Preview Capsules for Greater Middletown Thanksgiving week games. Capsules and photos by the Hearst Connecticut Staff.
Middletown at Windsor
- WHERE/WHEN — Jack O’Brien Stadium, Windsor, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
- RECORDS — Middletown 9-0; Windsor 9-0
- T-DAY SERIES — Windsor 6-1
- LAST YEAR — Windsor 21-17
- PLAYERS TO WATCH — Middletown: Sr. QB/DB Stone Belzo (942 yards, 11 TDs passing); Jr. RB/KB Xzavier Reyes (1,043 yards, 12 TDs rushing); Sr. K Mike Aresco (22 career FG); Sr. WR DeAaron Lawrence (39 catches; 542 yards, 9 TDs receiving); OLB/DL Stephen Hill; Sr. LB James Johnson (14 1/2 TFL, 6 1/2 sacks); Windsor: Sr. RB Tomasz Johnson (1,227 yards, 17 TDs rushing); Jr. WB/DB Julian Jackson (1,920 yards, 19 TDs passing); Sr. OLB Shayne Manson (48 tackles); Sr. LB JoJo Russell (74 tackles); Sr. WR L.J. Walcott (40 catches, 1,019 yards, 11 TDs); Sr. DB Jerry Woodard (6 INT).
- YOU SHOULD KNOW — One of the state’s biggest high school games of the season takes place Wednesday evening at 6:30 when undefeated Middletown plays undefeated Windsor at Jack O’Brien Stadium in Windsor. …Both teams are in the Top 10 in every poll and both teams have qualified for the Class L state playoffs. But the game has huge playoff implications beyond that. At stake is a home game. If Windsor wins, Middletown would almost certainly would have to play a road game next Tuesday. With a win, the Blue Dragons will, no matter what else happens, get a home game next Tuesday. “Windsor’s good,” said Middletown coach Sal Morello. “The key is stopping the big play. They can score at any time from any place on the field. Their defense is also excellent. They are physical and we will have to match their physicality. I think it will be good, old-fashioned football and it will come down to blocking, tackling and winning the turnover battle.” …Windsor handed Maloney its only loss, 28-0, in the season opener and in its last game on Thursday, Windsor dispatched Norwich Free Academy 35-7 after leading 35-0 at the half. …MIddletown beat Platt 51-20 in its last outing and has had 10 days to prepare for the showdown. Middletown is 1-6 in the series, although several of the games have been close. …A bunch of streaks are at stake. Windsor has won 39-consecutive games (38-consecutive in the CCC). Their last loss? A 13-7 setback to Dario Highsmith and Middletown in the 2013 finale. So maybe the Dragons are due again. Middletown is playing for its first unbeaten regular season since 1985.
- CALPREPS PROJECTION — Windsor 27-21
- GAMETIMECT PICK — Middletown.
Who will win Middletown at Windsor?
- Middletown (9-0) (70%, 101 Votes)
- Windsor (9-0) (30%, 43 Votes)
Total Voters: 144
The Shunpike Showdown
Cromwell/Portland at Rocky Hill
- WHERE/WHEN — Rocky Hill High School, Wednesday, 6 p.m.
- RECORDS — Cromwell/Portland 8-1; Rocky Hill 9-0.
- T-DAY SERIES — Rocky Hill 3-0
- LAST YEAR — Rocky Hill 28-6
- PLAYERS TO WATCH — Cromwell/Portland: Sr. QB Bryce Karstetter; Sr. SS/RB Brent Robbins; Sr. WR/DB Dianta Highsmith; OL/LB Matt Wolak; Rocky Hill: Sr. RB/SS Joe Catania; Sr. Joe Ferreira; Sr. QB Danny Cavallaro; Sr. WR Matt Osgood; Sr. DL/OL Dante Baker.
- YOU SHOULD KNOW — The reality for Cromwell/Portland is this: Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re almost certainly out. There are all kinds of possibilities, but if Rocky Hill wins — and the Terriers haven’t lost in three meetings since this series began in 2014 — then C/P is done. If C/P wins it apparently would knock Valley Regional/Old Lyme out of the fifth spot, but it cannot get a home game and would likely be either fifth or sixth. That’s the reality of the Class S playoffs this year. Cromwell is in this position after a tough 34-28 overtime loss to Valley Regional/Old Lyme on Oct. 27. Otherwise, the Panthers, armed with many of the same stars from last year’s playoff run, have dominated the Pequot this season. They’ve scored 408 points and allowed just 135. Aside from the Valley loss, it’s closest game was a 12-6 defensive battle with Old Saybrook/Westbrook. … Rocky Hill, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive 26-10 victory over Class M playoff qualifier Berlin. The Terriers, runners up to Ansonia in last year’s Class S championship, love to ground and pound with the two Joes: Catania and Ferreira, who has taken over for the graduated all-stater Grant Nieves. The Terriers average 38 points per game Defensively, the Terriers are statistically one of the state’s best. They’ve allowed just 44 in the CCC. A victory here will clinch at least a No. 3 seed and, potentially, setting them up on St. Joseph’s side of the bracket. Cromwell will capture No. 5 seed and a trip to Bullard Havens if they win.
- CALPREPS PROJECTION — Rocky Hill 28-19
- GAMETIMECT PICK — Rocky Hill.
Who will win the Shunpike Showdown?
- Rocky Hill (9-0) (68%, 57 Votes)
- Cromwell/Portland (8-1) (32%, 27 Votes)
Total Voters: 84
The Route 17 Bowl
Coginchaug/Hale Ray at North Branford
- Where/When: Colfati Field, North Branford, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: North Branford 4-5; Coginchaug 5-4
- Series Record: North Branford lead 1-0
- Last year: North Branford 28-22 OT
- Players to watch: COGINCHAUG/HALE RAY: Jr. QB Elijah Rivera (1,431 yards 17 TDs passing); Sr. WR/FS Anthony Curry (581 yards, 7 TD receiving); Sr. RB/LB Patrick Ladas (896 yards, 9 TDs rushing); Sr. SS Kevin Cross (5 INT); NORTH BRANFORD: Sr. WR/DB Sydney Franklin (661 AP yards); Jr. RB/LB Nick Mancini (547 yards, 7 TDs rushing;); Sr. C/DE Colby Anastasio; Sr. QB Jeff Jablonski (807 yds, 6 TD passing).
- You should know: Coginchaug won a single game last year. In the offseason, the school co-oped with nearby Hale Ray of Moodus and hired former Hand assistant Erik Becker, who quickly brought the program back to respectability. Behind QB Elijah Rivera and Patrick Ladas, the Blue Devils started the season 2-0, including a shootout win vs. Haddam-Killingworth. They showed their youth, however, in consecutive losses to Valley, Windsor Locks and Cromwell. Still, Coginghaug has won three of four games heading into their new Thanksgiving week rivalry with nearby North Branford. …The T-Birds are an extremely young team, with freshmen and sophomores dominating the lineup to help seniors like Sydney Franklin and Jeff Jablonski. They’ve lost four straight heading into the game after a 4-1 start. It’s a team built for the future and it can start with a win on Thanksgiving eve.
- CALPREPS PROJECTION — North Branford 31-21
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — North Branford.
Who will win the Route 17 Bowl?
- Coginchaug/Hale Ray (5-4) (51%, 102 Votes)
- North Branford (4-5) (49%, 98 Votes)
Total Voters: 200