Class LL football state quarterfinal preview capsules

Colton Smith (2) and the Jesuits come in as a strong No. 7 seed out of the SCC. They have a tough road beginning with Jalen Ollie and 10-1 Glastonbury on the road. Photo John Vanacore — for the Register

Colton Smith (2) and the Jesuits come in as a strong No. 7 seed out of the SCC. They have a tough road beginning with Jalen Ollie and 10-1 Glastonbury on the road. Photo John Vanacore — for the Register

CIAC LogoTry picking the state champion out of this group. Just try it.

It is, quite possibly, the most mysterious and unpredictable of all the state playoff brackets.

Who’s the best of this bunch? Who has the toughest or easiest road? Is Newtown for real? The the CCC teams legit? Have the SCC teams been properly battle tested for a playoff run? What about the lone FCIAC representative?

Who will come out on top?

Do you go with the two SCC teams, West Haven or Fairfield Prep, who have emerged battered from a brutal gauntlet of games vs. the likes of Hand, Xavier, Shelton and others. West Haven won nine in a row before being upended by the Jesuits on Thanksgiving. Prep, despite early losses to St. Joseph and Hand, is on a major roll.

Do you go with the CCC schools? Southington upended Glastonbury in Week 1 and looked to be a favorite until Hall — which lost to Glastonbury — felled the Blue Knights. All three teams are led by talented quarterbacks and strong defenses.

Do you go with suddenly suspect Norwich Free Academy, which scored just six points in losses to Glastonbury and, on Thanksgiving, to New London. The Wildcats are loaded with stars back from last year’s runner-up, but have few 2013 trophies on their mantle.

Do yo go with the unbeaten and overwhelming sentimental favorites from Newtown? The Nighthawks are young across the board but led by senior stars RB Cooper Gold and Drew Tarantino. They were rarely challenged in the SWC, and now get a shot at winning what would be a glorious first state title since coach Steve George wore a uniform in 1992.

Or to you take the upstarts from the FCIAC? The Tigers’ only losses are to playoff squads St. Joseph and Darien. Perhaps their might is underestimated behind stars like RB Will Bonaparte, QB Ryan Dunn and Andrew Chuma (among many others).

Who’s your team? Who do you like? You’ll be asked to pick lottery numbers if you can successfully predict this bracket. It’s a doozy.


2013 ClassLL fb bracket

Who will win the Class LL Championship?

  • 7. Fairfield Prep (9-2) (25%, 143 Votes)
  • 1. Newtown (12-0) (23%, 130 Votes)
  • 8. Ridgefield (9-2) (15%, 87 Votes)
  • 6. West Haven (9-2) (13%, 75 Votes)
  • 2. Glastonbury (11-1) (9%, 52 Votes)
  • 4. Southington (9-1) (5%, 28 Votes)
  • No Idea (4%, 21 Votes)
  • 5. Norwich Free Academy (8-2) (3%, 19 Votes)
  • 3. Hall (9-1) (3%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 571

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All games at 6:30 p.m.

Capsules compiled and written by Mike Pucci.

No. 8 RIDGEFIELD (9-2) at No. 1 NEWTOWN (12-0)

QF LL Ridge Newtown• Where: Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown
• Players to watch: Ridgefield: Andrew Chuma, Sr., WR/SS; Ryan Dunn, Jr., QB/DB; Will Bonaparte, Sr., RB/DB; Newtown: Andrew Tarantino, Sr., QB; Cooper Gold, Sr., RB/LB; Julian Dunn, Jr., WR/DB.
• You should know: Newtown is making its third straight trip to the playoffs. It lost to NFA in the quarterfinals last season despite entering unbeaten. The Nighthawks have defeated three teams (Brookfield, Barlow, Bethel) that also advanced to the postseason this year, including Brookfield twice, once in the regular season and again in the SWC championship game.

