Connecticut High School Football

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Semifinal Sunday: NFA wrecks Staples’ mojo, Fairfield County silenced

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CLASS LL – NFA 30, STAPLES 28 | XAVIER 30, GLASTONBURY 13
CLASS L — HAND 42, MASUK 23 | WINDSOR 27, NEW CANAAN 21
CLASS M – BERLIN 21, WESTON 7 | HILLHOUSE 48, MONTVILLE 26
CLASS S – ANSONIA 41, HYDE 13 | NORTH BRANFORD 62, WOODLAND 27

Jared Levi and the Wreckers walk solemnly off the Ken Strong Stadium field following their stunning 30-28 loss to NFA in the Class LL semifinals

With big smiles, massive hugs, and emitting a cacophony of whoops and hollers that echoed across the state, the entire football team gathered in the southern end zone of Ken Strong Stadium for a photo. It could have been West Haven in August, gathering for its annual team photo.

But this was December. These were the state playoffs. And the photographers weren’t contracted shutterbugs from the local studio, they were equally happy and proud parents and inquisitive newspaper reporters. This wasn’t West Haven.

This was Norwich Free Academy.

Jubilant. Victorious. Posing below the scoreboard, emblazoned on it, their birthday gift to coach Jemal Davis.

NFA 30, Staples 28.

By all accounts, it was a stunning result.

This was supposed to be one of, if not the best Staples teams in the Marce Petroccio era. It was supposed to be invincible. It was going to take care of these upstarts from way out east and get a championship rematch with mighty Xavier.

Instead, junior back Marcus Outlow, quarterback Matt Paparelli and a massive and determined NFA front held the FCIAC’s best team in check, took command in the second half while Staples wilted with several critical second-half errors.

There was an errant punt that resulted in a safety (and gave NFA the lead for good), an option pitch at the goal line that was batted away and recovered by NFA with 7 minutes remaining and then, just when it looked as if the Wreckers would make a valiant comeback, the punt that fatefully bounced upfield and off a Staples player and recovered by NFA.

Staples’ offense, which didn’t score less than 42 points throughout the entire season yet uncharacteristically committed three turnovers and had just over 100 yards in the second half, never saw the ball again.

Their dreams were crushed.

“It’s awful,” stunned coach Marce Petroccio said. I’m going to try and pick up some of the greatest seniors we’ve ever had at Staples High School. But today was not our day.

“We just found a way to lose.”

NFA’s dreams lives on.

In retrospect, everything we heard about NFA ever since it hammered Stamford 51-0 back in October, and everything we saw from the Newtown game turned out to be spot-on. They were big, they were talented, they were determined.

“We know we can play with anybody,” Davis said.

NFA's Marcus Outlow falls through the Staples defense in a 30-28 upset victory over the Wreckers in the Class LL semifinals (Photo: Mike Ross)

And, my oh my, junior Marcus Outlow is legit.

Outlow has been a key player for NFA since getting significant time on the 2010 semifinal team that lost to Trumbull. This is confirmed: He has “full-ride” offers from Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State… you name it, since impressing a ton of scouts at an NUC combine over the summer. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, “he definitely passes the eye test,” said MSG Varsity’s Mike Quick.

But it was quarterback Joey Paparelli, who carried the Wildcats in the second half. He scrambled for first downs. He found receivers, particularly Khaleed Exum-Strong, for third-down conversions. Staples’ strong defense eventually found a way to contain him, giving the offense a chance to rally. But that wasn’t until the Wildcats

had 9-point lead. His long run set up the eventual clinching touchdown late in the third quarter.

“To knock off the No. 1 team, we knew we had it in us,” Paparelli said. “We just went out and got the job done.”

Staples was just as good as NFA, but on this afternoon, in the state playoffs, it had to be perfect. It wasn’t.

Junior Airec Ricks made the biggest play of the game when he batted away an option pitch from Jack Massie at the goal line and recovered by NFA. Later, with Staples in full rally mode, he recovered the punt that bounded up the turf and hit Staples captain Kevin Kearney in the leg.

“You can’t win in a game like this playing the way we played,” stunned Staples coach Marce Petroccio said. “I’m just upset that we waited until today to play the way we did.”

So there will be no rematch. NFA ran out the clock to set up a date with No. 3-seeded Xavier at Rentschler Field. Staples, which has seen more than its share of crushing, state playoff losses of the last six years, goes home empty handed.

“Like I said earlier in the week, we were underestimated because we play in the Eastern Connecticut Conference,” Outlow said. “But people look at it and say, oh your conference is weak, blah, blah, blah. But we just come out here and we try to pursue what our coaches meant for us to do, we came out and we executed as well as we can, and it showed on the scoreboard.”

