Today is the start of (yet another) high school football week, the last regular season week before the big Thanksgiving feast.
So we submit to you the top eight regional football teams, the Elite 8 as we begin Week 10.
Today is the start of (yet another) high school football week, the last regular season week before the big Thanksgiving feast.
So we submit to you the top eight regional football teams, the Elite 8 as we begin Week 10.
Rolling out the new tools here on the Hearst CT Football Blog. New Elite 8 look, too. Since so few of our teams played, let’s just say everybody’s staying put this week.
Is this thing on?
Can anybody see this?
If you can, you’re one of the lucky ones. You have power. Our best to everyone who might still be in the dark. Prayers to everyone who might be in worse shape.
Delayed due to ‘Superstorm Sandy,’ we humbly present to you the Elite 8 for what has become Week 7 1/2 around here.
Only a few games on the schedule for this weekend, mostly in the NVL, SCC and CSC.
The FCIAC won’t play again until Thursday. The SWC won’t play its Week 8 games until Week 10.
So here’s where we stand:
NEWTOWN (7-0; Up next: vs. Bunnell, Nov. 9) — The Hawks took out Bethel easily. They get a week off before facing Bunnell. Then Immaculate. All that’s really left is to see what their Class LL playoff seeding looks like after its game vs. Masuk.
NEW CANAAN (6-1; Up next: vs. Stamford, Nov. 8) — The Rams clawed their way past Wilton thanks to a clutch 46-yard touchdown run by co-quarterback Ted Bossidy and have won five straight games. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Rams are getting the job done.
FAIRFIELD PREP (5-2; Up next: vs. Notre Dame-WH, Nov. 9) – Despite multiple warning signs, the Jesuits couldn’t escape the upset bug going around in Week 7. They were manhandled by Amity in a 24-21 loss. Now the Jesuits’ playoff hopes are in jeopardy.
At least they have another week off to think about it.
Then again, maybe that’s not such a good thing.
STAPLES (6-0; Up next: at Fairfield Warde, Nov. 8) — Just a quick note on “seven games, 30 days” scenario we keep applying to Staples.
It is all contingent on Trinity Catholic. If Trinity somehow defeats Darien and St. Joseph the next two weeks, there will be an FCIAC championship game held on Nov. 17.
In that case, Staples or Greenwich and Trinity would have to play seven games to win a state championship. It doesn’t just apply to Staples.
They’re just the team most likely to do it.
Anyway… Staples is rolling along, with high praise and hyperbole at every turn.
ANSONIA (7-0; Up next: vs. Wolcott, tonight) – The Chargers are wondering what the fuss is all about. They practiced. They’re playing a huge NVL game vs. unbeaten Wolcott as scheduled. Win, and they’re in great shape — not just in the playoff standings, but in grand scheme of the 2012 season.
GREENWICH (6-0; Up next: at McMahon, Nov. 8) – The Cardinals are quietly going about their business, dominating teams on the way to their first state playoff berth since 2007. They’re a virtual lock, but they’re also in the same boat as Staples: hoping “seven games, 30 days” doesn’t become a reality. (And if they’re not hoping that, they’re nuts).
WEST HAVEN (7-0; Up next: vs. Wilbur Cross, Nov. 3) — There was Twitter misinformation (go figure) saying that the Westies would be playing Wilbur Cross on Nov. 15. It has since been debunked. Ervin Phillips and West Haven have to play Cross on Saturday. Then, it’s Xavier week…
MASUK (7-0; Up next: vs. Barlow, Nov. 9) — Superstorm damage notwithstanding, all’s well in Monroe. Week off before a showdown with Barlow. Win and we can call the Thanksgiving Day game the de facto SWC championship.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (7-0; Up next: vs. Darien, Nov. 8) — We sympathize with Trinity Catholic. The Crusaders are having one of the best years in school history and now they must play their two biggest games under duress, like the rest of the FCIAC.
That said, nobody’s crying for the Crusaders. The league is going to extraordinary lengths, making everyone squeeze two games into a week, just to ensure Trinity gets a shot at playing for a league championship.
This insane arrangement is creating some Trinity animosity among some of the more inconvenienced teams.
“I don’t know anybody who thinks this is a good idea,” said St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia, whose team is desperately searching for a field with lights to play its Thursday game vs. Bassick.
