Awards: All-Valley Team

Next up in the line of awards to be handed out following this season is the All-Valley Team. You may recall that we revived this concept last season with the help of DWDrake, Thevoice, and the Valley coaches. We did the same this year with 10 voters, including the two aforementioned bloggers, Kyle and Remmy, Shelton coach Jeff Roy, Derby coach George French, Ansonia coach Tom Brockett, Seymour coach Tom Lennon, Woodland coach Tim Shea, and Oxford coach Joe Stochmal.

Without further ado, we are proud to announce the 2011 All-Valley Team.

All-Valley Offense
QB: Ray Kreiger (Derby)
RB: Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia), Matt Zaccagnini (Woodland)
FB: Dennis Danley (Ansonia)
WR: Dillon McMahon (Derby), Anthony Scirpo (Woodland)
TE: Tim Adanti (Derby)
OL: Joe Carbonaro (Oxford), Jeremy Clark (Woodland), Hakeem Martin (Ansonia), Joe Ortoli (Shelton), Dylan Vano (Ansonia)

All-Valley Defense
DL: Dave Alves (Woodland), Eric Collodel (Woodland), Matt Hall (Ansonia), Jake LaRovera (Ansonia)
LB: Zach Plourde (Woodland), Robert Rose (Shelton), Josh Tilton (Seymour), Tyler Wood (Ansonia)
DB: Jagger Kalagian (Shelton), Alex Miller (Oxford), Ryan O'Connor (Ansonia), Jon Wilson (Seymour)

All-Valley Special Teams
K: Ed Groth (Shelton)
P: Luke Grabowski (Seymour)
KR: Chris Hovan (Oxford)
UT: Frank Camerino (Shelton)

All-Valley Honorable Mention
Ansonia: Raeshaun Finney, Tyler Lester, Miky Mason, Andrew Matos, Tyler Williams
Derby: Luis Casco, Brian Dobek
O'Brien Tech: Cecil Bost
Oxford: Jordan Biagionni, Brian Spicer
Seymour: Dylan Sadick
Shelton: Mike Dellolio, Gary Thompson
Woodland: Levi Fancher

Congratulations to all the players named to the All-Valley Team! Happy New Year, everyone!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We would like to send out our most heartfelt Season's Greetings to each and every one of our bloggers and readers! You guys (and we know there are some gals out there, too!) have once again made another year a blast for us. This is the best independent football blog in the state not just because of the work that we do, but just as much because of the input and discussion spurred by all of you. It would be boring without you.

There will be plenty more in wrapping up the 2011 season very soon. The All-Valley Teams will be released mid-next week and the New Haven Register All-State Teams are set to be published during the first week of January. And of course, we still have the NVL Blog Awards on the way in the middle of January (and we'll be asking for your input, too).

Once again, thank you all for making this a great place for local high school football (and invariably other things) discussion, and we're looking forward to sharing another year with all of you. Thanks to all the players, coaches, parents, and fans who always remind us that they enjoy reading our work. It's always a pleasure to meet bloggers and readers at games, and we had a blast doing that throughout this season.

Be sure to celebrate the holiday season joyously and responsibly (here's looking at you, Seeing Red). Believe it or not, we wouldn't want anything to happen to you guys.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Awards: CHSCA All-State

The Connecticut High School Coaches Association released its All-State teams on Wednesday. It doesn't look like there was a whole lot of rhyme or reason to some of the selection of these teams (for example, there is no quarterback on the Class M team and only three offensive linemen on the overall First Team). Here are the teams, originally posted by the Hartford Courant (as far as we know, these are complete).

CHSCA All-State First Team Offense
QB: Casey Cochran (Masuk)
RB: Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross), Brenden Lytton (Torrington), Alex Manwaring (Ledyard), Mike Mastroianni (Xavier), Kyle McKinnon (New London), Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia)
WR: Aaron Berardino (Windsor), Thomas Milone (Masuk)
OL: Rennick Brian (Hillhouse), Austin Wezneski (Xavier), Dylan Vano (Ansonia)

CHSCA All-State First Team Defense
DL: Joe Demichele (Daniel Hand), Sean Marinan (Xavier), Cole Ormsby (Windsor), Ludovic Richardson (Notre Dame-West Haven)
LB: Austin Calitro (Danbury), Kevin McDonough (New Canaan), Shane Nastahowski (Greenwich), Tyler Wood (Ansonia), Mark Zurlus (North Haven)
DB: Ryan Jacobucci (Xavier), Ryan Murphy (Xavier), Tom Undercuffler (Berlin), Delshawn Wilson (Norwalk)

Class LL All-State Offense
QB: Pat D'Amato (Xavier)
RB: Lou Fennarolli (Newtown), Ervin Phillips (West Haven), Joey Zelkowitz (Staples)
WR: Ian Dugger (Hall), Dan Hebert (Newtown), Andrew Isaacs (Manchester), Sebastian Little (Cheshire)
OL: Jamie Horasko (Newtown), Serge Jean-Baptiste (Fairfield Prep), Chris Simmons (Manchester), Zach Voytek (Trumbull)
K: Matt Paola (Pomperaug)

Class LL All-State Defense
DL: Audrey Fletcher (Hartford Public), Austin Kisling (New Milford), Billy Weyraugh (Cheshire)
LB: Dan Palmer (Hartford Public), Robert Rose (Shelton), Jovan Santos-Knox (Xavier), Tyler Valenti (Pomperaug)
DB: Tim Dube (Hamden), Chandler Foster (Stamford), James Frusciante (Staples), Nick Kelly (Staples), Devin O'Reilly (Glastonbury)
P: Jon Heil (Staples)

Class L All-State Offense
QB: Matt Milano (New Canaan)
RB: Colin Markus (Masuk), Justin Potts (Platt)
WR: Khaleed Fields (New London), Patrick Newton (New Canaan), Jason Piontkowski (Masuk), Jared Vasquez (Bunnell)
TE: Tom Meyers (Coventry/Windham Tech)
OL: Tom Farina (East Lyme), Kalin Killinger (New Canaan), Voghens Larrieux (New London), Jake Mikos (North Haven), Nick Salza (Bunnell)
K: Collin Shapiro (New Canaan)

