Connecticut High School Football

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

Elite 8: The numbers are in, who is No. 1?

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The New Canaan Rams are No. 1 in the final Elite 8 poll.

The New Canaan Rams are No. 1 in the final Elite 8 poll.

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Hearst Connecticut’s sports staff rates the top regional high school football programs (records, first-place votes in parentheses):

1. NEW CANAAN (14-1) (7): Rams allow 12 points in playoffs, capturing Class L title 44-12 over rival Darien.

2. ANSONIA (15-0) (2): Chargers win 43rd in a row in claiming 19th state title.

3. ST. JOSEPH (13-2): St. Joseph’s offense goes hog-wild in playoffs on the way to Class M championship.

4. DARIEN (12-2): Magical ride for Blue Wave finally breaks and rolls back as Darien loses Class L final.

5. FAIRFIELD PREP (11-3): Jesuits were there for 31⁄2 quarters of Class LL final before falling to Southington.

6. NEWTOWN (12-1): Uplifting season ends in Class LL first round for SWC champions.

7T. BROOKFIELD (11-4): Bobcats make a run to Class M championship before running into St. Joseph.

7T.  RIDGEFIELD (10-3): Ridgefield knocked out No. 1 Newtown before going down in semifinals to Southington.

Also receiving votes: Barlow (10-3)

— SCOTT ERICSON

 Members of the Hearst Connecticut staff who were balloted: Doug Bonjour, Scott Ericson, Dave Fierro, Rich Gregory, Ryan Lacey, Chris McNamee, Gino Moretti, Gary Rogo and Reid L. Walmark.

Why did you pick your No. 1?

BONJOUR (New Canaan): New Canaan was very, very good, as was Ansonia. Rams get the edge for the way their defense dominated in the postseason.

ERICSON (New Canaan): New Canaan beat Hand, Greenwich, Staples, Darien, North Haven, Farmington and St. Joseph twice. Rolled over Darien in Class L final and were just 9 yards from an unbeaten season, losing only to rival Darien with just five days to prepare for the game after FCIAC final vs. St. Joseph. Best defense in the state allowed 12 points the entire state tournament.

FIERRO (New Canaan): Choosing between New Canaan and Ansonia for the No. 1 spot was a very tough decision. Ansonia became the first team in Connecticut to win 15 games and routinely, and convincingly, beat everyone on its schedule en route to winning another state championship. However, I give New Canaan the slightest of edges based on the schedule it faced during the regular season and the teams it had to defeat in the Class L Tournament. Defeating St. Joseph twice and then Darien and North Haven in the state tournament were impressive feats for the Rams. With that being said, I believe Ansonia would have had great success as well if it played in the FCIAC and is strong at all positions — the Chargers aren’t just a one-man team.

GREGORY (New Canaan): Why New Canaan? The 14-1 record, the FCIAC title and the Class L state title are the obvious reasons. Look a little closer and you’ll see the Rams outscored their three state-tournament opponents 107-12, including back-to-back shutouts. The Rams beat a powerful St. Joseph team — the Class M state champ — twice, including once in the FCIAC title game. They split their two games with border rival Darien. And they posted lopsided wins over perennial contenders Hand, Greenwich and Staples.

LACEY (New Canaan): While Ansonia bulldozed its way to a third straight state title, I went with New Canaan at the top because of the strength of schedule. The Chargers, who barely survived a game against Seymour, just didn’t play a team of any real quality and New Canaan took on most of the top teams in the state. The Rams’ defense was so dominant in the postseason and their only blemish was a close loss to my No. 3 ranked team.

McNAMEE (New Canaan): Rams won the deepest, strongest league in the state this year, the FCIAC. New Canaan went 2-1 against teams that made the playoffs during the regular season, beat two SCC playoff teams and posted four wins during the regular season over teams that won at least eight games: Daniel Hand (8-3), Greenwich (8-3), Staples (8-3) and St. Joseph (10-1). New Canaan beat Class M champion St. Joseph twice. They also have in my mind the best defense in the state. The Rams resume is by far the most impressive, making them an easy choice for me as the No. 1 team.

MORETTI (Ansonia): Three reasons why I voted Ansonia No. 1: They are the state’s only undefeated team, they’re the first team in state history to win 15 games in a season, and they had Arkeel Newsome, the state’s top player.

ROGO (New Canaan): Rams weren’t tested in Class L playoffs and beat what I consider the second-best team, St. Joseph, twice. New Canaan plays shutdown defense.

