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Monday, December 13, 2010

What the voters are saying....

As many of you probably already know, Class LL champion Xavier (13-0) edged Class L champion Masuk (13-0) for the No. 1 spot in the final Top 10 Poll. View the complete poll here.

There's been plenty of debate, even before the final poll was released, as to which team truly deserved the No. 1 ranking.

I admit, it was a tough call. In the end, I voted for Xavier. I believe Xavier is the better team, but not by much. I think Xavier's defense was the more complete unit. I also think Xavier's strength of schedule played a factor in my decision. Xavier played a more competitive schedule week in and week out, and the Falcons were still able to survive unscathed.

Offensively, Masuk didn't have a match this season. The Panthers fielded some of the most talented skill players in the state. It would be interesting to see how Masuk's offense would fare against the Xavier defense, and vice-versa. I think, however, that Xavier's defense was bigger, more physical, and faster than Masuk's. This is all subjective, of course.

Without the two meeting on the field, none of us could really predict how each would fare against each other. What a game that would be, though.

I asked my fellow voters if they would be willing to publicly share why they voted the way they did. Permission was granted by the writers to reveal their choices. Here are some of the responses:

Matt Doran, Norwalk Hour:

"I’ve been covering high school football for almost 20 years, and I can only remember a handful of teams as good as Masuk. New Canaan was one of the best teams in the FCIAC. Lou Marinelli is one of the best coaches in state history, and the Rams never had a chance in the finals. Masuk never even came close to losing, not during the regular season, not in the SWC championship game and never in the playoffs. They averaged close to 50 points per game and their defense was fantastic. Xavier is a solid team, but Masuk deserved to be No. 1. They were the best team with the best player in Casey Cochran."

Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press:

"I voted for Xavier, but I concede it's a very close call. I think the things that separate the two is 1. strength of schedule. Xavier had to answer the bell more often than Masuk. That's not a knock on Masuk -- you play the schedule you are given -- but Xavier's schedule was just tougher. Also, its last five games were as demanding as any. 2. the Xavier defense. Best defense I've seen in years.

"I was very impressed with Masuk, but not enough to override the two factors named above that tilt the vote to Xavier. I will say this. If anyone voted any of those two teams in any place but 1-2, there should be an investigation. They were head and shoulders above anyone else."

Ken Lipshez, Valley Publishing Co.:

"I voted for Masuk because of the way it pulverized everything and anything in its (path). Xavier played the tougher schedule week in and week out, which made it a tossup, but what swung me was the way Masuk crushed the other top teams in the South-West, Pomperaug and Bunnell, as well as New Canaan, which I voted for behind the big 2. My ultimate feeling is that the voters may as well have drawn straws."

Kevin Duffy, Danbury News-Times:

"I voted Masuk No. 1 because, to me, they are clearly the more dominant team. I'll admit Xavier had a tougher schedule and I'll admit that the SCC is more difficult than the SWC, but Masuk did not play a close game all year and never won by a margin less than 26 points. And this includes the state title game against New Canaan, a team that would have been the toughest opponent Xavier faced all year. Masuk hung 50 points on the Rams!

"In short, I don't think the "strength of schedule" argument holds water after the state playoffs -- where Masuk outscored the top two teams in the FCIAC 91-23."

Dave Phillips, Shoreline Times:

"After thinking about it for a little while, I voted Xavier No. 1 because of the strength of the SCC. The SCC Division I is brutal, and any undefeated team has to be considered for the No. 1 spot in the state poll. While all the top teams played their share of lesser talented teams, the SCC was clearly the strongest league in the state."


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