Class L All-State Defense
DL: Emir Kuljancic (Wethersfield), Darick Orange (Coventry/Windham Tech), Andrew Savenelli (North Haven)
LB: Chad Berry (East Lyme), Matt Duignan (Masuk), Pat Kirkwood (Fitch), Dylan Leeming (New Canaan), Isaiah Thomasson (Maloney), Matt Walsh (Daniel Hand)
DB: Devon Carillo (Middletown), Jawad Chisolm (Bunnell), Jevon Elmore (New London), Shawn Flynn (Masuk)
P: Kevin Premto (Wethersfield)

Class M All-State Offense
RB: Harold Cooper (Hillhouse)
WR: Connor Falcquerra (Jonathan Law), Brandon Johnson (Montville)
TE: Dave Depoi (Brookfield)
OL: Jake Basillica (Montville), Hakeem Martin (Ansonia), Sean Merrill (Sheehan), Chris Meucci (Berlin), Peter Serencsics (Bethel), Ken Vollaro (Ellington/Somers), Kyle Wilson (Ledyard)
K: Brodie Corless (Sheehan)

Class M All-State Defense
DL: Jake LaRovera (Ansonia), Zach Paquette (Ellington/Somers), Ivan Werta (Waterford)
LB: Brian Birdsell (Bethel), Isaiah Holloway (Montville), Dallas Smith (Ledyard), Dave Yerxa (Foran)
DB: Andre Anderson (Hillhouse), DeVante Bonvillian (Wolcott), Brian Gencarelli (Waterford), Aaron Johnson (Stonington)
P: Matt Aspinwall (Foran)

Class S All-State Offense
QB: Ray Kreiger (Derby), Anthony Morales (Cromwell)
RB: Dan German (Haddam-Killingworth), Chris Young (Rocky Hill)
WR: Mike Antonio (Cromwell), Dillon McMahon (Derby)
TE: Zach Wood (Griswold)
OL: Joe Carbonaro (Oxford), Justice Doane (Valley Regional/Old Lyme), Wes Hopkins (Northwest Catholic), Paul Spada (Rocky Hill), George Smith (Holy Cross)

Class S All-State Defense
DL: Matt Keeney (Weston), Maleek Riley (Northwest Catholic), Mike Sullivan (Cromwell)
LB: Tim Artuc (Stafford/East Windsor), Alec Corazzino (Coginchaug), Anthony Franco (North Branford), Joe Parent (Holy Cross), Jacob Shippee (East Catholic)
DB: Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn (Valley Regional/Old Lyme), Nick Gaynor (Northwest Catholic), Dan Rogers (Weston), Isaiah Wright (Holy Cross)
P: JD Simons (Weston)

Congratulations to the 12 NVL players named to the All-State teams! The New Haven Register All-State teams will be released in the first week of January, and we will post it here as soon as the paper releases it.

Now for the rest of you, react away.

Awards: All-NVL, All-Division, All-City Teams

Kyle and Remmy shared their picks of the best players in the league in the first-ever All-NVL Blog Teams earlier this week. (Hey, we thought they were pretty darned good.)

Now, it's time for the release of the official teams. See how the league's coaches voted on the All-NVL, All-Division, and All-City Teams. This is the second season in which we have had All-Division teams. (By the way, this is what we think the positions these players earned on the teams. They were not specified.)
All-NVL Offense
QB: Ray Kreiger (Derby)
RB: Brenden Lytton (Torrington), Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia), Jake Yourison (Naugatuck)
WR: DJ Ellis (Sacred Heart), Justin Gonzalez (St. Paul)
OL: Hakeem Martin (Ansonia), Zach Nutt (Torrington), George Smith (Holy Cross), Dylan Vano (Ansonia), Tyler Williams (Ansonia)
TE: Jake LaRovera (Ansonia)
UT: Jay'Len Mahan (Wilby)
P: Luke Grabowski (Seymour)
All-NVL Defense
DL: Dave Alves (Woodland), Matt Hall (Ansonia), Jeff Holder (Torrington), Andrew Kalach (Watertown), DJ Ouellette (Watertown)
LB: Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross), Zach Plourde (Woodland), Tyler Wood (Ansonia)
DB: DeVante Bonvillian (Wolcott), Eric Ford (Watertown), Tyler Lester (Ansonia), Dillon McMahon (Derby), Ryan O'Connor (Ansonia)
All-Brass Offense
QB: Mike Nicol (Wolcott)
RB: Anthony Avoletta (Watertown), Jacob Thomas (Wilby), Jon Wilson (Seymour)
WR: Brian Dobek (Derby), Andrew Matos (Ansonia)
OL: Antonio Biello (Crosby), Arek Kaszuba (Ansonia), Albion Lumani (Watertown), Josh Tilton (Seymour), Devyn Wilson (Wilby)
TE: Tim Adanti (Derby)
UT: Dennis Danley (Ansonia)
All-Brass Defense
DL: Nick Burns (Seymour), Luis Casco (Derby), Torrin Howard (Wilby), Jim Nelson (Wolcott)
LB: Marcel Lugo (Crosby), Ryan Milo (Watertown), Joe Russo (Wolcott), Dylan Sadick (Seymour)
DB: Raeshaun Finney (Ansonia), Miky Mason (Ansonia), Hector Vazquez (Derby), Emmanuel Zapata (Wilby)
All-Copper Offense
QB: Zach Brown (Holy Cross)
RB: Adrian Brown (Holy Cross), Joan Toribio (Torrington), Matt Zaccagnini (Woodland)
WR: Anthony Scirpo (Woodland), Shyquan Thompson (Sacred Heart), Isaiah Wright (Holy Cross)
OL: Justin Bartolomeo (Holy Cross), Brad Brown (Torrington), Nikko Cari (Naugatuck), Jeremy Clark (Woodland), Vigan Mulahu (Woodland)
TE: Phil Bresson (Torrington)
K: Kyle Broderick (Holy Cross)
All-Copper Defense
DL: Eric Collodel (Woodland), Jamoire Gregory (Sacred Heart), Anthony Jamele (Holy Cross), Kevin Ugalde (Naugatuck)
LB: Tucker Bachand (St. Paul), Levi Fancher (Woodland), Joe Parent (Holy Cross), Tim Woodfield (Naugatuck)
DB: Jolly Black (Sacred Heart), Demetrius Dailey (Torrington), Cesar Nunez (Kennedy), Mick Pernell (Naugatuck)
All-City Offense
QB: Zach Brown (Holy Cross), Jay'Len Mahan (Wilby)
RB: Adrian Brown (Holy Cross), Jacob Thomas (Wilby), Talance Stith (Kennedy)
WR: DJ Ellis (Sacred Heart), Shyquan Thompson (Sacred Heart), Isaiah Wright (Holy Cross)
OL: Justin Bartolomeo (Holy Cross), Antonio Biello (Crosby), James Carredu (Sacred Heart), Andrew Duval (Wilby), Jarred Foote (Wilby), John Joy (Kennedy), George Smith (Holy Cross)
K: Kyle Broderick (Holy Cross)
All-City Defense
DL: Jamoire Gregory (Sacred Heart), Torrin Howard (Wilby), Anthony Jamele (Holy Cross)
LB: Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross), Jerome Love (Kennedy), Marcel Lugo (Crosby), Joe Parent (Holy Cross), Mitchell Szyndlar (Holy Cross)
DB: Jolly Black (Sacred Heart), James Jonelis (Kennedy), Malcolm McGee (Wilby), Cesar Nunez (Kennedy), Tyshon Rogers (Crosby), Emmanuel Zapata (Wilby)