WALMARK (Ansonia): Ansonia would have had trouble beating New Canaan early in the season when the Rams were at their best. There is never any shame losing to their archrival Darien, which should always be considered a 50/50 game. But a team that wants to claim to be the best cannot lose to anyone at anytime under any circumstance, regardless of difficulty of schedule. Hats off to Rams for rallying in the state tournament, but from opening kickoff to the final whistle, no one in the state did it any better than Ansonia.

 

Chris McNamee

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28 Responses

  1. GO NOLES!! says:

    Not a surprise. McNamee was lobbying for New Canaan after their win over Darien in Stamford.

    Personally, I would have voted for New Canaan as the top dog, primarily based on on fielding a great defense in a season where there wasn’t a whole lot of good defense played across the state. Ansonia’s incredible team speed, tremendous offense line and, of course, Arkeel and friends would have made a Chargers-Rams match-up very entertaining and virtually a toss-up. But NC would get the edge because of their tenacious defense.

    What is amusing, however, is reading the bleatings ofthe Fairfield County fans and writers regarding the state polls. While factual and logical arguments can be made for both schools, the fact is New Canaan lost. To a team that they proved they were probably 20 points better than just a couple of weeks later. Sorry, but great teams have to find a way to win even on a day when they are not at their best, or breaks are not going their way.

    Sports history is littered with teams that teams that could have achieved memorable greatness, but stumbled just once; it happens.
    Yet NC and FCIAC fans want the Rams to be given a “mulligan” by the public. The team couldn’t get it done on the field on Thanksgiving Day, so they whine and lobby and disparage other programs. The sense of entitlement is amusing and oh so predictable. Bad case of “Affluenza”! ;)

  2. ValleyFalls1 says:

    Meaningless poll, published for spite

  3. Football fan says:

    This poll means nothing it only keeps the NC fans happy.

  4. GHS Fan says:

    New Canaan #1. Sanity prevails!
    Sort of. Annsonia #2? Naaaaahhhhhh. 4-5 other team (at least) ahead of you.
    Ansonia, play some teams, even if in non-league games, that will get you some respect. Please. We FCIAC fans would LOVE IT if you would consider joining our league. It would be a great honor to us to have a school with such an illustrious football history come down and spend a few seasons playing a schedule that included- in the same season – say – Greenwich, New Canaan, Staples, St. Joes, Darien, Ridgefield, Bridgeport Central and Trumbull.
    Or, if not the FCIAC, take a season or two in SCC. I am sure Hand, Xavier, West Haven, Middletown, etc. would all like to take a shot at your amazing win records, especially after you had played some of THEIR mutual opponents.
    This whole thing stinks because football is a game of brutal honesty. That particular honesty is being denied by a) a media with a class-warfare mentality and b) an entrenched bureaucracy in the NVL that will do anything to cling to some illusory state title. Shame on the sportswriters and shame on the NVL. You are all complicit in keeping Connecticut football second-rate because you refuse to celebrate the very meritocracy that the brutal honesty of football demands.

  5. Mike says:

    Ansonia plays a creampuff schedule of small schools and goes undefeated, wow what a surprise. Put Darien, St Joe’s, Fairfield prep and New Canaan on their schedule and then maybe they will have a real claim to being a top team. Ansonia is about the same size as St. Joe’s so why don’t they play a comparable schedule.

  6. GO NOLES!! says:

    GHS-
    You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts. The “brutal honesty” is that a STATEWIDE poll of writers declared Ansonia the best team in Connecticut in 2013. No amount of whining and stomping your feet and ridiculing Ansonia is going to change that fact. Of course, you and New Canaan and FCIAC fans can pound your chest and celebrate the fact that you are the champs of Fairfield County according to a parochial little poll done by the Post. Congrats!!

    Your rant is classic, just classic. If it couldn’t be done on the field, just try to yell louder than anyone else. Maybe that works on Wall Street! Hey, how about this? Why don’t you lawyer up and sue to get the result of the NC-Darien Thanksgiving Day game reversed! ;)

    Geesh, no wonder even people from other affluent communities in the state take issue with Fairfield County.

  7. RAY BROWN says:

    GREAT JOB TO EASE THAT PAIN——BUT ANSONIA STILL VOTED NO.1

  8. The Brain says:

    Where is Southington?

