Gotta love those unscientific polls on our site.
In spite of our loyal readers’ attempts to suggest otherwise, Ansonia will be your No. 1 team in the state.
Despite their best efforts to keep it silent, the word is out over at Ansonia and the Reg, who runs the poll. They’re shooting the Ansonia photo today.
Sorry Greenwich, despite an incredible season, Ansonia is No. 1.
As a poll voter, I cast my vote with the Chargers.
And I’ll be one of many, from what I understand. Like, almost all.
Yes, the Cardinals beat up on previously unbeaten Southington pretty convincingly.
A couple of things worked against the Cards, who had the No. 1 spot in their hands until last week.
1. They lost to Staples
2. They got shut out against Staples
3. Yes, they were without Jim Dunster and Nick Edwards and Sean Bannon in that game. But a loss is a loss. In voters minds, there are no excuses.
4. Staples, the team that beat the Cardinals, lost to Bunnell in the Class L title game. A Staples win would have given the Cardinals a little more oomph for their case.
5. Ansonia pretty much romped over an exceptional Holy Cross squad. Don’t forget that that was Holy Cross’ only loss of the season, the Crusaders shut out explosive Stratford, have a Boston College recruit on their roster, and a offensive and defensive lines that, in my estimation, are about as good as Staples, if not bigger and better.
6. Yes, being in the NVL hurts. It’s a top-heavy and weak league. However, the Holy Cross win stands out again. Also, the Chargers were really never challenged and rightfully overwhelmed everybody. If they had played in or two close games, and Greenwich would have had another good case.
7. This one is undisputed: Ansonia is 13-0, the only team with a goose egg in the loss column.
Holy Cross, from what I gather, will make a serious run at No. 2 but not quite get there.
For everyone It was great season nonetheless. For the champs, revel in your title, not a ranking… unless you’re Ansonia :P
Steve Smith throws 19 passes, completes 11 for 214 yards and four touchdowns, two on fourth down, three to Sam Stringfellow, and then picked off a 2-point pass with 4:10 left to smack down the two-time defending champion–and FCIAC heavyweight–Staples 28-26.
Don’t think you’ll see a result like this in a long, long, looooooong time.
Best game of the night…
Best game of the day…
Best game of the playoffs…
Best game of the season.
It was simply Incredible to watch. If you weren’t there, we really feel sorry for you.
Bunnell 28, Staples 26
It still looks crazy just looking at the score.
The Dawgs were heavy, HEAVY underdogs, yet they nailed the Wreckers tonight. Smith tossed a pair of early TDs, had the Wreckers on their heels, hung tough on defense and came away with the biggest upset since in the state semifnals in a looooong time.
A looooong time.
Bunnell coach Craig Bruno has been all over the SWC’s slight 8-7 (or whatever it is) edge over the FCIAC the two-year crossover started. The biggest knock, I told him, was that the SWC hadn’t played the FCIACs large schools.
Now they have.
…and here’s the result:
Bunnell 28, Staples 26
I picked Staples to win 35-16. And, I’ll tell you, I got killed by the Bunnell people after the game.
But, honestly, I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY said the same thing I said:
“Staples rolls ‘em.”
And, if the schools played tomorrow that’s what it could have been. But Smith dazzled from Bunnell’s first possesion until the final play, running head-first into Staples’ front line for yardage. Andrew Kennedy? Francois Auzerais?
He just didn’t care. He danced out of Kennedy’s tackles. He side-stepped Alex Cion. He uncorked long touchdown passes. He ran for first downs. Though those guys got their hands on him a few times, just not when it mattered most.
It got dicey in the second half, with Staples finally asserting itself toward the end of the game. But Smith picks off Marsilio on a 2-point play and then Bunnell’s defense just needed one stop. Lots of plays to go around.
Just an incredible, incredible result. I’m an FCIAC fan, but, honestly? The FCIAC can have all of your blogs and headlines. Bunnell just knocked off one of your heavyweights.