Their talent and their efforts are now preserved forever, in record books and — more importantly for these players — in photographs. A moment frozen in time.

Fairfield County: Denied.

Michael DiCosmo picks up a fumble that he raced 76 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute remaining vs. Windsor. It turned out to be New Canaan's last gasp in a 27-21 loss.

Super Sunday was not a good day for Fairfield County football teams.

First Staples went down in a gutwrenching finale. Then New Canaan lost its first state semifinal game since 2005.

Those losses erased the last FCIAC teams from state championship contention — something that’s never happened in the 36-year history of the CIAC playoffs.

Weston and Masuk lost.

No one from Shangri La will be playing for a state title.

Just like Staples, New Canaan came oh, so close.

For the second straight season, New Canaan found itself down big. But visions of a season ago began dancing in the Rams’ heads in the fourth quarter. Cole Turpin’s long catch set up a Louis Hagopian touchdown run to cut a 27-7 defcit to 28-14.

Trying to run out the clock, Robert Quinn Fleeting fumbled and Michael DiCosmo returned it 79 yards with just under a minute remaining.

Not again? Nope. Not again. Windsor corralled the onside kick and hung on to win 27-21, ending New Canaan’s string of state championship games at six.

“It just goes to show the game’s never over,” Windsor coach Fleeting said. “The difference from last year is we didn’t panic. The kids have grown up.”

“They’re just a gutsy group of kids,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “They never gave up. We didn’t play well. We lost to a better team. They’re a team that deserves to go play in a state championship. We did not play well enough.”

Weston's Zach Cannon attempts to bat the ball away from Berlin's Tyler Bouchard in the Class M semifinals at Bunnell.

Tyler Hassett and Weston played valiantly, but fell to No. 2-seeded Berlin, 21-7.

Down 14-0 after a half, Hassett pulled the Trojans within a touchdown. Later, with the score 21-7, just as the Redcoats appeared they would put it away, Erik Dammen-Brower picked off a pass and was headed for the end zone.

But he was chased down, fumbled the ball back and the Trojans were eventually eliminated. Berlin advances to face No. 4-seeded Hillhouse, a 48-26 winner over Montville, in the state championship. This is Hillhouse’s sixth state championship game in school history.

Little Weston, meanwhile, finishes 9-3, including a state playoff victory. This was their best season in 23 years.

“Our kids fought hard,” Lato said. “I’m proud of their effort.”

“This isn’t the finish line. We want to get here every year. It’s always toughest the first time you do something and now we’ve done this and got this far. The underclassmen gained experience and got to see what it’s like to play in playoff games. I’m really proud of what this team has done for Weston football.”

As for Masuk, they were never in it vs. top-seeded and top-ranked Hand.

Hand took its time getting onto the field, but took very little time dismantling Masuk 42-23.

And this wasn’t even that close. In a heavy fog, Caleb Ewald took a flat pass from Brendan Bilcheck and raced 74 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play. “They throw a screen, the kid that was supposed to cover it never saw the ball in the air,” Masuk coach John Murphy said. “But they took it to us on both sides of the ball in the first half.”

Hand rolled to a 35-0 halftime lead, piling up over 400 yards of offense to reach its second straight state championship game.

This was Hand coach Steve Filippone’s 200th career victory. “I didn’t win a game,” Filippone said. “I’ve never won a game. … I really take no great satisfaction in it. I take satisfaction in that this team has won 26 games in a row.”

Only some heroics by outstanding senior back Thomas Milone, who returned a free kick for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and also had an interception, kept the score from looking too lopsided.

But his career, which included a state championship in 2010, now shifts to baseball season and Hand will face Windsor in the state final.

“I’m proud of my kids,” Murphy said. “After what we lost last year, nobody said they could get back here. I’m proud of them.”

Newsome, Chargers roll into final

Ansonia was our only regional team to reach a state championship game.

As expected, there was no doubts about this one.

Newsome ran for 215 yards and four touchdowns and, in the process broke former Ansonia standout back Alex Thomas’ career state record of 115, as the Chargers reached their third-straight championship game and 27th overall with a 41-13 victory over Hyde.[CPTV VIDEO]

The Chargers, who have won a state-best 27 consecutive games (Hand has won 26 straight), will play North Branford in the Class S championship.

The T-Birds hammered Woodland 62-27 to reach their first state final since 2001.

S-C-C! S-C-C! S-C-C!

Guess which conference will be playing for three state championships this weekend?

Look no further than Al Carbone’s official Southern Connecticut Conference Twitter account. The Commish’s nimble fingers quickly let everyone know that his league is dominating the proceedings thus far.