Special Award Winners
Jimmy Lee Top Senior: Brenden Lytton (Torrington)
City Offensive Player of the Year: Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross)
City Top Lineman of the Year: Jamiore Gregory (Sacred Heart)

Breakdown by Team
Ansonia: 9 All-NVL, 5 All-Brass
Crosby: 0 All-NVL, 2 All-Brass, 3 All-City
Derby: 2 All-NVL, 4 All-Brass
Holy Cross: 2 All-NVL, 7 All-Copper, 10 All-City
Kennedy: 0 All-NVL, 1 All-Copper, 5 All-City
Naugatuck: 1 All-NVL, 4 All-Copper
Sacred Heart: 1 All-NVL, 3 All-Copper, 5 All-City
Seymour: 1 All-NVL, 4 All-Brass
St. Paul: 1 All-NVL, 1 All-Copper
Torrington: 3 All-NVL, 4 All-Copper
Watertown: 3 All-NVL, 3 All-Brass
Wilby: 1 All-NVL, 4 All-Brass, 7 All-City
Wolcott: 1 All-NVL, 3 All-Brass
Woodland: 2 All-NVL, 6 All-Copper

Congratulations to all the honorees! Now, what do you think? Who did a better job of picking these teams--the coaches or Kyle and Remmy?

Awards: All-NVL Blog Teams

What comes after football season? Football awards season (duh). Kyle and Remmy are proud to announce the first-ever All-NVL Blog Teams.

We decided to limit the numbers on these teams much more than do the actual All-NVL selections, as voted upon by the league's coaches. Therefore, we have 12 players on each offense and defense along with four players on each set of special teams. We know none of you like how many players are on the official teams, so we kept it down to the bare bones to hopefully make this mean something.

We there were plenty of good players left off these two rosters and there were some tough decisions to be made, but we're confident that these teams stand up pretty well, as Kyle and Remmy combined to attend over 45 games this season and saw every team at least once.

All-NVL Blog First-Team Offense
QB: Ray Kreiger (Derby)
RB: Brenden Lytton (Torrington), Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia)
FB: Dennis Danley (Ansonia)
WR: Justin Gonzalez (St. Paul), Dillon McMahon (Derby)
OL: Matt Hall (Ansonia), Hakeem Martin (Ansonia), Zach Nutt (Torrington), Dylan Vano (Ansonia), Tyler Williams (Ansonia)
TE: Tim Adanti (Derby)

All-NVL Blog First-Team Defense
DL: Dave Alves (Woodland), Mike Giugno (Naugatuck), Jeff Holder (Torrington), Jake LaRovera (Ansonia)
LB: Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross), Zach Plourde (Woodland), Tyler Wood (Ansonia), Jake Yourison (Naugatuck)
DB: DeVante Bonvillian (Wolcott), Eric Ford (Watertown), Tyler Lester (Ansonia), Isaiah Wright (Holy Cross)

All-NVL Blog First-Team Special Teams
K: Tom Bochicchio (Wolcott)
P: Zach Brown (Holy Cross)
KR: Joe Parent (Holy Cross)
UT: Mike Nicol (Wolcott)

All-NVL Blog Second-Team Offense
QB: Jay’Len Mahan (Wilby)
RB: Anthony Avoletta (Watertown), Matt Zaccagnini (Woodland)
FB: Nick Gambacini (Holy Cross)
WR: DJ Ellis (Sacred Heart), Anthony Scirpo (Woodland)
OL: Brad Brown (Torrington), Jeremy Clark (Woodland), Albion Lumani (Watertown), Dylan Sadick (Seymour), George Smith (Holy Cross)
TE: Zach Happy (Woodland)

All-NVL Blog Second-Team Defense
DL: Eric Collodel (Woodland), Jamoire Gregory (Sacred Heart), Anthony Jamele (Holy Cross), DJ Ouellette (Watertown)
LB: Phil Bresson (Torrington), Levi Fancher (Woodland), Marcel Lugo (Crosby), Josh Tilton (Seymour)
DB: Ryan Byrne (Holy Cross), Cesar Nunez (Kennedy), Ryan O'Connor (Ansonia), Mick Pernell (Naugatuck)

All-NVL Blog Second-Team Special Teams
K: Kyle Broderick (Holy Cross)
P: Luke Grabowski (Seymour)
KR: Jon Wilson (Seymour)
UT: Jacob Thomas (Wilby)

Congratulations to everyone who made the All-NVL Blog Teams! The official All-NVL Teams will be released soon. In the meantime, we encourage all of you to share your thoughts on the All-NVL Blog Teams.

Kyle's and Remmy's Final 2011 State Polls

Here we are. The season is over--boy, that was quick. The 2011 NVL season was a very fun one, followed by watching two of our teams in the playoffs en route to state championships. Congratulations to both Holy Cross and Ansonia on fantastic seasons.
We saw Xavier dismantle Staples in the Class LL Championship game. Nothing new there. Xavier has been trampling its opponents for two years now and has a 26-game winning streak.

