Thanksgiving Week Preview Capsules for select New Haven County (and some Middlesex County) games.
St. Paul at Oxford
- Where/When: Oxford High, Wednesday, 6 p.m.
- Team records: St. Paul 6-3; Oxford 7-2
- Thanksgiving Series Record: St. Paul leads series 2-0
- Last year: St. Paul 46-13
- Players to watch: St. Paul: Jordan Silva, Sr., RB/LB; Zach Parent, Sr., WR/CB; Chris Dionne, Jr., RB/LB; Damien Rabis, Jr., RB Oxford: Joe Romagna, Sr., RB/LB; Tyler Jacob, Sr., QB; Dan Herold, Sr., RB/LB; Griffin Downs, Sr., RB/LB.
You should know: Oxford will attempt to qualify for the state playoffs for the first time in program history. The Wolverines need to beat St. Paul and then get some help in order to do so. Regardless, Oxford has still won the most games in a season since 2012 when the Wolverines went 8-2. Oxford has lost only to unbeaten Ansonia and to Seymour (7-2).
Romagna is one of the top players in the NVL. He’s rushed 125 times for 765 yards and 13 touchdowns, and has made 51 tackles. Downs (78 carries, 489 yards, six touchdowns) and Herold (37-175-2) also contribute out of the backfield.
Jacob doesn’t throw much, but he does an effective job of piloting the offense. Jacob has completed 27 of 68 passes for 534 yards and four touchdowns.
Herold leads the team with 55 tackles and three sacks.
St. Paul is technically still mathematically alive for a playoff spot in Class S but, realistically, its playoff dreams were dashed when it picked up a third loss on Nov. 4 to Seymour. Still, it’s been a successful season. This is the fourth straight year that the Falcons have won at least five games.
St. Paul has played mainly out of the wishbone formation rather than the spread like in past seasons under veteran coach Jude Kelly. The Falcons are averaging around 286 rushing yards per game. Dionne and Rabis have been the team’s leading rushers.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Oxford.
Seymour at Woodland
- Where/When: Woodland High, Beacon Falls, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
- Team records: Seymour 7-2; Woodland 1-8
- Series Record: Series tied 7-7
- Last year: Seymour 53-7
- Players to watch: Seymour: Jaylen Kelley, Sr., QB/DB/P; Bobby Melms, Jr., RB/DB; Charlie Ritchel, Sr., OL/LB; Alex Massie, Sr., WR/DB; Woodland: Quinten Koch, Sr., QB/FS; Isaac Negron, Sr., RB/LB; Scott Lawrence, Sr., TE/LB; Cody Doyle, Sr., OL/DL.
You should know: Seymour needs a win here to qualify for the Class S state playoffs for the second straight season. The Wildcats will likely be the No. 7 seed, but could fall to No. 8 if Rocky Hill defeats Cromwell/Portland. In the event of an unlikely loss, Seymour would need some help to reach the postseason.
Seymour’s losses were to unbeaten Ansonia, which has already qualified in Class S, and to Wolcott (7-2), which is in the hunt in Class M.
The Wildcats have been led by Kelley, a dual-threat QB who can beat you on the ground and through the air. Coming off a successful junior campaign, Kelley this year has completed 59 of 102 passes (58 percent) for 1,490 yards and 25 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He’s also rushed 136 times for 962 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Melms is in the midst of a breakthrough season and has formed quite the formidable duo with Kelley in the backfield. Melms has carried 78 times for 829 yards and 12 touchdowns. Melms has also caught 16 passes for 375 yards and six scores.
Massie (20 catches, 528 yards, nine touchdowns) is the team’s leading receiver. Seniors Lucas Bowen and Jake LaRovera have also contributed at receiver.
Seymour is much-improved on defense this season. The Wildcats are allowing just over 14 points per game. Seymour has posted two shutouts and held three more opponents to under 10 points. Ritchel (103 tackles), Bowen (92 tackles), senior Adam Iacomacci (four sacks) and sophomore Cade Klarides-Ditria (64 tackles) have all played well on that side of the ball.
It’s been a tough season for Woodland and first-year head coach Chris Moffo. The Hawks lost their first eight games this season before defeating Kennedy 40-20 in Woodland’s last contest on Nov. 11.
The Hawks primarily run the ball on offense and are averaging 232 rushing yards per game. Negron leads the team with 197 carries for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Koch has run for five touchdowns. Junior Tom Smith has a breakout game against Kennedy after running 18 times for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Seymour.
