In continuing our previews for the 2011 high school football season, we'll take a look at what to expect out of this year's Brass Division. Ansonia and Derby are obviously expected to be the front-runners in the division, but several other teams are capable of being sleepers.
Remmy's Take: The Brass will not be as competitive as the Copper in 2011. While Derby and Ansonia are the front-runners in this division, we all know anything can happen. Ansonia lost more offensive production in one year than some teams have lost in two years combined. Wilby is an interesting team now that the Wildcats are being led by former Wolcott head coach Pat Russo. I've received many emails stating Wilby has had an abundance of kids out for spring ball and lifting. Can they make some noise this season? And then there's Watertown, which we don't know too much about coming into the season. But I cannot imagine after losing Mr. Everything, Matt Quatrano, that this team will be in contention for the Brass title. As for the remainder of the Brass, we know that Crosby, Seymour, and Wolcott all seem to be in trouble going into this season.
Kyle's Take: When the NVL separated into the Brass and Copper Divisions in 2007, the league's superior side was definitely the Brass with teams like Ansonia, Seymour, Watertown, Wolcott, and Crosby all enjoying peaks of success. But in the last few years, the depth of the Copper has overtaken the Brass. There's a distinct possibility that only two Brass teams--Ansonia and Derby--play .500 ball this season as there looks to be a major drop-off after those two contenders. Wilby is a popular team to be the sleeper of the league, so we'll have to see how Russo grooms that squad. Watertown usually doesn't get credit before the season but always seems to win at least five games, but it will be tougher without Quatrano. Crosby and Seymour have been in ruts over the last few years and Wolcott seems poised for a major letdown after huge losses to graduation and staff changes.
Remmy's Take: Ansonia and Derby. Despite such a devastating loss, the Raiders have enough speed to compete with every team in NVL, not only in the Brass. Ray Kreiger is one of the more exciting quarterbacks in this league and with his ability to make plays out of the pocket, it will amount to big points being put on the board for those Roseland-loving youngsters. Ansonia returns a ton of talent and also has the burden of filling its biggest void--the running back position. Personally, I don't think Ansonia will expect Arkeel Newsome to rush for over 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. But I think this team needs at least 25 touchdowns from Newsome and over 1,500 yards rushing (regular season) if it has hopes of reaching the state title game. This will be one of the more balanced Ansonia teams we have seen on offense in recent years, so Newsome's numbers out of the backfield do not have to mirror Dobbs'.
Kyle's Take: Most everyone agrees that the Chargers and Red Raiders will be the class of this division in 2011. They seem to have a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball as both teams have major pieces returning. Despite the returners, both squads have some big holes to fill. For Ansonia, there's no more Dobbs. The best player in the state a year ago accounted for the majority of the Chargers' offense, so they'll have to replace him with Newsome and others. For Derby, the loss of some offensive linemen to O'Brien Tech looked like it was going to be enough of a hole, but the injury to Jacob Tomczak is potentially devastating. He was the Raiders' best two-way player last year and was poised for an incredible season. Now, we'll have to see how Kreiger distributes the ball without his favorite weapon and how Derby copes on defense, where Tomczak might be an even bigger loss.
Sleepers and Non-Contenders
Remmy's Take: Crosby is Crosby. We hear about this program and how great it will be going into the season and then it posts just a handful of wins. This season, it gets tougher, as they move to Class LL and don't have much of a chance at making the playoffs, in my opinion. It would be nice is the Dawgs were more competitive. It would not only make Waterbury football better, but our entire league more competitive. As much as I'd love to see Seymour go .500, chances are it will not happen. And Wilby could be the surprise of the division. This program has finally received some life and somewhat of a boost of credibility with Russo at the helm. We just have to see how the newly-inspired 'Cats can translate this rejuvenation into some wins.
Kyle's Take: Wilby has the potential to be the sleeper team of the entire league. We saw the success Russo had at Wolcott, where he took a historically underachieving team and led them to a string of winning seasons and an NVL Brass title. He has a similar situation in Waterbury where the size and athletes are certainly in cupboard. Crosby and Seymour both seem to have some potential, but both are coming off a pair of bad seasons. I wouldn't be surprised if either of those teams earned a couple of wins, but pushing .500 is a stretch. Watertown always seems to post a 6-4 record, but similar success this year will depend on how the Indians replace Quatrano, one of the best two-way players in the NVL last season. Wolcott suffered the most losses of any team in the league and will be starting almost from scratch. Their athletes and size should get them a few wins, but I'm not sure another winning season is in the cards.
Remmy's Take: The biggest surprise in the NVL Brass this year will be the Derby Red Raiders possibly winning the Brass title and the Wilby Wildcats posting at least four wins.
Kyle's Take: I see Wilby posting a .500 record, Kreiger throwing for 2,500 yards, Elliot Chudwick approaching 20 touchdown passes, and a Brass contender losing in Week 1.
Remmy's Take: I will keep the list short and sweet. Luke Grabowski, QB, Seymour--without this kid in uniform on both sides of the ball, Seymour does not win a game. Definitely the biggest difference-maker in the NVL for his respective team. Other athletes include: Ray Kreiger, QB/DB, Derby, and Tyler Wood, LB, Ansonia. I'll also take the Ansonia offensive line as the most formidable group in the Brass. My early pick for Player of the Year ... eh, let's not go there just yet!
Kyle's Take: As Remmy said, Grabowski is perhaps the player most important to his team. The same can be said of Kreiger. With the loss of Tomczak, Derby will need guys like Brian Dobek and Dillon McMahon to step up on offense. If Newsome isn't able to establish himself as a between-the-tackles runner early in the season, Ansonia might be in for some tougher games than it imagines. Don't forget about DeVante Bonvillian in Wolcott, either. He might be able to account for a few wins by himself for the Eagles.