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A look at high school football throughout the state

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Super Saturday Preview

Holy Cross defeated Cromwell 34-27 to win the Class S title on Friday.
Three more champions will be crowned today. Below is a preview of those games.

Class M: Ansonia's offensive line one of the state's best
Class L: Hand, New Canaan to meet again
Class LL: Xavier, Staples to vie for title

State Championship Preview Capsules

State Championship Scoreboard. Follow the action here.

Scout Team: The Register football show

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Veteran offensive line hopes to lead Ansonia to Class M title

Ansonia's senior-dominated offensive line might be the most talented unit in the state. It's allowed the Chargers to rush for than 4,700 yards and 67 touchdowns heading into Saturday’s title game against third-seeded Ledyard (11-1). Kickoff is set for 10:30 a.m. at Rentschler Field.

Hakeem Martin, a 5-foot-10, 263 pound left guard, is one of four Ansonia captains. Surrounding him on the line is left tackle Dylan Vano (6-5, 265), tight tackle Tyler Williams (6-2, 255), right guard Matt Hall (6-0, 230) and center Arek Kaszuba (5-8, 205).

The line has allowed sophomore Arkeel Newsome to rush for 3,399 yards and 55 touchdowns. Newsome, who already holds state record for points (370) and touchdowns (59), needs 198 yards to break former Ansonia standout Alex Thomas’ state record for rushing yards in a season. Thomas gained 3,596 yards in 2007.

Last year, Montrell Dobbs rushed for 3,445 yards and 45 scores. Both Dobbs and Newsome ran behind fullback Dennis Danley, who’s deceptively strong despite being listed at 5-4, 162. Tight ends Jake LaRovera (6-5, 200) and Sean Rowley (5-10, 180) have also been outstanding blockers.

"I think compared to last year, we've matured a lot," Danley said. "We take a lot more pride in blocking. We love to block. Every play we hope it's a run play and we just get to drive block down the field. We love when Arkeel just breaks one and scores."

Top-seeded Ansonia (13-0) is seeking its 17th state title.

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Scout Team: Playoff edition

Mike Wollschlager and Mike Pucci are back for The Scout Team's Playoff Edition as four state champions will be crowned this weekend. This edition features interviews with Xavier coach Sean Marinan and receiver/defensive back Ryan Jacobucci, Hand coach Steve Filippone and lineman Joe Demichele, and Ansonia coach Tom Brockett, fullback Dennis Danley and lineman Dylan Vano. Check it out:

Class LL: Xavier earns rematch with Staples
Class S: Championship Day Capsule

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ledyard rap video


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Xavier on the verge of repeating in Class LL

Top-seeded Xavier (12-0), the No. 1 team in the Register Top 10 Poll, will seek its second straight Class LL state title when it faces No. 2 Staples (11-0) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field.

The Falcons have won 25 straight games since losing to the Wreckers in the 2009 semifinals.

"We had no idea we would make the playoffs (in 2009)," Xavier senior Ryan Jacobucci said. "We ended up losing, which was the worst feeling ever."

Last year, the Falcons defeated Trumbull in the state title game.

"Winning it was just amazing," Jacobucci said. "A high school kid could never ask for anything more than that."

In the regular season, Xavier defeated Notre Dame-West Haven, a Class L quarterfinalist, Shelton (8-2), West Haven (7-3), Hillhouse (7-3) and Cheshire, a team much better than its 5-5 record indicated.

The Falcons then knocked off Glastonbury in the quarterfinals and Norwalk in the semifinals.

"To make it back again, we knew we had the potential to make it back here again especially with the seniors we have this year," Jacobucci said. "Our coaches pushed us. All of the seniors, even the juniors and the sophomores, we've been feeding off each other's energy and realized we can do it again.
"So far this season we've been proving not only to those that watch the games, but to ourselves, that we have the potential of winning a second straight championship."

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Hand, New Canaan to vie for Class L title

EAST HARTFORD — Two of the state’s most revered programs, and their legendary coaches, will square off to determine the Class L football champion.