Xavier (11-1) will play for its third consecutive Class LL title. Hand (12-0) will play for its second consecutive Class L title. And now, joining the fray, is Hillhouse (10-2), which will be playing for its second Class M title in three years.

After spending the last two championship weekends on the sidelines, the CCC has two representatives. Windsor (11-0) plays Hand in Class L; Berlin (11-1) plays Hillhouse.

The ECC went 1-1 in the semifinals, sending NFA (12-0) to take on Xavier in the Class LL final.

The NVL-Pequot challenge ended 1-1 for each league. Ansonia (13-0), the NVL’s final representative, takes on North Branford (12-0), the Pequot’s last representative.

Overall, the NVL is 3-2 in the state playoffs. The Pequot is 3-3.

And of course, the FCIAC (0-2, 2-5 overall) and the SWC (2-3) will send no state championship representatives.

WATCH the full highlight reel from WFSB’s Friday Night Football crew

Sean Patrick Bowley

47 Responses

  1. ciacfollower says:

    Remember, you heard it here :

    CLASS LL – NFA over XAVIER
    CLASS L — HAND over WINDSOR
    CLASS M – BERLIN over HILLHOUSE
    CLASS S – NORTH BRANFORD over ANSONIA

  2. alleycat9 says:

    in the middle of the 4th quarter at staples vs. nfa, nfa has the ball and all of a sudden the nfa stands start going crazy looking toward the entrance of the field…. i turn and look and there is a young man walking with a man and woman down the track toward the sideline… his teammates start running down the field toward him… hugging him. it was amazing to hear the stands go so nuts and the team literally all start going towards him. it was like peyton manning was walking toward the field.

    confused i turn to a guy next to me and say who is that? as he explains to me that he is a player who got hurt against new london and ruptured his kidney and almost died and had just recently been released from the hospital….. i turn to see an nfa runner breaking through the line and taking off downfield on what must have been a 50 yard scamper down to the staples 4 yard line….

    it was absolutely surreal. i mean you couldnt script it any better, and it was at that point that i knew that this hard fought game would be won by nfa, they wouldnt dare let themselves lose.

  3. Honus says:

    Though I will be rooting for Windsor and NFA, I don’t expect either team to win. Hand will win easily. As for NFA, despite Staples down a star player, egregious unforced errors/turnovers, and crucial calls going against them, Staples still almost won, so I have to go with X. However, if NFA beats X, I’d for sure vote them #1 for 1) beating X at full strength (assuming they have Berry), which Hand did not do, and 2) beating Staples, which beat West Haven which gave Hand a fight.

  4. PapaDags says:

    @ #1 ciac follower…no way NB beats Ansonia, or Berlin beats Hillhouse…would like to see Windsor play their A game vs Hand and make it interesting and certainly like NFA’s chances vs Xavier…should be a great weekend of HS football….

  5. Jay says:

    Congrats to all the finalist…the FCIAC was the weakest I have seen it in many many years, NC was a shadow of itself and Staples was not helped playing weak teams all year…Hand is best team in state by far congrats

  6. jeb says:

    Looking at next years FCIAC vs. SCC I only think their are two games that the FCIAC has a chance of winning. If you take away the four outstanding players from Staples and look aroung the FCIAC..we had no others star players in league of 19 teams. If their are two division I players on any of these teams I would be shocked. Just a bad year all the way around. Must agree with one blog that said this New Canaan came within 6 points of going to another final..truly an amazing coaching job being done at New Canaan. Talent just isn’t there.

  7. Rob says:

    Two points:

    a. I assume we will see a plethora of comments on this blog over the next couple weeks pointing out how the FCIAC was down this year. Interesting though, this was not heard much at all during the seasons, and these comments will all be made with the benefit of hindsight. They will be made by “haters” looking to pile on and by FCIAC supporters looking to soften the blow of a disappointing Decemeber.

    b. If you are rooting for NFA to beat Xavier like I am, you cannot like the fact that they posed for that picture in front of the scoreboard after the Staples game. I mean for god sake they all have their hand raised giving the #1 sign. It was a big win for sure, but it was only the semi-finals. They haven’t won anything yet. That picture is just unsettling to me. They seem to be saying that they have already accomplished something very important and they are just “happy to be there” in the finals.

  8. big tony says:

    Well new cannan and staples got there asses handed to them! cocky ! You got what you deserved!

