We've Moved To The New NVL Blog!

We've moved the whole operation over to our brand-new Naugatuck Valley League Football Blog! Of course, we'd like for you to join us as we try to improve our discussion of local high school football on our own new forum.

Click on any of the links in this post or head on over to www.nvlfootballblog.com to visit our new blog. We'll keep this one up as our archive for old posts, but this will be the last post here and the comments will be shut down.

Our new blog will allow us to better ensure smooth discussion on our commenting system, better design for more features and organization, and the same, great football discussion you guys have all helped us build over the last few years.

Thank you all so much for your support and visitation over the last few years, and we look forward to continuing our pastime at our new website. Make sure you change your bookmarks!

So without further ado, join us on the new NVL Football Blog!

Getting Closer And Closer, So We Update You

As many of you know, I'm sure, today was the start of conditioning for the teams who elected to start their fall seasons early (here's looking at you, Derby, Sacred Heart, Seymour, Watertown and Wolcott). The rest of the teams begin Monday.

If for whatever reason you decide to watch whatever happens at these practices, feel free to post something interesting.

I'll let you peruse Mark Jaffee's work (he's been all over it, like usual) over the last week to address our two main issues this summer.

UPDATE: Capuano Fills In At Wilby
Wilby will not hire a full-time coach for this season following the somewhat-unexpected-but-not-really resignation of Patrick Russo earlier this month. Wilby AD Steve Baldwin told the Rep-Am that the school will hire an interim coach in time to start conditioning Monday.

And the school did. Jaffee reports Gino Capuano will be the interim coach. Capuano formerly coached the Wilby freshmen under Chris Eckert and played and coached at Watertown.

Coggins, Martin Still Not Enrolled At Naugatuck
Coggins. Credit: Chris Massa/RA
As I mentioned in my post late last month, there was some red tape to be overcome in Sacred Heart-to-Naugatuck transfer situation. That is still the case, according to Jaffee's report today.

Xavier Woods is all set to begin practice Monday. Dave Coggins and Javon Martin are not. The issues of tuition payments and transcript releases have still not been resolved, and apparently Martin's mother (also Coggins' guardian) hasn't yet even found a place to settle in Naugatuck.

You figure Coggins and Martin have to be enrolled in a school somewhere come the end of the month, but it's anyone's guess as to which school that might be at this point.

NVL Blog Update
Hope y'all are excited because hopefully this is our last-ever post on this version of the NVL Football Blog. We'll be rolling out a new, better-than-ever version of the blog in the very near future (we're working on it as you read this). It should be pretty cool.

That's been the reason we're holding off a few days on our season previews. We plan on starting the 2012 season with a totally fresh blog. Hopefully we can start rolling out the previews (and once they start, they're going to be rapid-fire) before everyone else starts practice Monday.


Russo Officially Out At Wilby

Patrick Russo is out at Wilby after one year.
Credit: Erin Covey/Rep-Am
We've received final word, via Mark Jaffee's report in the Republican-American, that Patrick Russo is officially out at Wilby.

This one went back and forth for a while. The rumors that he would be resigning or forced out kicked up about a month ago, but we received an email last week from the Wilby football account that Russo was staying. An email to Wilby athletic director Steve Baldwin was never returned, and he hasn't returned messages from Jaffee, either.

But Russo left a message with Jaffee that he would be resigning to focus on coaching his sons in Pop Warner football, and Wilby's principal confirmed the exit. The move will become official this week and Wilby can then post the job, which might be tough to fill from the outside with such little time until the season begins.

It's the second offseason in a row that Russo has left an NVL coaching job after doing the same at Wolcott, although that exit was earlier in the offseason. We'll see what happens with Wilby.

Make of this what you will. Some people think there's more behind it and some take it at face value. Regardless, Russo will not be on an NVL sideline this fall.

We're enjoying reading all the banter started by last thread about the Naugatuck transfers. We'll kick this thing into high gear in about 10 days (as soon as I'm back from Stamford).

Updates: Sacred Heart-Naugy Transfers, Russo Staying

We've got two hot rumors (I hesitate to call them stories until they become fact-based) this summer that everybody wants to discuss. Let's.

Trio of Sacred Heart Transfers Likely Headed to Naugatuck
It appears as though David Coggins, Javon Martin and Xavier Woods are all transferring to Naugatuck, as the longstanding rumor has suggested.

David Coggins
Naugatuck athletic director Tom Pompei confirmed that Coggins' and Martin's families touched base with the school toward the end of the school year about beginning the transfer process. All signs point to Coggins' and Martin's families making permanent moves to Naugatuck this summer and the (now-former) Hearts suiting up for the Greyhounds in the fall.

Pompei said there's still some "red tape" that Coggins and Martin are working through with Sacred Heart but that they all expect the issues to be resolved shortly. He said he talked with the necessary officials to ensure their move to the borough and to the school abides by CIAC rules.

Woods and his family have not been in touch with the high school, though, as far as Pompei knows. Woods attended an offseason camp with Coggins and Martin, but none of the three attended as part of the Greyhounds. Woods' situation is currently unknown, although signs also point to him transferring.

None of the additions have officially been made but it seems to only be a matter of time. Now it seems fitting to discuss how their presence will affect the Greyhounds this fall.

Russo Staying At Wilby
Last week, the latest rumor surfaced that Wilby head coach Patrick Russo was either resigning or being forced out of his position with the Wildcats.
Patrick Russo, shown during his tenure at Wolcott, will
return to Wilby. Credit: Jim Shannon/Rep-Am

That is false.

The Wilby coaching staff responded to an email sent this weekend, confirming that the rumor is not true and that Russo will enter his second season as the Wildcats' head coach in just a few weeks.

Russo was 4-6 in his first year with the Wilby after resigning from the same post at Wolcott.

We're just a few weeks away from the first practices of the season, so hang in there. Very soon, we'll start a very comprehensive preview of what's to come this fall. But that won't come until after the Olympics, so enjoy the Games and go Team USA!

Seymour Football Golf Tournament

The Seymour Kickoff Club is holding its 20th annual golf tournament on Monday,Aug. 6 at the TheHarry B. Brownson Country Club in Huntington. The details are below, and click here for the registration form or here for sponsorship opportunities. The program thanks you for your support.

2012 State Playoff Classes Released

It looks like Class S will go back to its former state as the Naugatuck Valley League Invitational in 2012.

Ansonia, the defending Class M state champion, is back down to the lowest class after its one-year stint away from its usual home in Class S (the Chargers were bumped up last year with its male enrollment exactly on the lower cutoff). They'll join defending Class S state champion Holy Cross and five other NVL teams in the smallest division.

The only other changes affecting NVL teams came in a three-team jump from Class L to Class LL. Kennedy, Naugatuck, and Wilby are all in the largest division in 2012, leaving Torrington as the lone NVL representative in Class L (last year's most competitive class). Wilby made the Class LL cut by a single male student while Naugy slipped in by six.

To see the composite schedules for each class, click the respective header below. NVL enrollments are listed in parentheses (if you want to see the enrollments for non-NVL schools, refer to pages 9-10 of the 2012-13 CIAC Football tournament packet). 2011 playoff teams are denoted with asterisks (single asterisk for same class, double asterisks for class change).

