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A look at high school football throughout the state

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hand-New Canaan notes

No. 2 Hand (10-1) faces No. 6 New Canaan (10-1) in the Class L state semifinals Saturday at 7 p.m. at West Haven's Strong Stadium. New Canaan has won four straight state titles. The two last met in the 2007 Class MM final, with New Canaan rallying from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to emerge with a 34-30 victory.

Was at Hand's practice today.

A feature story on the Hand-New Canaan match up, and capsules of all eight semifinals (with predictions) will run in Saturday's Register.

Below are some soundbites on the anticipated meeting between these two state powers. Hand has won nine state titles, New Canaan eight.

Hand quarterback Zach Miller:

"They definitely have some play makers; we have some play makers. Both defenses are pretty strong. It's going to be a good game. I'm hoping that we're going to be able to come out on top."

Hand coach Steve Filippone:

"We and New Canaan are really very similar football teams. (New Canaan coach) Lou (Marinelli) and I are very similar coaches. We're very close friends, and we try to do things the same way."

Filippone on Hand's surprising season. The Tigers had to rebuild their offensive line and replace quarterback Nick Merullo, who graduated.

"We were thinking 7-3, and we were hoping with the new playoff system (a quarterfinal round and the addition of eight teams was added this year) set-up that 7-3 might get us in. We thought that was a legitimate possibility if we did everything we were capable of doing."

Filippone on Hand's difficult schedule:

"We were able to beat a very good Cheshire team by one point. We lost to Notre Dame (-West Haven), came back to play a very tough (Wilbur) Cross team that was still a contender at the time, and then the following week played (and beat) an undefeated West Haven team. We had our work cut out for us, and the kids rose to the occasion in way we couldn't anticipate."

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