The contest was set up in dramatic fashion.

Collin Shapiro kicked a 33-yard field goal with four seconds remaining as Lou Marinelli’s New Canaan team derailed Windsor’s unbeaten season with a 27-24 victory in the semifinals.

In the other semifinal, Steve Filippone’s Hand squad knocked off previously unbeaten Masuk 35-14, shutting out the Panthers in the second half. The result ended Masuk’s 24-game winning streak and the chance to defend its state title.

According to Marinelli, Hand’s victory changed the whole dynamic of the Class L tournament.

“All of a sudden, when (Hand) did that, we became the hunted instead of the hunter,” Marinelli said.

You see, there’s a bit of a history between the Rams and Tigers.

Click here to read more.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CIAC on scheduling of state final times

I was too busy at the CIAC finals luncheon on Tuesday to get a chance to talk to Paul Hoey, the Associate Executive Director CAS-CIAC, and ask him what the CIAC's process is when scheduling state championship game days and times.

He did, however, respond to an e-mail I sent him on the subject. Below is his reply.

"The (football) committee looks at many factors when deciding which games are played when - one of which is travel/traffic on Friday evening. The committee realizes that Fairfield County traffic on Friday makes it difficult for students, families and fans to get to a 6:30 (p.m) or 7 (p.m.) game in the Hartford area. If there are two teams that are closer to the Rent they most likely will be scheduled for Friday evening."

Holy Cross and Cromwell will square off for the Class S title on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday's schedule
Class M: Ansonia vs. Ledyard, 10:30 a.m.
Class L: Hand vs. New Canaan, 2 p.m.
Class LL: Xavier vs. Staples, 5:30 p.m.

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Ledyard will try to stop Newsome, Ansonia in Class M final

EAST HARTFORD — How do you stop Ansonia running back Arkeel Newsome and the rest of the unbeaten Chargers?

Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore has a simple strategy.

“First thing we have to try to do is have someone take out the Ansonia bus on the way to the Rent,” Buonocore laughed. “Or at least make sure Arkeel doesn’t make the bus.”

The Colonels will certainly have their hands full with Newsome, a sophomore who’s rushed for 3,399 yards and 55 touchdowns, during Saturday’s Class M state championship game.

Kickoff between top-seeded Ansonia (13-0) and No. 3 Ledyard (11-1) is set for 10:30 a.m. at Rentschler Field.

Buonocore talked more strategy at the CIAC football luncheon honoring the eight state finalists Tuesday at the Club Room at Rentschler Field.

Read more here.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CIAC Finals Luncheon

The eight teams that advanced to the state championship games were honored at a luncheon Tuesday in the Club Room at Rentschler Field.

Among the highlights:

Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore on how to stop Ansonia, which the Colonels will face for the Class M title (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.):

"First thing we have to do is have someone take out the Ansonia bus on the way to the Rent, or at least make sure Arkeel (Newsome) doesn't make the bus."

Ansonia sophomore running back Arkeel Newsome has rushed for 3,399 yards and 55 touchdowns.

New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli on how the Rams were able to defeat Hand, which New Canaan will compete with for the Class L title (Saturday, 2 p.m.), three straight times:

"We were lucky".

Xavier senior WR/DB Ryan Jacobucci and the rest of the Falcons are well-aware there's a target on their backs by being the state's No. 1 team. Xavier (12-0) has won 25 straight games and is the defending Class LL champion. The Falcons will face Staples (11-0) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

"At Xavier, we're from all over," Jacobucci said. "A lot of the kids have friends back on the schools that we play, and we hear all the time that the teams that we play go so much harder, and they take it much more personally when they play Xavier. Not only do we have to play our 'A' game, but we have to practice so much harder. That keeps us on edge, and that's what keeps the whole team going. We have to keep the train going and keep getting the 'W'."

