Connecticut High School Football

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

2012 Class LL state quarterfinal preview capsules

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Staples' Joey Zelkowitz vs. Greenwich

Fasten your seatbelts.

This division is L-O-A-D-E-D.

Start off with the two-time defending state champs, the FCIAC champions, the SWC champions, the ECC Large champs, CCC Division I’s best team.

It’s a division so good, one unlucky 10-0 team must hit the road in the state quarterfinals: All the way from Norwich to Newtown.

Foof.

Since losing 42-7 to Xavier in last year’s Class LL final, this has been a season of destiny for Staples. The Wreckers haven’t trailed all season and made mince meat of the FCIAC. They’re stacked with talent up and down the roster. Eight state voters have deemed them the No. 1-ranked team.

They’re aligned for a rematch with Xavier. But first things first: The Wreckers must find a way to halt top tailback Ervin Phillips and West Haven.

The Westies have only lost to two teams this year, 10-0 Hand and Class LL No. 3 seed Xavier.

What do you say about Xavier? They’ve looked vulnerable this year? Have you seen Xavier lately?

Since being down 49-21 to Hillhouse in the fourth quarter in Week 6, the Falcons have scored 170 points, averaging just under two touchdowns in 13 quarters. Worse for this field, they’re healthy. Their starting linebacker unit has returned. Their offense, led by Boston College recruit QB Tim Boyle, is on fire.

The Falcon start off with FCIAC runner-up Greenwich, which is itching to redeem itself after last week’s FCIAC title-game loss.

Let’s not discount QB Stephen Barmore and No. 2-seeded Southington, or their quarterfinal opponent, No. 7 Glastonbury. The Tomahawks were yards away from winning their CCC showdown with the Blue Knights in October only to see an interception eventually turn into the winning touchdown of a 28-21 Southington victory.

The winner of the rematch might get to test Xavier’s championship meddle. Or maybe get an LL heavyweight match with Greenwich.

Perhaps still overlooked despite going 10-0 for the first time in 16 years and winning its first SWC title in 15 years, Newtown is anxious to prove it’s among the elite. Their first game at Blue and Gold Stadium matches up with back Marcus Outlow and unbeaten Norwich Free Academy. Winner gets the Staples-est Haven winner.

We know Newtown would love another chance at Staples after letting slip a 14-0 least in last year’s semifinals.

Most observers like Staples-Xavier II. But anything can happen. This division just might prove it.

What do you think?

Class LL preview

Previews and predictions by the Hearst CT sports staff: Doug Bonjour: Staples-West Haven; David Fierro: Greenwich-Xavier; Sean Patrick Bowley: Glastonbury-Southington. Stats provided by teams via MaxPreps. Some statistics may not include Thanksgiving Week.

No. 8 West Haven at No. 1 Staples

WHERE – Staples High School, Westport
RECORDS — West Haven 8-2 (SCC Division I East second place); Staples 9-0 (FCIAC champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — West Haven 6-6; Staples 11-8
LAST APPEARANCE — West Haven 2010 (Lost to Xavier 28-7 in LL quarterfinals); Staples 2011 (Lost to Xavier 42-7 in LL final).
PLAYERS TO WATCH — West Haven: Sr. FB Eddy Williams (855 rushing yards, 16 TD), Jr. RB Ervin Phillips (957 rushing yards, 22 TD), Jr. LB Jesse Ridgway (61 tackles). Staples: Sr. RB/DB Joey Zelkowitz (954 rushing yards, 14 TD), Sr. RB/S Nick Kelly (507 rushing yards, 10 TD), Sr. WR/DB James Frusciante (658 receiving yards, 11 TD), Jr. QB Jack Massie (1,189 passing yards, 12 TD, 549 rushing, 9 TD), Sr. DE Pieter Hoets (73 tackles, 7 sacks), Sr. LB Lance Lonergan (74 tackles, 4 INT, 1.5 sacks).
YOU SHOULD KNOW — The teams last met in 2006 in the semifinals of the Class L state playoffs, a game Staples won 24-7. … West Haven’s two losses this season came against teams with a combined 19-1 record, 21-20 against Daniel Hand and 42-7 against Xavier. … West Haven is averaging 41 points in its eight wins. … Staples leads the state with 52 points a game, and has scored no fewer than 48 points in its nine wins. … Staples is third in the state with 4,573 total yards of offense. … Running back Joey Zelkowitz rushed for a record 317 yards in a 48-20 win over Greenwich in the FCIAC championship game on Thanksgiving. … Staples is fifth in the state in rushing with 3,356 yards. … Offense has allowed just five sacks this season. … Senior linebacker Lance Lonergan has returned three of his four interceptions for touchdowns. … Staples has not trailed at any point this season.
DOUG’S PICK – Staples 31, West Haven 17
SPB’S PICK – Staples 35, West Haven 20

