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

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!