Old Saybrook/Westbrook at Morgan
- Where/When: Peters Complex, Clinton, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
- Team records: Old Saybrook/Westbrook 7-2; Morgan 6-3
- Series Record: Morgan leads series 10-5
- Last year: Morgan 49-22
- Players to watch: Old Saybrook/Westbrook: Chase Cook, Sr., RB/DL; Vin Dyer, Jr., RB/LB; Victor Pascoe, Jr., QB; Sloan True, Sr., OL/LB; Morgan: Madden Ward, Sr., QB/WR; George Limosani, Sr., OL/LB; Ivan Villanueva, Sr., OL/DL; Matt Capece, Sr., OL/DL.
You should know: Old Saybrook/Westbrook has won the most games in a season since 2003, when the Rams finished 7-4. Old Saybrook/Westbrook is still in the hunt for a Class S state playoff berth, which would be a first in program history, but it would need to win here and then get a lot of help in order to qualify.
The Rams like to run the ball and average 317 rushing yards per game. Cook is the workhorse, he’s carried 134 times for 1,001 yards and 13 touchdowns through eight games. Dyer has added 93 carries for 723 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Dyer leads the team with 49 tackles and five interceptions.
Morgan, which advanced to the Class S playoffs last season, will finish with a winning record for the fourth straight season.
Ward has done an effective job of leading the offense in his first season at quarterback. His receivers include senior Harry White, senior Nate Hornyak and sophomores Zach Johnson and Ryan Caldwell. Junior Isaac Eriksen and freshman Miles Vogl are the Huskies’ leading rushers.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Morgan.
Guilford at Hand
- Where/When: Surf Club, Madison, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Team records: Guilford 3-6; Hand 1-8
- Series Record: Hand leads series 37-5-1
- Last year: Hand 42-7
- Players to watch: Guilford: Eryk Derda, Sr., RB/CB; Jack Strand, So., QB/LB; Jack Six, Sr., LB/DE; A.J. Moscato, Jr., RB/LB; Hand: Nick Leone, Sr., FB/LB; Nick Casagrande, Jr., RB/LB; Brett Bilcheck, Sr., QB/WR; Joey Ciotti, So., QB.
You should know: This is the final game for multi-championship Hand coach Steve Filippone, who announced in October that he will retire at the end of the season. Filippone said he told his players before the season started that this would be his final year. Fillippone is just the second head coach in program history. He took over for Larry Ciotti in 1989 and has complied a record of 222-78-5 with seven state championships.
The season hasn’t gone as planned for the Tigers, who have struggled to find consistency on either side of the ball. Regardless of the outcome against Guilford, Hand will finish with the worst record in program history. The Tigers went 2-7-1 in 1987.
Bilcheck and Joey Ciotti have split time at quarterback this season for Hand, although Ciotti has played more at that position in recent weeks. Bilcheck is used at receiver when not at quarterback.
Leone is a threat at fullback and at linebacker, while Casagrande is one of the top defenders in the SCC.
Guilford improved on last season’s win total after going 2-8 in head coach Mike Eagle’s first year with the program last season.
Strand has done a decent job of directing the offense at quarterback. Derda contributes at running back, as does Moscato, who rushed for 144 yards in a loss to East Haven in the Indians’ last game on Nov. 11.
Six (78 tackles, 3.5 sacks) leads the defense.
Guilford has not defeated Hand since 2006.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Hand.
North Branford at Coginchaug
- Where/When: Coginchaug High, Durham, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: North Branford 5-4; Coginchaug 1-8
- Series Record: First meeting on Thanksgiving
- Last year: Did not play
- Players to watch: North Branford: Jeff Jablonski, Jr., QB/FS; Matt Sibley, Sr., LB; Nick Mancini, So., SB/LB; Dylan Blake, Sr., HB/LB; Coginchaug: Ricky Sorensen, Sr., RB/LB; Justin Faiella, Sr., WR/FS; Bryan Shields, Sr., TE/LB; Ben Ward, Sr., RB/WR/SS.
You should know: This is the first time that these two Pequot Conference programs are playing on Thanksgiving.
North Branford entered the season young and inexperienced. The Thunderbirds lost a majority of their skill players, in addition to several talented starters on defense, to graduation. Head coach Mark Basil expected it to be a rebuilding year. While it has been, North Branford certainly improved as the season progressed and won four straight games at one point.