Class LL (682 and over; 37 teams)
NVL Teams: Crosby (723), Kennedy (745), Naugatuck (688), Wilby (682)
Others: Amity, Bridgeport Central, Brien McMahon, Bristol Central, Conard*, Danbury, East Hartford, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Prep, Glastonbury*, Greenwich, Hall*, Hamden, Hartford Public, Manchester, New Britain, New Milford, Newington, Newtown*, Norwalk*, Norwich Free Academy, Ridgefield*, Shelton, Simsbury, South Windsor, Southington, Stamford, Staples*, Trumbull, West Haven, Westhill, Xavier*

Class L (526-681; 35 teams)
NVL Teams: Torrington (587)
Others: Avon, Bassick, Branford, Bristol Eastern, Bulkeley, Bunnell, Cheshire, Daniel Hand*, Darien, East Lyme, EO Smith, Fairfield Warde, Farmington, Fermi, Fitch, Guilford, Harding, Maloney, Masuk*, Middletown, New Canaan, North Haven*, Notre Dame-West Haven*, Platt, Platt Tech, Pomperaug, RHAM, Rockville, Stratford, Wethersfield, Wilbur Cross, Wilton, Windsor*, Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby, Woodstock Academy

Class M (391-525; 36 teams)
NVL Teams: Watertown (481), Wolcott* (426)
Others: Abbott Tech, Bacon Academy, Berlin*, Bethel*, Bullard Havens Tech, Brookfield, Cheney Tech*, Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton**, East Hampton/Vinal Tech, East Haven, Ellington/Somers*, Enfield, Foran, Gilbert/Northwestern, Hillhouse, Joel Barlow, Jonathan Law, Ledyard*, Lewis Mills, Lyman Hall, Montville, New Fairfield, New London**, O'Brien Tech, Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech, Sheehan, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech, St. Joseph, Tolland, Waterford*, Weston, Wilcox Tech, Windham, Wolcott Tech

Class S (390 and under; 37 teams)
NVL Teams: Ansonia** (359), Derby (195), Holy Cross* (375), Sacred Heart (184), Seymour (300), St. Paul (172), Woodland (369)
Others: Bloomfield, Canton, Capital Prep/Classical Magnet*, Coginchaug, Cromwell*, East Catholic, Granby Memorial, Griswold, Haddam-Killingworth*, Housatonic/Wamogo, Hyde Leadership, Immaculate, Killingly, Morgan, Nonnewaug, North Branford*, Northwest Catholic*, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Old Saybrook/Westbrook, Oxford, Plainfield, Plainville, Prince Tech, Rocky Hill*, SMSA/University, Stafford/East Windsor, Stamford Academy, Stonington, Trinity Catholic, Valley Regional/Old Lyme*, Weaver
Arkeel Newsome (center) and Ansonia are headed back to Class S. How will that affect
Mike Nicol (left) and Wolcott in Class M, and Isaiah Wright (right) and Holy Cross in Class S?
Ansonia's move certainly frees up some room in Class M for Wolcott, which could very well make some noise in the postseason again this fall with most of its team returning. But it obviously pits a pair of defending state champions against each other in Class S (could we see an Ansonia-Holy Cross state title game?).

Here's perhaps the best question to come out of all this: Is Ansonia's drop back down to Class S good or bad for the NVL?

Derby Golf Tourney 2012

Derby football is holding its annual golf tournament at Whitney Farms Golf Course in Monroe. Please see the document below for further details. The program thanks you for your support.
Derby Golf Tourney 2012

11 NVL Players on New Haven County All-Stars

Eleven Naugatuck Valley League players have been named to the New Haven County All-Stars in advance of the 16th Hall of Fame Classic against Fairfield County.

The following NVL players are on the roster:

Tim Adanti, WR/TE, Derby
DeVante Bonvillian, DB, Wolcott
Dave DiGiorgi, RB, Holy Cross
Eric Ford, DB, Watertown
Mike Giugno, DL, Naugatuck
Jake LaRovera, TE, Ansonia
Jay'Len Mahan, UT, Wilby
Joe Parent, LB, Holy Cross
Dylan Sadick, LB, Seymour
Dylan Vano, OL, Ansonia
Matt Zaccagnini, LB, Woodland

Ansonia lineman Hakeem Martin was also selected but cannot play due to a prior commitment. To see the rest of the New Haven County and Fairfield County All-Stars, check out our pal SPB's blog. The Register's Mike Pucci also has an updated roster with numbers as of July 10.

Former Cheshire coach Mark Ecke will be the head coach for New Haven, while Stratford coach John Svatik will lead Fairfield.

The game is set for Saturday, July 14, at 5 p.m. at West Haven's Ken Strong Stadium. Tickets will be $7 at the door, but they can be purchased in advance for $5 at (203) 231-3992. New Haven leads the all-time series, 10-5, but Fairfield won, 34-14, last year.

Go ahead and post your opening lines.

Cort Johnson Hired as New Sacred Heart Coach

Cortez Johnson is the new head coach at Sacred Heart, per his tweet earlier this afternoon. He posted the following:
Cortez Johnson
Credit: Rep-Am
Johnson was most recently the Hearts' defensive coordinator, spending two years under Chris Ortiz, who resigned earlier this year. Johnson, 32, is a 1998 graduate of Ansonia. He ranks among the top running backs in Chargers history, accumulating 4,013 yards. That total is 25th-most in state history and fourth-most in Ansonia history, behind Alex Thomas, Montrell Dobbs, and Arkeel Newsome.

Sacred Heart athletic director Jon Carroll said earlier this month that the school received 17 resumes for the job, and interviews were conducted over the last few weeks. He said a mix of young and veteran area coaches applied for the job, including former Holy Cross assistant and current Pomperaug offensive coordinator Steve Croce.

The Rep-Am's Mark Jaffee caught up with both Johnson and Carroll. You can read his article here.

Congratulations to Johnson on his hiring.

2012 Governor's Cup: 5 NVL Players Among Team Connecticut Roster

The Connecticut High School Coaches Association recently announced Team Connecticut's roster for the 14th Annual Governor's Cup between Connecticut and Rhode Island. NVL players are listed first, followed by the rest. The five NVL representatives probably won't come as much of a surprise.
Former Woodland all-state safety Jack DeBiase (12) was among the NVL's representatives
on Team Connecticut last summer. Five more NVL players will suit up for the Nutmeggers
in the 14th Annual Governor's Cup on June 30 at Rentschler Field. Credit: John Goralski
Naugatuck Valley League (5)
Dave DiGiorgi (Holy Cross); Brenden Lytton (Torrington); Hakeem Martin (Ansonia); Dylan Vano (Ansonia); Tyler Wood (Ansonia)

Pequot Conference (6)
Michael Antonio (Cromwell); Brett Director (Cromwell); Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn (Valley Regional); Wesley Hopkins (Northwest Catholic); Anthony Morales (Cromwell); Maleek Riley (Northwest Catholic)

Central Connecticut Conference (14)
Aaron Berandino (Windsor); Nicholas Colasante (Glastonbury); Ben Compton (Windsor); Ian Dugger (Hall); Jose Forestier (Bulkeley); Jamar Johnson (Bloomfield); Emir Kuljancic (Wethersfield); Genois Nelson (Maloney); Devon O'Reilly (Glastonbury); Daniel Palmer (Hartford Public); Isaiah Thomasson (Maloney); Tommy Undercuffler (Berlin); Giovanni Viven (New Britain); Jonathan Ware (RHAM)

