Quarterfinals Reactions

Ansonia is the only NVL team moving on to the semifinals with a 47-26 win over Hyde. Montrell Dobbs had an insane evening.

Naugatuck stuck with New Canaan but fell, 21-12.

Sacred Heart did the same with Valley Regional/Old Lyme but also lost, 37-24.

Woodland had its doors blown off by St. Joseph, 48-12, led by an absolutely amazing performance by Joe Della Vecchia.

More on all of this soon. Reactions are welcome. Can't wait to hear the anti-NVL talk again.

Quarterfinals Live Scoreboard

Playoff Predictions: Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the site of each home team. We have four participants from the NVL. Good luck to all of our squads!

Class S: No. 6 Hyde (7-3) at No. 3 Ansonia (9-1): Ansonia is looking for its 17th state title. More importantly, it is looking to rebound after a loss on its home field in the NVL championship. The states are more important. With a struggling Hyde team (losers of three straight games) coming into Jarvis Stadium, the Howling Wolves are looking to knock the Chargers out of a decent Class S playoff field. If Hyde can slow down Dobbs, it has a great shot at leaving Jarvis Stadium with a win. It will be interesting to see what defense Hyde comes out in and what adjustments Tom Brockett and his staff will make if they see another 9-10 guys in the box for a second consecutive game.
Picks: Kyle- Ansonia, 26-14. Remmy- Ansonia, 34-18.

Class S: No. 5 Woodland (7-3) at No. 4 St. Joseph (7-3) at Fairfield Ludlowe: The storyline here isn't NVL vs. FCIAC as much as it is the possibility that St. Joseph quarterback Joe Della Vecchia will miss this game after suffering a knee injury against Trumbull on Thanksgiving eve. That certainly boosts Woodland's chances a great deal in this game. Della Vecchia has passed for over 2,000 yards and 25 TD this season and has also run for 463 yards and four TD, both second on the team. This probably means that Cadets running back LJ Hunt will get more carries as will Tyler Matakevich, who hasn't run the ball much this year after the early foot injury. St. Joseph averages almost 33 points per game, but we have to think that goes does gown a little with Della Vecchia either out or certainly less than 100 percent. The Cadets' defense hasn't been a strong point all season, giving up almost 26 points per game, so this might be a recipe for Woodland to pull the upset. The Hawks have to chew up some clock on the ground and buckle down with the run defense.
Picks: Kyle- Woodland, 27-21. Remmy- Woodland, 26-24.

Class L: No. 6 New Canaan (9-1) at No. 3 Naugatuck (9-1): Naugatuck just won its most important game in almost a decade. Now, Naugy is one of the few home underdogs in the quarterfinals as it faces No. 6 New Canaan, which is ranked in the top six of the state polls. This could be a high-scoring affair as both teams like to spread the field. New Canaan averages almost 42 points per game while Naugy averages nearly 38 points per. New Canaan is playing as well as any team in the state and the non-Naugatuck folks giving the Greyhounds a chance are almost nonexistent. We're not calling for a blowout but it's hard to see Naugy beating the four-time defending state champions. The Hounds will have to play as good a defense as they did against Ansonia and not turn the ball over at all to win this game.
Picks: Kyle- New Canaan, 35-21. Remmy- (I am rooting for Naugy, BADLY) New Canaan, 27-21.

Class S: No. 8 Sacred Heart (6-4) at No. 1 Valley Regional/Old Lyme (10-0): We haven't seen Valley Regional in action yet but we do know they can put points on the board in a hurry. Sacred Heart basically backed in to the playoffs after losing big against a two-win Wilby team. Some good news for the Hearts: They get standout WR David Coggins back for this one. Has Valley Regional faced a team that can pass the ball on every down? Don't know. But we'll see if Sacred Heart has the ability to score points against a stingy defense while limiting Valley Regional's attack because we all know teams can score on the Hearts' defense in a hurry. Hopefully they don't get embarrassed.
Picks: Kyle- Sacred Heart, 34-28. Remmy- Valley Regional, 38-20.

Video: NVL Championship - Naugatuck vs. Ansonia

Playoffs: Class S Bracket

We'll be updating the bracket as the final scores are reported. The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Three NVL teams are in the Class S field this postseason. Good luck to all three teams.

Naugy Beats Ansonia; 4 NVL Teams in Playoffs

Big congratulations to the Naugatuck Greyhounds and coach Rob Plasky for winning the Naugatuck Valley League championship and clinching a home quarterfinal in the Class L playoffs by beating Ansonia, 38-20, at Jarvis Stadium.

The coaching job by Naugatuck was nothing short of stupendous as the debut of the Wild Hound (yes, that's what I'll call it) and the consistent use of the spread offense made the Greyhounds' attack look great.

Huge credit has to go to Naugy's defense for holding Montrell Dobbs in check all day and sacking Elliot Chudwick eight times in the second half alone. The Hounds' offense committed four turnovers in the second half but their defense stood tall time after time and did the best job against Dobbs any of us have ever seen. Dobbs finished with 25 carries for 102 yards (and 24 carries for 54 yards if you take away his 48-yard run).

Erich Broadrick made his case to be called the best quarterback in the NVL and he has my vote after his incredible performance today. He was the game's MVP, going 14-of-20 for 301 yards and three TD while rushing for two more.

Now, onto the playoffs:

Naugy earned the No. 3 seed in Class L via the victory, bonus points, and Darien's loss to New Canaan. The Hounds will host No. 6 New Canaan Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.

Ansonia fell from the top spot in Class S but will still have a home game when the No. 3 Chargers host No. 6 Hyde Leadership Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Woodland fell a few points short of St. Joseph in Class S and the teams will face each other Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. The No. 5 Hawks will travel to meet the No. 4 Cadets in a game preliminarily scheduled to be played at Fairfield Ludlowe High.