Daniel Hand, a very sound team on both offense and defense, won the Class L Championship over New Canaan. The week prior, the Tigers trounced Masuk, a team that many thought was the No. 1 squad in the state at the time.

Ansonia won its 17th state title and became the first Connecticut high school football team to finish the season 14-0. Arkeel Newsome had a record-breaking season on many fronts. He set the state's single-season record for rushing yardage (3,763), breaking former Ansonia tailback Alex Thomas' mark of 3,596 yards in 2007. Newsome also holds the single-season records for touchdowns (62) and points (388, breaking Tim Washington's mark of 294).
Yes, the only one that really matters is No. 1. But we'll give you our top 15 lists, as we voted in the season's final Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance poll.

1) Xavier; 2) Daniel Hand; 3) Ansonia; 4) Masuk; 5) Staples; 6) New Canaan; 7) Windsor; 8) Holy Cross; 9) New London; 10) Notre Dame-West Haven; 11) North Haven; 12) Norwalk; 13) Cromwell; 14) Ledyard; 15) Newtown

1) Xavier; 2) Daniel Hand; 3) Ansonia; 4) Staples; 5) Masuk; 6) New Canaan; 7) Windsor; 8) Holy Cross; 9) Newtown; 10) Ledyard; 11) Cromwell; 12) Norwalk; 13) New London; 14) Notre Dame-West Haven; 15) North Haven

With the domination that Xavier displayed all season over high-quality opponents, there was no way either of us could vote the Falcons anything but No. 1. The battle for No. 2 was close, but the wins that Hand earned throughout the season--and especially the blowouts of Masuk and New Canaan in the playoffs--made the final decision clear, that the Tigers had to be No. 2. The only other undefeated team in the state, Ansonia, is No. 3 for both of us. Holy Cross earns top-10 votes for both of us but has to settle for No. 8 after winning one of the weaker classes--but still, a state title is a state title.

Now, it's your turn to list your top 10! Where do Ansonia and Holy Cross fit? Here's how the four state polls shook out:

New Haven Register Final Poll
First-place votes in parentheses, followed by record, points in poll, and previous ranking.
1. Xavier (25), 13-0, 750, 1
2. Daniel Hand, 13-0, 698, 3
3. Ansonia, 14-0, 652, 4
4. Staples, 11-1, 564, 5
5. Masuk, 11-1, 530, 2
6. New Canaan, 11-2, 510, 8
7. Windsor, 11-1, 443, 6
8. Holy Cross, 12-2, 351, NR
9. New London, 9-2, 339, 7
10. Notre Dame-West Haven, 8-3, 258, 9
25. Wolcott, 8-4, 9, NR

Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Final Poll
First-place votes in parentheses, followed by record, points in poll, and previous ranking. (Kyle and Remmy vote in this poll.)
1. Xavier (29), 13-0, 435, 1
2. Daniel Hand, 13-0, 402, 4
3. Ansonia, 14-0, 380, 3
4. Staples, 11-1, 321, 5
5. Masuk, 11-1, 317, 2
6. New Canaan, 11-2, 302, 7
7. Windsor, 11-1, 247, 6
8. Holy Cross, 12-2, 201, NR
9. New London, 9-2, 173, 8
10. Notre Dame-West Haven, 8-3, 140, 9
24. Wolcott, 8-4, 3, NR

The Day Coaches Final Poll
First-place votes in parentheses, followed by record, points in poll, and previous ranking. (Ansonia's Tom Brockett and St. Paul's Jude Kelly vote in this poll.)
1. Xavier (11), 13-0, 358, 1
2. Daniel Hand (1), 13-0, 330, 4
3. Ansonia, 14-0, 320, 3
4. Masuk, 11-1, 258, 2
5. Staples, 11-1, 256, 6
6. New Canaan, 11-2, 250, 9
7. Holy Cross, 12-2, 211, NR
8. Windsor, 11-1, 173, 6
9. New London, 9-2, 158, 8
10. Ledyard, 11-2, 134, NR

Hartford Courant Final Poll
Includes record, followed by previous ranking.
1. Xavier, 13-0, 1
2. Daniel Hand, 13-0, 5
3. Ansonia, 14-0, 3
4. Staples, 11-1, 6
5. New Canaan, 11-2, 9
6. Masuk, 11-1, 2
7. Holy Cross, 12-2, NR
8. Ledyard, 11-2, NR
9. Windsor, 11-1, 4
10. Cromwell, 10-3, NR

Finally, here are Remmy's videos of the Class S and Class M championship games:

Class S Championship: Holy Cross vs. Cromwell

Class M Championship: Ansonia vs. Ledyard

Holy Cross, Ansonia Win State Titles

For the first time in four years, the Naugatuck Valley League can claim two state champions.

In the most exciting game of the weekend Friday night, Holy Cross outlasted Cromwell, 34-27, for the Class S state title before Ansonia shut out Ledyard, 38-0, for the Class M crown Saturday morning.

Crusaders running back Dave DiGiorgi and Ansonia running back Arkeel Newsome had the two best statistical performances of the weekend. DiGiorgi ran 30 times for 314 yards and four touchdowns while Newsome rushed 42 times for 364 yards and three scores. Both earned MVP honors both in the games and here on the blog.

In the process, Newsome set the Connecticut single-season rushing record with 3,763 yards to break former Charger Alex Thomas' previous record. Newsome also ended the season with a record 62 touchdowns, 58 of them on the ground. Ansonia also became the first team in state history to finish the season 14-0 while adding its 17th state title.

Holy Cross won its first state championship since 2006 and the second in school history. It is the first title for Crusaders coach Mike Giampetruzzi, while Ansonia coach Tom Brockett earned his third.

Kyle and Remmy would like to extend their congratulations to both Holy Cross and Ansonia for excellent seasons and representing the NVL as well as they did throughout the postseason.
Check out the links below for game stories, photos, and videos from around the state. Remmy will have his videos of the games up soon.