South-West Conference (8)
Brandon Birdsell (Bethel); Jawad Chisholm (Bunnell); Matt Duignan (Masuk); Evan Foster (Bunnell); Leaon Gordon (Brookfield); Matt Paola (Pomperaug); Jason Piontkowski (Masuk); Ardian Sahinovic (New Fairfield)

Southern Connecticut Conference (14)
Shaun Bowman (Cheshire); Pat D'Amato (Xavier); Henry Foye (Daniel Hand); Vance Giarratana (Daniel Hand); Sebastian Little (Cheshire); Sean Marinan, Jr. (Xavier); Brandon Martin (Notre Dame); AJ Pascuzzo (Sheehan); Khamil Rangolam (Hillhouse); Ludovic Richardson (Notre Dame); Robert Rose (Shelton); Jovan Santos-Knox (Xavier); Billy Wayrauch (Cheshire); Austin Wezenski (Xavier)

Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (4)
Matt Corcoran (Stamford); Chandler Foster (Stamford); Zach Voytek (Trumbull); Brandon Williams (Bassick)

Eastern Connecticut Conference (4)
Jevan Elmore (New London); Tim Farina (East Lyme); Kyle McKinnon (New London); Dallas Smith (Ledyard)

Harry Bellucci, the head coach at Hartford Public, will lead Team Connecticut. Among his assistants will be John Ferrazzi (Sheehan), Jeff Larson (New London), Chuck Lynch (Milford), John Esmail (Hartford Public), Marco Pizzoferato (Manchester), Roger Pearl (Canton), Pablo Ortiz (Bulkeley), Sean Marinan (Xavier), Tony Martinez (Hartford Public), Andy Guyon (Xavier), Mike Drury (Southington), Bryan Hocter (Stamford), Carlos Blanco (New Britain), and former Crosby coach Jason Martinez (Kingswood-Oxford).

Team Connecticut will hold an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Southington High, according to the Rep-Am's Mark Jaffee. Jaffee also caught up with some of the local players on the team in this article.

The game is set for Saturday, June 30, at Rentschler Field. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased from John Fontana at 860-628-4122 or jfontana01@snet.net.

Updates: Sacred Heart Coaching Search, Ansonia Cuts, and Lots More

It's time for all sorts of updates and announcements as spring football comes to a close (Woodland has the last game Saturday at 10 a.m.). Let's do it.

Sacred Heart coaching search update
I touched base with Sacred Heart athletic director Jon Carroll on Wednesday for an update on the Hearts' search for a new head coach.

Carroll said via email the school has "very nearly completed the interview process" and will either hold a second round of interviews or will offer the job to a candidate by early next week. He said the school received 25 inquiries into the position and collected 17 résumés for review.

"Some names [were] of applicants you would expect," Carroll said. "Other internal candidates and younger guys from the area with solid résumés have impressed as well. ... It was a strong applicant pool, and I was very happy with the level of interest. Of course, a D-1 receiver [David Coggins] makes any job look more appealing."

Steve Croce, the former Holy Cross and current Pomperaug offensive coordinator, recently confirmed to me that he sent in his résumé for review and would consider taking the job if he is offered.

Chris Ortiz, who coached for two years and led Sacred Heart to the 2010 Class S playoffs, resigned in May for personal reasons. The Hearts are among five NVL teams that will get an early start on practice in the fall.

Ansonia cuts JV, not freshman, football
This came down last week as the Ansonia Board of Education approved its budget for the upcoming school year. Ansonia athletic director Tony Piccolo had to cut $100,000 from his budget, which was originally supposed to cause the elimination of all freshman sports plus a handful of secondary varsity sports. Most of those cuts remained but the athletic department decided to eliminate junior varsity football and keep the freshmen in tact, and managed to save a partial JV/freshman baseball squad.

There's no official word at the moment on how the football program will manage without a JV program and how the cut will affect the coaching staff.

So, in the minds of you Valley football experts out there: Does it make more sense to cut the JV rather than the freshmen?

Final 2012 schedules officially released
We posted the schedule leaks that I gained from the CIAC last month, along with highlights from each week's slate. Those schedules have since been pretty much finalized and officially posted. Among the changes made since we originally posted them are:

- Ansonia at Torrington confirmed for Week 1
- Whitney Tech at Sacred Heart added for Week 3
- St. Paul at Hamden Hall added Thanksgiving eve
- Seymour at Woodland changed to Thanksgiving at 10 a.m.
- Various date and time changes to accommodate Municipal Stadium schedule

Woodland is the only team still without a nonconference game as of this week. Hawks coach Tim Shea said that he is actively searching for an opponent both in and out of state and does not want to end up with only nine games.

Click your team's link to check out its current schedule. You can also view the updated league composite schedule here.

2012 schedules: Ansonia, Crosby, Derby, Holy Cross, Kennedy, Naugatuck, Sacred Heart, Seymour, St. Paul, Torrington, Watertown, Wilby, Wolcott, Woodland

Newsome's first college offers: UConn, UMass
Sean Patrick Bowley over at the Connecticut Post reported over the weekend that Ansonia rising junior Arkeel Newsome has his first college scholarship offers from UConn and UMass after attending their camps, according to Chargers coach Tom Brockett.

Newsome earned MaxPreps All-America honors after breaking state records with 3,763 rushing yards and 62 total touchdowns in helping lead Ansonia to Class M state and NVL titles.

Here's a topic we haven't yet addressed in much detail: What is Newsome's college ceiling?

Spring game recaps, offseason updates
Mark Jaffee toured the Valley over the last month and has published a few offseason updates in the Republican-American. He put to rest the rumor that Dave Coggins and Javon Martin would be transferring from Sacred Heart, noted the quarterback battle between underclassmen in Naugatuck, caught up with St. Paul quarterback Logan Marchi, updated Holy Cross' preparation to defend its Class S state title, detailed Torrington's search for team leaders, and found out how Woodland plans to win close games.

We also read a pair of media reports on the Torrington and Naugatuck spring games. Kevin Roberts of the Register Citizen has a thorough report, with photos and video, of Torrington's scrimmage. That game saw Phil Bresson and Jason Abbott quarterbacking their teams in a preview of what could be a battle heading into the season, as well as the emergence of skill players Desmond Langs and Joan Toribio.
Torrington rising senior Phil Bresson drops back to pass during the Red Raiders' spring game.
Credit: Kevin D. Roberts/Register Citizen
Ken Morse of the Citizen's News also has a piece from Naugatuck's spring game and how the Greyhounds plan on potentially integrating a number of young players into the starting lineup.

Coming attractions
Remmy and I will have our first look ahead toward the 2012 season before long. Is Ansonia going to have just as easy of a time running through the NVL as it did last year? Does Holy Cross have the returners to defend its state title? Will Wolcott's veteran group be able to replicate last year's breakthrough success? Where does Torrington go in the post-Brenden Lytton era? And where do the rest of the teams fall? We'll share our opinions and bring you some of each team's key players and stats very soon.