Sacred Heart managed to back into the No. 8 spot in Class S with just enough bonus and tiebreak points to beat Coginchaug for the spot. The Hearts will travel to meet No. 1 Valley Regional/Old Lyme Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Let the talk begin. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Thanksgiving Day 2010 Scoreboard

First of all, Kyle and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thankgiving!

The festivities begin tonight at Woodland with the visiting Seymour Wildcats attempting to win their first game of the season. Wilby is also at Sacred Heart. These games are particularly important and both carry playoff implications for Woodland and Sacred Heart. "Win and in" is the motto for this evening. We will have post-game interviews from Beacon Falls here on the blog shortly after the conclusion of tonight's action.

Other scoring updates on Thanksgiving morning will include: Derby-Shelton, Naugy-Ansonia, St. Paul-Rocky Hill, Watertown-Torrington, Wolcott-Holy Cross, and Kennedy-Crosby.

Final Playoff Projections

Here we go with the final look at the playoffs. I'm just going to briefly summarize what's going on for the four NVL teams seriously in contention. If you want to see the full explanation and projections I've made, check out my Red Zone blog post.

Ansonia clinched its Class S playoff berth weeks ago and clinched a home quarterfinal game last week. Its game against Naugatuck this week is basically for the top seed and that's about it.

The three other serious contenders are in a win-and-in scenario. Naugatuck will qualify for the Class L playoffs with a win over Ansonia and probably wouldn't get in with a loss. The Hounds are actually in very good position to earn a home quarterfinal if they beat the Chargers. They would likely gain enough points to jump Wethersfield into fourth position, or if New Canaan beats Darien, into third position. Quite frankly, Naugy would want the fourth spot to face Wethersfield in the first round because the third spot would likely bring a game against New Canaan.

Woodland and Sacred Heart can also clinch Class S berths with wins on Thanksgiving eve. Important losses by Coginchaug and Cromwell last week opened the door wide for the Hawks and Hearts. In fact, both teams would still have a good chance at qualifying even if they lose, especially if Coginchaug beats Cromwell.

Both Woodland and Sacred Heart could be in line for the final home quarterfinal spot, too, if St. Joseph loses to Trumbull and Hyde loses to North Branford. In that scenario, I have Woodland beating St. Joseph and Sacred Hearts by slim margins to gain the No. 5 seed.

Watertown and Wolcott are still mathematically alive in Class M but both teams would need to win and get a ridiculous amount of help to qualify.

If Ansonia, Woodland, and Sacred Heart all win and the bonus points shake out like I predict, here's what my Class S playoff matchups look like:

#1 Ansonia vs. #8 Cromwell
#2 Valley Regional vs. #7 Hyde Leadership
#3 Montville vs. #6 Sacred Heart
#4 Woodland vs. #5 St. Joseph

If Ansonia loses to Naugatuck, then I would drop Ansonia to the No. 3 spot and have the Chargers and Hearts matching up in the quarterfinals. There would be a very, very small chance that Ansonia could drop to fourth if St. Joseph wins and the bonus points work out the right way, meaning that we'll see the Ansonia-Woodland rematch in the quarterfinals instead of a potential semifinal matchup as it looks now.

If Naugatuck wins, Darien beats New Canaan, and the bonus points work out as I predict, the Class L playoffs matchups would look like this:

#1 Masuk vs. #8 Windsor
#2 Darien vs. #7 Maloney
#3 Daniel Hand vs. #6 North Haven
#4 Naugatuck vs. #5 Wethersfield

By the way, there is no reseeding in the playoff brackets, meaning #1/#8 plays #4/#5 and #2/#7 plays #3/#6 regardless of upsets.

2010 NVL Championship: Naugatuck at Ansonia

Smoked turkey tastes better after an Ansonia win on Thanksgiving. However, this year, it won't be that easy for the Chargers. Overall, Naugy has been playing solid football and has exceptional athletes. With the playoffs and a possible home game in sight, this is an even bigger game for the Greyhounds. Can they beat the Chargers for the first time since 2001?

What Remmy has seen:
Ansonia- The Chargers are without a doubt the top team in the NVL this season. Ansonia has shown the ability to score at will. If there's anything wrong with this team, it is its pass defense. This is a young, well-coached, undefeated bunch that still plays with chips on their shoulders every time they step onto the football field.
Naugatuck- Having seen the Hounds twice this season, I have to say this is the most explosive team in the NVL. Naugy has exceptional athletes on both sides of the ball and have the ability to score by run or pass on any given play. This is also a very squad on special teams. Coaching has been suspect, according to many people in the Valley (Naugatuck fans included).

What Kyle has seen:
Ansonia- Just when we think Ansonia is going to have a down year, the Chargers pull what they have this year. It's credible to see what Montrell Dobbs and Tom Brockett have led a bunch of young kids with very minimal varsity experience to do this year. Their running game is one of the best in the league and they have an underrated passing game. Their defense certainly isn't the best in the league, but they get stops when they need them.
Naugatuck- I thought Naugatuck was playing the best football in the league for about the first seven weeks of the season. The Hounds have the most weapons of any team in the league and can really run or pass the ball. The aerial attack is Naugy's strength, though, and Erich Broadrick is quietly one of the best leaders in the NVL. The Hounds' defense really isn't too bad, either, and is probably better than Ansonia's, particularly in the defensive backfield.

Remmy's keys to the game:
Ansonia- The key isn't to run Dobbs down Naugy's throat. It's to limit Naugy's time of possession. The Chargers have the ability to score every time Dobbs carries the ball. However, the fewer plays Ansonia allows Naugy to run, the better I'd feel about the Chargers' chances on Turkey Day. Beware of Naugy's receivers. Berger and Conklin should not be ignored. On the other hand, if the Chargers are having a field day running the ball, Naugy will likely go to man coverage. Chudwick needs to be able to recognize this and pop a pass or two over the defense to keep them honest. We could see a big game from Chudwick and his receivers with Naugy obviously focusing more on Dobbs.
Naugatuck- Win the turnover battle and make a big play on special teams to take the crowd out of the game. Don't be shell-shocked if Dobbs makes a couple of big plays early in the game. This happened with Wolcott and completely flustered the Eagles. Try to get the ball to Conklin. Conklin is 6'4'' and Ansonia's tallest defensive back is 6'2''. This mismatch could prove to be the difference in this game.

