CLASS LL: NFA 63, Newtown 21 | Xavier 55, Greenwich 14 | Glastonbury 23, Southington 14
CLASS L: Hand 55, Platt 26 | Masuk 21, Middletown 14 | New Canaan 16, Avon 7 | Windsor 38, Fitch 7
CLASS M: Montville 32, Wolcott 14 | Weston 29, Ellington/Somers 22
CLASS S: Ansonia 53, Prince Tech 16 | North Branford 49, Trinity Catholic 28 | Woodland 37, Capital Prep 35
With every Twitter update, you could just sense the exasperation and frustration coming from the losing team.
Touchdown after touchdown after touchdown after touchdown…
When would it stop, this avalanche of points? Would this frightening state quarterfinal display ever end?
No, we’re not talking about Prince Tech vs. Ansonia.
We’re talking about Newtown.
The newly-crowned SWC champs got a first-hand glimpse at the team that’s sure to be the talk of Connecticut over the next four days leading up to Sunday’s Class LL quarterfinals at Ken Strong Stadium.
The Nighthawks ran into a buzzsaw Wednesday night.
Buzzsaw, thy name is Norwich Free Academy.
The SWC champions weren’t just cut in half. They were sliced and diced, turned into mulch, 63-21.
Yes, NFA was unbeaten. Yes, they’d already got our attention down here in Shangri La when coach Jemal Davis voluntarily suspended himself for beating Stamford 51-0 under score management back in October.
At 10-0, NFA was clearly a good team with an outstanding tailback in Marcus Outlow.
Just how good? Well that’s what these playoffs are all about.
Now we know.
“That’s an outstanding football team,” Newtown coach Steve George said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make it all the way through to the finals.”
Wait. …The Finals, Steve? But the reservations I’m seeing for the Class LL playoffs are for Xavier and Staples. You know, Rentschler Field. Party of Two?
Well, pull up another chair because Outlow and the Wildcats are crashing this date and, already the fans are out in full attack mode.
Did you hear it?
“We want Staples! … We want Staples! … We want Staples!”
Yes, we were all impressed Tuesday night. Staples looked practically invincible in thrashing West Haven, 42-20. The Wreckers scored four times on six plays.
NFA didn’t quite score that quick, but — hello — it looked just as dominant.
Khaleed Exum-Strong scored twice to make it 14-0 before anyone could blink. It was 21-0 before Newtown scored its first touchdown.
The Nighthawks got within 28-14, but NFA exploded for 35-points in the third quarter.
NFA scored on runs, passes, interception returns, punt returns.
What? No kickoff returns?
“We come in as the underdogs because we come from the Eastern Connecticut Conference,” said Outlow, a junior who’s been getting offers from a bunch of Division I powerhouses, to WFSB’s John Holt.
“We like it because it gives us a boost and just motivates us more to prove to everybody that we’re the real deal.”
So don’t start buying up those cozy Rentschler Field suites, Westportians (or is it Westportites?).
You have a game to play.
We’ll see if Glastonbury, which righted the score against No. 2-seeded Southington, wants to make this a foursome.
But Xavier’s 55-14 thumping of FCIAC runner up Greenwich looked just as scary as Staples and NFA’s victories.
Since trailing Hillhouse 49-21 in Week 6, Xavier has now outscored its opponents 216-52.
Beating the two-time defending champions will be a tall order for the Tomahawks. (Though we are wondering about the status of Xavier back DeAngelo Berry, just as we’re awaiting word on Staples’ Nick Kelly.)
So forget that game for the moment.
Everyone’s eyes are fixed on Staples-NFA.
It’s this year’s Hand-Masuk.
Who thought that would be the case when they got up this morning?
(No, you don’t count NFA).
Attack of the ECC II!
NFA wasn’t the only ECC team sending shockwaves through the state.
Jeremiah Crowley, who’s come out of nowhere for the Indians this season, ran for a pair of touchdowns, including a 50-yarder that put his team up 25-14 late in the third quarter.
And now Montville, not Wolcott, will get a crack at the 2012 Class M cham… (er, scratch that)… No. 4-seeded Hillhouse Academics.
On the other half of the draw, Tyler Hassett and Justin Schaffer did it again. They teamed up to rally Weston over Ellington/Somers to win the school’s first playoff game, 29-22.
Weston won this game the way it’s won most of its games: by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins.