The two summer all-star games are also on the horizon. The Governor's Cup, pitting Connecticut against Rhode Island, will be June 30 at Rentschler Field. The Hall of Fame Classic, where New Haven County squares off against Fairfield County, will follow on July 14. When those rosters are announced, we'll have them.

The 2012 state playoff classes have not yet been announced, but we'll post them as soon as they're finalized. There's a possibility that Ansonia will drop back down to Class S, which would certainly throw a wrench in Holy Cross' title defense plans and free up some room in Class M for a potential Wolcott run.

Congratulations to the Class of 2012
Finally, Remmy and I would like to congratulate the graduating Class of 2012. It was a pleasure writing about you all and certainly watching you all. I know I speak for Remmy when I say many of this year's seniors were class acts whenever we wanted to talk, and for that we commend and thank you. Best of luck to all of this year's graduates, especially those who are going on to play football at the next level.

That's all I've got in this extremely long-winded (but hopefully informative) update. Cheers to a great summer!

Spring Games Schedule; Ansonia Freshman Football in Trouble

We've been pretty lazy lately, so we apologize. Here's the list of what we've got for spring games right now. We'll add to the list as we get more information (Crosby, Kennedy, and Wilby will also have spring games). Feel free to post your recaps of what you see at these games here.

Naugatuck: Friday, June 1, 5 p.m.
Holy Cross: Thursday, June 7, 6 p.m.
Torrington: Friday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.
Woodland: Saturday, June 16, 10 a.m.

In the big news of the last few weeks, it looks like Ansonia freshman sports are about to be removed from the school's budget for the upcoming year. The school district lost between $1.3 and $2.2 million in state funding (depending on how one counts it) due to improving its test scores, and the town couldn't help make up the whole gap.

Freshman and middle school sports are among the most notable cuts, which also include two dozen layoffs, and some varsity sports (golf, tennis, track, dance, and winter cheerleading).

According to Mark Jaffee's report in the Republican-American, Ansonia athletic director Tony Piccolo said he needed to cut about $100,000 from his budget, which is by far the most the athletic department has ever needed to cut.
John Sponheimer (NHFF)

Jaffee also spoke with Ansonia coach Tom Brockett, who said the program averages about 25 incoming freshmen each year and "losing anything would be detrimental." John Sponheimer has been the longtime freshman coach at Ansonia, and it's currently unknown how the program would handle losing funding for freshman football. The varsity program is currently not in danger of being cut.

Our friends at the Valley Indy have this story covered very well, so refer to this piece for more in-depth info, as well as the release from the school district. According to a number of publications, the Board of Education is expected to pass the cuts at its meeting on June 6.

And just to make it even more fun in the heart of the Valley, the Ansonia-Derby merger talk seems to be heating up again. For those of you wondering, an Ansonia-Derby regional high school would put the football team in Class L (using figures from the 2011 season, the combined enrollment was 619, which was almost exactly in the middle of the Class L classification of 526-710). The debate on colors, mascots, home fields, and Thanksgiving opponents in the case of this ever happening (which seems more likely than not) would be endless and potentially violent.

But back to present matters: How much would the loss of Ansonia freshman football hurt the varsity program?

Chris Ortiz out at Sacred Heart

Chris Ortiz. Credit: Chris Massa/Rep-Am
Chris Ortiz is no longer the head football coach at Sacred Heart High School after resigning last Tuesday due to personal reasons.

Ortiz, a 1997 graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, led the Hearts to their best two-year span in two decades. In 2010, he coached a high-powered offense to a 6-4 regular-season record and a berth in the Class S state playoffs for the first time since 1991. Last season, the Hearts finished with a 4-5 mark after the preseason injury to All-American wide receiver David Coggins.

Under his tutelage, quarterback Rohan Ifill developed into one of 2010's top dual-threat quarterbacks, earning All-NVL and New Haven Register All-State Honorable Mention, while Coggins became one of the top young wide receivers in the country.

Ortiz leaves Sacred Heart with a 10-10 career record, far better than Pete Ewald's 4-27 record amassed from 2007-09.

The job vacancy was posted on the CIAC website Monday with an application deadline of May 24, and Sacred Heart athletic director Jon Carroll said in the Rep-Am story he expects to have a replacement hired by the end of June. The Hearts do not conduct spring football practice.

Ortiz will still coach tennis and teach Spanish at Sacred Heart.

Let your Steve Croce rumor mill kick up one more time, like it always does when there's an opening at a local high school. Maybe he'll throw us a bone (we know you're reading, Coach) and add a comment.

NVL Schedules Released (Mostly), Plus Spring Football

We haven't had a post in quite a while, mostly because there's been absolutely nothing going on. Now there's something going on, because we finally have the 2012 NVL football schedule ... well, most of it.

The skeleton schedules for each of the 14 teams in the league are now up on the CIAC website (although they're only accessible for now if you know how to manually input the address, which I'm pretty good at). Each team's schedule is linked at the bottom of this post.

Most of the schedules only include the nine-game NVL schedule (six divisional games, three crossovers based on power schedule) with home and away designations. Some of the dates are sure to change (for example, St. Paul plays its home games on Saturday afternoons instead of the Friday nights listed, and Municipal Stadium's schedule will take some jockeying). The teams will also add their nonconference opponents in the near future.

If you want to take a look at the full league composite schedule, click here. Otherwise, here are some weekly highlights from the slate (that we know so far):

Week 1: Woodland at Sacred Heart, Wilby at Naugatuck, Montville at Watertown, Whitney Tech at Seymour, Derby at St. Paul
Week 2: Woodland at Ansonia, Naugatuck at Derby, Torrington at Wolcott, Holy Cross at Watertown
Week 3: Derby at Ansonia, Holy Cross at Torrington
Week 4: Ansonia at Holy Cross, Naugatuck at Sacred Heart, Torrington at St. Paul
Week 5: Seymour at Ansonia, Naugatuck at Torrington, St. Paul at Woodland, Wilby at Wolcott
Week 6: Holy Cross at Naugatuck, Woodland at Torrington, Derby at Wolcott
Week 7: Woodland at Naugatuck, Torrington at Derby, Sacred Heart at Holy Cross
Week 8: Holy Cross at Woodland, Wolcott at Ansonia, Derby at Seymour
Week 9: Woodland at Wolcott, Ansonia at Wilby, Torrington at Sacred Heart
Thanksgiving: Naugatuck at Ansonia, Derby at Shelton, Wolcott at Holy Cross, Seymour at Woodland, Watertown at Torrington, Kennedy at Crosby, Wilby at Sacred Heart

Here are each team's full schedule, as currently listed on the CIAC website:

Ansonia Chargers, Crosby Bulldogs, Derby Red Raiders, Holy Cross Crusaders, Kennedy Eagles, Naugatuck Greyhounds, Sacred Heart Hearts, Seymour Wildcats, St. Paul Falcons, Torrington Red Raiders, Watertown Indians, Wilby Wildcats, Wolcott Eagles, Woodland Hawks

And by the way, the CIAC finally released the spring football elections. Here's what each of our schools decided upon:

Spring: Ansonia, Crosby, Holy Cross, Kennedy, Naugatuck, St. Paul, Torrington, Wilby, Woodland
Fall: Derby, Sacred Heart, Seymour, Watertown, Wolcott

We'll have more regular posts coming soon (and hopefully some spring schedules) because I'll be done with college by the end of the week. Yippie.