Jablonski has done a decent job of directing the offense in his first season at quarterback. Through eight games, he has completed 66 of 130 passes for 898 yards and six touchdowns.
Mancini leads the team in carries (78) and rushing yards (390) and has scored four times on the ground. Blake does a bit of everything offensively. He’s lined up at quarterback, as a running back and as a receiver.
Sibley leads the team with 129 tackles, while Mancini has made 117.
It’s been a tough season for Coginchaug and first-year head coach Steve Croce. The Blue Devils have lost seven in a row since winning their only game on Sept. 17 against Nonnewaug. Coginchaug’s had to deal with several key injuries, especially at quarterback.
Sorensen, though, has been the one constant. He’s rushed 115 times for 929 yards and nine touchdowns. Shields has caught a team-high 17 passes, while Faiella has made three touchdown receptions. Faiella has also seen action at quarterback.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — North Branford.
O’Brien Tech at Platt Tech
- Where/When: Law High, Milford, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: O’Brien Tech 4-3; Platt Tech 3-6
- Series Record: Platt Tech leads series 5-0
- Last year: Platt Tech 24-6
- Players to watch: O’Brien Tech: Kevin Dean, Sr., RB/DE; Michael Macary, Sr., RB; Billy Rodriguez, Sr., RB; Jommar Roc, So., QB; Platt Tech: Aedan Salvatore, Sr., RB/LB; Keenan Little, Jr., QB; Jacob Tamburinno, Jr., WR/CB; Sebastian Pelosi, Jr., OL/DE.
- You should know: O’Brien Tech has equaled program record for wins as a non-coop program. O’Brien Tech finished 4-6 in 2013. Prior to this season, the Condors had won just 10 games since 2011.
The Condors knocked off CSC power Cheney Tech 28-25 on Oct. 14, handing the Beavers their first loss of the season. It was, perhaps, the program’s biggest win. The Condors returned 17 seniors this season, so coach Nick Aprea thought there would be improvement, and that’s been the case.
Dean (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) is a converted running back after playing on the offensive line last season. Macary was also moved to running back this season after playing quarterback last year. Rodriguez is another running back, and he’s also capable of throwing the ball. Roc is the team’s primary passer, while his brother, Jonte, also a sophomore, has contributed offensively out of the backfield. The Condors operate out of the single wing.
Seniors Jose Lopez and Matt Sagehorn have been excelled on the offensive line and at defensive end, while junior Mason Santamaria has played well at linebacker.
Platt Tech has lost three in a row since defeating Wolcott Tech/Housatonic/Wamogo on Oct. 21.
The Panthers have won all five contests against O’Brien Tech in this series, although this seems like the year the Condors emerge victorious.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — O’Brien Tech.
The Stoddard Bowl
Platt at Maloney
- When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Falcon Field
- Team records: Platt 7-2, Maloney 7-2
- Series Record: Maloney 29-28-1
- Last year: Maloney 49-27
- Players to watch: Platt: Sr. WR Tylon Papallo (1,379 all-purpose yards), Jr. QB Aurielio Marinelli (1,181 yards, 15 TDs, 7 INT passing), Soph. RB EJ Dudley (909 yards, 13 TDs), Jr. S Javon James (8.6 tackles/game, INT); Maloney: Sr. WR Alejandro Ortiz (82 catches, 1,056 yards); Sr. TE/OLB Kyle Carlson; Jr. QB Larue Graham; Fr. RB Freddie Hidalgo.
You should know: Led by electric senior Tylon Papallo, Platt has rebounded from a 1-2 start with a six-game win streak, including last week’s impressive 38-16 victory over Hall. They’re looking to return to the playoffs since its last appearance in 2013.
Maloney, which features standout, 1,000-yard receiver Alejandro Ortiz, takes a four-game win streak into this showdown in the Stoddard Bowl. Platt has the more experienced team on paper, but the teams have had similar successes against their CCC Division II schedules.
Maloney’s defense, led by LB Carlson, and Platt’s defense, headed by S Javon James, are both allowing a mere 20 points per game.
This matchup might be as even as the series record. The winner of this game assures a Class L playoff berth, but the loser has an outside chance at getting in as well.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Platt.