Holy Cross-Cromwell: Rep-Am game story, Rep-Am column, Rep-Am photos, Rep-Am video, Courant game story, Courant photos, WFSB highlights, FOX highlights, CIAC final statistics

Ansonia-Ledyard: Rep-Am game story, Rep-Am column, Rep-Am photos, Rep-Am video, CT Post game story, CT Post photos, SPB video, NH Register game story/photos/video, Courant game story, The Day game story, The Day photos, The Day video, Norwich Bulletin game story, WFSB highlights, FOX highlights, CIAC final statistics

Remmy and Kyle will have plenty more in wrapping up the season soon. Thanks for being with us all year!

2011 State Championship Live Scoreboard

First, congratulations to Holy Cross on winning its second-ever state championship with a 34-27 win over Cromwell in Friday night's thrilling Class S final. Check out Kyle's column, as well as the Rep-Am game story, photos, and video from that game.

Congratulations also goes to Ansonia, which became the first team in Connecticut high school football history to complete a 14-0 season by beating Ledyard, 38-0, for the Chargers' 17th state title. Check out Kyle's column, as well as the Rep-Am game story, photos, and video from Saturday's Class M championship game.

This is the first time since Ansonia and Seymour won crowns in 2007 that the NVL is home to two state champions.

Check out these previews of our two featured games from local media:

Holy Cross-Cromwell: Red Zone Blog preview/pick, Rep-Am preview, Rep-Am capsule, Holy Cross' diverse scoring attack, SPB Blog preview/pick, Register preview/pick, Cromwell boasts powerful offense

Ansonia-Ledyard: Ansonia's powerful offensive line, Newsome can become national rushing leader, Ansonia and Ledyard both want to run, Newsome already among the elite, SPB Blog preview/pick/video, Ledyard set for shot at Ansonia, Ledyard will face state's best, Ansonia's tradition of physical football, Ledyard's state championship rap

Other tidbits: State finals by the numbers, CIAC happy to have games at Rentschler, SPB Blog Class LL preview, SPB Blog Class L preview, Ned Griffen's Lonesome Polecat potpourri
We'll be there to cover both games, so check our live scoreboard below for scoring updates from Twitter. We will also have video in the days following the games. In addition, there are plenty of other ways to keep track of the games, including live audio, live stats, and Kyle's live blog with commentary on the Red Zone.

Holy Cross-Cromwell: WELI 960 AM (audio), (audio), Red Zone live blog with Kyle, CIAC live stats/box score
Ansonia-Ledyard: WELI 960 AM (audio), (audio), Red Zone live blog with Kyle, CIAC live stats/box score
Daniel Hand-New Canaan: WELI 960 AM (audio), (audio), CIAC live stats/box score
Xavier-Staples: WELI 960 AM (audio), (audio), CIAC live stats/box score

Click here for a replay of the 2011 State Championships Live Scoreboard.

2011 State Championships Previews

The Road to Rentschler ends this weekend as Holy Cross and Ansonia try to bring back two state championships to the NVL for the first time since 2007. Both teams will be favored competing in the first two games of the weekend.

In Class S, No. 2 Holy Cross (11-2) seeks its second state championship and first since 2006 when it faces No. 8 Cromwell (10-2) from the Pequot Conference in the first game of the weekend on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

In Class M, No. 1 Ansonia (13-0) tries to become the first team in state history to complete a 14-0 season when it takes on No. 3 Ledyard (11-1) of the Eastern Connecticut Conference on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Class S: No. 2 Holy Cross vs. No. 8 Cromwell
Remmy's Keys to the Game: Cromwell possesses a high-powered offense (averaging 499 yards of total offense per game) while Holy Cross has a stifling defense. Holy Cross has made plays in the secondary all year, especially causing turnovers and turning those into points. That's been the story for the Crusaders' defense all season long. We know Cromwell will throw the ball with a very talented quarterback. Holy Cross' plan has to be to limit Cromwell from gaining big rushing yardage and force Cromwell to go to the air, where it will be more vulnerable to turning over the ball.
Kyle's Keys to the Game: Holy Cross' defense has been up to the task most of the time this season. In eight of its 11 wins, the Crusaders have given up 14 points or less. When allowing 20 points or more, though, Holy Cross is 3-2 on the year. With how explosive Cromwell's offense is, it will be quite a challenge to hold the Panthers to that figure. In fact, the fewest points Cromwell has scored this season was 21 in a loss to Valley Regional/Old Lyme late in the regular season. In nine of 12 games, the Panthers have scored at least 40 points. But Cromwell's defense is nothing special, having allowed at least 20 points to most of its quality opponents this season (except for the playoffs, in which it has allowed 33 points in two games).
With two capable offenses, this game could come down to the turnover battle and which team can best create off those turnovers. This season, Cromwell was plus-11 (eight turnovers, 19 takeaways) in turnover margin while Holy Cross was plus-19 (eight turnovers, 27 takeaways). Meanwhile the Crusaders have scored eight return touchdowns while the Panthers have managed only two. Certainly, it looks like Holy Cross has the advantage in playmaking defenses, but one key stat in which Cromwell has an advantage is sacks. The Panthers have 40 sacks in 12 games while Holy Cross has just 16. If the Crusaders struggle to get pressure in the passing game, that will be a definite advantage to Cromwell.
Offensively, both of these teams are balanced but the Panthers appear to have more balance and more prolific threats than Holy Cross. Cromwell averages about 20 pass attempts a game (and more than 280 yards per game) and also averages nearly 30 rushes per game (and more than 213 yards a game). Meanwhile, Holy Cross averages just over 10 pass attempts per game (and about 65 yards a game) and about 35 rushes per game (and about 205 yards a game). The stats undoubtedly favor Cromwell, but Holy Cross hasn't built itself upon statistics this season. The Crusaders have used new players seemingly every game to break through. In all, 11 different players have scored touchdowns for Holy Cross, and those are all in varsity play. Having so many threats makes it difficult for a defense to key in on just one or two players.