Night with Bill McAllister

The Ansonia Gridiron Club will present a “Night with Bill McAllister – The Teams, The Players, The Records.”

When: Friday, June 15, 6 p.m.
Where: St. Sebastian Hall, 86 Father Salemi Drive, Ansonia

A prime rib dinner with wine and beer will be provided at $40 per ticket.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting Dorothy Gleason at 203-734-3563.

Seymour Pop Warner Football, Cheerleading & Flag Registrations

Seymour Pop Warner is holding registrations on April 20 from 6-8 p.m. and April 21 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Registrations will be held at the Seymour Community Center. Anyone between the ages of 7-15 is eligible for tackle football and cheerleading. Cost is $110 for Seymour residents and $120 for out-of-town residents. Flag football and Tiny-Mite cheerleading is for ages 5-7 and costs $65 for Seymour residents and $75 for out-of-town residents.
Please bring birth certificate with raised seal and insurance information.
Contact league president Ruben Caiza at 203-509-7698 or go to www.seymourpopwarner.com for more information.

Four NVL Players Selected to Governor's Cup Team

Once again, the NVL will have strong representation on Team Connecticut for the 14th annual Governor's Cup against Rhode Island as four league players were selected to the squad this week.

Torrington running back Brenden Lytton will join Ansonia linemen Hakeem Martin and Dylan Vano as well as Chargers linebacker Tyler Wood on the team.

The game will be Saturday, June 30, at 4:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field. More details will be posted about the game in June. Connecticut leads the series, 10-3, and has won nine straight, including a 37-6 thrashing last year.

To view the entire Team Connecticut roster, check out the Hartford Courant's listing here. Shelton linebacker Robert Rose, who made the All-Valley team, is the other local player to be selected.

Congratulations to all four players on making the team, and best of luck to Team Connecticut as it tries to continue the winning tradition of the Nutmeg State.

National Football Foundation Scholar Athletes Recognized ... And Potpourri

Seven Naugatuck Valley League football players were recently named scholar athletes by the local chapters of the National Football Foundation. The following players earned the distinguished honors:

Nikko Cari, Naugatuck
Nicholas Chiravolo, Torrington
Tim Jalbert, St. Paul
Ray Kreiger, Derby
Jake LaRovera, Ansonia
Jordan Morrissey, Holy Cross
Dylan Sadick, Seymour

Congratulations to all seven players on being recognized. The five players from New Haven County chapter were honored on March 30 in North Haven, while the two players from the Northern Connecticut chapter will be congratulated on May 20 in Southington.

Longtime Ansonia assistant coach John Sponheimer (center)
earned the New Haven Football Foundation's
Chapter Award of Merit last month. Credit: NHFF
Also recognized at the New Haven Football Foundation dinner was longtime Ansonia assistant varsity and head freshman coach John Sponheimer, who earned the organization's Chapter Award of Merit.

Sponheimer joined the Ansonia coaching staff in 1972 and has, along with defensive coordinator Robert Lisi, been on the staff for each of the Chargers' 17 state championships.

Congratulations to Sponheimer and everyone honored by the National Football Foundation.

A brief few other odds and ends, and we'll set you on your way for now:

  • Still, the only nonconference games that have been confirmed to us are Naugatuck-Wilby and Watertown-Montville. An Ansonia-Torrington rematch appears to be unlikely, but the door isn't officially closed on it. If you're a coach out there (and we know you're there) and you've got your nonconference game secured, drop us a line. (EDIT: Wolcott and Kennedy will meet Week 1 at Municipal Stadium to fill each team's nonconference opening.)
  • The nine-game schedules are still not posted to the CIAC website, nor are the spring/fall football practice elections. Hopefully both go up soon, and we'll post them as soon as they do.
  • Wolcott football has a new website. Check it out.
  • This happened a month and a half ago, but since we never mentioned it: The 50-point rule will still be in effect with the same guidelines as were used last season. Probably. The Stamford Advocate's Dave Ruden reported in February that discussion of changes to the rule, such as a running clock, were tabled until at least April thanks in large part due to the pleas of New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli. We'll see if anything changes here.
  • Tryouts for the Connecticut Governor's Cup team were last month. We'll post when Team Connecticut's roster is released, as well as for the New Haven County All-Stars in the annual Hall of Fame Classic.
  • Nobody's comments are being deleted. Once a thread gets past 200 comments, though, you'll have to click through to the second page of comments to view the latest ones. We're working on some blog upgrades, which will hopefully be done during the summer.
As you were. Enjoy some baseball this spring.

Video Highlights, Ansonia-Torrington, NVL-SWC Scheduling News

Congratulations to all of you on surviving the winter sports season. We extend special congratulations to all of the winter NVL champions and those who made strong showings in state tournament play, particularly the Watertown boys basketball squad for reaching the Class M final and the Sacred Heart boys swimmers for winning the Class S title.

Here are two of Remmy's 2011 NVL season highlights to hold you over. The 2011 Playoff highlight video will be released before the beginning of April. The following two videos contains highlights from the 2011 NVL season.

2011 NVL Playoff Highlights

2011 NVL First-Half Season Highlights

2011 NVL Second-Half Season Highlights

And here are three videos we did not have a chance to add to the Season Highlights:

Seymour vs. Emmett O'Brien Tech
Torrington vs. Ansonia
Ansonia vs. Derby

We're now just one season away from the resumption (essentially) of football season. Hang in there for about another two months and we'll see if we can pump out some of those spring football previews like we did last year. Schools have until April 1 to declare whether they will participate in spring football or add extra days to the beginning of fall workouts. Nine of 14 NVL schools elected for spring football in 2011, with Derby, Sacred Heart, Seymour, Watertown, and Wilby choosing the fall option. We will post the decisions when they are finalized.

In other news, it looks like all 14 head coaches will be staying with their teams as no vacancies have been posted anytime in the offseason. This comes one year after we saw three teams hire new coaches--Jay Pace to Wolcott, Patrick Russo to Wilby, and David Jurewicz to Crosby.

Much of the recent talk on the blog has centered on potential scheduling not only for 2012, but for the two 11-game regular seasons that will follow. I gained some updated information on these issues Monday, and here's what I've got for you.
  • It appears as though Torrington and Ansonia will not square off again in Week 1 of the regular season, according to updated information Monday night. The Red Raiders' plan is to either find another nonconference game or settle with a nine-game regular season. We haven't had the chance yet to find out what Ansonia's plan will be to fill the gap.
  • Naugatuck and Wilby will play each other in Week 1, as will Watertown and Montville. There is no definitive word yet whether other teams will pick up NVL games, nonconference games, or no games in their spots. Woodland also has posted a Week 3 schedule opening on the CIAC website.
  • None of the schedules have been posted yet to the CIAC website. Most teams from the state's major conferences have already posted their schedules (I've got a little backdoor way to see them), but none of the NVL schedules are up as of Monday. We'll link to them as soon as they are up.
  • The nine-game league schedule (six division games, three crossover games based on power rankings) will remain the same this season, with teams switching home fields from where they were in 2011. This is the second and final year of the current power schedule rotation, so the league schedule will change based on the previous two years' standings for the 2013 season.
  • 2013 and 2014 will both feature 11-game regular seasons, as is the case once every few years. The NVL will keep its nine-game league schedule, with a 10th game as a free nonconference opportunity. Teams may either schedule others from around the state, a non-scheduled NVL team, or leave the week open as to not play the extra game.
  • The NVL-SWC agreement to play interleague games in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons is "almost a done deal," I was told on Monday. As it was previously explained to me, NVL and SWC teams will be matched up based on their leagues' respective power rankings. For example, in 2013, the No. 1 NVL team would face the No. 1 SWC team, and in 2014, the No. 1 NVL team would face the No. 2 SWC team. There is still plenty of time for this agreement to take shape, but it looks like it will happen.
By the way, we're up to 397 likes on our Facebook page. Whoever becomes No. 400 will get a shout-out right here on the blog.