Newtown has threats in both the backfield in Gold and in the flat with receiver Julian Dunn, who is one of the top receivers in the state having caught 43 passes for 953 yards and 21 touchdowns. … Gold has rushed for 1,564 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Tarantino has thrown for 2,414 yards and 32 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions. Defensively, Newtown has started a majority of underclassmen. Junior Jaret DeVellis and sophomore Ryan Shaw lead with six sacks apiece. Dunn has made four interceptions.

Ridgefield has won four straight entering the playoffs. The Tigers lost only to St. Joseph and Darien, both of which qualified for the postseason. Ridgefield defeated a pair of SCC schools (Cheshire and Notre Dame-West Haven) and handed McMahon its first loss on Nov. 8.

The Tigers are also balanced offensively. Ryan Dunn has thrown for 2,066 and 26 touchdowns, while Bonaparte has rushed for 1,524 yards and 14 touchdowns. Chuma, who has made 54 receptions, has also made 54 tackles. Senior Noah Broder (four interceptions) and senior Patrick Weston (six sacks) also contribute defensively for Ridgefield.

  • Pooch’s pick: Newtown.
  • SPB’s Pick: Newtown 28-24

Who will win Class LL quarterfinal Ridgefield at Newtown?

  • No. 1 Newtown (12-0) (76%, 220 Votes)
  • No. 8 Ridgefield (9-2) (24%, 69 Votes)

Total Voters: 289

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No. 7 FAIRFIELD PREP (9-2) at No. 2 GLASTONBURY (10-1)

2013 QF LL Prep Glastonbury• Where: Glastonbury High
• Players to watch: Fairfield Prep: Nick Crowle, Sr., RB/LB; Colton Smith, Jr., QB/DB; John DelliSanti, Jr., WR/S; Glastonbury: Jalen Ollie, Sr., QB; Kyran McKinney-Crudden, Sr., RB/LB; Donevin O’Reilly, Jr., RB/DB.
• You should know: Fairfield Prep may be playing as well as any team entering the CIAC playoffs. The Jesuits have won five straight and defeated Xavier and West Haven in consecutive games to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Smith is a dual-threat quarterback who is dangerous with both his arm and feet. DelliSanti is one of the top receivers in the state, while Crowle is a bruising fullback that has been utilized more heavily in recent weeks. Prep’s offense isn’t fancy, but it can be difficult to stop. The Jesuits’ skill players benefit from playing behind a huge offensive line.

Their strength up front could be a deciding factor in this game. Crowle and seniors Max Trudeau and Tony Fox lead a tenacious defense, which is also huge, but that unit lacks speed.

Glastonbury has won 10 straight since losing to Southington in the season opener. During the winning streak, the Tomahawks defeated fellow Class LL participants Hall and NFA. Glastonbury has reached the postseason for the sixth straight time.

The Tomahawks like to run the ball but Ollie is a capable and intelligent passer. He has weapons in McKinney-Crudden and O’Reilly. The stout defense, which is allowing just 11 points per game, is led by senior Justin Kretzmer, a linebacker, and McKinney-Crudden.

This has the potential to be one of the more competitive games of the quarterfinal round.

  • Pooch’s pick: Fairfield Prep.
  • SPB’s Pick: Fairfield Prep 35-21

Who will win Class LL quarterfinal Fairfield Prep at Glastonbury?

  • No. 7 Fairfield Prep (9-2) (72%, 196 Votes)
  • No. 2 Glastonbury (10-1) (28%, 75 Votes)

Total Voters: 271

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No. 6 WEST HAVEN (9-2) AT No. 3 HALL (9-1)

2013 QF LL WH Hall• Where: Hall High, West Hartford
• Players to watch: West Haven: Ervin Philips, Sr., RB; Duane Gary, Sr., QB; Marshont Little, Jr., RB; Hall: Tom Honyotski, Sr., QB; Joe Farrah, Sr., OL/LB; Rob Parra, Jr., WR/CB.
• You should know: West Haven just may be the most talented team in this class. The Westies have one of the state’s best running backs in Philips, who is headed to Syracuse next fall. Philips can almost single-handily take over a game, and Hall must do everything in its power to contain him.