  9. knows fciac says:

    ghs fan put it down right!! nc is the best team in ct. ansonia just did not have a tough schedule. too difficult to really judge how good they are. is nc a great hs team? i’ve seen better over the years but they were the best this year. their coaches did a fantastic job over a long season. they have a few good kids coming back. should be great game at hand to start the season. opening line— hand -7.

  10. 31Bravo says:

    NC is #1 as they should be.

    Ansonia should be top 5…#2 is a gift to the chargers. They played a weak schedule in an even weaker conference. 15-0 is impressive but it would of been a hell of a lot more impressive if it was done in the FCIAC.

    Valley fans always bring up the one loss to Darien but always manage to forget that a mediocre 6-5 Seymour team was going to hand Ansonia it’s first loss in a game they barely survived.

    If Ansonia wants to prove its dominance then schedule some games againsts teams like New Canaan, Darien, St. Joes, etc. No excuses, demand the league that those games be added and don’t stop fighting until they’re added on your schedule. Play those schools, win, and no one would ever be able to argue that your schedule is weak.

    Until then your strength of schedule and conference will forever be your downfall.

    GHS Fan- I totally agree with you.

    Valley falls 1- Don’t be bitter. Hopefully Ansonia can come down to the FCIAC and play some real competition.

  11. NoLaxToGrind says:

    This Poll, like everyone thing else has become on this page, is a joke and is geared towards the Southern Fairfield County FCIAC fans. It’s too bad…this used to be such a great forum. Now it is just a bunch of guys with one focus, patting eachother on the back and and extending self congratulations. Writing things for eachother to read, because no one else does at this point. Sad. SPB, you are missed.

    Fortunately no more than dozen or so people will even see this poll and the LEGIT polls got it right.

    Thankfully there are other places to go to get unbiased views on High School football.

  12. SWC Vet says:

    I don’t understand how Newtown gets rated higher that Ridgefield when Ridgefield beat them in a head to head game… I get Ridgefield has more losses on the season, but they play a way tougher schedule and BEAT NEWTOWN HEAD TO HEAD… Other than that I think the ratings are pretty fair… I get the argument for Ansonia as the #1, but having seen the two teams play I just don’t know that Ansonia would beat New Cannan… would be an awesome game though…

  13. Eye of the Tiger says:

    Finally, a #1 that actually gets it. Would still put Joes, Darien and Prep over Ansonia because those that know football, understands strength of schedules really has something to do with rankings. they also play in the big boys league and not DIII.

    Not sure how Newtown is over Ridgefield either as Ridgefield proved their worth head to head. So newtown beats Brookfield twice, Ridgefield beats Newtown and somehow, Brookfield is ahead of Ridge? go figure that one out

  14. Football Fan says:

    This debate shouldn’t be about if Ansonia is the #1 team in the state, it should be who is the #2 team in the state. I liken this Ansonia/NC debate to if Northern Illinois had finished their season undefeated. Should they have gone to the BCS championship instead of Auburn?

    Ansonia suits up about 55 players (10 if those being Freshman) and top tier Class L and LL teams are suiting up 85-95 players (not including Freshman, who have their own teams). This depth allows them stronger special teams, more flexibility and their players to focus on their assignments and technique. Bragging about players going both ways is a weakness, not a strength.

    Ansonia is a great Class S team and could beat some Class L and LL teams, but they could not hang with NC, Darien, Hand or St Joes (this year).

    No-one debates whether an NCAA Division 2 could beat an SEC team, because they are at a different level of competition. The same goes for this. The people arguing for Ansonia to be #1 have probably never seen a top team compete out of their league. Ansonia hasn’t faced an offense, or defense, as strong as NC and would get dominated by the NC O-Line and the NC front 7.

    Congrats to Ansonia on another Class S championship. Congrats to NC on another Class L championship. Two great seasons for two great programs (each with 19 state titles now).

  15. Wild Bill says:

    A meaningless poll is one that doesn’t take into account “strength of schedule,” which is precisely what Ansonia fans want to ignore.

  16. Chris McNamee says:

    Southington is not in the Hearst region, which is primarily Southwest CT.

  17. steve w says:

    there are 7 or 8 teams in the state better than ansonia – who is a good team that played absolutely no-one.