The Beehive Bowl
Branford at East Haven
- Where/When: Crisafi Field, East Haven, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Branford 4-5; East Haven 4-5
- Series Record: Branford leads series 38-32-4
- Last year: Branford 10-7
- Players to watch: Branford: Griffin Lynch, Sr., QB; Spencer Berty, Sr., LB; Noah Lordan, Sr., LB; Jay Dering, Sr., FS; East Haven: McClay Marshall, Sr., RB/LB; Niam Coward, Sr., TE/LB; Dom Manna, Sr., FB/LB; Andrew Luzzi, Jr., HB/LB
You should know: East Haven’s probably been waiting a whole year for this game. All the Easties had to do last season was defeat rival Branford on Thanksgiving morning and East Haven would have earned a state playoff berth. Instead, Branford walked off with a 10-7 victory to deny what would have been the Easties’ first ever trip to the postseason.
This year’s tilt should be just as competitive. Both teams are members of the newly-formed SCC Tier 3 and have similar skill sets.
East Haven operates out of the Wing-T on offense. McClay Marshall (139 carries, 1,066 yards, seven touchdowns) has been the featured back, while Manna (65-322-6) has also seen action out of that formation. Through six games, the team has rushed for 2,334 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The Easties don’t throw a lot, but senior Nate Lastomirsky has done an effective job of directing the offense at quarterback. He’s completed 21 of 38 passes for 313 yards.
Coward leads the defense with 101 tackles and eight sacks. Luzzi (85 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries), Lastomirsky (71 tackles), Marshall (three sacks), sophomore Mike Manning (three interceptions) and senior Luis Torres (two interceptions) have also performed well on that side of the ball.
Sophomore Evan Damian is an asset with his legs. He’s averaging 40 yards per punt and has made 20 of 21 extra points and four field goals, including a long of 39 yards.
Branford has lost three in a row. At one point, the Hornets were 4-2 and in the hunt for a state playoff berth. During the current losing streak, Branford is averaging just 15 points per game.
Lynch, a three-year starter, has completed 97 of 202 passes for 1,046 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Danny Thomas (41 catches) is Lynch’s top target, while senior Brian Nichols (17 catches, one touchdown) also contributes at receiver.
The Hornets’ leading rusher is junior Dalton Carden (131 carries, 574 yards, four touchdowns). Berty (65 tackles), Lordan (64 tackles), Dering (59 tackles) and sophomore Jackson Seward (52 tackles) lead the Branford defense.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — East Haven.
The Carini Bowl
Sheehan at Lyman Hall
- Where/When: Fitzgerald Field, Wallingford, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Sheehan 5-4; Lyman Hall 1-8
- Series Record: Lyman Hall leads series 26-18
- Last year: Sheehan 52-26
- Players to watch: Sheehan: Zach Davis, Sr., RB; Danny James, Sr., FB/LB; Weston Teriz, So., QB; Billy Elevli, Sr., OL/DE; Lyman Hall: Connor O’Malley, Sr., WR/DB; Nick Santello, Jr., QB/LB; Louis Ferri, So., RB/SS; Randy McFarline, Jr., FB/DE
You should know: Sheehan can win the SCC Tier 3 title with a victory here. The Titans have won four straight in the series against Lyman Hall.
Davis has established himself as one of the state’s best running backs this season. He’s rushed 258 times for 3,045 yards and 43 touchdowns. In the process, he became just the fifth player in state history to run for more than 3,000 yards in a single season. The others were Bristol Central’s Tim Washington and Ansonia’s Alex Thomas, Montrell Dobbs and Arkeel Newsome.
The next leading offensive threat for the Titans is James, who has rushed 48 times for 256 yards and two touchdowns. James is also Sheehan’s top defender. James has made 110 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, he’s recovered one fumble and caused another. Terzi has made 69 tackles, Elevli has added 53 tackles, sophomore Jesse Johnson leads the team with 2.5 sacks and sophomore Aaron Simmons has intercepted a team-best three passes.
Lyman Hall has yet to win an SCC game this season. The Trojans’ only victory came against CREC on Oct. 22. Head coach Aidan Lynch and several players did not play in that game due to an off-the-field incident. Coach and players have since returned.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Sheehan.
Amity at North Haven
- Where/When: Vanacore Field, North Haven, Thursday, 10 a.m.