Kyle's keys to the game:
Ansonia- I don't think it's necessary for the Chargers to get on top early in this one. We saw Ansonia storm back from a huge early deficit to Derby and this is a team that doesn't ever pack it in. Whatever type of game this is, whether high-scoring or hard-hitting, Ansonia will be in it. There's no reason for the Chargers not to use what got them here, and that's Dobbs. The play-calling this year has been very good as far as I've seen, using a heavy dose of Dobbs and countering with some well-timed passes by Elliot Chudwick. I think the onus in this game falls on Ansonia's defense. We'll see how well the Chargers can stop Naugy's passing game, because it's inevitable by about the second or third quarter that the Hounds' offense will be more pass than run.
Naugatuck- The key is what it is for every team that plays Ansonia--limit Dobbs and you can win. If you keep the kid under 200 yards, you'll be right in this game and very likely ahead at the end. I'd like to see Naugatuck stick with the run a little more. I thought the Hounds abandoned it too early against Sacred Heart and Woodland and I think that really hurt them in both games. I know Rob Plasky has the utmost confidence in Broadrick's arm, but he's got some really good running backs that can soften the Chargers' defense and set up the play-action pass perfectly. I think it's also more important for Naugy to get on top early because the Greyhounds haven't showed the ability to come from behind (although they haven't needed to much).

Remmy's pick: Ansonia, 34-19.
Kyle's pick: Ansonia, 21-20. As much as it pains me to do that, use it as motivation, Naugy.

Final playoff projections are coming up very soon.

Playoff Projections

Alright, everybody's been asking plenty of questions about the playoff picture at the moment, so I finally got a chance to finish everything up (which will change plenty, I'm sure, by the end of this weekend).

In Class L, it's simple for Naugatuck: Win and you're in, lose and you're out. The Hounds will be watching closely their bonus points if they can upset Ansonia, because my projections right now have them one point short of Avon for the No. 4 spot if Naugy wins. Naugatuck needs to root for Killingly, Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, Torrington, Kennedy, Seymour, Derby, and St. Paul to get its maximum bonus points. Avon has the luxury of playing in a conference in which all of its defeated opponents play each other, so it's going to earn its maximum average of 129.00. Naugy's going to have to at least tie that to earn a home quarterfinal.

In Class M, Watertown, Wolcott, and Derby are still mathematically alive, but there needs to be utter chaos in order for any of those teams to qualify. The Indians have the best chance of the three, but a lot of unlikely things need to happen for Watertown to make it.

Class S is the most exciting of the four classes, I think, because there are only 11 teams still alive, but the last five spots are wide open. Ansonia has already clinched its playoff berth, and although it hasn't officially earned a home game, it's a virtual lock. Woodland and Sacred Heart will be battling it out in terms of which team earns more bonus points to leap above the other.

Here's the basic situation in Class S: In addition to Ansonia, Valley Regional/Old Lyme and Montville have also clinched playoff berths, leaving the remaining eight teams to battle for the final five spots. If Woodland and Sacred Heart both take care of business and win on Thanksgiving eve (which, if they don't, they don't deserve to qualify), neither Capital Prep nor North Branford can catch them, meaning it will be down to six teams for five spots.

There are a number of crucial games which will both directly and indirectly affect the Class S standings. The first of those major games are Friday night when Hyde meets Valley Regional and North Branford plays Coginchaug. If you're Woodland and Sacred Heart, you're rooting for Valley Regional and North Branford in a big way.

Even bigger than those games will be the Thanksgiving week games. St. Joseph-Trumbull could be the most important game to the Hawks' and Hearts' chances, because if the Cadets lose, it could open the door for both Woodland and Sacred Heart to make it. Both teams will also be pulling hard for Coginchaug to beat Cromwell next week.

Bonus points could also be huge for Woodland and Sacred Heart. The Hawks will be pulling for Watertown, Holy Cross, Kennedy, Naugatuck, and St. Paul, while the Hearts will want Torrington, Crosby, Cheney Tech, Derby, and St. Paul to win. That means the rest of the league has a heck of a lot to do with who either makes the playoffs or what seed they get.

To put it simply, here goes: At least two NVL teams will make it (Ansonia and at least either Woodland or Sacred Heart). The door is open for both the Hawks and Hearts to qualify with some help, as long as they both win. If St. Joseph loses to Trumbull, the chances improve for both teams. If Coginchaug beats Cromwell, both Woodland and Sacred Heart will definitely be in. If either Hyde or Coginchaug lose their last two games, both Woodland and Sacred Heart will definitely be in.

Finally, here's the tiebreaker situation, because it might come down to one or two of them: Woodland would likely hold the breaker over St. Joseph, but lose to Sacred Heart, but Sacred Heart would lose to St. Joseph. Yep.

When all is said and done, here's how I think it will end up.

1. Ansonia: 10-0, 153.00 avg.
2. Valley Regional: 10-0, 152.00 avg.
3. Montville: 9-1, 136.00 avg.
4. Hyde Leadership: 8-2, 118.00 avg.
5. Cromwell: 8-2, 113.00 avg.
6. Coginchaug: 8-2, 111.00 avg.
7. Woodland: 7-3, 109.00 avg.
8. St. Joseph: 7-3, 109.00 avg.
9. Sacred Heart: 7-3, 108.00 avg.

Here's a full, detailed look at every class (or you can pick and choose which ones you want to see) on the Red Zone blog.

Thanksgiving Week Predictions

How quickly time flew. We're already at the tail end of the season.
A few NVL teams still have a shot at making the playoffs, mainly Naugy, Woodland and/or Sacred Heart. Ansonia is in. The Ansonia-Naugatuck preview is coming up soon, as are Kyle's playoff projections.