The league announced Thursday that it would allow teams to push their Tuesday, Week 9 games up a few days should Trinity Catholic lose to Darien this week.
You can bet there are more than a few coaches who are desperately hoping that happens. It would mean no FCIAC championship and significantly less stress on their burdened schedules.
We love and applaud you, Trinity. But… well, you know…
RIDGEFIELD (5-2; Up next: vs. Harding, Nov. 8) — What the heck happened last week, Tigers? They’d be trending down, but there’s nowhere else to go but out. They’re very close to falling off the map. Shelton thinks they should have.
ST. JOSEPH (5-2; Up next: vs. Bassick, Nov. 8) – As mentioned, St. Joseph is desperately trying to find a place to play their Thursday night game vs. Bassick. A day game isn’t a viable option, Della Vecchia said, because most of his assistants teach at other schools and likely couldn’t get the needed time off to play an afternoon game. Bassick coach Derrick Lewis is looking at possibly moving to Sacred Heart. Kennedy Stadium isn’t an option because Trumbull and Central are playing there. Trumbull’s McDougall Field is a possibility, but much of Trumbull is still dark as of this writing.
Oh, and did we mention St. Joseph is in a desperate fight for Class M playoff points? The Hogs can’t afford to lose any more games. They’re up against a wall.
BARLOW (7-0; Up next: vs. Masuk, Nov. 9) — Playing the part of Trinity Catholic in the SWC is undefeated Barlow. The Falcons are having one of the best seasons in school history and, before Superstorm Sandy hit, controlled their own destiny on the road to the SWC championship.
But the SWC didn’t bend like the FCIAC just to help them. Now Barlow’s chances of actually playing for an SWC title is zero.
Granted, Barlow need to beat Masuk and Brookfield to stake a legitimately claim on the league title. And, honestly, that’s a long-shot scenario.
So unless Barlow can somehow pulls off the feat, it’s likely the SWC title will be decided on Thanksgiving Eve anyway.
As you were.
Movement, lots of movement in ye olde Elite 8. Let’s hop to it:
TRINITY CATHOLIC (6-0, This week: at Bassick, Friday, 7)
After six weeks, a victory over New Canaan, and rapidly improving ever since, it’s time to give the Crusaders their due. Sorry, coach Stokes. We’ve ignored the Crusaders long enough. They don’t blow you away with their offensive innovations, but they do blow you a way with brute strength from a variety of different sources, not just standout tailback Shaquan Howsie.
Y’know… how football is meant to be played.
ST. JOSEPH (4-2, This week: vs. Fairfield Warde, Saturday, 2)
The Hogs lived up to their hype for a half, and then came out looking like Cadets in the second half. They took their foot off the pedal, and basically flubbed their way to a 27-21 loss. A playoff berth is not lost, far from it. But their margin of error just got a lot smaller. QB Jordan Vazzano should return vs. Warde.
FAIRFIELD PREP (5-1, This week: at Amity, Friday, 7)
Maybe not enough credit has been given to Hamden for showing up and giving the Jesuits their best game of the year against a fellow Division I school. The Dragons, who’ve been left for dead, deserve applause for making this excitement. Still, Fairfield Prep has routed stronger football teams. The experience will do them good, but last week’s 27-20 win sends up warning signs of midseason fatigue.
They should win their final three games — Amity, Branford and rival Notre Dame-WH — before Thanksgiving. But nothing’s a given.
STAPLES (5-0; This week: vs. Darien, Saturday, 1:30)
When this team is on, it’s incredible. Trumbull had no chance. Now comes one of their biggest tests of the season before Thanksgiving: Darien.
ANSONIA (6-0; This week: at Crosby, Friday, 7)
Arkeel Newsome returned and the Chargers crushed Watertown. Good luck with that, Crosby. One week until Mike Nicol and Wolcott comes to town.
GREENWICH (5-0; This week: at Westhill, Saturday, 1:30)
Like Staples, the Cardinals haven’t played a close game since Week 1. Every game story reads like they’re in training camp. Now comes Davell Cotterell and upstart Westhill. Do the Vikings have any shot against this FCIAC juggernaut?
