About Last Week: Thrill of victory / agony of defeat on Armageddon weekend

Senior captain Will Garrity celebrates after catching a pass from senior quarterback Joe Carbone scoring the final touchdown of the game with 9 seconds left on the clock. Xavier defeated Shelton 15-12 at Palmer Field. Catherine Avalone - The Middletown Press

Senior captain Will Garrity celebrates after catching a pass from senior quarterback Joe Carbone scoring the final touchdown of the game with 9 seconds left on the clock. Xavier defeated Shelton 15-12 at Palmer Field. Catherine Avalone – The Middletown Press

Shelton coach Jeff Roy watches in disbelief after Xaveri QB Joe Carbone's late touchdown run handed the Gaels a 15-12 loss.

Shelton coach Jeff Roy watches in disbelief after Xaveri QB Joe Carbone’s late touchdown run handed the Gaels a 15-12 loss.

On a brisk Friday football night in Connecticut, Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno was pacing back and forth on the sidelines, anxiously watching the seconds ticking away, glancing down at the information in his hand, glancing back to the field. The situation wasn’t promising.

His quarterback, Jason Bradley was barking out play suggestions in hopes of improving Naugatuck’s chances. “They should run at that side,” he said. “Look how that kid’s covering.”

Nobody was listening though. Nor would they. Not now. Not ever.

Bruno and Bradley were mere spectators on this night. They’d already wiped the Municipal Stadium turf with Holy Cross to dramatically improve their standing in the Class L playoff picture.

No, Friday was time for some live scoreboard watching. So they were here at Vanacore Field in North Haven, rooting for Foran to drop the Indians down the Class L playoff standings (and for Bruno’s nephew, Foran star receiver Nick Weissauer).

The information in Bruno’s hand? His brand new iPhone. Scores from other games of interest to Naugy’s playoff prospects were being fed to him. West Haven beating Hand? Check. Woah, Middletown got upset? “Doesn’t matter,” Bruno said. “They’re already in (Class L).”

It was that Xavier-Shelton game that concerned him. Shelton was ahead 12-7 with 2 minutes remaining. Naugatuck wanted Shelton to lose since every Gaels win helped Hand in the Class L playoff race. And anybody who’s been around knows every point counts.

A scan of our phones said Xavier needed to go 98 yards to win the game. The adults gathered put Shelton in the win column.

“They can do it,” Bradley chimed in, referring to Xavier. “I’ve seen them. Those are some tough kids and that quarterback knows how to move the ball.”

His youthful optimism elicited a few eye rolls from the rest of us adults.

“Yeah, but when you haven’t scored all game and you need a 98-yard drive, it’s not looking good,” Bruno said.

Then, in a combination of the chilly air and gross overuse from scoreboard watching, everybody’s phone died simultaneously. Finally, someone with a charge came through: “Xavier won.”

WHAT?!?

That cry was heard all over the internets as crazy disseminated across phones and computers all over the state.

The defending Class LL champions were still breathing.

“Welcome to November football,” was the prevailing sentiment among football aficionados. Forget everything you know and everything you think. After nine weeks, with injuries and fatigue touching every football team, it didn’t matter if you were one of the top teams in the state or little ol’ nobody with no shot at all.

And sweet dreams were in pieces on the ground.

Start with Xavier’s vanquished foe, Shelton. The Gaels held Xavier scoreless for three quarters — AT Palmer Field — but couldn’t stop Joe Carbone from working magic on the final drive.

Carbone took Xavier 98 yards in 2 minutes, with NO time outs(!!!) culminating in his season-saving touchdown run with nine seconds remaining.

Xavier 15, Shelton 12. Insanity.

Xavier, which looked like a corpse for much of the Shelton game, gets to live and fight another day (it wraps up its 10-game season with Fairfield Prep before a Thanksgiving eve scrimmage with St. Paul).

Meanwhile, Shelton 2013 died a little death.

Shelton not only lost and dropped far down the Class LL playoff rankings, almost too far, it also lost top running back/linebacker Jason Thompson for the season. With two games remaining, the Gales look cooked.

Elsewhere, No. 3 Middletown was cruising right along in its fight with New London.

Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

New London rallied to get within 21-20 and, just after his extra point was blocked, freshman Garrett Burdick got another shot and drilled the winning field goal from the left hashmark to hand the Blue Dragons their first loss of the season, 23-21. Middletown should still qualify for the postseason easily, but the luster’s faded somewhat.

Those were the two biggest results on Friday.

Yet they weren’t the only ones. Carnage reigned everywhere, and it wasn’t just Friday night.

Seymour's coaches react during the Wildcats' game vs. No. 2 Ansonia. Seymour's upset bid fell short, 21-20 on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. (Peter Casolino)

Seymour’s coaches react during the Wildcats’ game vs. No. 2 Ansonia. Seymour’s upset bid fell short, 21-20 on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. (Peter Casolino)

Seymour's Joe Salemme tries to escape two Ansonia defenders on Thursday, Nov. 7. Ansonia held off Seymour 21-20. (Peter Casolino)

Seymour’s Joe Salemme tries to escape two Ansonia defenders on Thursday, Nov. 7. Ansonia held off Seymour 21-20. (Peter Casolino)

    • Ansonia 21, Seymour 20: It actually started Thursday when Seymour took a 14-7 lead over No. 2 Ansonia at halftime, sending an exodus of media from Municipal Stadium in Waterbury (where Naugy was leading Holy Cross 36-7). Joey Salemme was electric, accounting for three touchdowns as the Cats recovered three onside kicks to keep back Arkeel Newsome off the field. But Newsome got on the board twice in the second half and Ansonia hung on thanks to a stopped 2-point conversion and a missed field goal.
    • New Canaan 35, Wilton 7: In its first game as No. 1, New Canaan lost linebacker Michael Root to a hip pointer and quarterback Nick Cascione to a concussion. Brett Phillips and Wilton had the Rams sweating in the cold at Fujitani Field. It was 7-7 at halftime eliciting some chuckles from the Ansonia faithful on Twitter. But the Rams turned to Frank Cognetta, who ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as New Canaan pulled away. Dave Ruden of his eponymous site reported Root will be fine but Cascione will be evaluated. Given the nature of concussions, we doubt he’ll play vs. Trinity Catholic this week.
    • Ridgefield 44, McMahon 7: Everyone wanted to know just how real McMahon was. Yea, the Senators are having their best season in nearly two decades and they came rolling into Tiger Hollow in Ridgefield with a 7-0 record. But Will Bonaparte and the Tigers showed McMahon the door with a 44-7 rout. The final spot in the FCIAC championship comes down to St. Joseph and Staples with bonuses in the Hogs’ favor. McMahon plays St. Joseph on Friday in a game that’s now crucial to their Class LL playoff hopes.
    • Stonington 28, Ledyard 21: Stonington looked like anything but a legit state contender in Class M after losing to Fitch and getting run over by Jeremiah Crowley and Montville for a state-record 526 yards in the season’s early weeks. The Bears led fellow playoff contender Ledyard for most of the game. Though Ledyard rallied to take a 21-20 lead, Stonington stripped Jo Jo Shumaker of the ball in its own territory and marched down the field for the winning score, a short run by quarterback Divante White with 55 seconds left. Ledyard wouldn’t go quietly. Khary Childs caught three big passes from Ty Ebdon and the Colonels were at the 6-yard line with second left. Matt Mitchell knocked the ball out of Childs hands in the end zone and then Ebdon was dropped by a pair of Bears (see play at left) to preserve the huge victory. The win simultaneously kept Stonington from being knocked out of the Class M playoff race and put Ledyard on the edge.
    • Newtown 35, Stratford 0: The Hawks’ offense struggled vs. Stratford. They only led 13-0 at halftime and then back Cooper Gold left the game with an injury. That’s when Jaret Devellis (yes, another DeVellis) stepped in with a pair of touchdowns. He also had a fumble recovery and a quarterback sack. The Nighthawks clinched a spot in the Class LL playoff field, the first to do so, and will face the winner of next week’s Barlow-Brookfield game in the SWC championship in Brookfield, Nov. 21.
 West Haven's Ervin Philips looks for room around Hand's Sammy Katz during the first quarter.  (Peter Casolino -- New Haven Register)