Seymour (0-9) at Woodland (6-3): The Hawks have been on somewhat of a roll heading into last week's loss at Sacred Heart. We look for them to rebound and finally put Seymour's season to rest.
Keys: Seymour: Priority number one: Stop DeBiase, especially on the ground. Try to get this win for Coach Lennon. Woodland: Hold Grabowski and company in check. Seymour's Fraser is likely to sit this one out, which means the Hawks' should not have a problem stopping the Seymour attack. The Hawks just have to play their game and this one will be over at the half.
Picks: Kyle- Woodland, 39-7. Remmy- Woodland, 40-12.

Wilby (1-8) at Sacred Heart (6-3): The Hearts need this win in the worst way because a playoff spot is on the line. Wilby should have no problem giving that win to the Hearts, allowing for a potential SH/Ansonia matchup in the first round of the Class S playoff tournament.
Keys: Wilby: Pound the ball at the Sacred Heart D-line. While SH's defense stepped up last week against Woodland, it is still suspect based on what we've seen throughout the year. Sacred Heart: No Coggins? No problem. Rohan Ifill will have a feast (no pun intended) with the Wilby defense on the opposite side of the ball. Wilby just doesn't have the athletes to hang with SH's plethora of receivers.
Picks: Kyle- Sacred Heart, 35-20. Remmy- Sacred Heart, 48-15.

St. Paul (2-7) at Rocky Hill (2-7): We do not know much about Rocky Hill. However, we do know that St. Paul took last year's contest by almost three scores. The Falcons have lost some firepower, so it will be interesting to see what happens here.
Keys: St. Paul: Stop Rocky Hill's Mike Dance from accumulating a lot of yardage on the ground. Rocky Hill doesn't pass much. Rocky Hill: Limit the Marchi to Thomas big-play threat. Marchi has come on strong for the Falcons and Thomas will likely be the fastest player on the field in this one. Run the ball at St. Paul and keep the clock running.
Picks: Kyle- St. Paul, 34-28. Remmy- St. Paul, 29-20.

Wolcott (6-3) at Holy Cross (5-4): Wolcott's season isn't quite in the toilet just yet. The Eagles are probably not playoff-bound (believe it or not, it's still alive) but they are still trying to win this game for some pride. Holy Cross played Naugy pretty well but simply came up short. The 'Saders began the season on a good note but have since struggled, dropping four of their last seven heading into this contest.
Keys: Wolcott: Win the battle in the trenches. Wolcott's line appeared to be winning each of its battles the first month of the season but suddenly went into a tailspin. Holy Cross: Stay balanced on offense. When both the pass game and the run game are firing on all cylinders, things bode well for the Crusaders. They do have some big-play ability on that side of the ball and Wolcott's defense has given up many big plays all season long.
Picks: Kyle- Holy Cross, 21-14. Remmy- Holy Cross, 34-28.

Watertown (6-3) at Torrington (6-3): This game always seems to be one of the better Thanksgiving games every year, and we wouldn't be surprised if it happens again this year. Like Wolcott, Watertown is still mathematically alive for the playoffs, but it probably won't get in. Torrington is looking for its first 7-3 season in a long time.
Keys: Watertown: Pretty simple here: Limit Brenden Lytton. He's nearly impossible to stop, so the Indians will have to hold him in check. Watertown should utilize its passing game with Matt Quatrano and Tony Simpson plenty. The Raiders' secondary is not very good. Torrington: Just stick to the bread and butter and keep pounding the ball to Lytton. The Raiders will probably have to outscore the Indians to overcome Watertown's passing game.
Picks: Kyle- Watertown: 35-28. Remmy- Torrington, 36-34.

Derby (5-4) at Shelton (5-4): This is the first year in a while that Derby has a legitimate chance to beat Shelton. The Raiders are playing some of the best football in the Valley, having won five of their last six and would be 6-3 if not for Ansonia's comeback. Actually, Derby is mathematically alive for the playoffs.
Keys: Derby: Keep attacking with the passing game. It's been one of the best in the NVL, especially over the second half of the season. Derby's defense hasn't been the greatest, but it can put up the points. Shelton: Shelton needs to ideally slow Derby's passing game and force it to do damage on the ground. Shelton's offense isn't as good ad Derby's, so it would like to win a lower-scoring game.
Picks: Kyle- Shelton, 24-21. Remmy- Derby, 27-19.

Kennedy (2-7) at Crosby (2-7): This game doesn't mean much except pride upon first glance, but this game is huge toward other NVL teams' playoff hopes. Woodland and Naugatuck are pulling for Kennedy, while Sacred Heart wants Crosby to win for the extra bonus points.
Keys: Kennedy: Run the ball effectively. We thought Kennedy was on track for a near-.500 season after upsetting Sacred Heart by pounding the ball, but it's been a very disappointing second half for the Eagles. Crosby: Limit Kennedy's ground game and don't let the Eagles hold the ball all game. That's when Kennedy is its most effective, so Crosby needs to take it out of its game.
Picks: Kyle- Kennedy, 20-14. Remmy- Crosby, 25-16.

Things we've learned leading up to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here. For most of our NVL teams, this will be the final time they step onto the field in 2010, while the playoff-bound squads will either host a game or travel in the quarters.