MASUK (6-0; This week: at Notre Dame-Fairfield, Saturday, noon)
Thomas Milone and Co. turned it on in the second half to brush back a modest challenge from Brookfield. They travel to Notre Dame for what should be another Masuk-style barnburner. After that, the team will play two of the league’s best small school teams — Weston and Barlow — before the SWC Championship.
WEST HAVEN (5-1; This week: vs. Cheshire, Friday, 7)
The Westies gave No. 1 Hand their best shot and almost won, only to see a bold 2-point conversion throw slip through their grasp. With one loss in the books, it’s only going to get tougher to claim a spot in the Class LL playoffs. Cheshire’s no slouch and, two weeks later, West Haven has to go to Palmer Field before a showdown with Fairfield Prep.
NEWTOWN (6-0; This week: vs. Bethel, Friday, 7)
The Hawks swept Notre Dame-Fairfield away. They wrap up their regular season with Bethel, Immaculate and Bunnell, teams that have just three wins between them. We’ll go out on a limb and say Newtown, now No. 10 in the statewide rankings, will win out and play in the SWC title game for the third consecutive year.
NEW CANAAN (5-1; This week: vs. Wilton, Saturday, 2)
By no means were the Rams perfect vs. St. Joseph, and this isn’t a vintage New Canaan squad, but that was a season-defining victory last week. New Canaan won on sheer determination. They’re back on-target to make a push for the Class L playoffs.
RIDGEFIELD (5-1; This week: at McMahon, Friday, 7)
The Tigers just go about their business, beating the teams on their schedule. We suspect they’ll continue to do this until it’s time for the state playoffs.
BARLOW (6-0; This week: vs. New Milford, Saturday, 1)
The Falcons remain one of the region’s best stories. Down by 8 points, they triple-optioned Bunnell to death with 22 fourth-quarter points. This is looking like Barlow’s best team since the 1970s. You heard that right.
In case you don’t know, we’re halfway through the season.
Crazy, right? Just five weeks ago we were wondering if Xaver and Hand could go into their Oct. 12 clash undefeated (they did). We were wondering how good Staples would be (awesone). We were wondering if losing Liam O’Neil for four weeks would hurt Greenwich (it didn’t). We were wondering if Shelton would be a dark horse in the SCC (they aren’t), if Masuk would be Masuk (they are), if Ansonia would be Ansonia (they are, but for different reasons), if St. Joseph was going to be this year’s ‘Norwalk’ in the FCIAC (they are, although lots of contenders in that arena).
We were wondering where we’d be in five weeks.
The answer to that last question is: In a very different place than we might have thought.
But now it’s time to take stock of where we were and how far we’ve come.
It’s time to test your knowledge of the 2012 southwest Connecticut high school football season to date.
It’s time for the High School Football Midseason Quiz!
The Professor is in the House.
Get your (um, virtual) No. 2 pencils ready. Eyes on your own work.
Yes. There are right and wrong answers. Yes. You will be graded (as a class). Yes, there will be a curve (whew!)
Polls will close at 6 p.m. Saturday. My answers will be unveiled Sunday.
If you have suggestions for anybody we might have missed, comment below. However: We won’t sit here and make a hundred revisions, so please be reasonable about it.
We’re about to roll out our midseason quiz (sharpen those wits, kids), but here’s where things stand locally as we ready for the season’s second half:
We’ve been having some photo upload problems on the ol’ blog. So this’ll have to be a no-frills SPB Elite 8 until further notice. Full graphics appeared in the papers today, anyway. So most of you know what’s what.
Update: Fixed! >
And, a quick programming note, the threat of rain Friday and Saturday is (once again) fiddling with the schedule. Click here for the latest.
Here we go:
FAIRFIELD PREP (4-1; This week: vs. Hamden, Saturday, 5)
The Jesuits continue to impress with a thorough 39-6 wipeout of Cheshire in an SCC Division I game. Prep is 4-1 for the first time under third-year coach Tom Shea. This is their best record since 2006. The rest of the schedule looks favorable for a Thanksgiving showdown vs. West Haven, just like the good ol’ days.
