Get your ‘The Ansonia Invitational’ jokes out of the way now. We’ve all heard it. Find some new material.
The Chargers, last year’s Class M champions, had no peer among NVL schools while rolling to a consecutive league title and a 25-game win streak. They’re big, -strong, fast, talented and just flat-out better than any of the apparently poor, hapless teams who will have the misfortune to match up with them.
Just ask No. 7 seed Woodland. As good as the Hawks were this year, they couldn’t even get within four touchdowns of their Valley rivals.
What chance does anyone else have?
Provided Ansonia gets by Prince Tech, a playoff newcomer that approximately a century behind Ansonia in tradition (most are pegging it as a sure 50-point candidate), the Chargers face either Hyde or Rocky Hill and then (possibly), North Branford, Trinity or Woodland. We’re all interested in seeing what 10-0 Capital Prep/Classical/Achievement brings to the mix after thoroughly dominating the CSC. They’re virtual unknowns.
The best quarterfinal match might be when Trinity Catholic carries the FCIAC banner into the woods of North Branford to take on the high-flying Pequot Sassacus champions. The FCIAC has never lost to a Pequot school in the state playoffs.
Hyde vs. Rocky Hill figures to be another intriguing ground-and-pound game to determine who gets to face the Chargers.
What will Trinity Catholic bring? Can the Crusaders continue their dream season all the way into the state finals? It’s not a stretch to say most of us in Shangri La would love to see them go up against Ansonia. FCIAC vs. NVL, y’know…
But unless something unforeseen happens (a meteor, perhaps?), the general consensus is Ansonia should be raising yet another state championship banner come Dec. 7.
Who says otherwise?
Class S preview
Capsules and predictions by the Hearst Connecticut sports staff: Mike Cardillo: Ansonia-Prince Tech; Rich DePreta: Trinity Catholic-North Branford; Sean Patrick Bowley: Woodland-Capital; Hyde-Rocky Hill. Stats provided by teams via MaxPreps. Some statistics may not include Thanksgiving Week.
No. 8 Prince Tech at No. 1 Ansonia
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30
WHERE — Jarvis Field, Ansonia
RECORDS — Prince Tech 8-2 (CSC second place); Ansonia 11-0 (NVL Champion)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Prince Tech: 1st appearance; Ansonia: 29-14
LAST APPEARANCE — Prince Tech: none; Ansonia: 2011 (defeated Ledyard 47-0 to win Class M championship).
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Prince Tech: Fr. QB Rayshawn Phillips (13 TDs, 10 INTs); Sr. RB Rahkeem Jordan (2000 rushing yards, 25 TDs); Sr. WR/DB Ed Redding (474 receiving yards, 4 TDs); Jr. LB Roekwan Holmes (138 tackles); Sr. LB Garfield Bell; Ansonia: Soph. QB JaiQuan McKnight (21 TDs, 6 INTs); Jr. RB Arkeel Newsome (1715 rushing yards, 23 TDs); Sr. WR/LB Andrew Matos (836 receiving yards, 12 TDs); Sr. TE/DE Raeshaun Finney.
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Call it as stark a contrast in high school football history as possible. Ansonia has a Connecticut-best 17 state titles, while this will be Prince Tech’s first state playoff game. … Ansonia, the NVL champs, is riding a 25-game winning streak. The Chargers last defeat came in the 2011 Class S final to St. Joseph. … Ansonia has outscored opponents 542-173. … The Chargers are more balanced this year, rushing for over 275 yards a game, while throwing for over 100. … The Falcons have run for over 300 yards in a game three times this year. … Prince Tech has posted four shutouts, including three in a row in September and early October. …Due to an early season injury, Newsome has rushed for approximately 1,000 yards and 20 TDs less than he had at this point last year.
MIKE’S PICK — Ansonia 63, Prince Tech 13
SPB’S PICK — Ansonia 48, Prince Tech 6
No. 5 Hyde at No. 4 Rocky Hill
WHERE — Rocky Hill High School
RECORDS — Hyde 9-1 (Pequot Sassacus second place); Rocky Hill: 9-1 (CCC Division III West champion)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Hyde 8-4; Rocky Hill 0-3
LAST APPEARANCE — Hyde: 2010 (lost to Ansonia); Rocky Hill: 2011 (lost to Valley Regional 14-13 in S quarterfinals)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Hyde: Sr. QB/CB Kevin Jones (527 yards, 5 TD passing; 720 yards, 11 TD rushing); Sr. RB/FS Ezekiel Nixon (981 yards, 13 TD rushing); Sr. RB/LB Marcus Rogers (693 yards, 4 TD rushing); Sr. OL/DL Donnery Evans (8 sacks); Rocky Hill: Jr. RB/LB Chris Young (1,777 yards, 26 TDs rushing); Sr. QB Troy Syme (555 yards, 12 TD passing); Sr. S Chris Stoneburner (4 INT, 5 fumble rec); Sr. G/LB Nick Carducci (8.4 tackles/gm, 3 sacks)
YOU SHOULD KNOW — This is Rocky Hill’s second consecutive playoff appearance. Rocky Hill’s 416 points scored is the best in the CCC. They average 305 yards rushing per game, just 56 passing. …Rocky Hill has attempted 45 passes all season. …Young is one of the state’s top runners. …Rocky Hill’s only loss was a 25-14 loss to Berlin. It also defeated Class L qualifier Platt 48-8. … Hyde began the season 9-0 before losing its finale to fellow playoff qualifier North Branford, 32-28. … Hyde has outscored its opponents by an an average 36-9.