- Team records: Amity 3-6; North Haven 3-6
- Series Record: North Haven leads series 10-9-1
- Last year: North Haven 62-30
- Players to watch: Amity: Colin Beaulieu, Sr., QB/DB; Ryan Sabo, Jr., LB; Ryan Bedini, Sr., OL/LB; Luigi Luciani, Jr., OL/LB; North Haven: Tom Dodge, Sr., RB/DB; Jack Steinman, Sr., QB/TE/LB; Kyle Melillo, Sr., TE/LB; Max Sullivan, Sr., RB /DB
You should know: North Haven graduated 18 seniors from a team that advanced to the Class L state championship game last season. In addition, the Indians moved up from the SCC Division II to the newly formed SCC Tier 1 this year.
Although North Haven’s been competitive in almost every game this year, the Indians will finish with their first losing season since going 4-7 in 2008.
North Haven won just one game (against Hand) against fellow SCC Tier 1 opponents. The Indians have lost five in a row overall after starting the season at 3-1.
Still, there’s plenty of talent on the North Haven roster. The Indians have thrown the ball much more than in recent years behind Steinman, who has completed 62 of 123 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns. Melillo leads the team with 29 catches for 522 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Mark Montano has caught 17 passes, including six for touchdowns.
North Haven, though, still runs an effective single-wing offense that is run-based. The Indians have rushed for 2,330 yards and 27 touchdowns, with Dodge as the workhorse. Dodge has carried 100 times for 730 yards and six touchdowns. Montano has rushed 74 times for 550 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns, while Sullivan has added 78 carries for 603 yards and four scores.
Junior Zack Orth leads the team with 74 tackles. Montano (67 tackles, three interceptions), Melillo (58 tackles), junior Korbin Pecora (three interceptions) and Dodge (two interceptions) have also played well on that side of the ball.
Amity’s shown some improvement over last season in head coach Ted Czepiga’s second year with the program. The Spartans have won three games, up from two last season.
Amity was decimated by injury early in the season. The Spartans lost senior quarterback Liam Butler to injury on the fifth play of the season in a 42-6 loss to Shelton on Sept. 9. Czepiga tried several players at quarterback in Butler’s absence, but have since settled on the athletic Beaulieu at that position.
The injuries forced Amity to make other changes with its lineup. Junior Paul Buda moved from defense to center, while Luciani moved from tight end to guard. Despite the injuries, the Spartans still have several talented skill players in their arsenal. Senior Gerald Singleton and Nick Vasil and junior Matt Weidenfeller are used as receivers, while junior Luke Smith contributes at running back.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — North Haven.
Law at Foran
- Where/When: Vito DeVito Field, Milford, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Law 4-5; Foran 6-3
- Series Record: Foran leads series 21-20-2
- Last year: Foran 50-0
- Players to watch: Law: Mitchell Smith, Sr., QB; Hayden Hulme, Jr., WR; Mike Plaskon, So., RB; Ethan Saley, So., WR; Foran: Lance DiNatale, Sr., QB; Brett Huber, Sr., WR/SS; Steven Lynch, Sr., WR/DB; Angelo Simonelli, Sr., OL/LB.
You should know: Foran is still alive for a Class M state playoff berth but would need to win out and get plenty of help in order to qualify. Still, it’s been another successful season for the Lions, who will finish with at least a .500 record for the fifth straight year.
Foran is led by DiNatale, who has completed 154 of 227 passes for 1,927 yards and 13 touchdowns through eight games. DiNatale has also rushed 69 times for 387 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs.
Huber is DiNatale’s top target. Huber has caught 83 passes for 887 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Matt Cruz (23-275-1) an junior Jared Hubler (19-316-5) also contribute at receiver. Cruz has also rushed 67 times for 378 yards and three scores.
Foran coach Jeff Bevino has been pleased all season with the performance of his defense. Among the standouts have been Huber and Lynch in the secondary, senior Alex Ricci and junior Zach Cleary and Hubler at linebacker and senior Andre Vella and Simonelli on the line.
Law, which won just one game last season, has been much improved this season under first-year head coach Erik Larka. Smith has completed 112 of 218 passes for 1,665 yards and 19 touchdowns through eight games. Hulme (26-284-6) and Saley (19-436-5) leads the receiving corps.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Foran.
Naugatuck at Ansonia
- Where/When: Nolan Field, Ansonia, Thursday, 10 a.m.