ST. JOSEPH (4-1; This week: vs. New Canaan, Saturday, 2:30)
The Hogs have answered the call with four straight victories since their opening loss to Staples. They get their third ‘big game’ of the year when improving New Canaan comes to town for a crucial FCIAC matchup. Actually, it’s bigger in terms of the state playoffs. New Canaan needs to win to stay in contention in Class L. The same for St. Joseph in Class M.
NEWTOWN (5-0; This week: vs. Notre Dame-Fairfield, Friday, 7)
Kudos to the Hawks for waking up on Saturday afternoon and taking care of Oxford in the second half. But what was that in the first half? Brennan Diaz and Oxford showed Newtown isn’t invincible in the SWC. Seeing how Masuk’s had no troubles, Newtown’s first half was troubling for an ‘elite’ team. They drop, for now. Trinity Catholic and New Canaan are making a case to leap-frog them in our fair rankings.
STAPLES (4-0; This week: vs. Trumbull, Friday, 7)
The Wreckers are taking care of business in the FCIAC, even if they haven’t been playing up to coach Marce Petroccio’s standards. They get a vastly improved Trumbull team on Friday in the FCIAC’s second biggest game of the Week.
ANSONIA (5-0; This week: at Watertown, Thursday, 6)
We’re going to go out on a limb and say Arkeel Newsome won’t be breaking any national rushing records before his time here is done. But what does he care? The Chargers are winning despite his ankle injury which has kept him out of at least seven quarters of action. He could probably rest another few weeks before Ansonia really needs him again.
GREENWICH (4-0; This week: vs. Central, Saturday, 2)
All’s well in Cardinals Land. Liam O’Neil is back. But we can’t see much resistance coming from the remaining teams on Greenwich’s schedule. Greenwich’s only worry is getting outpointed by an unbeaten Trinity Catholic for an FCIAC championship berth. Yes, it could happen. But, no worries, if it winds up Staples vs. Trinity Catholic and Staples wins, the Cards can stake a claim on the trophy with a victory on Thanksgiving.
(Guh. League title games are silly).
MASUK (5-0; This week: at Brookfield, Friday, 7)
Is there no one in the SWC who can stand up to Masuk? Brookfield, whaddya got?
WEST HAVEN (5-0; This week: at Hand, Friday, 7)
The Westies are about to play their biggest game of the year. Time to find out where they stand in the SCC and state hierarchy. It’s go time at the Surf Club.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (5-0; This week: vs. Fairfield Warde, Saturday, 2:30)
Nope, not in the Elite 8 yet. But, hey… relax, Trinity fans. The word is Trinity Catholic coach Peter Stokes prefers the SPB Elite 8 snub. Hey, we wouldn’t want to take any motivation away from his boys, would we?
NEW CANAAN (4-1; This week: at St. Joseph, Saturday, 2:30)
It seems as if the boys are all right. A week after coach Lou Marinelli suspended seven starters for an off-field incident, New Canaan is back in business. Now’s their time to rejoin the rest of the Elite teams when they face St. Joseph.
RIDGEFIELD (4-1; This week: at Norwalk, Friday, 7)
Connor Rowe returned to action and the Tigers took care of Fairfield Warde. They get Norwalk this week and have a relatively easy road to a 9-1 record and another Class LL playoff berth. Just keep playing well, Tigers…
BARLOW (5-0; This week: at Bunnell, Friday, 7)
Now that the 50-point embarrassment is over, coach Rob Tynan and the Falcons can get back to work. They face Bunnell in a game that’s crucial to their Class M playoff hopes. Did we mention Barlow’s never reached the state playoffs? Well… now you know.
ATTENTION: This is not a post about Hand vs. Xavier.
REPEAT: This is not a post about Hand vs. Xavier. The Game of the Century of the Decade of The Year of the Week.
This is modest post ranking the teams in the southwestern corner of Connecticut.
This is SPB’s Elite 8.
Yes, I know you don’t care because — hey, no Xavier, no Hand, right?
NEWSFLASH: THERE ARE A LOT MORE FOOTBALL GAMES GOING ON THIS WEEK, Y’KNOW???
We poor saps down south, we’re waving our arms, sending up smoke signals, waving our traffic batons: LOOK AT US! OVER HERE! LOOK AT US! OVER HERE! LOOK AT US!
OK, yes, let’s talk Hand-Xavier like the Blog Minions on the state poll post.