Wave that SWC banner, Bunnell.
You’re the state champions.
No fluke. You guys deserve it.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
After about three sleepless nights, not only for the coaching staffs and players, but for us as well trying to put together all the advances possible, we’re finally here.
It’s only 3 1/2 hours to the first kickoff so I’m not sure how many of you out there will be seeing this. (I only live in Hamden a few minutes away from WH, so no worries for me).
But as much as I’m exhausted, I’m fired up to get these suckers started. I’ll be at West Haven all day, all night, to see our Stratford schools and Staples play for state titles.
Just an FYI, I love our Stratford photo that appeared in Friday’s paper:
Not many people realize how much work went into it. Our staff photog Autumn Pinette not only had to deal with a tight five-minute window (both Steve Smith and Torrey Mackhad to get moving to practice), but she also had to deal with me.
I was antsy and worried it wouldn’t work out. I desperately wanted the shot to illustrate the comraderie between the two players and the two schools despite the growing division of politics and demographics in town. (And it’s there, believe me, we deal with it every day even in sports).
Anyway, I was being a pain, asking for alternate positions and then saying stuff like: “We’ll do that and then get out of here.”
At one point Smith says: “Dude, she’s going to kill you in a second.”
It reminded me of a photo shoot I tried to coordinate at Syracuse with a bunch of clowns named Donovan McNabb, Rob Konrad, Kevin Johnson, Kyle McIntosh and Dee Brown . I had D-Nabb hold out a football and had the other guys reach for it, to show there’s only one ball to go around to all of these great players…
McNabb (laughing): “That’s dumb.”
Me: “I’m just thinking here, Don. What do you want to do???”
Then KJ and Kyle and D-Nabb started making goofy faces. (sigh).
It looks simple in print, but it’s never easy.
I will say that Steve and Torrey were a lot more cooperative than McNabb and Co. (Steve didn’t care, he just wanted to make sure he looked good). Coaches Craig Bruno and Duane Shirden were very accomodating despite their busy, short-week schedules.
And the shot was tremendous, really captured the essence of what these games are about to Stratford.
Now, of course, they’re talking about the cover jinx in Stratford from what I hear. But, since I picked against both squads, so doesn’t that off-set the jinx?
C’mon people, which jinx is the real jinx?
Regardless of what happens, it’s been a tremendous season in Stratford. Though I picked ‘em both to lose, here’s hoping they can make it close… if not win.
Good luck to Staples and Holy Cross as well. Two fine teams with great coaches and players. Should be a couple of good games.
Just a quickie response to my previous post, not to detract from Mikey C’s insightful (and, may I add, correct) opinion on the state playoffs:
But, just so everyone knows, by no means was I upset that Greenwich, specifically junior John Kavanaugh, called me out for picking against them.
I absolutely loved it. And good for them for kicking my tail afterward, and today at the CIAC Luncheon at Cheshire.
“You were the one that picked that?” asked injured senior T.J. Cameron. “That was the WORST pick I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, seven points? C’mon.”
Thanks guys, I deserved it. Good luck in the final.
PS> I’m picking you. Good luck with that one.
Hi everybody. Cardillo here with a raaaaaaaaaare comment on high school football, the one with shoulder pads, game cancellations for the chance of rain and the stupidest rule in the history of the CIAC — and that’s saying something for a sports goverining body that allows state soccer finals to end in draws.
Look, I’m not the first person to drop a steamer on the “Score Management”, aka the 50-point rule.
However, let’s look at Tuesday night’s CIAC Class semifinals, all 12 of them.
Class LL: Greenwich 34, Fairfield Prep 0; Southington 36, Shelton 9
Class L: Staples 24, West Haven 7; Bunnell 29, Masuk 12
Class MM: New Canaan 49, Coventry/Windham Tech 14 (42-0 at halftime); Maloney 40, Berlin 14
Class M: Hillhouse 40, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech 0 (40-0 at halftime); Windham 22, Ledyard 0
Class S: Stratford 48, Griswold 6 (35-0 at halftime); Holy Cross 49, Tolland 8
Class SS: Ansonia 46, North Brandford 14; Bloomfield 45, Cromwell 14
So out of 12 games — two at best were competitive. That’s 16 percent.