Remmy's Key Players: It doesn't matter who the opponent is, Holy Cross freshman WR/DB Isaiah Wright is one of the most talented players on the field every night. He makes plays in the secondary, special teams, and offense (backfield and wideout). If Holy Cross does not get him going, I don't expect the 'Saders to leave Rentschler Field with the trophy. Holy Cross DB Joe Parent has also been stellar this season on defense and special teams. Parent may be the unsung hero in this game if Cross wins it. I expect Parent to make impact plays on defense Friday night. For Cromwell, it's QB Anthony Morales. Morales, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, has thrown for 3,365 yards and 42 touchdowns this season. That's insane. RB Derrick Villard isn't that bad, either. Villard has rushed for 1,964 yards and 24 TD.
Kyle's Key Players: The Crusaders' two-headed main rushing attack of Dave DiGiorgi and Adrian Brown has been splendid all season. DiGiorgi had perhaps his best game of the season in the semifinals against Valley Regional with 187 yards and a touchdown, bringing his postseason total to 311 yards and three scores. Brown is just as capable and may be in line for an increased workload in the state final. Holy Cross QB Zach Brown has done a very nice job of managing the game and taking care of the ball since about midway through the season. If it comes down to it, he can make some plays with his legs. The Crusaders ran some option against Wolcott and most of the time it met some nice success. That could be a tactic Cross looks to employ later in the game for a change of pace or a clock-eater. On defense, Anthony Jamele and George Smith will be huge on the defensive line to keep the pressure on Morales and the Cromwell passing game. With a quarterback that can put up such high numbers, it's key to get pressure on him and force him into making quick decisions. For the Panthers, Michael Sullivan and Michael Dowe have combined for 29 sacks. If they make their presence felt at the line of scrimmage, it could severely disrupt Holy Cross' offense. Michael Antonio and Brett Director are the main targets for Morales in the receiving corps, combining for 2,269 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Remmy's Pick: Make no mistake about it, Holy Cross is in for a big-time battle. Cromwell boasts the state's best offense (statistically) and is walking into a no-pressure situation as an eighth seed. I expect Holy Cross to take away the run game and force Cromwell to beat them through the air--a tough task. But more importantly, Holy Cross must find its identity on offense. Every game this year, we've seen a different player win the game for Holy Cross. Can the Crusaders get by this week by doing the same? Who will it be this time? I am just worried that Holy Cross will not score enough points. This team isn't made for a shootout. However, I'll take my chances after seeing Cross' defense step it up late in the season. Holy Cross, 28-24.
Kyle's Pick: Cromwell is likely the second-best offense that Holy Cross will have faced all season with everything the Panthers can do and how prolifically they can do it. But the Crusaders' defense has been up to the challenge all season and has made some really big plays to shift momentum and take hold of games. If Cromwell goes through this entire game without turning over the ball, it likely wins this game. But if Holy Cross forces mistakes and capitalizes, the Crusaders have a great chance of winning their second state title. Holy Cross, 31-27.

Class M: No. 1 Ansonia vs. No. 3 Ledyard
Remmy's Keys to the Game: From what I am hearing, Ledyard is a very well-coached and very disciplined team. The Colonels are very similar to Ansonia, as far as the type of offense they run. They love running power and love pulling the guard, just like Ansonia does. The big difference for Ledyard this week will be they are playing Ansonia and not someone in the ECC. Ledyard ran power close to 30 times against Wolcott. It sounds crazy, but we might see Ledyard running power 30 times against Ansonia because the Colonels do not have a great passing game. That leads us to the possibility of the Colonels hitting Ansonia unexpectedly with a play-action here and there. The quarterback is underrated because he isn't used much but he has the ability to make plays, as he is athletic and tough. The Ledyard defense makes big plays and swarms to the ball very aggressively. Its linebacking corps are the heart and soul of the defense. They are very tough and love to blitz. Ledyard better not just tackle or try to hit Newsome hard. I guarantee Ledyard has been practicing strip drills more this week than any other week this season. I know they've seen Arkeel Newsome fumble and they know they will have to create turnovers and capitalize off of them to derail Ansonia. Keep an eye on that.
For Ansonia, I expect Arkeel Newsome to get 35 carries and surpass Alex Thomas' record (3,596 yards) for the most rushing yards in a season. Newsome needs 198 rushing yards to break the record. Speaking of blitzing, Ansonia loves to blitz, too. So expect some awesome collisions at the line of scrimmage on Saturday morning. And don't be surprised if Tom Brockett catches Ledyard off-guard with some play-action. The passing game has not been needed much this season for Ansonia but if the Chargers choose to go that route, it could be the determining factor in this game. In my opinion, I think Ansonia will run Newsome all day long and try to turn this game into a blowout as early as possible to secure the win.
Kyle's Keys to the Game: This game will come down to line play, as it often does. We all know how superb Ansonia's offensive line is after helping pave the way for Newsome's record-setting season. But the Chargers' front will have even more to do this week as Ledyard liked to blitz early and often against Wolcott to disrupt Mike Nicol and his option offense. Blitzing against Ansonia is a risky proposition, but we really haven't seen most teams try it this season. On one hand, bringing more defenders gives the defense a better chance at getting somebody to penetrate and get to Newsome in the backfield, where he is most vulnerable. On the other hand, bringing more defenders at the snap means Newsome has fewer guys to beat in the second and third levels--and that could mean some of his now-trademarked long touchdown runs. Neither team's passing game has had that much work this season, but in a game with two good defenses, perhaps they will be forced to open it up a little bit. Statistically, Ledyard's defense has been better than Ansonia's this season. The Colonels have allowed fewer points (125 to Ansonia's 154) and have posted more shutouts (four to Ansonia's one). But of course, stats don't tell the whole story and I think we all know that the Chargers' defense is best and should more easily be able to limit Ledyard than vice versa.