West Haven’s Ervin Philips looks for rooms around Hand’s Sammy Katz during the first quarter. (Peter Casolino — New Haven Register)

  • Other games of note: New Fairfield trailed Bunnell 20-0 after a quarter. But the Rebels, in a comeback reminiscent of Week 2′s game vs. Oxford, rallied with 21 points in the fourth quarter to win 28-26. The Rebels are still kicking in Class M. …North Haven held Foran to just 15 yards on 15 plays in the second half and picked off quarterback Jake Kasuba twice in their huge 28-14 victory. Ethan Suraci ran for four touchdowns. The Indians face Darien in the final game of the SCC-FCIAC challenge on Friday. More importantly it’s a massive swing game in the Class L playoff race. The winner is likely in, the loser is in big trouble. …Naugatuck’s dominant 50-20 win over Holy Cross denied the Crusaders a spot in the NVL title game. The Hawks, who routed Torrington 46-14 will clinch the Copper division title with a victory over Derby. …West Haven remained unbeaten in the SCC with a dominant, 46-35 effort vs. Hand. Ervin Philips scored five touchdowns, putting the defending Class L champs on life support in the Class L race. West Haven, which faces Shelton and Prep in the coming weeks, are in great shape in Class LL. …Central’s Mykel Morris put a fright into Staples‘ playoff hopes. He threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. But the Wreckers pulled way for a 42-26 victory thanks to Jack Greenwald’s 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. …Brookfield’s rout of New Milford and Barlow’s rout of Notre Dame-Fairfield has created a winner-take all Friday night game for a spot in the SWC championship alongside Newtown. Brookfield is looking for its first bid since 2008. Barlow’s looking for its first-ever SWC title game appearance and only its second league playoff in history. …Windham’s 39-8 victory over Prince Tech helped matters for a few Class S hopefuls since Prince is scheduled to play Capital Prep at the end of the year and could drop further in the rankings, opening the door for someone else.

FCIAC-Logo

FCIAC PLAYOFF PICTURE

New Canaan is in. St. Joseph has the inside track to face the Rams again in the FCIAC title game Nov. 22 at McDougall Stadium. Staples needs either a St. Joseph loss to McMahon or enough bonuses to swing its way to climb over the Hogs and defend its title. Read more here.
SWClogo

SWC PLAYOFF PICTURE

Newtown is in. They have the week off since Immaculate is forfeiting the game. The winner of Friday’s Brookfield-Bethel clash at WestConn will face them in the league title game Nov. 21 at Brookfield.
NVL-Logo

NVL PLAYOFF PICTURE

As discussed, Woodland needs to beat Derby to secure all tiebreakers and win the NVL Copper Division and face Brass champion Ansonia Nov. 21 at Municipal Stadium. A loss, and Naugatuck could win the tiebreaker if it defeats Kennedy and push the title game to Thanksgiving vs. Ansonia.

THE CLINCH IS IN

CIAC LogoThanks to the efforts of Matt Fischer of the CIAC and the Rep-Am/NVL Blog’s Kyle Brennan, the CIAC has unveiled its annual playoff worksheet, which we affectionately call the ‘HAL9000 Playoff Computer,’ in honor of the late Shoreline Sports editor who kept the points with, quite literally, a slide rule for the first 30 years of its existence.

You can now see everything your team needs to qualify for the state playoffs in real time.

Here’s the breakdown of each division:

CLASS LL | CLASS L | CLASS M | CLASS S

Newtown has unofficially clinched in Class LL. Capital Prep/Classical/Achieve and Ansonia have clinched in Class S.

Here’s a list of teams that are still alive in their respective playoff races:

The ‘TOP 8′ are teams that would qualify if the season ended today (it doesn’t). ‘ON THE BUBBLE’ means you’re still mathematically alive.

Give or take, the further your team is down the list, the more dire your playoff chances.

*Means your team has clinched.