  • Woodland's Jack DeBiase's move from RB to QB has worked wonders for the Hawks. I suppose if he had played this season as the Hawks' RB, the team would have been in real trouble.
  • Derby is not the team most of us thought they were. While hovering around the .500 mark, things could have been a lot worse for the Raiders. They will be scary next season but the question remains, will they be a force to be reckoned with in a couple of years from now?
  • Torrington's wins have come over teams with a combined 15-38 record. Are the Raiders still considered one of the better teams in the NVL? They've outscored their opponents, 219-98, in their 6 wins.
  • Ansonia stormed through the NVL with just one senior on the field. Even I didn't think the Chargers would have been undefeated at this point in the season.
  • Wolcott certainly didn't live up to the hype after starting the season 4-0. No one has really paid attention to them since.
  • Watertown was its usual self, winning the games it should win and losing the games it shouldn't have. Maybe one of these years the Indians will pull a couple of upsets and make some real noise.
  • Naugatuck's hot start was probably due in part to its weak schedule. We've seen that the Hounds aren't as incredible as we had thought, but can still make a big play in a big spot. We'll have to see if they can get over the hump against Ansonia.
  • Sacred Heart is having its best season in almost 20 years. Credit Chris Ortiz and Rohan Ifill for the success. It's still very possible for the Hearts to make the state playoffs for the first time since 1991.
  • Kennedy started 2-2 and has lost five straight. I'm a little surprised by that after the way the Eagles were able to run the ball against some early opponents.
  • St. Paul is having a tough season after its Class M playoff berth last year. Still, young quarterback Logan Marchi has seen plenty of time in the second half of the year and might be dangerous next season.
Feel free to add your own.

    NVL Championship Game Set

    It's Naugatuck versus Ansonia on Thanksgiving for the Naugatuck Valley League championship.

    Naugy just finished beating Holy Cross, 24-13, to clinch the Copper Division title. Congratulations to the Hounds.

    Holy Cross did not make it easy for the Hounds this evening. Some of the play-calling was suspect for Naugy, but it pulled off the win with two big scores to put the game out of reach for Cross.

    Kyle's take: Naugatuck didn't strike me as coming out with much of a sense of urgency throughout the first half, which really surprised me. Kudos to Holy Cross, which played like it had a state playoff berth on the line (which it did, but probably doesn't anymore). The Crusaders played much better defense than I thought and were crushed four times on interceptions. Naugy was unimpressive on offense for the second-straight week but got a very good performance out of its defense.

    Based on watching Naugatuck over the last few weeks, I'm giving the early nod to Ansonia on Thanksgiving, but as Remmy and I think about this matchup over the next 12 days, I'm sure we'll have a few changes.

    Check out Kyle's take on how the Copper was won and Mark Jaffee's Naugy-Holy Cross game article.

    I'll also make my new projections for the NVL playoff picture early next week. Right now: Ansonia's in; Naugy's in with a win over Ansonia and 95% out with a loss to Ansonia; Woodland and Sacred Heart should be in with wins on Thanksgiving Eve; Holy Cross will need chaos at the bottom of Class S to get in.

    Playoff Projection Update

    After Sacred Heart's upset of Woodland Thursday night, of course my playoff projections have changed (and you know there are going to be more predictions I made around the state that will be wrong, too). Here's the update and how I think Class S will shake out now:

    1. Hyde Leadership: 10-0, 154.00 avg.
    2. Ansonia: 10-0, 154.00 avg. (loses tiebreaker to Hyde due to tiebreaker points)
    3. Montville: 9-1, 137.00 avg.
    4. Valley Regional: 9-1, 131.00 avg.
    5. Cromwell: 8-2, 111.00 avg.
    6. Sacred Heart: 7-3, 110.00 avg.
    7. Woodland: 7-3, 110.00 avg. (loses tiebreaker to Sacred Heart due to head-to-head)
    8. St. Joseph: 7-3, 106.00 avg.

    This list is contentious on the following happening:
    - Hyde winning out, including win over Valley Regional and Coginchaug
    - Ansonia winning out, including a win over Naugatuck
    - Montville winning out
    - Valley Regional losing to Hyde
    - Cromwell winning out, including a win over Coginchaug
    - Sacred Heart beating Wilby
    - Woodland beating Seymour
    - St. Joseph losing to either Greenwich or Trumbull
    - Coginchaug losing at least two of its final three games (against Hyde, North Branford, and Cromwell)
    - Holy Cross losing to Naugatuck but beating Wolcott

    Sacred Heart's win may have saved Ansonia from having to play the NVL championship game next Thursday, but it also cost the Chargers 10 bonus points that look like will drop Ansonia from first to second. Yes, that's right: It looks like we could get Ansonia-Woodland in the first round of states.

    If Holy Cross wins out, it will take over St. Joseph's eighth spot, if all the above happens, like I believe it will.

    Fun, isn't it?

    Video: Brawl and end-of-game heroics by Sacred Heart

    All I have to say is WOW. Hell of a game by both squads. DeBiase carried Woodland by making some outstanding passes while Ifill did it for the Hearts with his legs. This was one of the best games I've seen this year in the NVL. Woodland was down by a score, scored two-consecutive TDs to take a one-score advantage over SH, but Ifill responded with another big run for the Hearts and eventually, the game-winning touchdown.

    Here's a short clip of the big stop SH made on Woodland's would-be go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter:

    And here is the video of the brawl:

    Week 9 - Meet the Bloggers

    While you're busy gawking at this week's live scoreboard, head over to the "Meet the Bloggers" page (above you to the right) and post a short bio of yourself. Join the crowd!

    Playoff Projections

    I just finished almost three days' worth of crunching playoff numbers and I've finally come out with my playoff projections as of Wednesday night.

    My projections say Naugatuck will miss the Class L cut (thanks to a loss to Ansonia) and Holy Cross will miss the Class S playoffs (thanks to a loss to Naugatuck). Ansonia will be the top seed in Class S, while Woodland will be 5th and Sacred Heart 8th in Class S.

    Behind all that, there's a ton of math and predictions, so here's a link to the specifics on the Red Zone blog.

    If Naugatuck beats Ansonia, it will be ranked around 5th in Class L. If Holy Cross beats Naugatuck and Wolcott, it should be able to overtake Sacred Heart, as long as the Hearts don't beat Woodland.

    Watertown and Wolcott would need to win out and get quite a bit of help from above in Class M, neither of which I expect to happen.