  18. PapaDags says:

    Actually, a meaningless poll is one where a paper “panders” to it’s market. that being ffld county. (and only ffld county) The writers AS WELL as the coaches poll agreed on the #1 team in the state. That being Ansonia. Congrats to all the players who bring so much fun to high school football fans like us. Congrats to the 3 fciac teams who could actually give Ansonia a game. (and certainly possibly beat them)

  19. ValleyFalls1 says:

    Apologies, I should have written “a meaningless regional poll”. That being said, things are as they are for this year; done, finished, finito, kaput, the fat lady sang :). Controversial? Yes! Different than other some other years? Nope!

    You can waste your time rehashing the past, or you could assist in working to improve the way Connecticut executes the high school football season. Lots there to talk about: 50 point rule, 1st game start dates, cross class scheduling, cross conference scheduling, Thanksgiving day games, number of games in the season, CIAC playoff sites, CIAC championship sites. Live in the present and work the future, or things will just pass you by :)

  20. JOE COLES says:

    ANSONIA CHARGERS—-BEST FOOTBALL IN CT.—-STOP CRYING FCIAC—–YOU LOST

  21. Weasel says:

    NC beat 8 ranked teams. Ansonia beat none.

    No one in their right mind would say that 15-0 Wisconsin Whitewater is #1 if Auburn beats FLST.

    Same principle holds here.

    Contrary to GoNOLES’s opinion is that the facts are on NC’s side. They played much tougher teams and beat them all. Ansonia beat not one team worth mentioning. That’s a shame for them; I’m sure their coaches and players try hard. Their schedule needs to be more competitive. Right now, there’s no way to determine how good Ansonia is.

    On the other hand, there is a way to determine how good New Canaan is; games vs ranked opponents. They beat them all.

    Unlike the “statewide” pollsters upstate, and with all due respect to SPB, it’s comforting to see that our very own Chris is right (and the regional poll shown here is the only one that reflects the integrity of a poll membership that had the cojones to do the right thing).

    Nice job, New Canaan. And nice job for getting the poll right, Hearst.

  22. Weasel says:

    BTW, even the reader’s poll on that other site has NC as #1. If readers can see this, why the hell can’t the sportswriters?

  23. GHS Fan says:

    New Canaan is the best team in Connecticut. I read the voters in that other stupid poll, and you people have a lot of damn nerve calling this poll parochial. That dopey Hartford Courant, not fit to wrap fish, cherry picked a bunch of stooge coaches from aroung – guess where (here’s a hint for NVL fans – it was Hartford) for THEIR “statewide” poll.

    GO NOLES -

    “Geesh, no wonder even people from other affluent communities in the state take issue with Fairfield County”

    Well THAT really hurts! Boohoohoo! I did so wanted to be “liked” by the “other affluent communities”!

    Sorry for confusing you with facts. If I’d known you were going to get all the other affluent communities after me, I would not have confused you with facts.

  24. GHS Fan says:

    NEW CANNAN BEST IN STATE!!! THIS BLOG VALIDATE BY MAXPREPS!

  25. anotherfan says:

    WOW ,THE CRY BABIES ARE STILL CRYING MORE THAN A MONTH LATER, GUYS,BE HAPPY YOU WON THE FAIRFIELD COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP. GET OVER IT ALREADY AND GET A LIFE!

  26. Number 23 says:

    http://www.ncadvertiser.com/29690/new-canaan-football-honored-on-tour-of-champions/

    And what’s the key part of the MaxPreps rankings? “Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents), margin of victory, and strength of schedule.”

    See y’all next fall.

  27. GHS Fan says:

    Hey – When are we going to get a story posted where we can all vent our collective spleens on the idiotic re-structuring of the state playoff system? That is, we are now going to have 8 “champions” in Connecticut!

    I come to 8 champions using the math that one of the PhDs announcing the decision said that we would have 32 teams make the playoff and only two rounds of playoffs. (I really do not understand how this same guy then says he does not know how many champions we will have…. has anyone checked whther the guy passed math?)

    Another thing, one of the blowhards says that this is for “player safety” since there will be less games.

    Ummmmm lets see – if you start with 32 teams in 8 brackets there are a total of 24 extra games (all teams playing).

    If you start with 32 teams and go down to 4 champions you play a total of 28 extra games. Does the guy seriously think that eliminating 4 games will affect player safety in Connecticut?

    So, their math stinks, their rationale stinks and it’s safe to say (I think) their plan stinks.

    Please post a story on this fiasco. We football people need to fully vet this monstrosity!

  28. knows fciac says:

    eight state champs in ct.? what a joke. every team should have a ten game schedule starting a week earlier in sept. and a legitimate playoff. teams going all the way would play 13 games.