Enjoy the great weather and what should be a very entertaining, competitive spring season (especially baseball). Remember, just because the head honchos aren't posting doesn't mean we're not watching...

Torrington wins 2012 NVL Weightlifting Competition

Damian LaJoie and Torrington won the NVL weightlifting competition on Saturday.
Credit: Jim Shannon/Rep-Am
Congratulations to Torrington on winning the 2012 NVL weightlifting competition by edging Wilby on Saturday. The full list of the 10 league teams (Derby, Kennedy, Naugatuck, and Watertown did not participate) who competed is as follows:
Wilby's Andy Duval lifted the second-most weight (1,025 lbs.)
at the NVL weightlifting competition and earned two awards
on the day. Credit: Jim Shannon/Rep-Am

1. Torrington (12,370 lbs.)
2. Wilby (12,151 lbs.)
3. Ansonia (11,550 lbs.)
4. Woodland (11,120 lbs.)
5. Holy Cross (11,100 lbs.)
6. Seymour (10,810 lbs.)
7. Wolcott (10,525 lbs.)
8. Sacred Heart (9,980 lbs.)
9. St. Paul (9,175 lbs.)
10. Crosby (7,990 lbs.)

It's probably not much of a surprise that the two head coaches with the most expertise and emphasis on strength and conditioning finished one-two at the competition. Individually, Woodland's Jeremy Clark lifted the most weight (1,050 lbs.), just ahead of Wilby's Andy Duval (1,025 lbs.). Duval received the Most Valuable Lifter and Outstanding Senior Award.

Here are the top three lifters in each weight class' disciplines:

Squat: Joan Toribio, Torrington (410 lbs.); Nick Lorenzo, Torrington (360 lbs.); Jacob Thomas, Wilby (350 lbs.)
Bench: Jacob Thomas, Wilby (250 lbs.); Joan Toribio, Torrington (250 lbs.); Nick Lorenzo, Torrington (250 lbs.)
Power clean: Joan Toribio, Torrington (250 lbs.); Nick Lorenzo, Torrington (245 lbs.); Enrique Bello, Torrington (240 lbs.)
Overall champion: Joan Toribio, Torrington

Squat: Gabriel Gonzalez, Wilby (375 lbs.); Josh Tilton, Seymour (360 lbs.); Guen Park, St. Paul (350 lbs.)
Bench: Gabriel Gonzalez, Wilby (285 lbs.); Guen Park, St. Paul (255 lbs.); Sam Szyndlar, Holy Cross (255 lbs.)
Power clean: Josh Tilton (245 lbs.); David Coggins, Sacred Heart (245 lbs.); Hezekiah Duncan, Ansonia (235 lbs.)
Overall champion: Gabriel Gonzalez, Wilby

Squat: Adrian Brown, Holy Cross (405 lbs.); Kevin Brennan, Woodland (405 lbs.); Rob Brito, Seymour (380 lbs.)
Bench: Jarrod Foote, Wilby (285 lbs.); Andrew Matos, Ansonia (285 lbs.); Ephrain Collins, Ansonia (275 lbs.)
Power clean: Kevin Brennan, Woodland (275 lbs.); Brenden Lytton, Torrington (270 lbs.); Andrew Matos, Ansonia (265 lbs.)
Overall champion: Kevin Brennan, Woodland

Squat: Levi Fancher, Woodland (440 lbs.); Jh'mel Trammel, Ansonia (410 lbs.); Jordan Morrissey, Holy Cross (405 lbs.)
Bench: Noel Burgess, Wilby (330 lbs.); Jh'mel Trammel, Ansonia (290 lbs.); Adam Grantmeyer, Torrington (285 lbs.)
Power clean: Phil Bresson, Torrington (260 lbs.); Adam Grantmeyer, Torrington (255 lbs.); Levi Fancher, Woodland (255 lbs.)
Overall champion: Levi Fancher, Woodland

Squat: Jeremy Clark, Woodland (500 lbs.); Andy Duval, Wilby (475 lbs.); Torrin Howard, Wilby (475 lbs.)
Bench: Antone Mack, Ansonia (290 lbs.); Jeremy Clark, Woodland (290 lbs.); Sam Hunter, Holy Cross (290 lbs.)
Power clean: Andy Duval, Wilby (265 lbs.); Antone Mack, Ansonia (260 lbs.); Jeremy Clark, Woodland (260 lbs.)
Overall champion: Jeremy Clark, Woodland
Woodland's Jeremy Clark lifted the most weight (1,050 lbs.) of any participant at the NVL weightlifting competition on Saturday. Credit: Jim Shannon/Rep-Am
The state weightlifting competition will be Saturday, March 17, at Wilby.

Awards: 2nd Annual NVL Blog Awards

Finally, it's the moment you've all been waiting for ... well, some of you, anyway. It's time to finally unveil the second annual NVL Blog Awards. Kyle and Remmy have taken plenty of time (fine, way too much time) to make sure the NVL Blog Awards are as thorough as can be with forays into just about every facet of football and blogging we feature here on the website. Let's get after it.

Football Awards
Best Team: Ansonia Chargers. There's no doubting this one. We knew Ansonia was going to be good in 2011, but we weren't sure how good the Chargers would be with the loss of Montrell Dobbs. But sophomore Arkeel Newsome was even better than his predecessor, setting a number of state records and being named a MaxPreps Sophomore All-American, while the Lavender's defense was perhaps the best in the state with studs like Tyler Wood and Jake LaRovera. Ansonia didn't win a game by fewer than 29 points all season in becoming the first team in state history to finish 14-0. Chalk up state title No. 17 for the Chargers.

Most Surprising Team: Wolcott Eagles. We knew who the winner of this award was going to be about midway through the season. With nearly two dozen graduating players from the best three-year stretch in school history and a first-time head coach, most bloggers expected Wolcott to be under .500. But coach Jay Pace (more on him soon) and quarterback Mike Nicol (him, too), the Eagles qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history and won the only overtime game of the postseason against Ellington/Somers. With Nicol and others returning, any Wolcott success in 2012 won't be nearly as surprising.