But will you give me one second to post the Elite 8 teams of southwest Connecticut?
I’ll be brief. Promise and we can get back to the Rumble at Palmer or whatever we’re calling it.
Get ready for a little non-Xavier-Hand outrage:
FAIRFIELD PREP (3-1; This Week: at Cheshire) has jumped two spots and bumped Darien from the ranks of the Eight.
Call it faith, call it foolishness, but we admit we were impressed with how the Jesuits dismantled Shelton. Like, really, really impressed. A week after taking Xavier’s best shot and hanging tough, we think Prep’s earned its way back into the Elite 8 for the first time since… 2007?
Aside from you Prep denizens who have assured us all year that Fairfield Prep is back, the rest of us were shocked at how Fairfield Prep crushed the Gaels. It wasn’t even close. Say all you want about Shelton, they’re still a decent team. That was a bloodletting.
This is a huge game vs. Cheshire coming up. Looking at the schedule, this is Prep’s last heavy lift until West Haven on Thanksgiving Day. Win here and the Jesuits are in great shape for the second half of the season.
ST. JOSEPH (3-1; This Week: vs. Harding) and DARIEN (3-1; This Week: at Trumbull)
Don’t read too much into this, fellas. Technically, the Hogs and Blue Wave did nothing to deserve such disrespect. They only took care of Stamford and Danbury convincingly.
So what gives? It’s the old poll conundrum, frankly. If one team gets bumped up, prepare for some teams to get bumped down. If we could rank St. Joseph 8A and 8B, we would. But we can’t. So we won’t. They’re that close, though.
Just keep playing ball, guys.
STAPLES (3-0; This week: Friday at Danbury); ANSONIA (4-0; This week: Thursday vs. Seymour); GREENWICH (3-0; This week: Friday at Ludlowe); MASUK (4-0; This week: Friday vs. New Fairfield); WEST HAVEN (4-0; This week: Friday vs. Amity).
Those teams stayed in their positions, and so have a few others below. But we’ve stopped being so liberal with our honorable mentions. The teams we’ve listed among the ‘Missed’ are close to elite, while we’ve dropped the others off the map (for now).
These teams have thoroughly handled most, if not all of their opponents this season (except others in the Elite 8). They all deserve their spots.
OK, back to Xavier-Hand…
MASUK (3-0; This week: at Bunnell), WEST HAVEN (3-0, This week: at Sheehan), NEWTOWN (3-0; This week: vs. Brookfield), ST. JOSEPH (2-1; This week: vs. Stamford)
All four teams move up to fill Darien’s vacated spot. Masuk crushed Immaculate. West Haven handled Notre Dame-West Haven (but not Cameran Tucker), Newtown had no problems with Stratford and, of course, St. Joseph nipped Darien in two overtimes.
DARIEN (2-1; This week: vs. Danbury) — The Blue Wave doesn’t drop far, but the team looked exhausted while losing a two-touchdown lead in the second half vs. St. Joseph. Losing lineman Matt D’Andrea during stretches of the second half didn’t help. He was a terror in the first half.
As mentioned, getting Peter Gesualdi back from injury is critical.
Now comes rejuvenated Danbury, fresh off a wild 36-30, victory over Central. Time to answer the bell.
STAPLES (3-0; This week: Idle), ANSONIA (3-0; This week: at Holy Cross), GREENWICH (2-0; This week: vs. Trumbull).
Staples buried McMahon, Ansonia buried Derby and Greeenwich was in a coma last week. Overall, Staples and Ansonia are putting a chasm between themselves and the rest of the state with the exception of maybe Xavier and Hand.
As for the ‘Missed,’ TRINITY CATHOLIC (3-0; This week: at Norwalk) is on the cusp. We dropped STAMFORD (2-1; This week: at St. Joseph) a bit.
The rest we left almost untouched because, honestly, we needed to make it all fit. So don’t read too much into it.
BROOKFIELD (3-0; This week: at Newtown), NEW CANAAN (2-1; This week: vs. McMahon), FAIRFIELD PREP (2-1; This week: vs. Shelton), STAMFORD (2-1; This week: at St. Joseph), SHELTON (2-1; This week: at Fairfield Prep), and BARLOW (3-0; This week: at New Fairfield) remain unchanged.