The Warriors then must also worry about Gary, a dual-threat quarterback, Little and the plethora of other skill players on the West Haven roster.

West Haven, which is making its second straight trip to the postseason, lost its season opener to Greenwich but then won nine straight before losing to fellow Class LL participant Fairfield Prep on Thanksgiving. During the winning streak, the Westies defeated Class L quarterfinalist Hand. The improving West Haven defense is led by seniors Jesse Ridgway and Eli Gaskins.

Hall primarily likes to throw the ball. Honyotski has passed for 2,182 yards and 21 touchdowns. Parra has made 44 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns. Parra, who has made three interceptions, is one of the team’s top defenders.

The Warriors have won nine straight since losing to fellow Class LL quarterfinalist Glastonbury in the season opener. Hall defeated another Class LL participant, Southington, on Oct. 19.

  • Pooch’s pick: West Haven
  • SPB’s pick: West Haven 34-20

Who will win Class LL quarterfinal West Haven at Hall?

  • No. 6 West Haven (9-2) (80%, 227 Votes)
  • No. 3 Hall (9-1) (21%, 59 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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No. 5 NFA (8-2) at No. 4 SOUTHINGTON (9-1)

QF 2013 South NFA• Where: Fontana Field, Southington
• Players to watch: NFA: Alex Beaudreault, Sr., QB/DB; Khaleed Exum-Strong, Jr., RB/LB; Marcus Outlow, Sr., RB/DB; Southington: Stephen Barmore, Sr., QB; Alex Jamele, Jr., WR; Zach Maxwell, Sr., WR/DE.
• You should know: This will be a game of contrasting styles.

Southington, led by the Yale-bound Barmore, likes to move the ball down field through the air. Barmore has thrown for 2,382 yards and 35 touchdowns. Jamele has caught 59 passes for 1.263 yards and 22 scores.

NFA, meanwhile, prefers to pound teams into submission. They have two talented running backs in Outlow, who’s headed to Boston College, and Exum-Strong, who run behind a big offensive line. Outlow has rushed for 1,357 yards and 20 touchdowns, while Exum-Strong has chipped in with 832 yards and 10 scores. Beaudreault has a strong and accurate arm when the Wildcats do choose to throw.

NFA has been slightly inconsistent this season, scoring just seven points combined in losses to Glastonbury and New London. The Wildcats, though, have performed better offensively in recent weeks now that Outlow has recovered from a nagging ankle injury that affected his performance early in the season. Senior Ramel Williams has been seven interceptions for the Wildcats.

Southington defeated fellow Class LL participant Glastonbury 16-9 in the season opener, while NFA lost to the Tomahawks 6-0 on Oct. 4. Both Southington and NFA qualified in this class last season, with NFA advancing all the way to the championship game before losing to Xavier.

  • Pooch’s pick: Southington.
  • SPB’s pick: Southington 21-14

Who will win Class LL quarterfinal NFA at Southington?

  • No. 4 Southington (9-1) (67%, 165 Votes)
  • No. 5 Norwich Free Academy (8-2) (33%, 83 Votes)

Total Voters: 248

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  1. Nails says

    WH was not going all-out vs Prep on Thanksgiving. Their previous loss was a Greenwich comeback week 1. They took a safety to make it 21-16. Ended up losing 22-21. I think WH is the best team in CT, not just LL.

    • fciac jr says

      so they weren’t going all out but they had their starters in the whole game even after Philips went down with a possible knee injury. If they didn’t take it seriously, Philips wouldn’t have been in the last quarter especially after all the people that surrounded him on the sidelines to check on his knee which many thought was more serious at the time.

      • Mike says

        When did Philips go down with a Knee injury? I was at the game and never saw him out of the game or anyone around him. He was in the game up until the end. Did I miss something here? If he was hurt at all I am sure he is good to go. Kid is very very good. A difference maker for sure.

        • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

          Late in the 2nd Q just after he set up Gary’s score to make it 20-2. Was down for a few moments, he got up and walked it off and continued to play.

          • Mike says

            Ok thanks. Must have missed it. Thought the way FCIAC Jr said it he was hurt late in the game. Just remembered him in late.

    • SCC fan says

      Glastonbury speed was about 5 steps behinds Smith’s speed. WRs had some speed and were impressive. QB Jalen had an awesome night and is a very poised QB. Best wishes to him at his Prep school next year I believe I read.

  2. Not Ray Brown says

    Agree with all the picks. I also think there’s going to be a WH/Newtown final. Heart wants to go Newtown, but head says WH. Anyways now that my horse is out of the race, Go Newtown!

  3. P-Daddy says

    I don’t know. i think i may have been influenced by GHS fan. Maybe with Xavier out of the mix the LL bracket has come back to normalcy. If so maybe there is something to be said for CCC schools. If so, I’ll take Hall. They beat Southington (granted it was a miracle) and should have beaten Gbury (but for a miracle). I like Hall’s explosiveness (#5 and #1 in particular), but not sure about their physicality in the secondary and off scrimmage players. Still, I’ll pick Hall over Newtown in the finals.

    • David says

      You have said a lot there. Hall can play in close games especially on offense West Haven when there not dominate dont have all the tools to get a win, not enough balance.

  4. Willy Plett says

    Bewtown has played nobody and just like last year, they won’t beat anybody. They think they’re great and they’re not even really that good.

  5. Ray Brown is wrong says

    West Haven should be favorites in LL. Were obviously trying to stay healthy on Thursday than go all out. Saturday will be a great rematch in WH vs Prep.
    Also Ray Brown, i heard Ansonia has a rough class S road ahead. What do they got, 3 magnet schools to beat again? New Canaan would beat Ansonia by 4 touchdowns. WH vs Ansonia would be a WH win by a TD. That way, Ansonia can’t make up a score like they do in the scrimmages.(Or brag about winning whilethere was a quick whistle for quarterbacks, and Gary couldnt get going)

    • Kyle says

      Ugh, I wont even get started on this guy. More of the AHS WOULD do this and WOULD do that. Please, it’s getting old.

      Ansonia beat West Haven by 2 TD’s in that scrimmage. I know its only a preseason and it’s only a scrimmage but there mere fact that Ansonia dominated that scrimmage shows something. Oh but we can’t play with the SCC. Please, it’s comical.

      Now there’s excuses about blowing the whistle before the QB could get going, it’s just getting pathetic. If you’re going to base your premise on that, please find some new logic

  6. bgarf says

    I especially love when Shelton and WH guys talk …I’ve attended the Super Bowl scrimmage since 1976 and WH has won a whopping total of 3 times. And as I posted before, when Shelton and Ansonia played in the regular season AHS was 53-10 and in the last 20 years of that series went 18-2…but these clowns are still the first to put Ansonia down, lol.

  7. X Fan I am says

    Has anyone seen the new wrestling blog that is online?! Falcons will fly on the mats AGAIN this year. Football, Wrestling, Basketball, Hockey, Lacrosse, Track – is there a more dominant athletic program in CT than X’s? All we do is win.

    • Rob (On Connecticut's East Coast) says

      We’ll see you in Ledyard on Saturday the 28th of December. Falcons, wings spread, backs down and beaks up. #Colonelpride the year #XX

    • Frank says

      All you do is recruit. Hand beats you in Football, Lacrosse, Track, Wrestling, and will beat you in Basketball this year. You did beat us in Sailing, shucks!