Remmy's Key Players: I don't think Kyle and I have talked about the Ansonia secondary all year long. But this week, I have to address it. Ledyard will try to run RB Alex Manwaring right into the heart of the Ansonia defense. He's a very patient runner as you can see in each video. If the run game isn't there for Ledyard early in the game, I expect the Colonels to go to the air quickly, before the game gets out of hand, and test the Ansonia secondary. That means Raeshaun Finney, who intercepted a pass against Berlin, Miky Mason, Jai'Quan McKnight, and Hezekiah Duncan will need to be on their toes early in this game. It goes without saying that Ansonia has some bullies on defense, specifically LB Tyler Wood and DE Jake LaRovera, arguably two of the hardest hitters on this defense (well, not arguably, but factually). I'll let Kyle talk about Arkeel Newsome.
Kyle's Key Players: This could be the first time this season that Newsome gets to run for four quarters. He has yet to be on the field for the final whistle of any game yet in 2011, but if he can help it, this game will not be any different. While Ledyard has some good size up front and some athleticism in the secondary, Newsome is going to be the biggest challenge the Colonels have faced all season. If the teams try to go power against power, then Ansonia FB Dennis Danley will be as important as ever. He has been one of the unsung heroes on this team all season and has been a big part of Newsome's records. For Ledyard, Manwaring is the feature back but FB Matt Daggett is a go-to player in short-yardage situations and is a bull. In addition, WR/DB Slade Baxley is Ledyard's version of Isaiah Wright. The Colonels will send him out wide, put him in motion, or hand it off to Baxley, who is dynamic with the ball. He's also excellent in the secondary and could be seeing a lot of Newsome back there.

Remmy's Pick: I expect Ledyard's offense to struggle with Ansonia's defense. No, Ansonia doesn't throw the ball exclusively. But Ansonia's running game is stronger than the Colonels' run game and I think that will be the difference. The Chargers haven't had to rely on the passing game but the Colonels might have to in this game. And that's why I expect it to be ugly. In addition, the athletes on defense for Ansonia are likely the best Ledyard will have faced all season. Ansonia's speed, and mainly their strength, on offense and defense has been outstanding. Ledyard will have to find a way to beat that. If Ledyard goes down by two or three touchdowns, it could get ugly in a hurry. Ledyard doesn't have the type of offense that can go down the field in huge spurts because it is power-run oriented. Without an explosive offense, I think the Colonels are in for the game of their lives. One more thing: Can Ledyard contain Newsome and the Ansonia offensive line for FOUR QUARTERS? That's not easy to do. I haven't seen a team match Ansonia's intensity nor talent level all season long. Why should I expect anything different this week? Ansonia, 48-14.
Kyle's Pick: I've said that this could be the closest game Ansonia plays all season because of Ledyard's defensive ability and toughness on the ground. But just because I think it may be closer than usual doesn't mean it's going to be most people's definition of close. Ledyard will stay in this game for a little while with its productive running game and solid defense, but we've seen Ansonia held down for about a quarter before. We haven't seen the Chargers suppressed for any more than that. Ansonia wears down on opponents with its size and speed. The same will likely happen here. Ansonia, 34-10.

The other two state championships on Saturday afternoon pit the Southern Connecticut Conference against the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Remmy and Kyle chime in.

Class L: No. 2 Daniel Hand (12-0) vs. No. 5 New Canaan (11-1): Remmy- New Canaan, 30-28. Kyle- Daniel Hand, 35-31.
Class LL: No. 1 Xavier (12-0) vs. No. 2 Staples (11-0): Remmy- Xavier, 35-24. Kyle- Xavier, 41-21.

We'll also be having a final tailgate before (and probably after) the Ansonia-Ledyard game on Saturday morning, so feel free to stop by. Remmy and Kyle will be at Rentschler Field by 8 a.m. on Saturday. We'll be tailgating until about 10 a.m. and will be heading into the stadium for the Ansonia-Ledyard game. We will likely tailgate after the game for a while, so stop by. If you plan to bring anything, let us know. Otherwise, just come by and hang out.

Good luck to Holy Cross and Ansonia this weekend!

Public vs. Private HS Football Game in Hollywood, Florida

Connecticut is looking to send local high school football players to Hollywood, Florida, to take part in a public school vs. private school football game.

A ziti dinner fundraiser will be held on Dec. 11 from 5-7 p.m. at Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury. If you cannot make the dinner but would like to make a donation, please contact Chris Ortiz at 203-565-2651 or Nakia Reddick at 904-687-6956. Thank you.
Public vs Private High School

Ansonia, Holy Cross to State Finals

Holy Cross kicker Kyle Broderick boots the game-winning
field goal in the Crusaders' 23-14 win over Valley Regional
in Saturday's Class S semifinal. Credit: Jim Shannon/RA
Congratulations to Ansonia and Holy Cross on winning their semifinals Saturday afternoon and advancing to next weekend's state championships at Rentschler Field.

In Class M, the No. 1 Chargers dominated No. 4 Berlin, 48-14, in a game that was never even that close. Arkeel Newsome had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 321 yards and six touchdowns. (By the way, Newsome earned our NVL Blog Player of the Week award for the third time this season.) Ansonia allowed just 180 yards of total offense to Berlin.

In Class S, the No. 2 Crusaders pulled out a 23-14 win over No. 3 Valley Regional/Old Lyme in a game that was much closer than that score indicates. Holy Cross kicker Kyle Broderick hit the game-winning, 20-yard field goal with 26.8 seconds left before Cody Schmeer returned an interception for a touchdown on the ensuing drive to account for the final margin. The Crusaders will face No. 8 Cromwell in the Class S state championship.

Also in Class M, No. 7 Wolcott fell to No. 3 Ledyard, 35-0, thanks to a completely dominating defensive performance by the Colonels. Ledyard blasted Wolcott in just about every statistic (total yardage, 361-64; first-half yardage, 245-11; first downs, 19-6; third-down conversions, 9/10-2/10) and now has a date with Ansonia for the Class M state title.

We will release the schedule for the state finals as soon as it becomes official early this week. One game will be Friday night at 6:30 p.m. while the other three will be on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. We just might have another tailgate, too.

The master of video--Remmy--shares his contributions for the week: Click here for Ansonia-Berlin and click here for Masuk-Daniel Hand.

Now, a bunch of links (aside from the links above, which will take you to the Rep-Am articles) for your reading and viewing pleasure on the three NVL games:

Ansonia-Berlin: Rep-Am video, Rep-Am photos, Register story/videos, Register photos, Courant story, Courant photos, Post story/photos, Rick Volk video
Holy Cross-Valley Regional: Rep-Am photos, Register story/photos, Courant story, The Day story, The Day column
Wolcott-Ledyard: Rep-Am photos, The Day story, Norwich Bulletin story

And for those interested, some links to stories (most have photos and/or videos, too) from the other semifinals:

Hand-Masuk: Register, Post story, Post column
Xavier-Norwalk: Register, Courant, Post
Staples-Newtown: Register, Post
Cromwell-Northwest Catholic: Register, Courant
New Canaan-Windsor: Courant, Post

The four state championship matchups:

Class LL: No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 2 Staples (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.)
Class L: No. 2 Daniel Hand vs. No. 5 New Canaan (Saturday, 2 p.m.)
Class M: No. 1 Ansonia vs. No. 3 Ledyard (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.)
Class S: No. 2 Holy Cross vs. No. 8 Cromwell (Friday, 6:30 p.m.)