    Here are my mathematical projections for the five seriously contending NVL teams:
    Class L- Naugatuck: 8-2, 109.00 average (10th place, 5.00 behind 8th)
    Class S- Ansonia: 10-0, 155.00 average (1st place--will host Sacred Heart)
    Class S- Woodland: 8-2, 126.00 average (5th place--will play at Valley Regional)
    Class S- Sacred Heart: 6-4, 93.00 average (8th place--will play at Ansonia)
    Class S- Holy Cross: 6-4, 89.00 average (9th place--4.00 behind 8th)

    So, is Woodland in or not?

    The CT Post's own SP Bowley and I had a brief chat about whether or not Woodland was a shoo-in for the NVL title game. Interesting, no? Just a couple of hours after we talked, SPB made the announcement below:

    "Apparently Woodland — which defeated Naugatuck 25-6 last week, thereby guaranteeing it at least a 5-1 record in the Copper Division — doesn’t get a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Greyhounds should the Hawks tie Naugatuck in the Copper standings with a loss to Sacred Heart this week."

    After we all thought last week's thrashing of Naugatuck got the Hawks a ticket to the NVL title game. I guess we were wrong. The old tiebreaker stands: Overall record first, then head-to-head. That means Woodland has to beat Sacred Heart or have Naugatuck lose to Holy Cross to secure a better division record because Naugy would have the overall record tiebreaker.

    Kyle talked to Woodland AD Brian Fell this morning and he confirmed this, saying this:

    "We are a constitutionally driven conference. The tiebreaker was discussed to be a change between the athletic directors at last week's meeting. The general consensus was that it went into effect for this season, but that's how the motion was made. The president of the league [Joe Monroe] has determined that it was not selected to go into effect for this season but was intended for next season."

    But in reality, all ("all", I know) Woodland has to do is beat Sacred Heart on Thursday. This is a big game for Sacred Heart to begin with (playoff spot at stake). Once the Hearts catch wind of this, I'm sure they will be playing a lot harder to bounce the Hawks out of the NVL title game.

    This suddenly became the game of the week.

    I suspect the crowd just got a little bigger for this match-up...


    Week 9 Predictions

    Week 8 brought to us a great battle in Woodland vs. Naugy. Naugatuck somewhat spoiled Thanksgiving for much of its hometown crowd as well as the Ansonians. Woodland went into the Dog House and put on a show.

    Week 9 is here. Is this the week Seymour wins its first game? Will Torrington be able to stop St. Paul's aerial attack? Will Woodland drop one against the Hearts after such a big win at Naugy? Does Naugy get upset by a Holy Cross team playing good football lately?

    Kyle will run his playoff scenarios later in the week. As it stands, Ansonia looks like it'll be hosting a playoff game with a win over Seymour. Naugy cannot afford to lose another game, as it will be fighting for a seed and likely miss the cut, while the Hawks have set themselves up nicely at shot to play in the postseason. Hosting a playoff game is asking for a bit too much from the Hawks, but it is still possible. It's better than a trip up to Montville in the first round. Woodland must beat Sacred Heart to ensure themselves a playoff game.

    By the way, no Game of the Week this week as we have several important ones, most notably Woodland-Sacred Heart and Holy Cross-Naugatuck.

    Seymour (0-8) at Ansonia (8-0): No doubt that this one will be ugly for the Wildcats. A blowout is in order but Ansonia needs to ensure it is healthy enough for the NVL title game, so it may need to accumulate a big enough lead and pull its starters while not overlooking this hungry Wildcat team.
    Picks: Kyle- Ansonia, 42-7. Remmy- Ansonia, 38-12.

    Woodland (6-2) at Sacred Heart (5-3): This is the quintessential trap game for Woodland. The Hawks got the biggest win of the NVL season Friday night at Naugatuck and already have the NVL title game berth clinched. Winning this game will all but assure the Hawks of a Class S playoff berth, but let's remember that Sacred Heart is 8th in Class S and hasn't been relevant this late in the season in many years. Woodland's pass defense did an incredible job against Erich Broadrick and the Hounds last week. Can it do the same against Rohan Ifill and the Hearts?
    Picks: Kyle- Woodland, 36-20. Remmy- Sacred Heart, 34-20.

    Holy Cross (5-3) at Naugatuck (7-1): Here's another game that is absolutely huge toward both teams' playoff hopes. Naugatuck is hanging onto 6th place in Class L but will likely drop out of qualifying position with a loss and might not be able to regain it, even with a win against Ansonia. Holy Cross has steadily been climbing the rankings during its three-game winning streak and may be able to sneak in with wins over the Hounds and Wolcott on Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see how Naugy responds to last week's loss.
    Picks: Kyle- Naugatuck, 40-20. Remmy- Naugatuck, 34-21.

    Watertown (5-3) at Wilby (1-7): Watertown has played well the last two weeks in wins over Wolcott and Crosby after losing three straight. Matt Quatrano is one of the most versatile players in the league and might be able to lead the Indians to a 7-3 finish if they can beat Wilby and Torrington. Wilby has struggled all season.
    Picks: Kyle- Watertown, 34-6. Remmy- Watertown, 38-13.

    Torrington (5-3) at St. Paul (2-6): Logan Marchi is a stud with this being his freshman season. The kid can flat-out throw the football around the field. Travis Thomas is another stud for the Falcons. Torrington has been riding the Brenden Lytton train all season. While St. Paul's run defense isn't very strong, its passing game may keep them in this game.
    Picks: Kyle- Torrington, 39-28. Remmy- Torrington, 34-29.

    Crosby (2-6) at Derby (4-4): The Raiders have been on a roll lately. Don't expect the Raiders to slip up this week against a Crosby team that has been struggling all season long. Derby has a formidable passing attack and Crosby's athletes won't be able to stop it.
    Picks: Kyle- Derby, 35-14. Remmy- Derby, 40-22.

    Wolcott (5-3) at Kennedy (2-6): Kennedy showed some signs of life earlier in the year with a win over Sacred Heart. Since then, it has been a very unpredictable team, much like the other Eagles from Wolcott. We really don't know what's going to happen here. Wolcott supposedly had the strength to upend teams and looked unstoppable early, but look at what's happened to it over the last month. Seymour played Wolcott tough. Wolcott seems decimated after its loss to Ansonia. An upset may be in order at the Stadium.
    Picks: Kyle- Wolcott, 21-13. Remmy- Kennedy, 24-18.