  9. big tony says:

    winners xaiver,hand,hillhouse ansonia…state champs..new cannan staples state chumps once again! haha

  10. jeb says:

    #7
    No one is knocking down the FCIAC but as a follower of the FCIAC I just didn’t see any good teams except for Staples. That is a fact. Looking ahead one year it appears St. Joes and possibly New Canaan should be in the mix for a run at a state championship. The schedule could come back to haunt New Canaan with Daniel Hand, Greenwich, STaples, St. Joes and Darien on their schedule. Staples will be very good but must replace 3/4 of the line along with THe Z MAN, Frus–and Kelly. Trumbull should be better and Greenwich has some young talent.

  11. Brian says:

    Tony u sound like a fool. First off how is NC and Staples Cocky? All that Coach P said was this was the best team he ever had. That’s just a factual statement in his opinion. HE never guaranteed they would win anything. Also, NC is a year away and really had no business going this far. I don’t see how that is cocky?

    Also, to call them chumps? Staples has won and played in I don’t know how many state finals and NC’s speaks for itself just in the past 7 years alone. WE can accept losing and give credit where its due. Both got beat yesterday by good teams and yes it was a tough day for the FCIAC which year in and year out is the 2nd best conference in the state. So big tony do your homework on here first so u can become big educated tony next time around.

  12. old timer says:

    staples nfa game one of the best games played in a long time. both teams are very good, and very well coached. going to be hard to top that one in the finals.

  13. austin says:

    SCC is dominant like always and will continue to be. xavier hand hillhouse and ansonia

  14. tj says:

    By making it to the semi-finals Masuk, New Canaan and Weston over achieved this year – they were just out gunned yesterday – congratulations on fine seasons.

    For Staples losing when there is such great expectation is brutal. Heads up, it’s the price to be paid when one valiantly pursues triumph.

    For some comfort, a wise quote from a once beloved tragic sports hero:

    “When you win, you don’t examine it very much, except to congratulate yourself. You easily, and wrongly, assume it has something to do with your rare qualities as a person. But winning only measures how hard you’ve worked and how physically talented you are; it doesn’t particularly define you beyond those characteristics.

    Losing on the other hand, really does say something about who you are. Among other things it measures are: do you blame others, or do you own the loss? Do you analyze your failure, or just complain about bad luck?

    If you’re willing to examine failure, and to look not just at your outward physical performance, but your internal workings, too, losing can be valuable. How you behave in those moments can perhaps be more self-defining than winning could ever be. Sometimes losing shows you for who you really are.”

    ― Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts

  15. jeb says:

    I guarantee that Lance Armstrong had somebody else write that for him

  16. GHS Fan says:

    Honus – please expand on crucial calls that went against Satples.
    I firmly believe that the refs in Connecticut like to influence the game. My example this year (since I happened to see it) was taking Xavier’s touchdown away after the big fight broke out. I did not see a flag on the play, and the announcers did not mention a flag being thrown when the QB from X scored. So, to me it seems that there was some retroactive reffing going on to give the underdog (GHS – who was being overrun) some help. (See- I DO see it from both sides)
    So what calls went against Staples? Let me guess – a “hold” on key 1st down conversions?
    Other commenters – please no sobbing about how the refs in Connecticut are underpaid volunteers trying to do the right thing. I have asked in the past for statistics to be gathered and published on the zebras, and my suggestions were met with indignation.

  17. Brody says:

    I have been a Staples fan for years and have posted a few comments throughout this season. First off, congratulations to a very good NFA team, you fought hard and won the game.
    To all the Staples Coaches, Seniors and Captains # 4 Frusciante, # 5 Kelly, # 22 Zelkowitz, #32 Strauss, # 42 Kearney and # 70 Vaughn, you all represented a team with amazing dignity, pride and effort and made every day of this football season enjoyable for all your fans. Thanks for all your hard work and be proud of all your accomplishments!
    And to # 8 Tony…you are everything that is WRONG in sports. These are high school kids playing a game so get over yourself buddy. Would have loved to see you and your big mouth on the field yesterday lining up against some of these players.

  18. UBilly says:

    @Honus – didn’t take long! I heard that the X mascot was injured before the Hand game too! That might have been the reason X lost as I am sure Hand had no one out injured in that game while X was missing the entire starting linebacker corps (the excuse now.) It had nothing to do with Berry having his worst game of the year and Boyle having his worst half of the year. It couldn’t have been due to Hand’s defense shutting them down!?
    Can we also agree that missing your starting QB might affect your teams play? We have now seen it with WHHS, GHS and Staples. Should we assume b/c X rolled GHS w/o its QB it lessens what Staples did at the FCIAC title game?

  19. SCC_Fan says:

    Look, it’s hard to be objective, we’re fans after all. And the problem with HS football is, you see your team, against your league, and you think it’s your team’s year and you get invested. Problem is, you can’t always predict against teams you haven’t seen.