If this doesn’t call for LESS playoff teams I don’t know what does.
Let’s go inside the numbers a little more.
The smallest Class division this season is S, with 21 teams. The biggest is is M with 24. And the grand total of teams fielding a CIAC sanction gridiron squad is 134, leaving the playoff percentage at an acceptable, at least mathematically speaking, 18 percent.
Now of course there is a difference between an S team (271 boys or under enrolled) with an LL (606 and over); but how about the difference between an M (360-419) and an MM (420-502). See for yourself here?
Let’s face it, Connecticut isn’t that big a state. We’re not Texas, duh. But we’re not Virginia either, which also has six divisions. And a very very very very complex playoff formula. I can’t officially confirm this, but my friend from the Commonwealth told me this weekend that they actually have the winners of small divisions play each other then go against the big boys. (Again, not written in stone fact, but I’ll trust my buddy.)
But that’s not my point. Virginia has a total population of 7,567,465. Connecticut’s is 3,405,565.
So with about double our Nutmeg population, Virginia crowns as many state football champs. (And let’s not forget how many D-I players Virginia produces as opposed to Connecticut.)
The way I see, why not invent LLL, MMM and SSS so instead of having team’s that are the best of 20-odd schools, they can be the best of 10-odd. Hey, everyone gets a trophy. Everyone is happy.
Oh, right that 50-point baloney.
If a team is good enough to qualify for the state tournament, the rule is off. Botton line.
How fun must it have been for the players on Hillhouse and New Canaan in the second half having to worry about scoring? How about the second string and junior varsities? Instead of telling their grandkids they scored in a state playoff game, they can say they took a kneel to ensure their coach would be able to coach in the state championship game.
But with the CIAC — par for the course.
It’s late nite and I’m back from the state semifinals (got to get up for the state championship luncheon beginning at noon).
1. To quote Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons: “Augh, I’m bad at this.”
Not really at picking games, because, overall I was 9-3. Just our locals. More on that in a second.
After a down 2005 (three teams in the playoffs, only one to advance), Fairfield County football comes roaring back with a vengance, huh?
Midway through Staples’ 24-7 manhandling of West Haven, SCC Commish Al Carbone calls my cell from the field at Tetreau/Davis field: “Man, my league is getting hammered!”
Just for you, Allie, here’s the wreckage from Class LL, where I predicted an all-SCC final:
Southington 36, Shelton 9
Greenwich 34, Prep 0
Speaking of Greenwich, BOY, did junior tailback John Kavanaugh let me have it, huh?
“The Connecticut Post described our offense as nothing better than average, so that really fired us up,” he said.
(Thanks for reading, John ;)
And a hearty “I thought you were on my side!” thanks to Mike Puma for using that for his first quote in his game story: Prep no match for Greenwich.
I think I said it this way:
“Greenwich (key word coming up) looked average (key phrase coming up) against Staples.”
OK, so I can hide behind that, but not this: Prep 13, Greenwich 7
Kavanaugh 8 carries, 117 yards, TD; Jonathan Meyers 12 carries 104 yards, 2 TDs; Bobby Sullivan 9 carries, 92 yards; QB Joe Poletsky 6-of-9, 119 yards, TD.
John, by Irish friend, there was nothing average about that performance. I stand corrected.
However, I did pick you to beat Staples and you guys mailed it in. Where were you when I was behind ya??? Yeah, thought so. ;)
BTW, that FCIAC-SCC all-time playoff tally has just been cut down to 14-10, SCC. You can just sense Allie Carbone is sweating bullets in SoCon land.