We’re all shook up heading into Week 3 of the high school football season. Some surprising local results have us scratching our heads and thinking about what’s what. What to do with teams like Trinity Catholic, Stamford and Westhill. What do do with Brookfield, Weston and Barlow? Only so many spots, so many teams to consider.
It’s been trendy to pump up the underdogs who barked so loudly around here last week.
But we’re going slightly conservative on this week’s EE.
For now, we’ll give the establishment the benefit of the doubt while waiting to see what some of those hot-button teams do next before we frantically start pushing them.
So, here we go:
GREENWICH (2-0; Up next: bye); DARIEN (2-0; Up next: Saturday vs. St. Joseph); MASUK (2-0; Up Next: Friday vs. Immaculate) — For the most part, all three teams mopped the floor with their Week 2 opponents. Greenwich handled Bassick, Darien beat Warde and Masuk beat New Milford.
All of them have moved up mostly because West Haven has moved down (we’ll get to that). Masuk takes the biggest jump into the No. 5 slot. Tough call between Masuk and Darien right now.
ST. JOSEPH (1-1; Up Next: at Darien, Saturday) – The Hogs make their debut in the Elite 8 thanks to their dismantling of Wilton. Caught them in person and here’s what sticks out: They’re huge (QB Jordan Vazzano would be a tackle on practically every other high school football team in Connecticut) and they play tough defense.
Yeah, they’re 1-1, but we give them credit for making Staples sweat in Week 1.
Now comes the tough part: Staying here. They travel to Darien in the region’s biggest and best Saturday encounter.
TRINITY CATHOLIC (2-0; Up Next: Harding, Saturday); BROOKFIELD (2-0, Up Next: at New Milford, Saturday); BARLOW (2-0; Up Next: vs. Notre Dame-Fairfield); STAMFORD (2-0; Up Next: at Ridgefield, Friday) — These teams made the most noise in Week 3. Trinity, of course, nipped New Canaan. Brookfield blitzed Bunnell. Barlow hammered Bethel; Stamford crushed Norwalk.
Intriguing. But now here comes the Big Question: Are these teams for real? Maybe, but it’s not enough to leap them into the Elite 8 just yet. We have our eyes wide open.
Yes, Westhill is not on this list. They lost convincingly to Trinity Catholic in Week 1 and beat a Trumbull squad that hasn’t won since program patriarch Jerry McDougall died last October. It’s going to take a little more.
We also considered Derby or Weston among the missed. But we think Derby will have to beat Ansonia or, failing that, win a few more NVL games. Ditto Weston. We’ll just say they’re all close.
WEST HAVEN (2-0; Up Next: at Notre Dame-WH, Friday) – Think of this as a slap on the wrist. After giving our due respect to Guilford, which manned-up and didn’t back down to the big, bad Westies of SCC Division I, we were a little disappointed that West Haven found itself down 14-0. That kind of behavior is not befitting a Top 8 squad, boys.
You have been warned. Notre Dame won’t be so forgiving.
NEW CANAAN (1-1; Up Next: at Fairfield Warde, Saturday) — Trinity Catholic’s 31-28 upset might be the first legitimate crack in New Canaan’s armor we’ve seen since… 2004? The Rams, who drop from No. 8 into the ‘Missed,’ have some work to do if they want to reclaim their mojo.
BUNNELL, WILTON, NORWALK have all dropped out of the ‘Missed.’ Now they’re just missing.
STAPLES (2-0; Up Next: vs. McMahon, Friday): Just crushed Central. Wow.
ANSONIA (2-0; Up Next: vs. Derby, Friday): Just crushed Woodland. Wow.
FAIRFIELD PREP (2-0; Up Next: at Xavier): We love Fairfield Prep’s spirit after winning its first two games. Well done. This next game is an entirely different story, altogether.
“It’s an entirely different story.”
That was an ‘Airplane!’ joke.
RIDGEFIELD (1-1; Up Next: vs. Stamford): Ridgefield won their first game, handily taking care of Ludlowe. Now the Tigers get Stamford in what suddenly looks like a big test against Stamford. Can’t slip up now, guys.
SHELTON (1-1; Up Next: vs. Amity): See above. Insert ‘Foran’ for Ludlowe and ‘Amity’ for Stamford.