Pooch’s Picks: Greater New Haven football predictions for Week 8

NH County GAME OF THE WEEK

Xavier (5-2) at No. 8 Hand (6-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Surf Club, Madison

Players to Watch: Xavier: Andrew Meoli, Sr., RB/DB; Joe Carbone, Sr., QB; Will Garrity, Sr., OL/LB; Hand: Tommy Wilson, Jr., S; Nick van Dell, So., QB; Dan Rogers, Sr., RB/LB

What to look for: This contest hasn’t generated the type of hype that last season’s did, but it should still be highly competitive.
Last season, Hand defeated Xavier 40-20, snapping the Falcons’ 30-game winning streak. Both teams went on to win state championships.

This marks the 22nd time the two storied programs will play. Hand leads the series 15-6.

Hand is coming off a thrilling 44-41 victory over Shelton last week in which junior Tyler Phan kicked the winning field goal. Phan is one of the state’s best kickers and should be an asset to the Tigers again tonight.

The two-time defending Class L champions have won six straight since losing to New Canaan in the season opener.

Van Dell has completed 101 of 156 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has also rushed for seven scores. Running back Conor Dowd (643 yards, six touchdowns) and receivers Tom WIlson (33 catches, 519 yards, six touchdowns) and Jake Mirando (30-294-3) also contribute on offense.

Defensively, Tommy Wilson leads the teams with 78 tackles and three interceptions while Rogers has made 76 tackles.

Xavier, the three-time defending Class LL champion, is led by Meoli (118 carries, 872 yards, 12 touchdowns). Carbone is a threat to run or pass. The Falcons may need to win out in order to qualify for the postseason, but could be in better shape than Hand if it loses.

Give a slight edge to Hand in this one, mainly because it’s playing on its home field.

Register’s pick: Hand.

Friday’s games
No. 7 West Haven (6-1) at Wilbur Cross (3-4), at East Haven High, 3:30 p.m.: Trap game for the Westies? Register’s Pick: West Haven.

Amity (4-3) at Fairfield Prep (5-2), 6 p.m.: Fairfield Prep sits in 12th place in the Class LL playoff ratings. It will likely need to win out in order to qualify. Its remaining games include contests against Xavier and West Haven. Register’s Pick: Fairfield Prep.

Ellington/Somers (4-3) at Valley Regional/Old Lyme (6-0), 6:30 p.m.: Valley Regional/Old Lyme is clearly the class of the Pequot Conference. Register’s Pick: Valley Regional/Old Lyme.

Morgan (5-1) at North Branford (4-2), 6:30 p.m.: North Branford is in danger of losing for the third straight time, which would seriously damage its state playoff hopes. Register’s Pick: Morgan.

Branford (0-6) at Lyman Hall (1-6), 7 p.m.: Can Lyman Hall make it consecutive wins? The Trojans snapped a 16-game losing streak last week. Register’s Pick: Lyman Hall.

Bunnell (3-4) at Pomperaug (2-5), 7 p.m.: Pomperaug defeated Masuk, Bunnell did not. Not that it means much now since Masuk has lost three in a row. Register’s Pick: Pomperaug.

Cheshire (3-4) at Notre Dame-West Haven (2-5), 7 p.m.: Expect Notre Dame to play much better here than it did in a 54-13 loss to Xavier last week. Register’s Pick: Notre Dame-West Haven.

Crosby (1-6) at Seymour (4-3), 7 p.m.: Seymour is still in the hunt for a state playoff berth, but has games remaining with Ansonia and Woodland, who are both unbeaten. Register’s Pick: Seymour.

East Haven (1-6) at Foran (5-2), 7 p.m.: It will be hard for Foran to not look ahead to next week’s showdown at North Haven. Register’s Pick: Foran.

Guilford (3-4) at Law (1-5), 7 p.m.: Guilford can move one step closer to the SCC Division II West title with a victory here. Register’s Pick: Guilford.

Hamden (3-4) at Shelton (5-2), 7 p.m.: Season on the line for Shelton. After Hamden, the Gaels close the season with road games against Xavier, West Haven and Derby. Register’s Pick: Shelton.

Oxford (4-3) at Barlow (6-1), 7 p.m.: Oxford will get an up-close-and-personal view of Barlow’s electric senior quarterback, Jack Shaban, one of the state’s most exciting players. Register’s Pick: Barlow.

Sheehan (2-5) at Fairfield Warde (2-5), 7 p.m.: Sheehan has a good chance of ending the season at 6-5. Register’s Pick: Sheehan.

Stratford (3-4) at Masuk (4-3), 7 p.m.: Masuk likely ends its three-game losing streak. Register’s Pick: Masuk.

Wilby (4-3) at Naugatuck (6-1), 7 p.m.: Jason Bradley threw for 323 yards and six touchdowns for Naugatuck in a victory over St. Paul last week. Register’s Pick: Naugatuck.

Wolcott (4-3) at Derby (4-3), 7 p.m.: Derby has lost three in a row and has allowed an average of 53 points during the losing streak. Register’s Pick: Wolcott.

Woodland (7-0) at Holy Cross (5-2), 7 p.m.: Woodland will all but clinch the NVL Copper Division with a victory here. The Hawks’ remaining divisional game is against Torrington (0-7) next week. Register’s Pick: Woodland.

No. 10 North Haven (6-1) at Hillhouse (3-4), at East Haven High, 8 p.m.: Later-than-normal start is part of a doubleheader that follows West Haven/Wilbur Cross. Register’s Pick: North Haven.

Saturday’s games

Quinebaug (5-2) at O’Brien Tech (3-3), noon: Quinebaug has a legitimate shot at qualifying for the Class M playoffs, especially with a favorable schedule remaining. Register’s Pick: Quinebaug.

Haddam-Killingworth (0-7) at Canton (4-2), 1 p.m.: Unless H-K wins here, it’s a real possibility the Cougars go 0-11. Register’s Pick: Canton.

Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (3-3) at Hyde (4-3), at Wilbur Cross, 2 p.m.: Hyde’s been a tough team to figure out. The Howling Wolves have played well defensively, but their offense has been MIA in several games. Register’s Pick: Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton.

Wolcott Tech (1-5) at Platt Tech (2-5), 2:30 p.m.: Platt Tech has scored just 92 points, the second-lowest total in the CSC. Register’s Pick: Platt Tech.

Last week: 16-4. Season: 139-29.

NEWSROOM

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