MEANWHILE, over at Warde, the Westport Justice League was on the hunt for the conniving and evil SPB after this little diddy in Tuesday’s paper: West Haven 21, Staples 14
The first words out of The Hour of Norwalk: Matt Doran‘s mouth as I made my way from the press box to the sideline: “I wouldn’t come down here. They’re looking for you.”
Yeah, well, tell them to get in line.
Doncha know? Everybody’s looking for me.
Makes a guy think he should just pick ties from now on.
Ties. Can you imagine: The pick–Staples 28, Bunnell 28. Co-Champions!!!!!!!!
In there can be only one in American football :)
Anyhoo, off to the luncheon, More from there, unless I’m accosted in the parking lot by a gaggle of Cards, Wreckers and even Blue Knights (They read, too. Don’t think I don’t know that.)
Or maybe even an angry bunch of girls soccer players.
Why not? The Hate Bowley bandwagon’s got plenty of room. Climb aboard, you houligans.
SPB aka Lex Luthor.
Nice looking package by our competitors up north. They’re absent all season until its playoff time and then break out the staff. Welcome to the season, guys.
Problem is, outside of their locals, they’re completely lost.
The Courant’s desk-bound staff take stats directly from Max Preps without question or background checking. In the SS cap, it Sez Stratford QB Justin Shumyhora’s only thrown 22 passes all year.
Guys, does that make sense? Maybe since Torrey Mack and Octavious McKoy are so good. But a quick check on Shumyhora’s link shows he only has stats for two games. And that makes no sense unless Mack’s been taking direct snaps.
…the other thing to know is the Connecticut Post has been calculating Stratford and Bunnell’s maxpreps stats and putting them on the site on behalf of Craig Bruno and Duane Shirden. Both guys aren’t exactly internet savvy and we thought it would look silly without Bunnell QB Steve Smith, Mack and McKoy up there. Other people around the state go on that site, see it and say, ‘WOW! Who are these guys?’
We’ve been pretty good with Mack, McKoy and Smith. Problem is, we just don’t have Shumyhora’s game-by-game available to post. We just have his cumulative, which we hold in our databases and ran in our Thanksgiving tab. We’re also the only ones updating Bunnell QB Steve Smith’s statistics. Which they also pulled.
Also, they see Ansonia’s Alex Thomas with 1,011 yards. Problem is, Ansonia hasn’t updated the stats since Week 7. Everyone else in the state knows he’s run for 1,700+ with 28 TDs.
Nobody’s perfect, but if you can’t verify, don’t run ‘em.
On another note: Coaches, MaxPreps is great and we the sporting press love having statistics. We know you’re busy preparing for Big-Time Opponent, but can you at least get the statistician up to speed? Nothing stinks more than having to go back and update your stats for you. This doesn’t work without cooperation from all sides.
Looking over my picks from the state semifinals, first thing I would think if I wasn’t me would be:
“Oh, yeah. Prep over Greenwich? Shelton over Southington? Who’s this guy think he is? Just because he covers the gosh-darn teams…”
Although I do believe these are unlikely scenarios and, God knows, I’ve been wrong before. But, honestly, these teams are in the state playoffs for a reason and we’re bound to see some surprising results. So this is just my way of saying, hey, these guys actually have a good shot to win.
Let’s take a look:
What chance do the Gaels, who lost to both West Haven and Fairfield Prep, have against unbeaten Nick Florian and Southington at Fontana Field, no less.
Here’s the deal: They’re still Shelton. And a team Shelton beat, Cheshire, found a way to bull up and down the field on the Blue Knights.
Granted, it was a rainy and blustery day and Southington’s quick-strike pass attack was siffled a bit (Except for one big play by Florian). But Shelton’s got the bigger line and the capability to keep the ball moving with Geoff Schultz and Andre Henderson.
The secondary may get strung up a bit because, well, everyone does against Southington. I do think the Gaels have the ability to make a play. They just can’t get into a shootout with the Knights. Anyone who does, loses every time.