No. 5 Norwich Free Academy at No. 4 Newtown

POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30
WHERE – Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown
RECORDS — Norwich Free Academy: 10-0 (ECC Large champions); Newtown: 10-0 (SWC Champions)
PLAYOFF RECORDS – Norwich Free Academy 2-3; Newtown 4-8.
LAST APPEARANCE — Norwich Free Academy: 2010 (lost to Trumbull 21-6 in LL semifinals; Newtown: 2011 (lost to Staples 44-20 in LL semifinals).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – Norwich Free Academy: Sr. QB Joey Paparelli (580 yards, 11 TDs passing; 702 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs); Jr. RB Marcus Outlow (954 rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs, 2 TD catches); Soph. RB Khaleed Exum-Strong (592 yards, 8 TDs rushing); Sr. WR Ryer Caruso (6 TD catches); Sr. LB Anthony Gomes (6 sacks). Newtown: Jr. QB Andrew Tarantino (98-for-162, 1,675 passing yards, 23 passing TDs, 3 interceptions); Jr. RB Cooper Gold (815 yards, 16 TDs rushing); Soph. WR Julian Dunn (565 yards, 9 TDs receiving); Sr. WR/DB Justin DeVellis (5 TD catches, 4 INTs); Soph. LB Tim Krapf (70 tackles); Sr. OL/DL Pat Thornberg (3.5 sacks); Jr. OL/DL Josh Krapf (3.0 sacks).
YOU SHOULD KNOW – Sr. WR Dan Hebert has been out of action since breaking his arm against Bunnell on Nov. 9. …Newtown won its first SWC championship since 1997 with a 21-14 victory over Masuk. Gold was the MVP with 222 yards rushing and 2 TDs. … Paparelli threw two TD passes to Caruso and Outlow ran for two scores as NFA beat New London on Thanksgiving in the 151st meeting … Both Newtown (Masuk) and NFA (Fitch) have each played just one team that qualified for the state playoffs. … Newtown outscored its opponents 372-106, while NFA out-scored its opponents 393-91. … This is the first time in the brief history of the quarterfinal round that two undefeated teams are meeting … When Newtown won its last state title (1992, Class MM), it was playing in the now-defunct Western Connecticut Conference, its mascot was the Indians and Blue and Gold Stadium was still named after Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.
RICH’S PICK — NFA 28, Newtown 21
SPB’S PICK – Newtown 21, NFA 14

No. 7 Glastonbury at No. 2 Southington

POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE —
Fontana Field, Southington
RECORDS — Glastonbury 9-1 (CCC Division I East champion); Southington 10-0 (Division I West champion)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Glastonbury 5-4; Southington 5-6
LAST APPEARANCE — Glastonbury 2011 (lost to Xavier 34-6 in LL quarterfinals); Southington: 2007 (lost to Shelton in 21-19 in Class LL semifinals)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Glastonbury: Sr. QB/WR Ben Berey; Jr. QB Jalen Ollie; Sr. DE/TE Joshua Hill; Sr. OL/DE Matthew Hill; Sr. RB/DB Charles Wooding; Sr. RB/DB Tyler Janssen; Southington: Jr. QB Stephen Barmore (1,819 yards, 18 TDs passing; 325 yards, 10 TDs rushing); Jr. RB Jarrid Grimmett (646 yards, 9 TDs rushing); Sr. Anthony Bonefant (40 catches, 610 yards, 5 TDs); Jr. WR Corbin Garry (33 catches, 598 yards, 6 TD); Jr. DE Zach Maxwell (8 sacks); Sr. LB Justin Rose (8.4 tackles/gm); Sr. LB Nick Spitz (8.7 tackles/gm)
YOU SHOULD KNOW – This is a rematch of an Oct. 20 game, won by Southington 28-21 on Grimmett’s TD run with 34 seconds remaining. … is Glastonbury’s fifth straight state play playoffs. …This is Southington’s first state playoff appearance since losing to Shelton in the 2007 LL semifinals. …This is the second time these programs have met in the state playoffs. Glastonbury defeated Southington to win the 1984 LL title. …Southington coach Mike Drury is a Bristol native and the son of former Pomperaug championship coach Chuck Drury, who is an assistant on the staff. …Ollie is the son of UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie. …Southington has allowed just 98 points, the sixth least in the state and second-least for an LL school (behind NFA’s 91). Both teams average approximately 35 points per game. ….This is Southington’s second game on its new turf field.
SPB’S PICK – Southington 34, Glastonbury 21