    Lots of folks try to use common opponents, but in the case of Hand, they had a serious letdown game vs. WH, so Staples folks got really pumped up.

    The game to look at is last year’s LL final – a 35 pt spread. Staples brought everyone back. Xavier didn’t. Still, the skill players they brought back were better than the ones they replaced. So, Staples fans looked at WH, who they thrashed, the fact that they got all their kids back and said, we’re #1. Discount the 35 pt spread from last year (which you have to ask yourself, are you 3 TD’s better and X 3 TD’s worse than last year – because that’s what it will take to win).

    Look, even coaches like Albanizio and Marce, etc. have a hard time saying they simply got beaten. So how do you expect fans to do it? So they get into all the woulda, coulda, shoulda. The refs. The conditions. Whatever.

    Staples lost yesterday. They were down the entire 2nd half, playing catch up and they didn’t get over the hump. NFA won. Great game.

    Now, since SPB will now have seen both teams – not picking blow outs based on having seen only 1 of the 2 teams – I would expect he’ll have pretty good insight on how the next one will go Fri. night. I have not, so I won’t venture a guess.

    However, I have seen the opponents in both L and S. And I give the underdogs a shot. Hand IS that good. But, Masuk’s defense is not. Windsor is fast – very fast. And has a good QB. Underdog to be sure. But they can win. NB also has a chance. Less of one. But, they’re pretty good too. But Arkeel is lightning fast and Ansonia’s QB is pretty accurate.

    Seen Hillhouse and Xavier lots, so I know what they can do. But, haven’t seen NFA at all. Again, I’ll just go by last year. If they’re 2 pts better than Staples, then they have 33 to make up. Since the Hillhouse game, Xavier has finally gotten comfortable with turning the game over to Boyle, and utilizing Berry with delay draw.

    Xavier now plays more of a “feel it out” game, figuring out what works. Yesterday, against Glastonbury, they would run the ball 9 times, then hit the seam on an 80 yarder. Then, they’d throw it several times, try to go wide, and realized, they had to run up the middle. Of course, this all relies on the defense to be physical and hold the fort.

    If they can’t out physical NFA up front, then we’ve got a game. But, if NFA can’t handle any one of a.) Boyle to Luster & Sullivan b.) WR screens across the grain c.) delay draw or d.) smash mouth behind C & guards, esp. if they alternate Berry and Meoli, then NFA has had a really nice run and it’s a 3-peat.

    Still, based on what I hear, NFA is big and fast. I’ll wait to see what SPB says later in the week on this one. Having seen both teams, he’s probably right.

    Kelly or no Kelly, Staples lost. O’Neil or no O’Neil, Greenwich the same. SJ’s would’ve lost no matter what the conditions. Right now, the FCIAC teams, SWC teams are simply not complete teams. Milone could play for anyone. And Masuk O, had they had a decent D, would’ve made for a competitive game with Hand. Longi is really fast. But that was really it for Cardinals.

    That said, it’s OK to vent. If SCC goes 0-3 somehow next weekend, I’d be doing the same. But, right now, the only game I can really call is Hand-Windsor. Hand is favorite. But, it’s closer than folks might think. And if Windsor pulls an NFA, they might win.

    SCC_Fan

  20. jeb says:

    Dear GHS Fan,

    The officials have no interest in who wins the game. If a Fairfield County team is playing a New Haven County team then the Hartford, Eastern, Waterbury or some other board of officials will be refereeing the game. That doesn’t mean that they won’t miss a call..they are only human…but you are insinuating that they are biased to a particular team or conference..that is simply not the case.

  21. Honus says:

    @GHS Fan – I documented all that on another blog post that begins with “State Tournament Central”. MSG has the video on their site which you can review to see if you agree. So far, everyone has. BTW, I’ve been told by refs they absolutely do look harder for calls against teams in routs, which I have no problem with. However, in close games I would attribute any “discrepancies” to pure human error, even when they all go against one team. It happens.

  22. Cthsfootball says:

    @GHS fan, I’m a Xavier fan and that was the correct call. A flag was thrown before Boyle scored and before their was a flag thrown. They called a facemask penalty(on the offense) on a stiff arm. The late hit then occurred and the brawl ensued. Their was only a flag for the late hit, and not on anything involving the brawl. The offensive facemask and the late hit penalties cancel out and they replay the down….just like they did.