CLASS LL:


THE TOP 8 — Newtown (9-0)*, West Haven (8-1), NFA (7-1), Glastonbury (8-1), Southington (7-1), Hall (7-1), Xavier (7-2), McMahon 7-1. | ON THE BUBBLE — Ridgefield (7-2), Staples (7-2), Trumbull (7-2), Fairfield Prep (7-2), Shelton (6-3), Greenwich (6-3), Manchester (5-4).

CLASS L:

THE TOP 8 — New Canaan (9-0), Platt (9-0), Middletown (8-1), Farmington (8-1), Naugatuck (8-1), Darien (8-1), North Haven (8-1), New London (6-2) | ON THE BUBBLE — , Bristol Eastern (7-2), Hand (6-3), Windsor (6-2), Cheney Tech (7-2), Wethersfield (6-3), Masuk (6-3), Avon (6-3), Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (5-3), East Lyme (5-3), Guilford (5-4).

CLASS M:

THE TOP 8 — Valley Regional/Old Lyme (8-0), St. Joseph (8-1), Barlow (8-1), Gilbert/Northwestern (7-1), Brookfield (8-1), Bethel (7-2), Ledyard (7-2), Stonington (6-2). | ON THE BUBBLE — Quinnebaug Valley (7-2), Wolcott (6-3), Bullard-Havens (6-3), Foran (6-3), New Fairfield (6-3), Ellington/Somers (5-4), Waterford (4-4), Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (4-4), Killingly (4-5).

CLASS S:

THE TOP 8 — Capital Prep/Classical Magnet/Achieve* (9-0), Ansonia* (9-0), Prince Tech (8-1), Rocky Hill (8-1), Woodland (8-1), Morgan (7-1), Bloomfield (7-2), Coginchaug (6-2). | ON THE BUBBLE — Northwest Catholic (7-2), North Branford (5-3), Holy Cross (6-3), Derby (5-4), Montville (5-4), Windham (5-4), St. Paul (6-3), Canton (5-3), Cromwell (4-4), Hyde (5-4), Seymour (5-4), Griswold (5-4), Enfield (4-4), Plainfield (4-4), SMSA/University (4-4), Plainville (4-4), Old Saybrook/Westbrook (4-4).

PLAYS OF THE WEEK

We’re still taking submissions for the GameTimeCT Plays of the Week. Submit your ‘Plays of the Week!’ Send a video link to sbowley@nhregister.com or Tweet at us at @SPBowley or @GameTimeCT Deadline is 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

Further Reading

Comments

  1. SCC says

    SPB, is it true that Federici (# 9) for Shelton got 2 personal fouls Friday night versus Xavier? Is he out for the West Haven game?

    • Observer says

      @ SCC Says. I was at the game, and as far as I know, it is true. He is out for next week. This brings me to a gripe that I have had with the refs this year. There seems to be little consideration of the big picture this year when it comes to ejections. Before the swarm arrives and criticizes me for condoning poor behavior, let me justify myself by saying that am fully in favor of good sportsmanship. By no means do I feel that Federici’s behavior was acceptable. Tossing your helmet and cursing an opponent is absolutely unacceptable and certainly worthy of a personal foul. This being said, considering it was the same play and obviously a fit of frustration after losing a hard fought game, does it warrant two penalties in the same play? I personally don’t think so. I would also like to recall last week’s ejection of Gonzalez from Xavier. His first personal foul was justified in my eyes. He laid a cheap shot, and then he stood over his opponent. In the eyes of the ref, this was taunting–penalty earned. The second personal foul however was VERY questionable. All Gonzalez did was point to his HOME stands after scoring a touchdown. He didn’t dance. He didn’t make a spectacle. He only pointed for about a second at most. Did this warrant an ejection, loss of the remainder of the game, and the loss of the following game? Absolutely not. But that is the punishment he accepted. I recognize that the officials are trying to enforce cordiality in a violent sport, but isn’t that in and of itself a contradiction? Football is violent. Football is personal. Football expects young (and often immature) individuals to engage one another in a violent fashion, and then go about it politely between whistles. I’m not saying that lines shouldn’t be drawn, but I am saying that these lines are not concrete and objective. Officials need to be a bit more subjective in their rulings. In Federici’s case, wouldn’t a lone personal foul, and ejection for the rest of the game serve its purpose? I know that whether he is a Senior, but if he is, and the official on hand made the hasty call, he should have first considered that he might have been depriving the kid of his final game of his life.