- Team records: Naugatuck 7-2; Ansonia 9-0
- Series Record: Ansonia leads series 71-35-11
- Last year: Ansonia 41-8
- Players to watch: Naugatuck: Mike Plasky, Jr., QB; Matt Johnson, Sr., OL/DL; Jalen Datil, Sr., WR/CB; Devon Biancarelli, Sr., RB/LB; Ansonia: Bryson Cafaro, Sr., QB; Malcolm Martin, Sr., FB/LB; Markell Dobbs, Jr., RB/CB; Justin Lopez, Jr., WR/DB.
You should know: Despite graduating most of its top skill players, and four of five from the offensive line, it’s been business as usual at Ansonia.
The Chargers have already qualified for a Class S state playoff berth. Ansonia has also clinched a home game for the quarterfinal round. It’s the 11th straight time the Chargers have reached the postseason, all under head coach Tom Brockett. Ansonia has played in six straight state championship games, including a loss to Bloomfield last season.
Cafaro has been a source of stability at quarterback by piloting the young offense through some growing pains. But the Chargers have benefitted from the rapid development of some players who saw little varsity action last season, especially Dobbs, who’s in the midst of a breakthrough season. He has rushed 111 times for 1,569 yards and 21 touchdowns. Dobbs did not play in Ansonia’s 68-14 win over Holy Cross in the Chargers’ last game on Nov. 11 for precautionary reasons, but he’s expected to be ready here.
Martin, Lopez and junior linebacker Cody Teodosio have been stalwarts on defense for Ansonia, which has allowed just 84 points.
Naugatuck is still in contention for a spot in the Class L playoffs, but the Greyhounds would need to upset the Chargers in order to qualify. Naugatuck is currently ranked ninth in Class L. The top eight teams advance to the quarterfinals.
The Greyhounds have lost to Wolcott and Seymour, which are both vying for a spot in Class M and Class S, respectively.
Plasky has performed well at quarterback this season. His top target is Datil, who has compiled career school records of 34 touchdowns, 2,433 receiving yards and 106 receptions. Senior Dan Oladapo is also a threat at receiver.
Biancarelli and sophomore Jacob Fazekas contribute at running back, while Johnson anchors the offensive line.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Ansonia.
Fairfield Prep at West Haven
- Where/When: Ken Strong Stadium, West Haven, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Fairfield Prep 6-3; West Haven 9-0
- Series Record: West Haven leads series 16-5
- Last year: West Haven 21-14
- Players to watch: Fairfield Prep: Pat Conte, Sr., QB; Connor Byrne, Sr., WR/FS; Ayinde Johnson, Sr., OL/DL; Doug Harrison, So., RB/LB; West Haven: Tim McCarthy, Sr., QB; Anthony Godfrey, Sr., RB/LB; Kyle Godfrey, Jr., RB; Bobby Hawkins, Sr., OL/LB.
You should know: West Haven has already qualified for the Class LL state playoffs and have clinched a home game for the quarterfinal round. The Westies advance to the postseason for the second straight season. Rich Boshea has now guided West Haven to the playoffs in his first two seasons as head coach.
The Westies recently captured the SCC Division I title and can wrap up an unbeaten regular season with a win here.
West Haven is as talented offensively as any team in the state. The Westies, who operate out of the Wing-T, have arguably the best backfield in the state. Leading the way in Anthony Godfrey, who has rushed 147 times for 1,704 yards and 22 touchdowns. His brother, Kyle, has added 116 carries for 632 yards and 13 scores, while junior Chris Chance is also a threat out of the backfield.
McCarthy doesn’t throw often but he does an effective job of piloting the offense at quarterback. Senior Sheilan Velazquez is McCarthy’s top target.
McCarthy has also contributed on defense. Hawkins and junior Mike Charlton lead the team in tackles. While the defense has been solid, and improved over last season, the Westies have allowed an average of 33.7 points in their last three games.
Fairfield Prep would need to beat West Haven to have a shot to qualify in Class LL. The Jesuits have won two in a row and are 2-1 since Conte returned from injury. Fairfield Prep handed Shelton its first loss of the season in Conte’s second game back on Nov. 4. The Jesuits then rallied for a 43-42 win over North Haven in Prep’s last contest on Nov. 11.
Conte has completed 63 of 137 passes for 772 yards and nine touchdowns.
Harrison is in the midst of a breakout season. He’s rushed 101 times for 826 yards and nine touchdowns. Harrison has ran for more than 100 yards in the last three games. He carried 32 times for 331 yards and five touchdowns in the victory over Shelton.