    • Not Ray Brown says

      @ X Fan. Coming from a fellow X fan, you’re really obnoxious. And Frank, you know nothing either. Football – even, Lax – even, Track – don’t know enough to comment, Wrestling – X, Basketball – usually X and especially this year, they’ll be top 3 in SCC

  8. Brian says

    I just heard an ugly rumor that ALL SEMi Finals on Saturday will have 2pm starts. SPB can u confirm this through your higher sources?

    • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

      Yes. Look at the schedules. …those in the know are attempting to bring pressure down on CIAC to change their minds.

      While the rest of us were writing long previews and editing videos, Mr. Polecat (Ned of the Day) did a piece on it

      With UConn playing that afternoon, and though I’d like to think people would rather go to state semis than UConn nowadays, it’s still a dumb move by CIAC which says crowds haven’t been great at night semifinals according to their data.

      Huh? There’ve been THREE night semis under this format. Two were decent enough, the third was packed to the gills: Masuk vs. Hand in 2011.

      So if West Haven’s playing Prep, it’s not going to draw, CIAC suggests? Or a similar semi? Idk. But at least allow us to see two games that day.

  9. Brian says

    I can’t even think of 8 spots at the samed time.

    West HAven

    Not sure where else they will/can go without giving home games.

  10. jeb says

    Let’s hope the CIAC does it right an allows at least one feature night game on Saturday night. By feature I don’t mean Class S or Class m. Ansonia and St. Joes are locks to win out. Put an L or LL game in their so the high school football fanatics can take in two good games that day.

    • says

      And put it at a facility with good lights so I can photograph it and the fans can actually see. I was at Strong Field in 2011 for masuk/hand and more than 20% of the bulbs were burned out.

  11. Brian says

    I agree SPB that from a Fan’s standpoint it sucks. Also, if they did put a 7pm at Ken Strong it couldn’t even be the best game Prep vs WH as the home team would be playing. Awful situation and a very dumb idea.

  12. jeb says

    I just called the CIAC and requested that they reconsider scheduling at least one top-notch game for Saturday night. The secretary said she would pass on the message. The number for the CIAC is 203-250-1111. If enough people call and request a change maybe they will reconsider.

  13. Mike says

    They should have a game or two at night on Saturday even if they are 6PM starts. You can then get a chance to see a few potentially good match-ups in the semi-final rounds. Depending on the match-ups I think there could be some really nice draws.

  14. The Dude says

    Newtown vs. Ridgefield- Newtown- Newtown wins a battle of two teams not necessarily known for their performances in big games.
    Southington vs. NFA- Southington- Stars all over the field in this one. Barmore pulls Southington through. I still don’t get NFA. Strange team.
    West Haven vs. Hall- West Haven- West Haven’s run game too much
    Glastonbury vs. Prep- Glastonbury- Prep is on fire, but Glastonbury is well rested and have too many weapons.

    Newtown vs. Southington- Southington- I know the entire state is pulling for Newtown. But Barmore is too good.
    West Haven vs. Glastonbury- West Haven- Should be a great one. But West Havens athletes pull through.

    Southington vs. West Haven- West Haven- Phillips goes to Syracuse with a state title.

  15. Too cold? says

    if they are so worried about the cold (what I heard) then have a noon start and a 330pm start?? a lot of football to only see one game that day.

  16. says

    I worked the Apple Valley Classic game as an official and was underwhelmed by Southington. A poor Cheshire Defense held them in the 1st half, and the Cheshire offense moved the ball on them. Southington wore them down and ran away with it, but they won’t wear down NFA.

  17. Brian says

    I emailed Paul Hoey and he actually responded pretty quickly. He said they “might” offer 1 7pm game on Saturday if they can find a host site. I know Ken Strong would host but the issue is if its Prep/WH that should be the primetime game and it can’t be since it involves West Haven. I have a hunch Newtown will play Saturday night vs NFA at Strong. I think both teams win tonight and give us that 1 primetime game.

    • says

      Sheehan actually has ample bleacher space and great lights and turf on the plus side, but the building(clubhouse) distance away and parking (few spots close) is a negative

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