Class S finalist Cromwell will take on Holy Cross on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Cromwell coach Chris Eckert, in his first year with the Panthers, knew Cromwell had plenty of talent returning, including senior quarterback Anthony Morales and senior receivers Mike Antonio and Brett Director.

"Hearing from other coaches from around the league," Eckert said, "they let me know that we had a great group of seniors coming back and a great group of juniors coming up. The thing we needed to do as a staff was make sure they bought into our style of coaching and bought into our scheme early enough to make sure we were successful on the field. If they didn't buy into it, we had no shot. That was our major focus coming into spring camp and into the fall season."

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Monday, December 5, 2011

SCC Playoff News and Notes

From the Commish: Al Carbone

Two SCC teams – Xavier (Class LL) and Hand (Class L) – have earned a spot in their respective CIAC state championship games at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Xavier (12-0), who has defeated Glastonbury (34-6) and Norwalk (55-14) so far in the 2011 playoffs, will meet Staples (11-0) in the Class LL final on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Xavier last met Staples in the 2009 Class LL semifinals – a 31-28 Wreckers’ victory. That is the Falcons’ last loss – a winning streak of 25 games.

Hand (12-0), who defeated Coventry/Windham Tech (35-12) and Masuk (35-14) so far in the 2011 playoffs, will face New Canaan (11-1) in the Class L final at 2 p.m. The Tigers lost to New Canaan, 35-21, in the 2010 Class L semifinals.

Xavier and Hand are attempting to become the third and fourth SCC teams to ever win 13 games in a season (Hand, 13-0 in 1997; Xavier, 13-0 in 2010).

It is the third straight season two SCC teams will play in their respective championship games.

2009 – Cheshire (LL) and Notre Dame (L) – both won state titles

2010 – Xavier (LL) and Hillhouse (M) – both won state titles

It is the ninth time in the 18 years of the league that at least two SCC teams have reached the championship round. Overall, SCC teams are 21-8 in state championship games, and that includes two All-SCC matchups (Hand vs. Hillhouse in Class M, 2005; Cheshire vs. Hamden in Class LL, 1996).

History of Success:

Since the league’s inception in 1994, SCC teams have won 21 state titles. Cheshire (5) has the most state titles, followed by Hand (4) and Shelton (3), Hillhouse (3). In those 17 seasons, league teams have combined to win two or more state titles, seven times including each of the last two seasons.

Give them a Hand:

Hand is making its seventh championship appearance since joining the SCC in 1994… The Tigers won the 1997 (Class L), 2003 (Class M), 2004 (Class M) and 2005 (Class M) titles…. Hand’s last championship game appearance came against New Canaan in the 2007 Class MM final, a 34-30 Rams victory at Trumbull HS.

The Tigers won the SCC Division I East title (4-0) in 2011 – arguably the state’s toughest division with Class L playoff participant Notre Dame, high-scoring West Haven and perennial Class LL power Cheshire. All three teams averaged over 30 points a game in 2011 - and Hand allowed just 42 points in those three victories.

Hand enters the Class L title game averaging 36.3 points a game, while allowing just 9.8.

The X-Men Are Back AGAIN:

Under the direction of head coach Sean Marinan, Xavier (12-0) is looking for its second straight Class LL state title. Last season, the Falcons defeated SCC-rival West Haven, Glastonbury and Trumbull and earned the state’s consensus #1 ranking. The Falcons also won the 2005 Class LL title.

During the 2011 regular-season, Xavier won the Division I West title for the third straight season (4-0) allowing just 14 points in four games.

Xavier is the first SCC team to score 500 points in a season... The Falcons have 512 points through 12 games (42.7 ppg). The previous record was held by Notre Dame (468 points in 12 games in 2009). Defensively, Xavier is allowing just 8.0 points a contest.

All-SCC Honorees:

Both teams had ample representation on the recently-released All-SCC Division I football team.

Xavier had seven honorees: WR Ryan Jacobucci, TE Ryan Murphy, OL Austin Wezenski, RB Mike Mastiroanni, QB Pat D’Amato, DL Sean Marinan, Jr. and LB Jovan Santos-Knox.