Johnson (43 tackles, two sacks) and Byrne (two interceptions) have been standouts on defense.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — West Haven
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The Elm City Bowl
Hillhouse at Wilbur Cross
- Where/When: Bowen Field, New Haven, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Hillhouse 8-1; Wilbur Cross 5-4
- Series Record: Hillhouse leads series 57-30-8
- Last year: Hillhouse 40-20
- Players to watch: Hillhouse: Matt Brehon, Sr., RB/LB; Billy Oliver, Sr., OL/DL; Derrick Sims, Sr., TE/DL; Chase Kinzly, Jr., WR/CB; Wilbur Cross: Kwane Taylor, Sr., WR/CB; Terrell Watts, Jr., QB/FS; Travis Jones, Jr., OL/DL; Jasiah Barnes, So., RB/LB
You should know: Hillhouse has already qualified for a Class M state playoff berth. It can clinch a home game for the quarterfinal round with a victory here.
The Academics have won six in a row since losing to Fairfield Prep on Sept. 23.
Hillhouse has one of the most talented backfields in the state led by Brehon. Brehon has rushed 100 times for 1,222 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Senior Shawn Ogarro has carried 46 times for 440 yards and five touchdowns and senior David Harris has rushed 80 times for 583 yards and five touchdowns. The Academics are averaging 310 rushing yards per game.
Junior Quintus Reid has done an effective job since taking over full time at quarterback. Reid has completed 39 of 82 passes for 541 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. Reid’s top target is Kinzly, who has made 20 receptions for 422 yards and seven touchdowns, all team highs.
Junior Prince Boyd leads the team with 77 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Ogarro (57 tackles), junior Jaavon Brown (55 tackles), Brehon (48 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Sims (48 tackles, 7.5 sacks) have also performed well on defense.
Wilbur Cross will attempt to defeat Hillhouse in the Elm City Bowl for the second time in three seasons. The Governors earned an 8-6 win in 2014.
The Governors have been led by Taylor, one of the best two-way players in the SCC. Taylor has made 42 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns through eight games.
Barnes leads the team with 123 carries for 779 yards and seven touchdowns. Jones anchors the line on both sides.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Hillhouse.
The 66th Green Bowl
Notre Dame-West Haven at Hamden
- Where/When: Joe Bruno Field, Hamden, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Notre Dame 6-3; Hamden 2-7
- Series Record: Notre Dame leads series 42-21-2
- Last year: Notre Dame 28-6
- Players to watch: Notre Dame: Nico Ragaini, Sr., WR/CB; Chris Elias, Jr., QB; Josh Witkowsky, Sr., RB/SS; Jack Scalesse, Sr., WR/LB; Hamden: Joshua Marshak, So., QB/LB; Colby White, Sr., RB/LB; Mike Bethune, Jr., RB/DB; Gabriel Bayon, Sr., OL/LB
You should know: Notre Dame will earn a Class L state playoff berth with a win here. It would mark the third straight year that the Green Knights have reached the postseason.
Notre Dame has won three straight games to put itself in position to qualify. The Green Knights defeated Hand, Cheshire and Xavier during that stretch. Notre Dame has lost to unbeaten West Haven, Shelton (7-2) and Bishop Hendricken (R.I.).
Ragaini caught a team-high 47 passes for 745 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also rushed for three scores and has made 26 tackles and an interception.
Senior Mike Piechota (27 catches, 289 yards, two touchdowns) and senior Justin Morehead (24-328-4) also contribute at receiver. Elias has completed 126 of 215 passes for 1,659 yards and 10 touchdowns. Witkowsky (169 carries, 780 yards, 13 touchdowns) is the team’s leading rusher.
Senior Jordan Gargiulo leads the Green Knights with 65 tackles, followed closely by Scalesse (64) and senior Tristan Andrzejewski (63). Scalesse has made six sacks, while senior Noah Fearnley has intercepted a team-high five passes.
Hamden’s improved its win total by one this season in Tom Dyer’s first year as head coach. The Green Dragons have earned victories over SCC Tier 3 teams Lyman Hall and East Haven, but have gone 0-4 in the SCC Tier 2.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Notre Dame.
The Apple Valley Classic
Cheshire at Southington
- Where/When: Fontana Field, Southington, Thursday, 10 a.m.