No. 6 Greenwich at No. 3 Xavier

POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30
WHERE — Palmer Field, Middletown
ON THE AIR — CPTV Sports (check local listings) | WGCH 1490-AM
RECORDS — Greenwich 8-1 (FCIAC runners-up); Xavier (SCC Division I West champions)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Xavier 8-4; Greenwich 16-5
LAST APPEARANCE — Xavier: 2011 (defeated Staples, 42-7, in LL finals); Greenwich: 2007 (beat Shelton, 28-14, in LL final)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Greenwich: Sr. RB Alex McMurray (628 yards, 17 TDs rushing, 3 TDs receiving); Sr. QB Liam O’Neil (1,134 yards, 17 TDs); Sr. TE/DE Joe Kelly (24 receptions, 602 yards, 12 TDs); Sr. FS/WR Taylor Olmstead; Sr. DL Alex McGee (team-high 8 sacks); Sr. RB/LB Mark Bernstein (483 yards, 7 TDs); Sr. WR Vincent Ferraro (23 receptions, 492 yards, 5 TDs); Xavier: Sr. RB/DB DeAngelo Berry (1,275 yards, 27 TDs); Sr. QB Tim Boyle (1,612 yards, 15 TDs); Sr. WR/DB Kris Luster (47 receptions, 930 yards, 6 TDs); Jr. RB/DB Andrew Meoli (304 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. LB Max Tylki (6-1, 207); Sr. LB Charlton Ortega; Jr. DB/WR Nate Gonzalez (64 tackles, 6 INT); Sr. OL/LB Matt Manzione (62 tackles); Jr. ILB Derek Jones (5-10, 207)
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Greenwich and Xavier are facing each other in the postseason for the first time since the Cardinals beat the Falcons, 24-8, in the Class LL semifinals. … Two-time defending Class LL champion Xavier is 22-1 in its last 23 games, its only loss coming to Daniel Hand last month. … Boyle will play at Boston College next year. … Greenwich has won seven state championships, its most recent coming in 2007. … Xavier has captured five state titles. … The Cardinals are averaging 46 points per game, while the Falcons are scoring 44 points per contest. … Boyle and Berry are ranked among the top 20 in the state in passing and rushing, respectively. … Greenwich is 16-3 the last two seasons with two of the losses coming against Staples in the FCIAC championship game. … Berry has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game twice so far this season and has had three or more touchdowns in all but two games. … The teams representing the SCC have fared well in the state tournament recently. Xavier and Hand won their respective class titles a year ago, Xavier and Hillhouse won in 2010, while Cheshire and Notre Dame-West Haven claimed state titles in 2009.
SPB’S PICK — Xavier 48, Greenwich 28

♦♦♦

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

Leave a Reply

17 Responses

  1. Dylan says:

    There is no way those XHS stats are correct or updated. Boyle has thrown for almost 2,000 yards and Luster is over 1,000 yards receiving. Berry has scored 35 touchdowns this season and is over 1,500 yards. Those stats matter because they give you a clearer picture of the potency of the teams best players. And, as I have been saying, XHS is more than a 3-man team. #2 and #3 are good receivers and #1 is a good back.

    Also, those numbers for Ervin Phillips cannot be true, I saw him gain that many yards in one game.

    There are sopme good players in LL especially at the running back position, would love to see Marcus Outlow play and Zelkowitz. I have seen the Xavier and West Haven teams, big fan of Eddy Williams, he can play at the next level with his size and speed.

  2. Xavier’s stats are accurate through 9 games. …most of thesse are all what the teams post. If they don’t update it, that’s on them.

