2012 Class M championship preview: Berlin vs. Hillhouse


Hillhouse senior Andre Anderson looks for running room in the Class M quarterfinals vs. St. Joseph. The Academics are vying for their 2nd state title in three years when they face Berlin in the M title game Saturday afternoon at Rentschler Field

No. 2 Berlin vs. No. 4 Hillhouse

WHERE/WHEN — Saturday, 2:35 p.m. at Rentschler Field
ON THE AIR — Radio: WELI 960-AM | TV: CPTV Sports | Online: ESPN 3, Watch ESPN app
COACHES — Berlin:
John Capodice (9th year, 82-21-0); Hillhouse: Tom Dyer (6th year, 50-17, 1 state title).
RECORDS –Berlin: 11-1 (CCC Division III East champions); Hillhouse: 10-2 (SCC Division II West champions)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — Berlin: def. Bullard-Havens 41-14; def. Weston 21-7; Hillhouse: def. St. Joseph 34-14; def. Montville 48-26.
STATE TITLES — Berlin (1-5): 2009-M. Hillhouse (4-1): 1985-M-I, 2002-SS, 2006-M, 2010-M.

Berlin RB Scott McLeod

TOP PLAYERS: Hillhouse: Jr. RB/LB Harold Cooper (1,550 yards, 21 TD rushing); Sr. RB/DB Andre Anderson (1,270 yards, 14 TD rushing); Sr. QB/DB Je’Vaughn Moore (809 yards, 8 TD passing; 850 yards, 7 TD rushing); Sr. LB/OL Terrell Fairweather (111 tackles, 5.5 sacks); SR WR/DB Darryn Horner (7 interceptions; 256 yards, 3 TD receiving); Berlin: Jr. QB Mitch Williams (1,400 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT passing; ); Sr. RB/CB Scott McLeod (954 yards, 10 TD rushing); Sr. RB Kevin Main (330 yards, 7 TDs rushing); Sr. OL/DL Mitch Blanchette (6-2, 300); Sr. OL Chris Meucci (6-2, 240); Sr. RB Wojtus Zak (5-10, 175); Sr. LB Hector Rodriguez (4 sacks); Sr. RB Mike Tinzioni (5-10, 170); Sr. TE Tyler Bouchard (30 catches, 440 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. WR Tyler Undercuffler (5 TDs);

WORTH NOTING — Hillhouse’s only losses this season were to Class LL finalist Xavier and Class L finalist Hand. …The Academics led Xavier 49-21 with just over 11 minutes remaining in their Week 6 meeting, only to lose 50-49. …Je’Vaughn Moore, Harold Cooper and Andre Anderson were all key parts of the Academics’ 2010 state championship. Cooper, then a freshman, ran 14 times for 39 yards scored the only touchdown in a 7-0 Hillhouse victory. Moore was the starting quarterback. …Berlin won its first title in 2009 after five previous tries. …Hillhouse is the state’s top rushing team, with an average of 400 yards per game. The Academics have scored 51 rushing touchdowns, No. 3 in the state behind Staples (53) and Ansonia (56). …The Academics have outscored opponents by an average of 39-18. …Berlin senior RB Justin Gombotz (1,159 rushing yards, 16 TD) injured his ankle in the quarterfinals vs. Bullard-Havens isn’t expected to play in the championship, though Capodice didn’t rule him out. …McLeod (137 total yards, touchdown) and Main (61 rush yards, touchdown) did a majority of the work in the semifinal win over Weston. Zak and Tinzioni are also expected to contribute. …Berlin averages 233 rush yards per game (a majority with Gombotz), 123 passing. It’s ranked No. 16 in the state in rushing. Berlin outscores its opponents by an average of 35-13. It’s only loss was to Class L quarterfinalist Platt.

Hillhouse RB Harold Cooper

OUTLOOK — Give Berlin credit for absorbing the loss of Gombotz to advance to its first state championship since winning it all in 2009. It’s a tough team (Meucci has been in and out of the lineup with a separated shoulder all season), and has managed to get this far without being hindered by its losses. But Hillhouse isn’t Bullard-Havens. It isn’t Weston. Berlin knows it’s up against a talented team with a championship already on its resume. Hillhouse has proven its worth against the likes of Xavier, Hand and North Haven. It had Xavier buried, only to allow it to storm back late. The Academics say they’ve learned their lessons since then. So far, they’ve practically cruised to the state title game. Berlin’s defense is tough, but can it stop Cooper and Anderson and Moore? The Academics love to kill teams with big plays. If one guy doesn’t make one, another will. If Gombotz can go, he might help the Redcoats keep up. But he’d have to be in tip-top shape to crack the Academic’s swarming defense. As it is, few teams in the state can keep up with Hilhouse, never mind Berlin. The Redcoats’ valiant run ends here in a blaze of Anderson-Cooper runs.