    Week 8 Reactions

    Woodland headlined the night by pulling off the upset and dominating Naugatuck, 25-6. I haven't seen as good a defensive performance as the one the Hawks put forth Friday night in a long while. Naugy's offense had scored 308 points (second most in the state) and were limited to six points and less than 200 yards. Its only score came thanks to a bad snap on a Woodland punt attempt.

    It was 6-0, Woodland at the half. The Hawks ran for 235 yards in the game and were really behind the eight-ball in terms of field position most of the first half, being pinned inside its 15-yard line three times. But the defense didn't let Naugatuck capitalize on a couple of opportunities, including one on the first drive when Jack DeBiase fumbled to give Naugy the ball in Woodland territory.

    Woodland forced four punts and three turnovers on downs on eight full Naugatuck possessions. It was just pure domination, which neither I nor most people around here were expecting. Woodland stayed in 5th place in the Class S standings while winning the NVL Copper title. Naugatuck miraculously stayed in 5th place in Class L and may even be able to afford another loss in its last two games and make the playoffs.

    Here's a link to my Rep-Am story on the game.

    In other news, Ansonia blasted St. Paul, 54-25. Montrell Dobbs rushed 22 times for 340 yards and five TDs until he was removed early in the third quarter. Yikes. The Chargers have one more tune-up until the NVL championship Nov. 18 against Woodland. They probably also clinched a playoff berth with the win--I'll be running my point scenarios this week to make sure.

    Holy Cross kept its playoff hopes alive with a 29-28 win over Kennedy. Looks like the Crusaders had to hang on for dear life in the fourth quarter and managed to squeak out the win.

    Derby coasted to a 42-20 win over Wilby while Watertown breezed by Crosby, 43-21. Wolcott pulled away from Seymour, 25-13, to stop the Eagles' three-game losing streak.


    Game Day: Week 8

    We've come to the most important week of the regular season where we will find out who will be playing for the Naugatuck Valley League championship. Will Naugatuck stay unbeaten and make Thanksgiving mean something this year? Will Woodland be able to pull the upset? We'll find out Friday night (hopefully the weather cooperates).

    Listen to the Woodland-Naugatuck game starting at 6:50 p.m. here or on 1320 AM.

    I talked to a couple of league athletic directors Thursday night and I've been told that the tiebreaker used to determine division champions has been slightly altered. This should become official at some point Friday, but I did my investigative journalistic work and found out the following: To make a long story short, the winner of Friday's Naugatuck-Woodland game will be the Copper Division champion regardless of what happens in Week 9. Just the way we'd like to see it.

    There was some ambiguity in the previous tiebreaker text, so when determining division champions, division record is the first criterion. We originally interpreted the first tiebreaker as overall record, but it was intended to mean overall record in the division. The second criterion that will now be used is head-to-head. Overall record is "somewhere below that," as one athletic director told me, so that won't come into play.

    Games we'll be paying special attention to (in addition to the obvious) include Ansonia-St. Paul and Kennedy-Holy Cross. The Chargers and Crusaders are the only other NVL teams in action Friday that have a chance at the playoffs.

    Any reaction from Sacred Heart's 42-27 win over Torrington Thursday night? It sounds surprising to me. I didn't expect the Hearts to win, let alone by two scores. That loss completely eliminated the Raiders from the playoff picture while the Hearts are still alive.

    Game of the Week: Woodland at Naugatuck

    This game is the most important one of the NVL season thus far for several reasons, but most importantly for its implications on the Copper Division. The winner plays Ansonia for the NVL championship either on Thanksgiving (Naugatuck) or Nov. 18 (Woodland) thanks to the newly clarified tiebreaker rules (see above post).

    What Remmy has seen:
    Woodland- It's no surprise Woodland is finally turning heads this season. I've witnessed this team in action three times thus far and they have improved without a doubt. With DeBiase being the first man touching the football on offense, anything can happen. And that's why this team is so dangerous. Its run defense has improved drastically since its opening week. The Hawks' pass defense is still its achilles heel.
    Naugatuck- Naugy has firepower everywhere. What more can I say? Many of our bloggers thought Naugy was overrated because they shellacked a wounded Wildcat team in Week 1. But no, no, no. These Hounds are the truth. I don't think I've seen a more balanced team than this group all year. Passing, running, defense, and outstanding special teams. They bring it. Hey, Dad, please pass me the gravy.

    What Kyle has seen:
    Woodland- Woodland has played perhaps the best defense in the NVL over the last six weeks of the season. The Hawks have allowed just 26 second-half points since the opening-week loss to Ansonia, which is by far the best in the league. Woodland's offense is also looking better by the week, having scored 66 points in its last two wins. Its running game is one of the most diverse in the Valley and Jack DeBiase can throw the ball when necessary. Woodland's forte is keeping the ball on the ground and playing hard-hitting defense. The one thing that could really hurt the Hawks is how atrocious their PAT game has been recently. Woodland hasn't converted a PAT in its last two games--11 touchdowns.
    Naugatuck- I've been saying Naugatuck is the best team in the league since Week 1 and there's no reason for me to back off now. The Hounds haven't been as dominant in the last two weeks as they were over the first half of the season, but they're still playing very well. They have the most balanced offense in the NVL with an impressive stable of running backs and an excellent passing game. Erich Broadrick suffered a knee injury against Kennedy but should be ready to go. The couple of vulnerabilities I've seen this season have been Naugy's passing defense and its sometimes-unpredictable temperament.