SPB’S PICK — Rocky Hill 28, Hyde 21
No. 6 Trinity Catholic at No. 3 North Branford
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE — North Branford High School’s Colifeti Field, North Branford
ON THE AIR — WELI 960-AM
RECORDS — Trinity Catholic 8-2; North Branford 10-0
PLAYOFF RECORDS — Trinity Catholic 1-2; North Branford 2-6
LAST STATE APPEARANCE — Trinity Catholic: 1993 (defeated Putnam 14-12 in Class S championship); North Branford 2011 (lost to Northwest Catholic, 22-19 in S quarterfinals).
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Trinity Catholic: Sr. RB/LB Shaquan Howsie (843 rushing yards in 139 carries, 16 rushing TDs); Sr. RB/WR/DB Shawn Brown (491 rushing yards on 47 carries, 5TDs); Soph. RB/DB Randy Polonia (346 yards rushing on 46 carries, 6 TDs); Jr. WR/DB Neno Merritt (9 receptions, 170 yards; 4 interceptions). North Branford: Sr. QB Brandan Basil (138-for-227 passing, 2413 yards, 36 TDs, 4 interceptions); Sr. RB/KR Joe DeLucia (1,000 all-purpose yards, 19 TDs); Sr. RB/LB Dale Hausman (973 rushing yards on 91 carries, 9 TDs; Sr. RB/LB Chris Caron (40 receptions, 862 yards, 14 TDs), Sr. G/DE Christian Sgro (7 QB sacks).
YOU SHOULD KNOW — North Branford enters the game off a 32-28 victory over fellow Class S playoff participant Hyde Leadership… North Branford’s Colifeti Field is a grass field. … North Branford has four running backs with 225 yards or more as well as three receivers with 500 yards in catches this season. … North Branford kicker senior Joe DeLucia and Trinity Catholic senior kicker John Benalcazar have each only had to make one field goal all season. Benalcazar’s kick earned Trinity a 31-28 upset win over New Canaan. … North Branford’s defense has 28 sacks and 18 interceptions. …Basil, the son of head coach Mark Basil, is one of the top passers in the state. … North Branford has two solid kickoff returners in Joe DeLucia and Chris Caron. … Senior linebacker Cody Zaro leads Trinity Catholic in sacks (4) and tackles (97) this year. Linebacker Matt Christensen is second in tackles (74). … Trinity Catholic has only lost to Darien (28-20, on last-second Hail Mary TD) and Class M No. 5 seed St. Joseph (49-14).
SPB’S PICK — Trinity Catholic 38, North Branford 32
No. 7 Woodland at No. 2 Capital Prep/Classical/Achievement
POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE — Dillon Stadium. Hartford
RECORDS — Woodland 7-3 (NVL runner up); Capital/Classical/Achieve 10-0 (CSC Champion)
PLAYOFF RECORD — Woodland 4-2; Capital Prep 0-1
LAST APPEARANCE — Woodland: 2010 (lost to St. Joseph 48-12 in S quarterfinals); Capital: 2011 (lost to Cromwell 23-14 in Class S quarterfinals)
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Woodland: Jr. QB Tanner Kingsley (2,675 yards, 42 TDs passing); Sr. WR/DB Anthony Scirpo (898 yards, 19 TDs receiving; Sr. WR Rahmil Rountree (654 yards, 11 TDs receiving); Sr. OL/DL Eric Collodel; Jr. TE/LB Levi Fancher. Capital: Fresh. RB/DB Bennie Fulse (951 yards, 11 TD); Sr. QB Antwan Bird (1,358 yards, 13 TD, 1 INT passing; 656 yards 11 TD rushing); Jr. LB Mike Jones (6-0, 220); Sr. WR Daquan Clarke (536 yards, 8 TD receiving)
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Woodland’s Kingsley set a single-game state passing record with 615 yards and 8 touchdowns in the Hawks 62-26 victory over Seymour on Thanksgiving eve. …He is now the state’s passing leader in both yards and touchdowns. …This is Capital’s second playoff appearance. The Trailblazers average 245 rush yards, 161 pass yards and have beaten their CSC opponents by an average score of 43-8. …Their 76 points allowed is the lowest in the state. …Their closest game was a 52-24 win over Platt Tech. …Woodland lost to Ansonia twice, 47-16 and 56-26 in the NVL championship game. …Woodland also lost to NVL Brass runner-up and Class M top seed 54-12 the previous week. …The Hawks average almost 40 points per game, but have allowed an average of 21
SPB’S PICK — Woodland 42, Capital Prep 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.