Blogs > GameTimeCT Football

A look at high school football throughout the state

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pequot, NVL capsules

We've begun to post Preseason Preview Capsules on-line. We will post more in the upcoming days.

Up first, the Pequot Conference and the NVL.

Note: Only teams where information was made available have been included.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Preview: Can Xavier 3-peat?

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Xavier takes aim at a hat trick

MIDDLETOWN — So what will the Xavier Falcons do for an encore?

It’s going to be tough to match the past two seasons, campaigns which saw Xavier go 26-0, win two Class LL championships and twice find itself named the state’s No. 1 team.

“We’ll be competitive,” said 11-year coach Sean Marinan Sr. “We can play with anybody. But I don’t know if we have the hunger, the mindset, necessary for the fourth quarter. We’re capable of going back to the playoffs and we expect to, but we need to find out where the kids are mentally.”

Xavier, which wasn’t challenged last season, lost 20 seniors to graduation.

“We’re not just replacing kids who graduated,” said Marinan. “We’re replacing some very talented kids. We have an awful lot of inexperience, even though we will be playing a lot of seniors. Right now we’re a work in progress. We’re trying to put kids in positions where they can be successful.

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Preview: Fairfield Prep looking to improve

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Prep started the 2012 football year without spring ball. Instead, the team took advantage of a week of double days in August with the focus on cohesion, momentum and keeping the team focused on fall ball.

It was a rare opportunity head coach Tom Shea seized.

“This definitely helped, (it) was good for us,” running back Dillon Ryan said. “(We’re) pretty far ahead of other schools, I’d think.”

The extra time together early in the season is all part of Shea’s blueprint that was started when he took over the program in 2010. It’s been a steady climb back to having consistent, winning seasons after going through a rough 0-10 campaign in 2009.

“We started a couple years ago when we hadn’t won anything,” Shea said. “We talked about playing well on a play, everyone doing that. Then playing well for a quarter, then playing well for a game. Then winning a game and then winning on the road.”

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Preview: Gilbert/Northwestern seeks playoff berth

FOOTBALL: Gilbert/Northwestern hoping to be one point better

WINSTED — One point.

That is what kept the Gilbert/Northwestern football team out of a second straight Class M state playoff berth in 2011. The Yellowjackets were in the hunt until the final minute of a road game against Stafford/East Windsor on a cold November night in Stafford Springs. GN watched a 14-0 halftime lead, and a win, evaporate, 22-21 on a two-point conversion. The Yellowjackets ended the year at 7-3 and finished five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, which was taken by Bethel.

The mentality of this year’s Gilbert/Northwestern crop is simple. Jump on the opponent, and don’t let up.

“We want to get up early,” Yellowjacket head coach Scott Salius said after a Sept. 1 scrimmage against Lewis Mills and St. Paul Catholic at Van Why Memorial Field. “We want to come out of the box early, so we can get our No. 1’s rest.”

GN typically has small numbers, which means most players go both ways. As Salius put it after the Simsbury Jamboree on Aug. 29: “We don’t have 1’s and 2’s and 3’s and 4’s. We got us.”

Senior captain John Ambrozaitis doesn’t seem to mind.

“I think it’s better,” Ambrozaitis said. “You never come off, so you have a short memory.”

A short memory is a good thing, but Salius pointed out that going two ways for a whole game isn’t always good.

“We can’t go even with a big team,” Salius said.

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Preview: Staples loaded, preps for Class LL run

WESTPORT — More than two weeks before the first game of the season and it was hard for head coach Marce Petroccio and quarterback Jack Massie not to shed a grin when talking Staples football.

The Wreckers enter this season coming off an 11-1 record. The one blemish was a 42-7 defeat in the Class LL state title game against Xavier.

The team returns a veteran core on both sides of the ball and tout an experienced quarterback. The list could go on.

So expectations are high.

“We just try and focus one game at a time and not think about what people are saying about us or anything like that,” Massie said. “Just try to play the best we can.”

 “We just try and focus one game at a time and not think about what people are saying about us or anything like that,” Massie said. “Just try to play the best we can.”

As hard as they may try, there is no denying the excitement and anxiety swirling around the upcoming fall season. The program, which has won six Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference titles, including last season, and three state titles under Petroccio, is synonymous with winning. The team has mastered the art of deferring. The perfunctory answers about what the 2012 could be, and maybe should be, are given.

“We’re always looking to improve and we realize that we need to improve in certain areas and were just trying to get better every day,” Petroccio said.

But the question remains: How good can this Wreckers squad be?

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Update: Naugatuck situation

The investigation into whether or not Naugatuck committed recruiting violations has been completed, according to the the NVL Blog. The Blog summarizes the report.

The opening paragraph of the BLOG entry:

Naugatuck’s investigation into the recruitment of David Coggins and Javon Martin concluded Tuesday and the resulting report was released to the public at a special Board of Education that evening. If you’d like to read the full report (courtesy of the Naugatuck Patch), click here.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

W2L4: Lyman Hall


Coach: Rob Marone (1st year)
League: SCC
Last season: 4-6
Top offensive players: Pete Barney, 5-10, 175, Sr., FB; Devin Cruz, 5-9, 170, Sr., HB
Top defensive players: Jared Bias, 6-0, 260, Sr., DL; Ryan Bohne, 5-9, 165, Sr., LB
Key losses: Kyle Upton, QB; Joe DeSandre, RB/LB; Connor Riordan, OL/DL
Inside the huddle: Lost its two top skill players in Upton (2,071 yards passing, 15 TDs in 2011) and DeSandre (1,086 rushing yards, 16 TDs). Replacing them may be difficult. Trojans have just seven seniors and will be young and inexperienced. The development of sophomore Kyle Smith at quarterback will be key. Smith completed 4-of-16 passes for 34 yards and an INT last season. The running backs (Barney and Cruz) saw limited time last season and they need to adjust to life on the varsity level quickly in order for Lyman Hall to be effective offensively.
See you there:Marone is in his first season as head coach. Lyman Hall opens the season on the road at East Haven on Sept. 14, 7 p.m. Marone's father, Mike, is the athletic director at East Haven.