    Remmy's keys to the game:
    Woodland- The Hawks will likely slow down Naugy's run game. But stopping both Naugy's pass and run are a difficult task. The main issue for the Hawks will be how to stop Freeney, Berger, Conklin, Broadrick, and Yourison. The Hawks' talent does not match up well with Naugy's talent. Woodland must find a way to create turnovers and take advantage of these turnovers by turning them into points. Knock Naugatuck back on its heels.
    Naugatuck- We are all waiting to see how Naugy responds when it's in a war. I don't think the Sacred Heart game had Naugy too worried. The Hounds need to hold on to the football. What are the Hounds going to do when they face some real adversity? Will it happen this week? Naugy must play the run first. If the Hawks run the ball on you, they win. While DeBiase is a phenomenal player, Naugy must contain him and force him to air it out and the Hounds have a great shot at winning the Copper division title. Pass the cranberry sauce. I think Naugy is on upset alert this week. C'mon, Hounds. What's this Thanksgiving gonna be like?

    Kyle's keys to the game:
    Woodland- The Hawks really need to control the ball in this game. The less Naugatuck is on the field, the better for any team playing against the Hounds. It looked like the last time we said Woodland needed to pound the ball (against Torrington), they tried to throw throughout the first half and it didn't yield great results. I would be surprised if the Hawks took more than a couple shots down the field. Woodland's secondary is going to have to play better than it has previously this season. Broadrick can really burn the Hawks if they don't step up. The way I see it is this: Naugatuck is capable of blowing out Woodland, but Woodland isn't capable of blowing out Naugatuck. The Hawks are experienced and have a certain intensity in close games while Naugy is unproven in such situations.
    Naugatuck- The Naugatuck players really need to keep their heads on straight. I've seen a couple times this year where little arguments have burst out here and there and the Hounds can't afford emotional letdowns against an intense and fundamentally sound team in Woodland. Naugy has to stay with the balanced offense they've used the entire season and hit with the Hawks. Woodland has been called by many as one of the most intense and hardest hitting teams in the league and Naugy has to match it.

    Remmy's pick: Woodland, 28-26.
    Kyle's pick: Naugatuck, 34-31.

    Week 8 Predictions

    We're at the home stretch of this season and most of the games from here on out are for pride only. Some, though, have bigger things riding on them. Woodland-Naugatuck has big implications in the Copper, NVL, and state races, while Torrington-Sacred Heart, Kennedy-Holy Cross, and Ansonia-St. Paul all involve at least one team looking to either make the state playoffs or keep its standing.

    Make sure to make your predictions here so we can add them to the Predictions Tracker page. The standings after Week 7 are updated.

    Woodland (5-2) at Naugatuck (7-0): This one is going to be for just about all the marbles in the Copper Division. If Naugatuck wins, the Hounds win the Copper and will play Ansonia on Thanksgiving for the NVL title. If Woodland wins, the Hawks need to beat Sacred Heart or have Naugy lose to Holy Cross in Week 9 to win the Copper and get a rematch with Ansonia. This game will probably come down to Naugatuck's offense against Woodland's defense. It's going to be quite the challenge for the Hawks to limit Naugy's offense, something that no team has yet been able to do.
    Picks: Coming up in our Game of the Week thread!

    Torrington (5-2) at Sacred Heart (4-3): This game might be a mismatch for Sacred Heart. Brenden Lytton is a top-three running back in the Valley and ran for a state record eight touchdowns last week. The Hearts have had great difficulty stopping the run, as evidenced by their three losses this season (Kennedy, Naugatuck, and Holy Cross). Sacred Heart's passing offense should keep them in this game for a little while, but Torrington's ball control could prove too much. A loss for the Hearts knocks them out of the Class S playoff picture, while the Raiders may have a slight chance if they win out and get help.
    Picks: Kyle- Torrington, 47-34. Remmy- Torrington, 40-33.

    Kennedy (2-5) at Holy Cross (4-3): Holy Cross is hanging on to its slim Class S playoff hopes and got a big boost by beating Sacred Heart last week. A win over Class L school Kennedy would be big points for the Crusaders, who sit in 12th in Class S and might be able to sneak in the playoff by winning out. That would be a tall task, as it would call for beating Naugatuck and Wolcott in the last two weeks. But Cross can't overlook Kennedy, which can hang around with most teams in the league.
    Picks: Kyle- Holy Cross, 28-20. Remmy- Holy Cross, 20-14.

    Ansonia (7-0) at St. Paul (2-5): A "trap" game of sorts for the Chargers after a hard-fought win against Derby. St. Paul has the ability to throw the ball around the field while the Chargers allowed close to 250 yards passing against Derby last week. This could spell trouble for Ansonia if it is looking forward to Thanksgiving.
    Picks: Kyle- Ansonia, 40-14. Remmy- Ansonia, 38-13.

    Wilby (1-6) at Derby (3-4): This may be the very first time we've picked Derby to win a game all season. Funny how that turned out for us. Since Tomczak came back, the Raiders have made a statement. Big Red almost pulled one out at Jarvis Stadium last week and must still be thinking about how that game ended up. But don't fret, Raiders, Wilby is up next and you've had a wonderful season thus far.
    Picks: Kyle- Derby, 33-12. Remmy- Derby, 40-8.

    Wolcott (4-3) at Seymour (0-7): Who would have thought Wolcott would be where it is now? After a 4-0 start, the Eagles have lost three in a row, including a pair of blowouts and a tough loss against fellow disappointment Watertown last week. Wolcott is playing for pride the rest of the way and doesn't want to be the team that gives Seymour its first win. This is probably the last possible chance for the Wildcats to steal a win with Ansonia and Woodland ahead in the final two weeks.
    Picks: Kyle- Wolcott, 35-14. Remmy- Wolcott, 42-12.

    Crosby (2-5) at Watertown (4-3): The Dawgs put a good amount of points on the board last week versus Seymour due to an unbelievable performance by QB Derrick Cox. Watertown can score at any given point in a game with QB Matt Quatrano at the helm and star receiver, Tony Simpson making plays for him. As crazy as this sounds, this game could be a toss-up.
    Picks: Kyle- Watertown, 27-13. Remmy- Watertown, 27-21.