OUR PICK — Hillhouse 35-14.



CPTV Sports: Highlights of Hillhouse’s 48-26 victory over Montville in Class M semis

Hearst CT highlights: Hillhouse’s 34-14 victory over St. Joseph in Class M quarterfinals

RickVolk21 on YouTube: Berlin Redcoats tribute

Sean Patrick Bowley

39 Responses

  1. Lou Lange says:

    Sean – Great write ups on all of the football games!

  2. @lou – Still have Ansonia-NB to go.

  3. ciacfollower says:

    @SPB – the only thing the Academics proved to Hand is that its not all about speed.

  4. Are you disagreeing with the assessment?

  5. ciacfollower says:

    Redcoats over the House, but not by alot.

  6. ciacfollower says:

    When Berlin finishes 12-1, and Hillhouse finishes 10-3, how is that called an “upset”?

  7. Not technically, but It’ll be an upset. Hillhouse’s 2 losses were to Xavier and Hand. They’re perceived as the better team (Berlin’s job: to change that, win title.)

  8. NHS 54 says:

    I’ve seen Berlin play a couple of times this year and they will struggle with Hillhouse’s speed. Only loss this year was to Platt and they were very fast and physical with Berlin. SPB, I’m from the Hartford area and wish the Courant would have the coverage like the Post.Keep up the great work.

  9. Garf says:

    @6 may be the dumbest post ever written in SPB’s blog – and that’s sayin a lot.

  10. Raff says:

    @Ciacfollower- Are you a man of reality? First of all Berlin play’s in the CCC conference. Is that a strong league? No it is not. I have said it before Berlin at 9-1 in the CCC with this current team would be 4-6 or 5-5 in the SCC. If Berlin played Hand-Cheshire- Xavier- Shelton- and North Haven 5 straight weeks are you telling me Berlin wouild be 4-1 or 5-0 after 5 weeks? Seriously grab a clue.

    When has Berlin ever beaten Hillhouse? Hillhouse beat Berlin 13-12 in 2005 in the Class M Semi’s in a game Berlin had so many chances to win. In 2010 Berlin was the #1 seed in Class M with the great RB Max Delorenzo (according to Berlin fans). Hillhouse was down 30-21 as the #8 seed with a very young team and they came back and won 33-30 and went on to win the 2010 Class M title over New London.

    This year Berlin lost to Platt 34-14. Hand beat Platt 55-26 in a playoff game where Hand was emptying there bench in the 2nd quarter to rest starters. Berlin has no where near the talent or speed to hang with this Hillhouse team. It will take a poor perforamce by Hillhouse to make this a game. Berlin’s schedule is very weak and seriously wins over Bullard Havens and Weston should put Berlin on the map? It has been proven every year that the CCC has proven zero. Berlin will have to deal with Cooper & Anderson on Saturday.

    You also say how is 12-1 vs possibly 10-3 an upset? Berlin play’s nobody and when Hillhouse beats Berlin to capture the Class M title they will probably finish #5 in the state of CT. If Hand and Xavier win this weekend and they probably will they will finish #1 & #3 in the final poll. Hillhouse was down to Hand 23-19 entering the 4th quarter week 2 and lost 37-19 in a game that was very physical. Hillhouse was leading Xavier 49-21 and lost a heartbreaker 50-49 and let’s not forget Xavier is a LL school with 85 players on there roster vs. an M school in Hillhouse. That was just a straight up SCC battle.

    If you are going to throw put crazy comments please back them up.

    SPJ predicts 35-14 and I say 41-14. You say Berlin but not by a lot? Seriously this has to be ludicrous comment.

  11. Raff says:

    @Garf- Great point in reference to post #6. Did happy hour start early for that guy?

    Saying Berlin will win but not by a lot? Then zero comments to try and back that stupid comment up. When Berlin sees three players running 4.39 and 4.5 – 40 yard dash times running at them they will stop them consistently? It’s going to take a lot of flags to keep the score down. Look at what Ansonia did last year to Berlin? It was 49-0 at the half and Berlin couldn’t get a hand on Newsone. I was at the game and when Newsome hit the line he was gone. It wasn’t even close.

  12. @NHS 54 – Thanks. This is practically a dead championship week for us. So, we’re definitely not on our games.

  13. Cochran Acolyte says:

    Of course, Raff has many good points, but he loses credibility for exaggeration. If Berlin was in the SCC, why as an M school would it play five straight games against L and LL schools? Hillhouse didn’t play five straight against the teams he lists. If Berlin had the schedule Law (Class M) played this year they would be competitive in every game, except perhaps HIllhouse ( we’ll get an idea Saturday.) If they had Foran’s schedule, they might have done well, while facing some tough opponents.

    The lesson here, kids, is when you have a decent point to make don’t go overboard into hyperbole.