  23. NFA Historian says:

    For many reasons, this NFA team is a team of destiny and ambition that is finding ways to create opportunities and then making the most of them. Intangibles are important in any sport and perhaps more at the high school level than in college or the pros. Then there are the tangible things. Most championship teams don’t rely on a dramatic comeback. They stay within themselves and avoid mistakes. In 2010, NFA fumbled the ball three times inside the ten yard line in losing in the LL semifinals. This time Staples committed 4 turnovers under the pressure of facing an opponent of equal ability. Meanwhile, NFA had 0 turnovers. That comparison says it all.It is amazing that after crushing Stamford and Newtown, and now beating a Staples team that was called the best ever by local observers, some people still think NFA has no chance against Xavier. I expect Xavier will see a different look on several things. Outlow was used often as s decoy and a blocker, which opened up things for Papperelli. Staples had no answer for Papperelli until late in the game. Outlow will excel on the big stage at the Rent. Even though the size of the field doesn’t change, this is a young man who will seize the moment. Also, the underrated Caruso will have at least one big play. They will be ready.

  24. GHS1973 says:

    @Jeb…I think you could be right about D-1 players out of the FCIAC this year..Sometimes they will go to a Prep school for a year to try and get a scholarship…Prime example is Tyler Matekavich (sp?) from St.Joe’s who is now starting at LB for Temple…I do know that Taylor Olmstead from Greenwich just signed up to play baseball with UCONN, although he had Ivy league interest in football..He felt he has more upside in baseball…Next year’s SCC-FCIAC games are a great thing for the fans, but a real risk (I think) for the FCIAC teams…

  25. HSFBFAN says:

    after seeing the New Canaan/Windsor game, I’d be shocked if Windsor beats Hand.

    Sloppy game by both teams, and quite frankly, a little embarrassing that this was a state semi final game

    New Canaan was inept on offense and I can’t tell you how many times Windsor put the ball on the ground when they were on offense.

    Will be great to see NFA finish this run out. Two hot teams playing in the LL finals

  26. Josh Boone says:

    ^ exactly, if it wasn’t for NC’s offense putting their defense in such short fields 2-3 times, NC could of easily won that game, Their D made Windsor run compressed kings/ Wing-T the entire second half.

    Quite the Joke to say the Talent wasn’t there on NC, 2-3 Possible all state players on the D, and if either QB played the whole year, they’d be in the mix.

  27. Cthsfootball says:

    I think Xavier NFA is going to come down to the trenches. I haven’t seen NFA and haven’t seen many teams around the state, so I always find it interesting to see how big the offense and defensive lines actually are when I see the teams play in comparison to how they’ve been portrayed on blogs and such online. Last year I remember Staples being portrayed as a team that was huge up front and had the ability to really hold up against Xavier’s big lines. That was very far off, and you could see that was going to occur in ore game warmups. Last week Glastonbury had one of the smallest offense and defensive line combos I’ve seen. They all looked like linebackers. That being said the defensive line held up better then you’d think with pure quickness against Xavier. O-line however was completely demolished. I’ve read that NFA is very big on the lines. Ive heard this in the past and like I’ve said it’s been completely false so I’m curious to see what NFA really has. All this being said, Xavier isn’t nearly as bruising on the lines as they were last year, but they’re still big and typically control the game in the trenches. This will be the key to the game, like most HS football games. I don’t know what the answer is but X is the most balanced offensive team in the state and if they’re able to run the ball effectively to start the game, that’ll open up the pass game and you’ll see the long strikes to Luster. We shall see.

  28. ciacfollower says:

    @UBilly, #18 – agreed ! they oughta start a “Like” option on here…

  29. NHS 54 says:

    Josh,Was at the Windsor/NC Game and Windsor’s D was pretty dominate. NC scored on a blown pass coverage, a drive that Windsor had 45 yards in penalties,and a fumble recovery on defense for a TD. Windsor had at least 6 fumbles on offense. NC defense kept them in the game. If Windsor plays like that against Hand they will lose.

  30. GHS Fan says:

    CTHS football – thank you for the correction. We agree on all points then. Again, I did not see the flag thrown prior to the call, and the announcers did not mention it on TV. Be advised I did not see the QB stiff-arm anyone (if the QB was the player called).

    jeb – I am indeed insinuating the refs play favorites. I think the refs would exercise a bias against Staples because Staples went into the game as the favorite, and I am pretty sure that the refs all come from the “big tony” school of thought. That is, they like to make sure that life is not too easy on “children of privelege” who happen to live in affluent towns and are associated with a perenially good football program.
    I have asked for statistics on the penalties the refs DO call, but all I ever hear is a lot of denial and indignation (like your post).

    honus – I will look for your post. Thank you for taking the time to review the reffing with a dispassionate eye. A good, hard look at the potential biases exercised by the officiating may result in a game that is called better, which will result in better Connecticut football.