Most Improved Team: Seymour. The Wildcats were coming off a combined 1-19 record over the last two seasons, including an 0-10 mark in 2010. But third-year coach Tom Lennon helped bring a turnaround to DeBarber Field with a 5-5 record that could have been even better. Quarterback Luke Grabowski and running back Jon Wilson were a strong one-two punch while players like Josh Tilton, Dylan Sadick, Zack Sirowich, and Nick Burns made for a strong interior. We'll see how well Seymour deals with losing most of its key players to graduation.

Best Overall Game: Holy Cross 34, Cromwell 27 (Class S championship). If you were at this game, or watched the replay on CPTV Sports, you know how good this game was. It was the best of the four state championship games, by far. Dave DiGiorgi would not let the Crusaders lose, rushing 30 times for 314 yards and four touchdowns en route to earning the game's MVP honors. Ryan Byrne's last-minute interception, that was first tipped by Isaiah Wright, sealed a thrilling, back-and-forth victory for the Crusaders' second state title.

Best Brass Division Game: Watertown 36, Seymour 28 (Week 9). In the most thrilling comeback of the year, the Indians rallied to score 15 points in the final 30 seconds to beat Seymour at DeBarber Field. Watertown drove 97 yards on 13 plays over 4:02 to pull within one before Steve Niele's two-point conversion gave the Indians a one-point lead. On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Paulo Villanueva intercepted Luke Grabowski and returned it for a touchdown to seal the game. The incredible comeback capped a wild, back-and-forth game in which Anthony Avoletta rushed for 229 yards and two scores.

Best Copper Division Game: Torrington 31, Naugatuck 27 (Week 5). Brenden Lytton and Jake Yourison squared off in one of the best two-man-show games of the season. They combined to score eight of the nine touchdowns in the game, but the difference came in the interception column, as Lytton picked off two passes and Yourison threw a pair of turnovers. Lytton ran for 287 yards and scored four total touchdowns while Yourison rushed for 147 yards and also scored four times. But it was the Red Raiders' defense that ultimately came through when it mattered most, stalling Naugatuck's last-minute drive to seal what was an important Copper Division win in the middle of the season.

Best Interdivision Game: Naugatuck 14, Derby 13 (Week 2). Although this wasn't the prettiest game of the season, it was definitely one of the top defensive games of the year and one of just a few games that came down to the final seconds. The Greyhounds ran the ball all game before Jake Yourison hit Zac Mercer on a 35-yard gain before Yourison ran in the game-winning touchdown from 12 yards out with fewer than two minutes to play. Naugy held Ray Kreiger to 249 passing yards and just one touchdown.

Upset of the Year: Watertown 18, Torrington 13 (Thanksgiving). We know there were some mysterious, mutinous circumstances in this game, but nobody thought this game was going to be especially close, never mind a Watertown win. But the Indians took their momentum from the previous week's comeback against Seymour and exacted the revenge they so badly wanted on the Red Raiders to send Brenden Lytton out with a disappointing loss.

Play of the Year: Ryan Byrne's interception to clinch the Class S state title. Dave DiGiorgi was the force that won the state championship for Holy Cross, but Byrne's pick of Cromwell's Anthony Morales made sure the game didn't head to overtime. Morales drove down the field seemingly with ease but his pass over the middle was tipped by Isaiah Wright before Byrne leaped at the goal line to secure the title.

Bone-Cruncher of the Year: Woodland's Taylor Tucciarone hit on Naugatuck's Matt Harris. The two hardest hits (that either of us saw, anyway) came at Woodland this season. Honorable mention goes to the hit Torrington put on Tanner Kingsley, but Tucciarone absolutely stood up and drove Harris to the ground. It's nice to see some awesome, clean, hard hits once in a while.

"WTF" Moment of the Year: Torrington scoring 80 points against St. Paul. This was just a really sticky situation that had many fans' opinions split. By all accounts, the Red Raiders took out both varsity units after going up, 61-18, but the Falcons kept in both of their varsity squads and Logan Marchi proceeded to score four touchdowns and threatened another with the score at 61-39. So with the game potentially back in doubt, Torrington re-entered its starters and re-stretched the lead, with the last score coming on an interception-return touchdown. At the very least, it gave us some conversation topics for the next week.

Head Coach of the Year: Jason Pace, Wolcott. This one is another no-doubter. With just three returning starters this season, very little was expected of first-year coach Pace and his Eagles. Pace responded by leading Wolcott to its first-ever playoff berth and added a playoff win for good measure. It was clear that the players enjoyed playing for him very much, and things are undoubtedly looking up for the Eagles with plenty of players returning this year.

Assistant Coach of the Year: Robert Lisi, Ansonia. The Chargers' coaching staff often gets overlooked because of the seeming pipeline of great players that always rise through the ranks. But how can we not recognize Ansonia defensive coordinator Robert Lisi this season? His defense was one of the best in recent memory, giving up most of its points with the junior varsity on the field. Ansonia would have had a half-dozen shutouts had its starters not been sitting for most fourth quarters, but the Chargers gained shutouts in the two games that mattered most: The NVL championship against Holy Cross and the Class M championship against Ledyard.

Best Quarterback: Ray Kreiger, Derby. We were pretty confident in Kreiger as our preseason pick in this category, and he didn't disappoint. The Class S All-State selection threw for 2,608 yards and 26 touchdowns while running for 522 yards and eight more scores. Without Kreiger, it's tough to think that Derby would have won a single game last season, but his dual-threat abilities and experience helped the Red Raiders in tough times. It will likely be up to Kreiger's younger brother, Mike, to take over as Derby's next quarterback.

Best Running Back: Arkeel Newsome, Ansonia. Do we really need to explain this pick? Newsome set state records in rushing yards, touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns, earned New Haven Register State MVP honors as well as being named to every all-state team there is. And for good measure, he's a MaxPreps Sophomore All-American. Not bad for a guy who still has two years to play.

Best Wide Receiver: Justin Gonzalez, St. Paul, and Dillon McMahon, Derby. It was too tough for us to make a decision between these guys because of the different things they were able to do. Gonzalez was a potent threat on the outside of the field to help Logan Marchi develop in his sophomore season. McMahon could exploit the outside, too, but he was tough enough to venture into the middle of the field as Ray Kreiger's favorite target.

Best Lineman: Dylan Vano, Ansonia. We couldn't have gone wrong with Vano's line mates, Hakeem Martin and Tyler Williams, either. Ansonia's entire offensive line was its best in years and made things pretty easy for Arkeel Newsome. Rarely did opponents gain any measure of penetration at the line of scrimmage, meaning Newsome had plenty of room and time to get his legs going in his state-record season. Vano was right in the middle of it all and made few visible mistakes all season long.

Most Valuable Offensive Player: Brenden Lytton, Torrington. Lytton's massive workload might make his season even more impressive. He finished with 2,333 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, 233 receiving yards and three touchdowns, and even threw a pair of touchdown passes. Lytton was perhaps the toughest runner to bring down after contact and was absolutely one of the fastest players in the league. He earned CHSCA All-State First Team honors for his second straight huge season and will leave a huge hole in the Red Raiders' backfield this fall.

Most Valuable Defensive Player: Tyler Wood, Ansonia. Wood was simply a joy to watch on defense. He was one of the finest linebackers in the state (and was recognized as such) and made things happen on almost every play. He was right in the middle of the Chargers' incredible defensive season and put everything together in a magnificent Class M championship game in which he was all over the field. Arkeel Newsome provided the flash for Ansonia, but Wood was just as good at what he did.

