:

    Murphy was not outcoached…the left side of their defensive line could not stop Newtowns running game…pure and simple. I do take issue with the fourth and two call from the WILDCAT. All fans are alike..if their team loses then it must have been the coaching…how about the players.

  12. R-MAC says:

    @jeb> I agree that the left side of the panthers defensive line was weak in stopping a well tuned nighthawk running game. What happened with #47 from Masuk who played the defensive line on the left side. He was missed big time in that game. I dont know why the Panthers are not playing him, but I have not seen him anywhere on the field for that matter. Murphy did roll the dice on that 4th & 2 from the wildcat, not the formation I would expect in that situation. Middletown is not gonna be easy to push around, they have some big boys who like to play smashmouth.

  13. Monroevian says:

    Sorry friends-
    but that Thanksgiving eve game in Newtown was Classic Murph-

    He seems to lack confidence, or adaptability?, when he doesn’t have the athletes. (and one Milone does not a team make- you need 99 like-Milones) and I’m sure he’s missing Coach Gueli @ DC.

    And yes, to reference someone-else’s quote, the kids DO have to get their job done too. But this ain’t D1 or the NFL– poor play calling cannot easily be over come by players.

    Been watching MHS lo these many years.
    IF you ask me it was a replay of the 2009 TGE game when Newtown knocked MHS out of contention at Masuk. Dumbstruck team, spaced-out coach. The last time Murph played on a muddy Masuk field.

    Let’s not forget the Bobby Baker swap out that came too late in the 2007 State Championship game. Masuk was getting owned for 3 quarters until they FINALLY changed up their plays. Alas they ran out of time.

    Its not hating, just a statement of fact.. Sometimes our John just makes poor decisions in judgement. Just ask some former players, they love him but will confess that is a truth.

    Middletown will win in a close one. Well because they were next to us on the that night hill with their video camera, the looks on their faces said it all… “that’s all we need to do to beat this team? whats the hype about?”

    With respect, this team is full of great, hard-working kids (this isn’t about their character or who they have BEATEN in the past… it’s about winning). Masuk just doesn’t have the coaching staff, skill, talent or heart to close the deal and win a ring.

    (and besides, even if MHS wins against Middletown- those kids are going to have flashbacks of the Hand game last year)
    Hand goes H.A.A.M. on MHS all over again

    ok- I can sense the MHS True Believers.. are loading up their rockets and I don’t have the Iron Dome..
    “Ben Arnold”

  14. GHS1973 says:

    Geez Monroevian, that sounds anti Murphy/Cochran…I’m calling the Irish anti-defamation league immediately…Ooops, can’t find the number…Stay in the SWC, it’s funny…

  15. RAY BROWN says:

    MASUK may have missed COCHRAN big time.JACK COCHRAN that is.

  16. Fred G. Sanford says:


    You will appreciate Coach Murphy a bit more a year or two down the road when he leaves you for a job in Shelton, Trumbull, or the current opening at Bpt.Central for that matter.

    Maybe you can woo over Coach Tynan to come over to the SWC rival after his big year?

    You will deserve what you soon enough will get.


  17. mr fciac says:

    lets not rush with the tynan talk his first winning season in a while
    and he still found a way to lose. masuk coach is good but i would like to see him in the fciac where you have a game every week??

  18. tj says:

    Just look at Pomperaug to see how a successful team fares after a long standing coach leaves. Coach Murphy has been innovative, inclusive (no cut, two platoon system) and fields top teams . In 2008 and 2010 many thought he had the best team in the state. Not too shabby!

    Best of luck to Masuk and Newtown tonight!

  19. Fred G. Sanford says:

    I really hope Murphy walks from Masuk and the SWC. You people can’t pass a simple referendum in that confused former cow town and you surely don’t appreciate what you have there in a very good football coach.

    Can you imagine what Murph could do at a Greenwich,Trumbull,or Shelton. Never mind St. Joes, where he would turn it into Xavier South. You might not have to wait too long Monroevians.

    Some of you clowns don’t know how good of a coach he is and what the second and third tier coaches would do to the Masuk program. Tynan at Masuk would bring simply put; Barlow to Monroe.

    Wake up folks.