    If the statistics bear out that the refs call a “fair” game, fine. However, the lack of knowledge, and the fact that some people vociferously defend this lack of knowledge, is deplorable.

    honus -

  31. ciacfollower says:

    @Cthsfootball – um, i think we all saw the most balanced offense in the state destroy Masuk’s so “dominant” defense lastnight, which also embarassed the big X’s defense back in Oct…Remember ???

  32. RAY BROWN says:

    nothing better than hear FCIAC fans cry.i thought STAPLES was a legit no.1 but they were just another FCIAC hype.MASUK took its annual ass kicking in playoffs.just as well WESTON got beat,they wouldnt know how to get to RENT anyway.the NVL and PEQUOT leagues have more teams in finals than FCIAC and SWC———priceless

  33. MXR says:

    @19 SCC_Fan — I agree with a lot of the second half of your post, and find the game in the first part of trying to draw from last year’s finalists to evaluate this year’s interesting at a certain level. But aside from the obvius limitations of applying transitive type properties to football, not to mention the great differences of X and Staples this year from last, and all the more so current NFA from any of those four teams, there is a basic premmise problem. The final score last year was 42-7, but there was not a five TD difference between the participants. Xavier named its score as enough in that game, leaving well over half of its offensive playbook at home; it could have just as easily been 70-7. X is not the same team this year — nowhere the defensive team and, although the offense is at times more explosive, not as consistent on O. Staples was undoubtedly a lot better this year than last. That combinatin is what made the possibility of a re-match so interesting. But neither X nor Staples in 2012, or any other 2012 team, would seriously challenge that 2011 Xavier team.

  34. Hasbeen says:

    After Greenwich lost their last 2 games I thought I was finished writing a comment here and there but I can’t keep quiet any longer…… Just one more. Regarding the Refs at the GHS XHS game. Every time XHS was very close to converting a first down there was no measurement , the chains were moved very quickly. Whenever GHS was close there was a measurement without question. It looked like GHS had an interception in the first half but it was quickly nullified by the refs. There were late hits not called. They were terrible, the fight was mostly due to their inability to control the game. There were many hits after the whistle, a lot of trash talking and shoving. The refs didn’t do anything about it. The tension kept accumulating. The fans in the end zone were taunting the Greenwich players and when a policeman was told he did absolutely nothing.

    No sour grapes about losing. The Xavier team and their coach were definitely better than GHS. GHS coaching was horrible as usual in a big game. It could have been a lot closer. Xavier QB was fantastic. Xavier fans need to take a lesson in class taught by the Staples fans.

  35. ciacfollower says:

    @RAY #32 – “Like”

  36. Cthsfootball says:

    Ciac follower, I don’t think Hand can beat teams through the air the way Xavier can game in game out. That doesn’t mean Hand isn’t good. I think they’re the best team in the state.

  37. Brian says:

    I know for a fact that no one watches or follows FCIAC football more than Jeb, Dave Lib or myself. The bottom line is we had 3 good teams Joes, GHS and NC and one excellent team in Staples who lost their best player and hung with another excellent team NFA and lost. Is their shame in that? I don’t get how social status and economic backgrounds play a role here. History shows (not money) that the FCIAC year in and year out is usually the 1st or 2nd best league in CT. It’s a not point I have to argue or that anyone else can argue against its just a fact.

    As an FCIAC guy I can actually say its nice to see some other leagues finally have a team or 2 than can compete with some of the norms.

  38. SJ Alum says:

    @ Hasbeen, I’m a Xavier fan and was at the game, along with numerous other people on this blog and several sports writers. It was apparent that Greenwich was becoming increasingly frustrated as they watched their season slowly slipping away. The “Taunting” you described was in reference to the lack of sportsmanship by Cardinal players going after Tim Boyle (now known as The Brawl) after he scored a touchdown. I realize that emotions run high in playoff games but to try to cheap shot and possibly injure a player (D1 commit)is my definition of classless. As for the GHS coaching staff, they had a very successful credible year, one to build on…and to their credit (and Xavier’s) when they regrouped and each side talked to the players sportsmanship returned to the game. If you were paying attention opposing players were helping each other up off the field. When all was said and done and each team’s fans were heading to the parking lot there were many congratulatory statements by each side. So to me it DOES sound like sour grapes. Good Luck to all the players, coaches and Fans in the finals and to those who left it all on the field.

  39. Brian's Song says:

    Thanks Brian. We’ll all be able to sleep better now. Sleep tight.