  14. Raff says:

    @Cochran Acolyte- Thank you for your kind remarks. As for my overly crazy comment?

    Hillhouse has to play 2 crossover games each year in the SCC. This year it was Hand and Xavier ( tough teams they each played to the end where they almost won each game) Hand thougha nd Xavier were very tough.

    Let’s say Berlin played 3 divison 2 teams and 2 croosover games –

    Hillhouse – Loss
    North Haven- Loss
    Law- Win
    Branford- Loss
    Sheehan- Win

    Ok so with these common oppents including Hillhouse- Berlin would be
    2-3. Also Hillhouse may not have to play the 5 teams I stated in a row but of the 5 I stated Hillhouse played 3 of them and two of them happen to be the #1 & #3 teams in the state.

    Also what has Berlin proven over the years with Capodice being
    82-21? 1 state title over a weak Class M tean in Bethel in 2009? It just proves Capodice and Berlin beat up the lower tier CCC all these years but when they played quality teams in the playoffs like Hillhouse in 2010 and Ansonia in 2011 they lose.

    82-21 with 1 title? Also on Saturday if a 4th and 7 situation occurrs late in the game please tell Capodice to punt from the oppents 43 rather then run a fake punt everyone knew was coming including the cheerleaders after a timeout.

    Is that credible?

  15. The Dude says:

    Hillhouse 42 Berlin 13- I’ll be honest. This is the one game in the course of the weekend that I do not think will be competitive in any way shape or form.

  16. ciacfollower says:

    @Raff – My pic is Berlin over the House. If & when this happens, both their respective records will be on the table ;
    Redcoats 12-1
    d’House. 10-3
    As an intelligent man, as I truly believe you are, can you call that an “upset” ?
    It’s all Academic my man. Has nothing to do with previous years or leagues.
    I just hope coach has them hydrating at this point, we dont want to have them cramping up again.

  17. Raff says:

    @Ciacfollower- Cramping up? Who is cramping?
    Berlin hasn’t beaten Hillhouse yet and in 2005 and 2010 they came up short. Yes it would be an upset if Berlin possibly won Saturday because currently even though Berlin is 11-1 there not even in the the top 15 of the state. What quality win does Berlin have? Bullard Havens? Weston? New Britain almost beat Berlin and they struggled this year.

    Hillhouse has 4 state titles in 5 appearances and Berlin has 1 weak title in 5 appearnaces. You call that getting it done over the years?

    Notice you said IF and When Berlin wins Saturday? Can you make a choice? I am by far in shock that you could make a statement like that. Hillhouse lost a 49-21 lead to Xavier and can you honestly sit here and tell me Berlin could compete with Xavier. After the game Saturday I hope you don’t hide. I for one if an upset occurred would not make excuses but I don’t feel I will have to be gracious due to this could be be the biggest blowout of the weekend.

    Hillhouse 41 Berlin 14

  18. ciacfollower says:

    Raff – I was refering to an article in the Reg where Academics chalked up X’s historic
    28(4 TD’s) point, 4th qtr, come from behind win….on “cramping” due to dehydration. Coincidental that this could happen to their entire defense at once. Drink up House, Berlin’s gonna play a FULL 4qtrs !

  19. Raff says:

    @Ciacfollower- Are you kidding me? So you are saying Berlin has the talent of Xavier? You have to be joking. Whenever Berlin play’s a quality team they lose like vs. Ansonia last year.

    Drink up? Also why don’t you state your real name instead if hide and call yourself CIAC follower? I sate my name. What happens when Berlin gets blown out? Will you be on here Monday making excuses?

    The Xavier game was an SCC battle that Berlin would have never been involved in. Not enough talent on Berlin to hang with Xavier.

  20. Brad Jones says:

    Raff- you seem like very angry person. Also, unless are you like Cher or Madonna you really haven’t used your real name.

  21. ciacfollower says:

    Simmer down Raff, I’m actually not giving X as much credit for that fatefull day on 10/26 as most people on here do. I give most of the credit to the House for playing a whopping 3qtrs of the game, then completely laying down in the 4th qtr.
    Championship/Playoff caliber teams learn to play the full 48mins of a game back in Sept. as the season begins.

  22. hillhouse dad says:

    ciacfollower i told you what the problem with that x and hh game was. it was coaching period.he appologise to the kids and promise it will never happen again. look at their record after that game.Berlin will not be able to stay with the house on saturday.hh vs x was a great game and a learning experience for both teams.3rd quarter this game will be over.

  23. ciacfollower says:

    Thats exactly the Academics problem, they think the game ends @3rd qtr.
    Dad, explain about the other remaining 12mins to them quickly, before tomorrows game !