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Preview: Cromwell seeks return trip to Class S final

CROMWELL — Chris Eckert made a special demand of his Cromwell football team before classes started.

He told each football player that, on the first day of school, they needed to take seats in the front of their classes.

It was no suggestion, either — the second-year coach did some reconnaissance work that first day to make sure his Panthers were following orders.

“I want to make sure the emphasis is on academics as well as athletics,” Eckert said. “We’ve got 17 seniors, and they need to be going to college. Senior slide can’t happen.”

The off-the-field rule is a refreshing one for a team that played so well on the field last year — battling to the Class S championship game at Rentschler Field before a fingertips-close loss to Holy Cross.

The memory of that loss remains — particularly with the senior captains — as the Panthers embark on a new journey that could end at Rentschler Field once again. Cromwell opens their season at Pierson Park on Sept. 15 against East Hampton/Vinal Tech.

“We have to forget about last year — it’s in the past now,” captain Jake Suzio said. “It’s a whole new year, and we have to step up even more to reach our goal.”

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Preview: Castelot will lead explosive Bunnell offense

STRATFORD — Prior to the 2009 regular-season finale against rival Stratford High, Bunnell coach Craig Bruno said he asked then freshman quarterback Bryan Castelot if he was ready to go.

“He didn’t say anything,’ Bruno said. “He just smiled at me.”

Castelot went out and threw his first two passes for touchdowns in that game.

Now a senior, the hefty quarterback has been ready to go since day one.

Well, really since day seven.

“It took me about a week (to learn the playbook),” Castelot said about his freshman year.

And it didn’t take Castelot long to master the Bulldogs’ fast break, run-and-gun, no-huddle offense, either.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

W2L4: Hopkins


Coach: Tom Parr (31st year, 200-61)
League: Fairchester
Last season: 4-3
Top offensive players: Jim Martino, Jr., 6-1, 220, FB; Max Pantalena, Sr., 6-0, 200, G
Top defensive players: Spencer Lowlicht, Sr., 6-2, 215, DL; Sam Beck, Sr., 5-11, 175, CB
Key losses: Greg Volpe, QB; Jashon DeSenna, LB; Tikim Coombs, DB
Inside the huddle: Lines are experienced but, besides, Martino, skills players are very inexperienced. Skill players must mature quickly, especially at the quarterback position. The Hilltoppers will operate out of the I-formation. Junior Dan Rivera will be at halfback, while sophomore Kamsi Nwangu will see time at fullback. Parr thinks St. Luke's is the favorite in the Fairchester League. Parr said if his skill players can mature quickly, Hopkins could be a contender.
Stat Facts: Martino rushed 93 times for 638 yards and three touchdowns last season.

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Preview: T.J. Linta has big plans at Hamden Hall

Joe Linta is a football guy. The Connecticut-based sports agent represents numerous NFL players, including Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, as well as coaches like Romeo Crennel, Chris Palmer and Bill O’Brien.

He played nose guard at Yale and later coached there, both under the legendary Carm Cozza, his mentor. Now he’s beginning his second season at the helm of the Hamden Hall football team.

He’s also a dad, and it just so happens that his two sons — Nick, a senior, and T.J., a junior — are two of the best players on this year’s Hornets squad.

Nick is a sure-handed receiver and excellent route-runner who’s been getting looks from Division III programs — even if his own dad mocks his lack of speed.

Joe has a harder time, however, finding fault in T.J., who has emerged as one of the state’s top quarterbacks despite playing at a small private school with a total enrollment of about 250.

“The kid can play,” Linta said, matter-of-factly. “If you can throw a 15-yard out on a rope, it doesn’t matter where you play.”

Plenty of college coaches seem to agree. Based on a 10-minute highlight film that Linta sent out to about eight Division I schools, as well as his performance at a couple of camps this past summer, T.J. is starting to generate some serious interest. Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Rutgers and several Ivy League programs (Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton), like the 6-foot-4, 238-pound quarterback’s

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Preview: O'Brien Tech evolving in Year 2

ANSONIA — The O’Brien Tech players are confident, enthusiastic and, most importantly, proud as the Condors begin Year 2 as a varsity football program.

O’Brien Tech went 3-7 last season, the school’s first as a solo program after a co-op with Derby was disbanded after three seasons.

There will again be several challenges for the Condors: lack of suitable facilities and resources, an inexperienced roster and a new head coach, Nick Aprea, who takes over for Ken Roberts, who stepped down after one season.

But there’s several encouraging signs. Aprea says there’s about 40 players at summer camp and most are underclassmen.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Up North Report: St. Paul

WINSTED — He was making the right reads, firing precision darts, and completing pass after pass at Van Why Memorial Field on the campus of The Gilbert School on Saturday.

He is Logan Marchi, a solid quarterback with good vision and a quick release. Marchi is a Winsted native, so Saturday was a football homecoming for him, but he was wearing the dark blue helmet associated with the St. Paul Catholic Falcons football team. The right-handed junior quarterback has been pretty locked in this summer in St. Paul’s spread offense according to head coach Jude Kelly, and there hasn’t been much that opposing defenses can do about it.

Gilbert/Northwestern and Lewis Mills each had that same problem on Saturday during a scrimmage.

“I think he has great vision and he has great touch,” Yellowjacket head coach Scott Salius said.

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