  40. Garf says:

    #30 GHS fan…I have always had a passion for high school sports and I too have sensed for quite some time that there is more than the element of human error involved with the officiating (and governing body of CT sports). I just posted this yesterday on NVL blog:

    Lastly, the refs will play an unknown role – can call me a conspiracy theorist but i’ll call you naive, been loving high school playoffs for many years and in almost every single game I’ve watched the refs subtly or not-so-subtly influence the game in one team’s favor – why? I have theories but not sure really as the teams and conferences hurt by it seem random…just watch for momentum-killing calls especially early when the game’s tone is being set and later at critical points, i.e., when holds and chop blocks are called deep in the red zone – where they’re normally not called. Ansonia has been benefitting somewhat from refs of late but my gut and experience say that reverses itself this weekend, we’ll see.

  41. Cthsfootball says:

    To all this talk about the GHS X brawl. I know their has been a lot said about Xavier’s parents screaming at the Greenwich players after the late hit and brawl took place. I was sitting right next to that section. Xavier’s parents/fans were yelling about the late hit on Boyle and sayin, “how could you do that?” and things like that. Then a Greenwich player/member of the team/someone on the sidelines sprayed a water bottle or threw a cup of water up into the stands where the Xavier’s parents/fans were. That’s when things really heated up and I think is when people thought the Xavier fans were being “classless” as I heard. Not that a high schooler overreacting by spraying water makes it right to scream back but man if I was hit by water on that cold of a night…..I wouldn’t be happy either.

  42. GHS Fan says:

    Garf – Thank you for validating my suspicions. I re-watched the game with honus’ excellent notes. The refs at the Staples-NFA game should give whatever money they were paid back to the taxpayers, and the crew should be prohibited from reffing anything more important than a third grade dodge ball game.
    I have to agree that there is somewhat of a random pattern of one-sided calls. My observation that the refs make bad calls (or bad non-calls) against “rich kids” is not very supportable even in my mind. That is, in a New Canaan vs Greenwich game, how would they decide to call the game? They would need Bloomberg machines and would have to check the status periodically in this age of 24 hour trading. So, that is clearly not the only criteria for referee favoritism.
    However, I do think that is a factor. Other factors seem to be if one team comes from a perenially good program and one team is an “upstart”, the year-in year-out excellent team will get screwed. If one team is private school and the other team is a public school, the private school will get the shaft.
    So, Ansonia, coming from a winning tradition, will likely get screwed by the refs. Xavier is going to get screwed because of their winning tradition and they are a private school playing an upstart public school.
    Sadly, rather than predicting winners and losers, this moribund reffing situation has relegated me to predicting which school is going to take a ref screwing this weekend. However, since I have no dog in this hunt, I really think I can objectively observe if the bad-call (or non-call) suspicions we hold are correct.
    Performance metrics for referees! What an outrageous concept!

  43. Hasbeen says:

    Cthsfootball, The player threw the water because someone in the stands spat on him.

    Also, SJ Alum If you were paying attention you would have seen a very chippy game that kept getting worse as the game went on. The refs didnt control the game properly allowing some late hits.
    In the end the players respected each other. I think they were shocked that they did what they did. One good thing is that everyone there didn’t really make much more out of it than necessary. There was a little more yelling but it did calm down fast. No one got hurt they all had equipment on. Something they could reminesce about in twenty years.

    Once again, the Xavier team is very very good. Good luck to them and I can’t wait to see that QB play at BC. He has a lot of poise and a strong arm. I feel sorry for the Greenwich kids because their coach can’t manage a big game anymore.

  44. GHS1973 says:

    @hasbeen…Gotta agree with you about Coach Al…When he has an unstoppable team, he’s good despite play calling mistakes…Great guy, but no Coach Oranato…

  45. Dave Lib says:

    @GHS Fan

    I’m all for a good conspiracy theory, but you’ve got to stop it with the “refs are cheating” rants.
    The refs DO NOT CARE who wins and loses a high school football game. Some bad calls? Yes. But nothing intentional.
    As far as keeping a stat sheet on individual refs and the penalties they throw? Not going to happen, unless you do the research and post it for all of us to see. Even then, very few people will care.
    And that’s all the time/energy I’ll have for this topic. It’s getting tiresome and ridiculous.
    P.S…..I’m glad you are not my boss! The accountability!!

  46. Hasbeen says:

    @GHS1973…Of course Ornato is too old now but if he had the talented teams that Al has been lucky enough to have had I would guarantee there would be many more trophies in Greenwich’s case! Oh well… Hope for a little more luck next year!

  47. GHS1973 says:

    @Hasbeen…BTW…When I was at GHS we had Coach Osvick who was a tyrant, and a lousy coach..When we got Oranato from Port Chester in ’73 he changed the whole football culture & program around, and shaped it into what it is today…Competetive just about every year…Coach Al followed him (also from Port Chester), and has continued the legacy at GHS, but some of his game plans & play calling decisions on the field make you scratch your head…

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