Most Valuable Special Teams Player: Joe Parent, Holy Cross. Parent returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 26 yards per return. He also scored a pair of defensive touchdowns, making him the league's most dangerous player when starting a play without the ball.

Out-of-Nowhere Player of the Year: Mike Nicol, Wolcott. Like many positions in Wolcott, we had no idea who was going to take over at quarterback for the Eagles after the graduation of Dom Gambino. Nicol was the man and turned into one of the top signal-callers in the league and one of the best dual threats in the state. Nicol finished with 1,652 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while leading the team with 911 rushing yards and 14 more scores. This all came in his junior season, so it should be exciting to see what he can do in his senior year.

Crunch-Time Player of the Year: Dave DiGiorgi, Holy Cross. DiGiorgi had a solid regular season, but he absolutely broke out during the postseason. In the three playoff games, he rushed for 628 yards and seven touchdowns, including his phenomenal, 317-yard, four-touchdown game in the Class S state championship. DiGiorgi was also splendid on defense in that game, forcing a number of key stops, especially early in the game.

Rookie of the Year: Isaiah Wright, Holy Cross. Wright was one of few freshmen who had a direct impact on games this season, and his impact was substantial. He scored 10 total touchdowns and made a whopping eight interceptions on defense. He very well may be the most athletic player in the league entering his sophomore season, and he figures to have an even bigger role in the offense this season with graduation losses to the Crusaders.

NVL Heisman Award: Arkeel Newsome, Ansonia. Duh.

Blog Awards
Most Represented Team: Ansonia Chargers. Maybe it's because the Chargers are perennially the best team in the league. Maybe it's because Remmy gets good advertising for the blog in Ansonia. Or maybe many fans have nothing better to do. But the Ansonia perspective is always covered front-to-back by our bloggers, usually creating an Ansonia-versus-the-world situation. We do like having you folks, though.

Least Represented Team: Kennedy Eagles. I can't remember more than a few Kennedy posts over the last few years. You guys are more than welcome, if you exist out there. Honorable mention goes to Wilby, Watertown, St. Paul, and Sacred Heart. We know you're out there!

Most Improved Blogger: Seeing Red. Whether or not Seeing Red has his love for brewed and distilled beverages under control, he was absolutely our most improved blogger in 2011. Most of the inflammatory posts were left behind in the Patrick Russo era and SR supported Jay Pace and this year's Wolcott squad like none other. Perhaps the Eagles fans who were ready to launch a private investigation into his identity are ready to accept the Red One.

Most Provocative Blogger: Johnny Ribbs. This guy always finds a way to rub Remmy the wrong way, but more often than not he speaks his mind without censorship and with facts. He is firmly rooted in the Valley and brings a strong historical perspective from that end. Even through Seymour's recent downturn, JR has remained faithful to his Wildcats and this blog, and we appreciate his persistence.

Blogger of the Year: CaptainObvious. Nobody can argue with the Captain's impeccable, .868 winning percentage in our Predictions Tracker last season. But besides picking each week's games accurately, CO clearly brings strong football knowledge to the table and contributes much of our strong analysis each week. Honorable mention goes to fisherman for his strong analysis, too (we like that, if you guys don't know it). We think Joe the Shot will be willing to peacefully hand down his crown to his Valley counterpart/colleague.

Thanks to everyone for another fantastic season on the NVL Blog! (And thanks for waiting about a month longer than we should have taken for these awards!) The two big weightlifting competitions will be the first two Saturdays of March, so we should have some coverage of those events here. And before you know it, we'll be heading to spring practices and previews!

Mid-January Updates

Howdy, everyone! We hope that you guys are handling the beginning of your high school football withdrawal without too many signs and symptoms. Since we've been without a post for about a week and a half, here are a few updates on things that have recently happened (most of which have already been posted in our comments) as well as a few things to come.

  • Former Ansonia running back Montrell Dobbs officially committed to Temple after an outstanding prep season at Milford Academy in which he earned the team's Offensive MVP Award. Dobbs rushed for 1,366 yards and 20 touchdowns in one of the best seasons in program history. Fellow Falcon and former Naugatuck lineman Aaron Echevarria will play at Southern Connecticut.
  • The Walter Camp Awards were the final honors to be announced (and were last week). Ansonia running back Arkeel Newsome was named State Player of the Year and was one of two running backs on the Walter Camp All-Connecticut Team. Other NVL selections to the team included Brenden Lytton (DB, Torrington), Hakeem Martin (OL, Ansonia), Dylan Vano (OL, Ansonia), and Tyler Wood (LB, Ansonia). See the full team here.
  • Holy Cross defensive coordinator Mike Mannetti was hired Wednesday as Post University's second sprint football head coach, reports the Rep-Am's Mark Jaffee. He succeeds Pete Ewald, who is leaving to start a program at Franklin Pierce University. Mannetti was previously an offensive coordinator at Post.
  • Finally, we haven't forgotten about the NVL Blog Awards. We should be finishing them up very soon and have them posted next week. Sorry about the delay, we've been enjoying some time away from constant administration of the blog.
So far this offseason, there has been no earth-shattering news, but if anything does come up, you'll see it here first. Enjoy the winter, folks.

Awards: New Haven Register All-State

The last of the major awards have been released with the New Haven Register All-State teams coming out on Sunday. Ansonia sophomore running back Arkeel Newsome was selected as the state MVP, making it two Chargers in a row to win the award after Montrell Dobbs in 2010. Newsome also earned a spot on MaxPreps' All-American sophomore team.

Here are the Naugatuck Valley League's representatives on the Register All-State teams:

First Team
Brenden Lytton, DB, Torrington
Hakeem Martin, OL, Ansonia
Arkeel Newsome, RB, Ansonia
Dylan Vano, OL, Ansonia
Tyler Wood, LB, Ansonia

Second Team
Dave DiGiorgi, RB, Holy Cross
Justin Gonzalez, WR, St. Paul
Ray Kreiger, QB, Derby
Jake LaRovera, DL, Ansonia

Third Team
Tyler Williams, OL, Ansonia

Honorable Mention
DeVante Bonvillian, RB, Wolcott
Adrian Brown, LB, Holy Cross
Brian Dobek, WR, Derby
Dwayne Ellis, WR, Sacred Heart
Eric Ford, DB, Watertown
Matt Hall, DL, Ansonia
Jay'Len Mahan, DB, Wilby
Logan Marchi, QB, St. Paul
Dillon McMahon, WR, Derby
Zach McNutt, OL, Torrington
Mike Nicol, QB, Wolcott
DJ Ouellette, LB, Watertown
Joe Parent, LB, Holy Cross
George Smith, OL, Holy Cross
Isaiah Wright, DB, Holy Cross
Jake Yourison, RB, Naugatuck
Matt Zaccagnini, RB, Woodland

Check out the full teams here. Congratulations to all the players selected to the New Haven Register All-State Teams!

Ansonia Championship Apparel

Ansonia High School have the below T-shirts and Sweaters for sale.Order forms can be picked-up at Ansonia High School or at the Ansonia Football Dinner at Holy Rosary Church on January 16th at 6:30 p.m.Ansonia Football Champions Order Form 2011