Hand had four players recognized, including WR Nick Vitale, DL Joe Demichele, LB Matt Walsh and DB Vance Giarratana.

Best in the State:

The SCC has proved, once again, it is one of the most competitive and balanced football leagues in the state of the Connecticut. Ten of the 19 football-playing schools won at least five games in 2010 with seven recording winning seasons.

Since 2004, twelve different SCC teams have qualified for the state playoffs, and six different teams have won a total of nine state titles during that span. Only the FCIAC has more (10) titles, but won by only four teams.

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All-SCC Selections

Division I Offense
WR: Nick Vitale (Hand), Tahir Manning (West Haven), Ryan Jacobucci (Xavier)
TE: Ryan Murphy (Xavier)
OL: Serge Jean-Baptiste (Fairfield Prep), Austin Wezenski (Xavier), Joe Ortoli (Shelton), Dennis
Flanagan (Amity)
QB: Tyler Vallie (Amity), Pat D’Amato (Xavier), Michael Ecke (Cheshire)
RB: Ervin Philips (West Haven), Javon Grey (Notre Dame), Mike Mastrioanni (Xavier), Frank
Camerino (Shelton)

Division I Defense
DL: Joe Demichele (Hand), Ludovic Richardson (Notre Dame), Sean Marinan, Jr. (Xavier), Tom
Spencer (West Haven), Josh Dellacruz (Wilbur Cross)
LB: Billy Weyrauch (Cheshire), Robert Rose (Shelton), Anthony Masucci (Notre Dame), Jovan
Santos-Knox (Xavier), Matt Walsh (Hand)
DB: Vance Giarrantana (Hand), Tim Dube (Hamden), Brandon Martin (Notre Dame)
P: Xavier Frey (Fairfield Prep)

Division II Offense
WR: Connor Falaguerra (Jonathan Law)
OL: Derrick Bryan (Hillhouse), Sean Merrill (Sheehan), Derrin Gelston (Guilford), Jake Mikos (North
Haven), Mike McInnis (North Haven), Khamil Rangolam (Hillhouse)
QB: Billy Gannon (Sheehan), Joe Schwab (North Haven)
RB: Harold Cooper (Hillhouse), Matt Hoey (Guilford), Joe DeSandre (Lyman Hall)
PK: Brodie Corless (Sheehan)

Division II Defense
DL: Andrew Savenelli (North Haven), Mark Williams (Branford), Conor Riordan (Lyman Hall),
Derrick Gilliam (Hillhouse)
LB: Mark Zurlis (North Haven), Dave Yerxa (Foran), Anthony Georgetti (Foran), Joe Costanzo (East Haven)
DB: Andre Anderson (Hillhouse), A.J. Pascuzzo (Sheehan), Curtis Sutherland (Branford), Niko
Fiorillo (East Haven)
P: Matt Aspinwall (Foran)


Sunday, December 4, 2011

State Championship Game Schedule

at Rentschler Field


Class S

No. 2 Holy Cross vs. No. 8 Cromwell, 6:30 p.m.


Class M

No. 1 Ansonia vs. No. 3 Ledyard, 10:30 a.m.

Class L

No. 2 Hand vs. No. 5 New Canaan, 2 p.m.

Class LL

No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 2 Staples, 5:30 p.m.

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State Semifinals Recap

VIDEO: Recap of Class LL: Xavier vs. Norwalk

Class LL: No. 1 Xavier stuffs No. 5 Norwalk

Class L: No. 2 Hand ends No. 3 Masuk's 24-game winning streak

Class M: Newsome, Ansonia roll past Berlin

Class S: Valley Regional falls short against Holy Cross

Class LL: Massie leads Staples over Newtown

Class S: Cromwell rallies past NW Catholic

Class L: New Canaan edges Windsor

Class M: Ledyard shutouts Wolcott

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