I have faith in the Gaels, who have won seven straight. Especially if they can grind it out on what should be some pretty roughed-up grass at Fontana Field.
Again, these guys haven’t shown us much outside of a turnover-infested win against Shelton. They got absolutely bombed by West Haven and looked dismal against Xavier. But remember, actually led 14-12 against West Haven. Just too much James Alford.
While I have no faith in Prep’s run game against Charles Williams and Jonathan Meyers and a healthy Sean Bannon. I have even less faith in Greenwich’s run game with just Meyers and Bobby Sullivan.
Yes, Sullivan torched New Canaan with 100 something yards on six carries, but I think that’s because he was kind of a secret at that point and his speed shocked the Rams. Most of those yards were on a 90-yard run against a stacked front.
A week later, the hobbled Cardinals looked nothing like the team that rolled to a 10-0 record against Staples. The Greenwich offense is in disarray. So this figures to be a defensive battle, one Prep can certainly win.
Prep’s D has been almost as good as Greenwich’s this season. Greenwich just had the offense to put teams away while Prep didn’t. Now… it’s a bit of an even field with Jimmy Dunster and Nick Edwards out and QB Joe Poletsky isn’t winning many games by himself. Their offense just doesn’t work that way.
Unless the Cards can break a few runs, Prep can win this one. I don’t see any Alfords Greenwich’s sidelines, except the kid on crutches in a cast (T.J. Cameron). The Jesuits just can’t freeze when the headlights are bearing down on them the way they did against West Haven. And that can certainly happen…
Elsewhere, I think Masuk can beat Bunnell, but are a little too banged up to do so. …Stratford rolls Griswold, Ansona squashed North Branford, Hillhouse does the same to St. Bernard (not going to be a good day for the ECC). New Canaan could lose to Coventry, but I doubt it.
So, which of our 11 playoff teams DO lose? Somebody’s got to go down and I think we’re overrating them a bit too much. But, hey, they’re our teams. We’re entitled.
If anyone I picked is going down tonight, it will happen, in this order: Prep, Bunnell, Shelton…West Haven a distant fourth.
After that it’s almost a guarantee everybody wins. At least we know we’re getting somebody to cover in the finals.
Class L, after all, is the Connecticut Post Invitational
As I’ve gone on and on about, Thanksgiving Football week is one of the biggest sporting events in Connecticut. And it disheartened me to see incredible amounts of rain in the forecast, not because I didn’t want to stand around in the rain (although that is annoying), but because I thought all of the tradition and pagentry was going to be a complete washout.
My fears slowly turned to reality at breakfast at the annual Thanksgiving breakfast at the Blue Diamond Bistro with George DeMaio and the rest of the WELI crew. The reports quickly came in,
Law-Foran, OFF. …Amity-North Haven, OFF. …Shelton-Derby, OFF. …Ansonia-Naugatuck, OFF. West Haven-Fairfield Prep, OFF.
Ugh, the whole day was going to be a wash.
Or so I thought, until I arrived at the Connecticut Post at 9 a.m. to get a handle on every other game.
But, guess what? We only had one more postponement, McMahon-Norwalk. Everything else was on. So were a lot of other big games across the state. And, outside of getting absolutely soaked, it turned out to be a pretty thrilling, football-filled Thanksgiving Day. Just 12 games were postponed. Not bad, considering.
But, once again. The day felt incomplete. We were missing a few big games.
And they were almost all in the SCC, mostly by eams that play on turf.
Hey. SCC. What? Gives? Except for Hillhouse and the Green Bowl people, the rest of the conference really let me down. West Haven can get its turf ready in hours after a snowstorm, but it can play in rain? Shelton just had a new turf installed two years ago. Same with Foran. North Haven can be forgiven… almost, until you see that Hillhouse played in slop. And they’re going to the state playoffs next week.
Just very disappointing. The whole day loses its luster. It was still fun, but not the same without hearing from West Haven, Ansonia, et. al.