2011 Semifinals Live Scoreboard

Ansonia and Holy Cross both advanced to state finals with wins in Saturday's semifinals while Wolcott's best season in school history came to an end with a loss to Ledyard.
Wolcott quarterback Mike Nicol hurdling over an Ellington/Somers defender. Credit: Jeff Sheldon

As always, you can follow updates from as many games as we have reports on Twitter using the live scoreboard below. If you have a Twitter (which we recommend having) and you'll be at any game during this season, make sure you tweet your updates and use the #ctfb hashtag. You can also tweet @NVLFOOTBALL or @kylebrennan1 and we'll try to retweet you. Enjoy the games!

Playoff Semifinals Predictions

For the first time in the history of the Naugatuck Valley League, three league teams won playoff games on the same night. Now, they will all play on Saturday afternoon for the chance to advance to Rentschler Field and the state title games.

After Ansonia's domination of Bethel and Holy Cross' blowout of Haddam-Killingworth, Wolcott rallied to beat Ellington/Somers in overtime for the Eagles' first playoff win in school history. All three play Saturday at neutral sites in the semifinals.

Wins by Holy Cross and either Ansonia or Wolcott would give the NVL teams in multiple finals for the first time since 2008 (Ansonia and Seymour). These three teams are trying to bring home multiple state titles for the league, something that hasn't been done since 2007 (Ansonia and Seymour).

No. 1 Ansonia (12-0) vs. No. 4 Berlin (10-1), 2 p.m. at Sheehan High: Berlin was sort of a boring a team this season. The Redcoats' only semi-impressive wins were one-score victories over Bloomfield and New Britain late in the regular season. They weren't fantastic in their 28-14 quarterfinal win over Cheney Tech. Both Scott McLeod (14 rush, 111 yds, TD) and Tom Undercuffler (19 rush, 104 yds, 3 TD) while the team forced three turnovers. Based on some film against New Britain and East Catholic, it looks like Berlin runs out of a few formations but has a lot of spread sets from which the team runs a lot. Still, the offense isn't especially dynamic and will probably struggle against an excellent Ansonia defense. While Berlin has played some good defense at times, it hasn't faced anyone like Arkeel Newsome and his offensive line. The question in this game is really if Ansonia can close out a shutout this time around.
Picks: Remmy- Ansonia, 41-14. Kyle- Ansonia, 35-0.

No. 7 Wolcott (8-3) vs. No. 3 Ledyard (10-1), 2 p.m. at Middletown High: Ledyard is another team that hasn't particularly wowed anybody this season, but the Colonels have gotten the job done almost every time, except a loss to New London. Ledyard has pitched three shutouts and held opponents to three scores or fewer in every win. In the Colonels' 26-0 win over Waterford in the quarterfinal (video here), star running back Alex Manwaring rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries to continue his fantastic season (2,174 yards, 18 rush TD). If Wolcott can slow down the 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, the Eagles will be looking good. Of course, that will be much easier said than done for a defense that allowed 266 rushing yards to Ellington/Somers in the quarterfinals. But if Wolcott's offense can have the variety it featured with Mike Nicol adding DeVante Bonvillian and Chad Acevedo into the mix, it always seems to work out better for the Eagles. (For you film addicts, here's more video from a few of Ledyard's other games this season.)
Picks: Remmy- Wolcott, 22-14. Kyle- Ledyard, 20-13.

No. 2 Holy Cross (10-2) vs. No. 3 Valley Regional/Old Lyme (10-1), 2 p.m. at Falcon Field: For most of the regular season, Valley Regional looked like it was going to be the team to beat in the Class S playoffs. That distinction may now belong to Holy Cross as the Warriors have slipped a little in recent weeks. Valley started the season 9-0 with eight 40-point offensive efforts and four shutouts. But the Warriors had a close call in a 24-21 win over Cromwell (video here) in early November before suffering a loss to Haddam-Killingworth (which Holy Cross beat in the quarterfinals) on Thanksgiving eve. In Valley's 14-12 quarterfinal win over Rocky Hill, the offense struggled again as quarterback Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn rushed for only 97 yards on 16 carries, but he accounted for both scores on a run and a short pass. Fairfield-Sonn accounted for over 2,500 yards and 35 touchdowns during the regular season, so he will certainly be the focal point of Holy Cross' defense. The Crusaders seem to be getting better and more offensively diverse every week, so everything points in favor of Cross right now.
Picks: Remmy- Holy Cross, 35-12. Kyle- Holy Cross, 28-14.
Aside from the three games involving NVL teams, there are some really outstanding other semifinal games throughout the state. Here are Remmy's and Kyle's picks:

Class LL
No. 1 Xavier (11-0) vs. No. 5 Norwalk (9-1), 2 p.m. at West Haven High: Remmy- Xavier, 28-14. Kyle- Xavier, 27-7.
No. 2 Staples (10-0) vs. No. 6 Newtown (9-2), 2 p.m. at Bunnell High: Remmy- Staples, 32-23. Kyle- Staples, 42-35.

Class L
No. 1 Windsor (11-0) vs. No. 5 New Canaan (10-1), 2 p.m. at East Haven High: Remmy- New Canaan, 35-28. Kyle- Windsor, 41-28.
No. 2 Daniel Hand (11-0) vs. No. 3 Masuk (11-0), 7 p.m. at West Haven High: Remmy- Masuk, 35-21. Kyle- Masuk, 35-14.

Class S
No. 5 Northwest Catholic (9-2) vs. No. 8 Cromwell (9-2), 2 p.m. at Cheshire High: Remmy- Northwest Catholic, 27-20. Kyle- Cromwell, 21-20.
We will have reports from all three NVL games on Saturday, so if you can't get out to one of the games, this is the place to be for all the action. Good luck to all three teams this weekend!