- Team records: Cheshire 6-3; Southington 7-2
- Series Record: Southington leads series 16-12
- Last year: Southington 36-29
- Players to watch: Cheshire: Jack Raba, Jr., QB; Brian Weyrauch, Sr., RB/LB; Elijah Allston, So., RB; Nick Nelson, Jr., OL/LB; Southington: Anthony Plantamuro, Sr., WR/DB; Will Barmore, Jr., QB; Vance Upham, Sr., RB/LB; Ian Hall, Jr., LB.
You should know: Cheshire will clinch a Class LL state playoff berth with a win here and a loss by either NFA (to New London) or Fairfield Prep (to West Haven). It would mark the Rams’ first trip to the postseason since they won the title in 2009.
The Rams have lost two of their last three after starting the season at 5-1. Cheshire has not defeated Southington since 2011.
Raba has completed 122 of 205 passes for 1,515 yards and 13 touchdowns. Junior Will Graikoski (25-for-60, 470 yards, three touchdowns) is also available at quarterback for Cheshire. Graikoski was the starter last season against Southington and almost led the Rams to an upset victory.
Juniors Eric Angelone (33 catches, 528 yards, two touchdowns) and Michael Jeffery (32-444-3) and senior Mike Millea (47-651-9) are Cheshire’s top receivers.
Allston (111 carries, 574 yards, eight touchdowns) has emerged as the Rams’ featured running back.
Weyrauch has made a team-high 95 tackles, while Nelson has made 91. Weyrauch has added 3.5 sacks and Nelson has recovered four fumbles. Jeffery has intercepted a team-high three passes.
Southington has already clinched a Class LL berth and a home game for the quarterfinal round. The Blue Knights have advanced to the postseason for the fifth straight year.
Southington has rushed for an average of 270 yards per game led by Upham (152-1,393-20). Barmore has completed 98 of 156 passes for 1,196 yards and 17 touchdowns. Plantamuro has caught 35 passes for 526 yards and nine touchdowns, all team highs.
Southington has allowed just 79 points. The defense is led by Upham (69 tackles), junior Joe Koczera (64 tackles), Hall (56 tackles, two sacks) and Plantamuro (three interceptions).
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Southington
The Silver Turkey (106th meeting)
Derby at Shelton
- Where/When: Finn Stadium, Shelton, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
- Team records: Derby 2-7; Shelton 7-2
- Series Record: Shelton leads series 55-43-7
- Last year: Shelton 49-0
- Players to watch: Derby: Tom Abel, Jr., QB/LB; Alijah Ellis, Sr., WR/DB; Mike Szwaja, Sr., OL/LB; Josh Vega, Sr., WR/DB; Shelton: David Wells, Sr., QB/CB; Ronnie Rich, Sr., RB/DE; Anthony Schiavo, Sr., WR/FS; Joe Zoppi, Sr., WR/K
You should know: Shelton will qualify for the Class LL state playoffs with a victory here. It would be the Gaels’ third straight trip to the postseason. Shelton has lost in a state championship game the past two seasons. The Gaels have not lost to Derby since 2002.
Shelton enters the regular season finale having lost two straight games to Fairfield Prep and West Haven, respectively. Prior to those losses, the Gaels had won 29 straight regular season games. Despite the recent losses, Shelton is capable of playing with anyone in the state.
Wells is one of the best two-way players in the state. He’s completed 110 of 199 passes for 1,657 yards and 17 touchdowns and has rushed 69 times for 622 yards and nine scores. He’s also made 40 tackles, one interception and has recovered two fumbles.
Schiavo (37 catches, 580 yards, nine touchdowns) is the team’s leading receiver, while Zoppi (18-297-3) and sophomore Paul Ferrigno (25-297-1) also contribute at receiver.
Zoppi is also a threat with his leg. He’s made 40 of 41 extra points and has made seven field goals.
Rich has emerged as Shelton’s leading rusher. Rich has carried 139 times for 803 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior Justin Greene has made a team-high 102 tackles. The Gaels expect to have senior running back/linebacker Jon Sobotka and senior receiver/cornerback Santino Durante back from injury and active against Derby.
Derby snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating Watertown in its last game on Nov. 11. Still, the Red Raiders will likely finish with the least amount of wins in a season since going 3-8 in 2008.
Abel has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season. Able rushed 19 times for 255 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Watertown.
- GAMETIMECT’S PICK — Shelton.