  2. says

    Feel bad for Shelton, 3 very close games, all down to the wire and now to lose your RB.. Very tough. Time to play spoiler and catch WH looking ahead maybe?? Prep-Xavier will be a great game. SCC has a lot of parity this year with WH looking like the cream of the crop. Still not over for playoffs for Prep, Hand, Xavier so last few games will be very interesting.

  3. HS Fan says

    @chitown – if he was flagged for mouthing off and throwing his helmet, they are both unsportsmanlike penalties. 2, in a game, will get you a seat in the stands for the next game.

  4. RAY BROWN says

    mcintyre—your right but id substitute parity with mediocrity which i stated from day one.if prep—x game is in middletown—prep has no chance–refs will make sure

    • mr potato head says

      hey ray whats it called when ansonia sneaks by seymour, who lost to amity who lost to cheshire who lost to ….etc? is that parity, mediocrity, valley tough, or pop warner. I read recently that ansonia plays the 116th toughest schedule in the state, which only has 166 schools. jesus.116th, ray!? there are 115 schools that play a tougher schedule than ansonia? I didnt know that. 115 schools… wow, that doesnt sound good, duud. parity, mediocrity whatever…best keep your thoughts to yourself lest the pollsters start latching on to this 116th data point..starting to see it alot now..

  5. Coach Kay says

    it was 2 “unsportsmanlike” penalties, not personal fouls, probably just frustrated getting beat on the last play of the game…

    • willie says

      re the above, shelton is a very good team playing a tough schedule and of all the teams in the state has been given the toughest builds character medicine. And ansonia does play the 116th most difficult schedule in the state (in fairness and to their credit, this means there are 50 teams that play a weaker schedule!!!! we should keep this in mind),. this comes from maxprep’s objective computer ranking system. I think everyone understands that the NVL is not the fciac or the scc D1. but I was stunned to learn 116 is the ranking in terms of schedule. didnt know there were that many high schools in conn. well, you learn new things all the time.
      anyway, on to more important things. xavier-prep is the main event this weekend. not getting much attention, which is fine. nh-darien is the undercard. is prep ready for prime time? playing at home. my gut tells me yes.

      • Matt Glaszmattglasz says

        #12 Xavier (7-2) at #20 Fairfield Prep (7-2) is sure to be a great game but I don’t think the Jesuits have enough to beat Xavier or West Haven (certainly not back-to-back) so as far as playoffs are concerned this game only matters for the Falcons, who need to win and get help to make the Class LL playoffs.

        The game of the week in Connecticut is #13 Darien (8-1) at #8 North Haven (8-1). The Indians have the fewest bonus points of any one loss Class L team and likely need to win-out to make the playoffs. Darien plays #1 New Caanan on Thanksgiving so this may be their last chance at a win, which would secure their spot in the postseason.

        • mr potato head says

          appreciate your views. but the prep- xavier game potentially represents a significant shifting in the sands that may only be understood in hindsight. stay tuned.

  6. JB says

    All of the SCC LL games have been key and remain that way from here to the end of the season. What a gauntlet. I am really impressed with the level of competition. Whomever rises to the top of that heap will be battle tested and likley win the LL crown going away.

    L is really interesting this year with NC and then all of the rest being over-shadowed. Is Platt for real, I don’t think so and the weak schedule won’t prepare them well for the playoffs. Middletwon was over-hyped. So this North Haven and Darien game is almost like a semi-final playoff game (but in the regular season) that is how good each team probably is. Watch out for Darien … they may be the most under-rated team in CT.

    • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

      @JB – Here are things about Darien that scare you: 1. Their defensive line is young and gooood. 2. Nick Lombardo is a gamer. 3. The kicker, Daly Hebert booms it. Touchback every time and has 50-yard range. 4. And they are exceptionally well-coached.

  7. JB says

    I agree, Sean, it is like they are “NC in waiting” with that aggressive approach – great special teams and shutdown defense. But can they overcome the inexperience of youth this year? They definitely show the potential. Just have to be consistent for 4 quarters and watch out. North Haven is the test.

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