  24. Raff says:

    @ciacfollower- What happened when Berlin played Platt? Did they play 4 quarters that game? Seriously you are looking at 1 game and seriously Xavier has won like 37 of there last 38 games with a roster of 84 players. Hillhouse as an M school to be up 49-21 after 3 was huge enough. Losing 5-49 there was no excuses to be made. It was a loss and since then Hillhouse has outscored there opponents 281-52 and there in the Class M championship so I guess that game really didn’t cost them much except for a solid ranking in the final poll after they whoop Berlin. My guess is Hillhouse will be 11-2 and #5 in the state. Berlin at 11-2 won’t even finish in the top 15.

    If Berlin played 4 quarters vs. Hillhouse in the 2010 Class M quarters maybe Berlin would have won a championship in 2010. Seriously a fake punt up 30-27 when you should have punted? That Berlin team I guess needed more hydration because Hihouse went right down the field and punched it in with 31 seconds left. Did Berlin play 4 quarters vs. Ansonia last year after being down 49-0 at the half? Grab a clue please!

    @Brad Jones- Are you serious? I would love to give you my name? I don’t hide and I speak the truth. Is Brad Joned your name? You and ciacfollower I hope don’t hide after the game is played.

  25. NHS 54 says:

    ciacfollower, Berlin was smoked by Platt 39-14. They could not not match their speed and Platt was very physical with them. Berlin gave up over 300 yards rushing that night. Berlin lost to Hillhouse in 2010 when Cooper was a Freshman. Berlin better hope that the field is very sloppy so they can stay with them.

  26. Raff says:


    Did you watch the Montville highlights? Are you saying speed wasn’t a factor there? Berlin will stop that? I know you are trying hard to believe Berlin can win a title. Bottom line is when Berlin finally wins a quality game then you should be able to talk. Saying a team laid down in the 4th quarter vs. a state power as Hillhouse is also one is just being ignorant. Why doesn’t anybody else on here agree with what you are saying?

    Seriously Platt rolled Berlin and look at what Hand did to Platt. Hiilhosue fought Hand to the end and Hand is #1 for a reason.

    As Jim Calhoun says ” Get some facts and get back to me.”

  27. ciacfollower says:

    Raff – to make matters worse is I dont even consider X is that strong in the 4th qtr.
    I, like many others, watched them lay down themselves in the final qtr…in the “Game of the Century” vs Hand !

  28. Raff says:


    What happened when Berlin was smoked by Platt? Can you explain that? Also you really think Berlin wins or you just talking nonsense?

    If you think Berlin wins then why by a small margin? It’s amazing you can talk about Berlin like a state power but each year they prove zero.

    In 2010 Berlin losing to Hillhouse was a huge choke job and that Berlin team was better than this current team. In 2010 all the players you saw for Hillhouse were freshamn and sophomores at the skill positons and they won at Sage park. 1st #8 seed to ever win in the CIAC tourney. Grat job Redcoats!

  29. ciacfollower says:

    @NHS 54 – I cant believe you’re bringing up results from 2010. Why dont you just bring up results from 1954 !
    i saw Platt play Hand THIS year and they’re a formidable team in the 4th qtr….The house better stay awake for ALL 4qtrs tomorrow.

  30. Raff says:


    Why did Platt smoke Berlin. You still haven’t answered the question. Also Hand had there Jv’s in the game in the second quarter vs. Platt.

    You can’t be serious.

  31. Raff says:

    @ciacfollower- Are you goong to anser why Platt had over 300 rushing yards vs. Berlin? Why are you so quiet? I should have known.

  32. Raff says:

    SCC SCC SCC! Xavier 48 NFA 14. My prediction was 35-21 so I guess I missed a few mistakes.

    @Ciacfollower- Do you still think Xavier is not that good? Media people tonight tweeted Xavier made it look easy at times.


    Two more coming up!

    Hand & House! @Ciacfollower- Sit back and enjoy the show! Clown!

  33. Brad Jones says:

    Raff- I saw you at the game. I’m sorry I laughed at your posts. I had no idea….

  34. Football Fan says:

    Raff knows his SCC.It would not surprise me that he could pick the winners in the SCC 87% Of the time during regular season play !!

  35. ciacfollower says:

    Brad, it was that obvious, heh ?

  36. hillhouse dad says:

    last night i happen to see some of the house players at the girl basketball game and i can tell you they are ready and determine to win this one S.C.C -STATE CHAMPIONSHIP CONFERENCE.

  37. Brad Jones says:

    He is a special guy, for sure. This means so much to him. Enjoy every minute of it Raff. Good for you.

  38. NHS 54 says:

    ciacfollower- I’m bringing the 2010 game because most of those kids from Hillhouse played in that game as Freshmen and Sophmores. Berlin was loaded that year with Delorenzo (UCONN) and 5 TO 7 more players who went on to play in college (D-2 & D3).

  39. Loui says:

    This game is going to be a blow out. Berlin doesn’t even have a chance. They are already outmatched and the matchups favors house