    Phillips’ rushing yards are accurate within maybe 50 yards. He has probably 1,000ish

  3. stat dude says:

    Your stats regarding Southington vs. Glastonbury are wrong. Southington’s last appearance was in 2007 when it lost to Shelton 21-19. Glastonbury is in its fifth straight state playoffs. It won in 2008, lost in the semis to Cheshire in 2009, beat Staples in the quarters in 2010 before losing a close game to Xavier in the 2010 semis.

  4. @stat dude – nice catches. Thanks. Fixed.

  5. Honus says:

    - Southington v Glastonbury – Everything I read seems to indicate Glastonbury is primed to win a rematch
    - Newtown v NFA – NFA won’t be surprised by Gold this week nor will Newtown’s defense just need to focus on stopping one guy, so I have to pick NFA
    - Xavier v Greenwich – Ask yourself what your opinion of Hand would have been prior to the playoffs last year had they just gotten trounced by X (or even vice versa). Greenwich is being disrespected and playing with house money here, and I like their odds.
    - Staples v West Haven – WH was a dropped XP away from beating #1 Hand. For comparison shoppers, this is the game for you. Personally, I don’t see any comparison. Staples wrecks.

  6. PatPatriot says:

    POSTPONEMENTS!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME. AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY CHINA IS KICKING OUR ASS….

  7. tbart19 says:

    Curious note, check back to the pre-season team capsule on Newtown. Lots of attention to being loaded w/skilled seniors. Now look at the “players to watch”, mostly Sophs & Jrs. Win or lose the future is bright & would seem to be a thorn in my Masuk side for years to come.

  8. stat dude says:

    Sean — the CIAC link you provided to see if the games are on or not tonight is very confusing. It has the Class LL seeds 2 through 7 different from what I thought they were. I know it’s not your error, but can you check these and get the CIAC straightened out? lol — like you have time to correct other folks’ errors. Thanks, Sean.

  9. TEAMGuy says:

    tbart19? really? is this another Newtown parent of an underclassmen shamelessly promoting their kid(s)? Take a cue from the players on the TEAM. They don’t worry about who is a SR, JR or Soph, they just go out on the field and play as a TEAM; a well balanced, well disciplined, well coached football TEAM. Football has been played successfully for many years at Newtown before the arrival of the 2014 and 2016 classes; State Championship included. As for Masuk, I trust they’ll remain very competitive. They lost one game by 7 points.

  10. @TEAMguy – He’s right. There are a ton of talented underclassmen on Newtown. The future looks good.

  11. FCIAC Hoops follower says:

    @TEAMguy – many wins to be had in the SWC for Newtown. I give them a ton of credit for beating Masuk when no one thought they would. Now if Masuk goes out quickly and Newtown bows out quickly – maybe the questions about the strength of SWC will be answered. Interesting to see if both of these schools are really Top 10 material – will find out shortly.

  12. Teamguy says:

    FCIAC Hoops follower- very true; well said.

    SPB- also very true, but you missed my point entirely.

    Good luck to all the teams! may the games be decided on the field!

  13. @TeamGuy – No I didn’t. Because if its true, its true. Makes no difference who he is.

  14. FCIAC fan says:

    @tbart19 I agree with @TEAMGUY, what is the obsession with these threads constantly promoting the underclassman at Newtown. If you were there at that game, you would have heard some names over and over again, and guess what, they are seniors! DeVellis, Devany, Hughes, Kearny, Villa and more. They are the ones that made it happen. And yes, there are a lot of talented underclassmen as well, and yes, Newtown will be a top team for years to come, but can we just live in the moment, congratulate the WHOLE team, and the coaching staff, and stop talking about the youth program and what is going to happen in the coming years. From what I have heard, there are a lot of very good youth football programs in CT. I got your point entirely @TEAMGUY!

  15. Tony DeRosa says:

    There’s nothing better than FCIAC snobs short-changing the SWC. Please, CIAC, do away with this conference nonsense and play class on class.

  16. mr fciac says:

    SHORT CHANGE SWC HAVE YOU SEEN SOME OF THE TEAMS IN THAT LEAGUE
    THEY ARE NOT VERY GOOD IN THE FCIAC YOU HAVE TO PLAY JUST ABOUT EVERY
    WEEK.

  17. tbart19 says:

    um… @TEAMguy & @FCIACfan please reread what I wrote. I simply pointed out that while there was a great deal of talk at the beginning of the year about Newtown being “senior” lead, many of the underclassmen have really done well as pointed out in the article above. Nothing more or less.

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