All Times 2 p.m.
No. 8 BLOOMFIELD (10-2) vs. No. 4 WOODLAND (11-2)
- Where: Monroe Field, Wolcott High
- On the Air: WATR 1320-AM
- Players to watch: Bloomfield: Norvel Stewart, Sr., QB/S; Travis Thompson, Sr., RB/DB; Branden Callender, Sr., LB; Woodland: Tanner Kingsley, Sr., QB; Levi Fancher, Sr., TE/LB; Jack Pinho, Sr., WR/DB.
You should know: Bloomfield is coming off an emotional 27-3 victory over No. 1 seed Capital Prep/Classical Magnet/Achievement First in the quarterfinals. The Warhawks have advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2009.
Bloomfield’s offense features two 1,000-yard rushers in Stewart and Thompson (at right, making an interception TD). Stewart is also a threat to throw. Thompson ran for 123 yards and two scores in the quarterfinal victory. The Bloomfield defense forced eight turnovers in the quarterfinals.
Woodland is making its second straight trip to the semifinals after losing to North Branford in that round last season. The Hawks defeated Morgan 47-21 in the quarterfinals. In that contest, Woodland rushed for 270 yards and six touchdowns. Kingsley threw for 265 yard and one touchdown. Sophomore Sean McAllen rushed for over 100 yards in the game but left with an injury. He will likely play here but may be limited.
Kingsley has completed 216 of 342 passes for 3,215 yards and 41 touchdowns this season. Kingsley has targets in Pinho (30 catches, 285 yards, five touchdowns), junior Mike Kenney (53-972-15) and senior Taylor Tucciarone (44-654-12). The Woodland defense did an outstanding job of containing Morgan running back Jake Ward in the quarterfinals and will likely need another strong outing against a quick and athletic Bloomfield squad.
Bloomfield has dealt with tragedy this year, the death of one of their former teammates and the arrest of one of their captains on a murder charge.
- Pooch’s pick: Woodland.
- SPB’s Pick: Woodland 33-20
No. 3 ROCKY HILL (11-1) vs. No. 2 ANSONIA (13-0)
- Where: Riccitelli Field, Sheehan High, Wallingford
- Players to watch: Rocky Hill: Chris Young, Sr., RB/LB; Andrew Jenkelunas, Sr., QB/S; Nick Carducci, Sr., OL/LB; Ansonia: Arkeel Newsome, Sr., RB/DB; Matt Simon, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan Hovan, Sr., OL/DL.
You should know: Ansonia, which qualified for the playoffs for the past eight seasons, is on the verge of reaching yet another state title game. The Chargers have won two straight championships (last season in Class S and Class M in 2011). The Chargers have won 41 straight games since losing in the Class S championship game to St. Joseph in 2010.
Ansonia, ranked No. 1 in the Register Top 10 Poll, thrives on running the ball behind a big and physical offensive line, led by Hovan and Simon. The Chargers are fortunate to have, arguably, the state’s best player in Newsome (at right, breaking state rushing record) in their backfield. Newsome became the first player in state history to rush for more than 10,000 yards in his career. He reached that milestone by rushing for a career-high 492 yards in a quarterfinal victory over Coginchaug. Newsome scored seven times in that win. Newsome enters today’s contest with 10,155 career rushing yards.
Ansonia has other weapons, including senior fullback Saiheed Sanders, junior receiver Witold Gul and sophomores Tajik Bagley and Tyler Bailey. Junior quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight sat out the Coginchaug game with an ankle injury but he’s expected to play today.
Rocky Hill earned its first ever playoff victory in a 51-8 win over Prince Tech in the quarterfinals. The Terriers have reached the postseason the last three years.
Rocky Hill also enjoys running the ball. Young is one of the state’s best backs. He rushed just nine times but for 123 yards and three touchdowns against Prince Tech. In that contest, the Terriers rushed for 322 yards and five touchdowns. On the season, Rocky Hill has rushed for 3,920 yards and 56 touchdowns. Young leads the way with 176 carries for 1,861 yards and 33 touchdowns.
The Ansonia defense should be challenged by the Terriers’ ground game. Still, Rocky Hill is a heavy underdog.
- Pooch’s Pick: Ansonia.
- SPB’s pick: Ansonia 49-8