“These are the games we play — it’s an ulcer every time we play,” Lato said. “I know it going into it, it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride, but I’m super proud of our kids.”
Weston faces No. 2 Berlin in the semifinals.
After a season’s worth of routs, Masuk’s been living on the edge of late.
It lost to Newtown in the SWC championship game a week ago and, against Middletown in the Class L quarterfinals, found itself down two touchdowns for the first time since last year’s semifinal clash with Hand.
The usual stuff wasn’t working, so coach John Murphy switched to his goal line, double-wing offense, ‘The Rock,’ to rally and then salt this one away, 21-14
“It’s worked for us all year, so we went back to it and jammed it down their throats,” guard Stergios Koutikas said.
In addition to the usual suspects, we saw a few new names, Brandon Charney at QB and Joe DaMota at back, but the result was the same.
“Once we started having success, I wasn’t going to beat my head against the wall and go back,” Murphy said. “It was the best way to get the ball to Thomas (Milone) and Frank (Bacarella). Our offensive line played so well.”
Masuk advances to play — who else? — No. 1 seeded, No. 1 ranked and defending champion Hand in a rematch of last year’s anticipated semifinal, won by Hand 35-14. It doesn’t have the same teeth as a year ago, but it’s still a match-up to watch.
On the other half of the draw, another Class L rematch. New Canaan got a fright from Avon, but advanced with a 16-7 victory. Meanwhile, Windsor was the only state team to handle the ECC. The Warriors took out Fitch 38-7.
New Canaan won last year’s game in a nailbiter, 26-24. Windsor is no doubt looking to settle the score.
The NVL-Pequot Challenge
Finally, Ansonia, Woodland and North Branford joined Hyde in the Class S semifinals, or as it will be now known, ‘The NVL-Pequot Challenge.’
Ansonia, as expected, hammered Prince Tech and advances to face Hyde.
Tanner Kingsley and Woodland survived a shootout with clearly talented Capital Prep/Classical Magnet/Achievement First etc, etc.
North Branford ended Trinity Catholic’s dream season with an impressive, 49-28 victory. The T-Birds couldn’t stop senior Sean Brown (242 yards, 4 TDs), but Trinity had little success stopping Brandan Basil, Dale Hausman and, especially, Joe DeLucia.
Down by 13 points in the fourth quarter, Trinity Catholic rallied to within 34-28 and had the ball in North Branford territory. But then a fumble, a North Branford recovery and DeLucia’s fourth touchdown of the day.
That iced it.
“I wish we could have gone farther,” Trinity’s Peter Stokes said. “I really wanted these kids to experience what I and some of my assistants experienced here, winning championships.
“But hey, that’s a great freggin football team. Coach (Mark) Basil should be really proud. He’s got a heckuva son playing quarterback. I hope my son can turn out like him. Give them credit.”
As SCC Commissioner Al Carbone was so quick to send through the Twitter waves following Wednesday night’s proceedings, the SCC was one of the top leagues to emerge from the quarterfinals.
The mighty SCC saw three of four teams advance in different divisions (Xavier, Hand, Hillhouse).
But they have company.
Though it went 3-4 overall, the CCC also sent three teams into the semifinals (Windsor, Glastonbury, Berlin), the most since the CIAC expanded the playoffs in 2010.
The SWC, NVL, ECC and Pequot League sent two teams apiece. Despite a stronger effort this year (bravo), the CSC saw all of its teams eliminated.
As for the FCIAC, five teams went in, only two remain.
League Scoreboard (by winning percentage): SCC 4-1 | SWC 2-1 | ECC 2-1 | NVL 2-1 | Pequot 2-2 | CCC 3-4 | FCIAC 2-3 | CSC 0-3
CLASS LL: NFA (11-0) vs. Staples (10-0) at West Haven, 12:30 |
Glastonbury (10-1) vs. Xavier (10-0) at Cheshire, 12:30
CLASS L: New Canaan (9-2) vs. Windsor (10-0) at Bunnell, 12:30 |
Masuk (10-1) vs. Hand (11-0) at West Haven, 5
CLASS M: Weston (9-2) vs. Berlin (10-1) at Bunnell, 5 |
Montville (9-2) vs. Hillhouse (9-2), at Middletown, 5
CLASS S: Woodland (8-3) vs. North Branford (11-0), at Falcon Field, Meriden, 12:30 |
Hyde (10-1) vs. Ansonia (12-0), at Middletown, 12:30
(We’ll find and post more highlights as they become available)