No. 4 Wolcott at No. 1 Ledyard
- WHERE/WHEN — Mignault Field, Ledyard HS, 2 p.m.
- RECORDS — Wolcott 9-2, Ledyard 11-0
- PLAYERS TO WATCH — Wolcott: Sr. QB Vincent Gambino (2,183 yards, 28 TDs, 8 INT); Sr. WR Phil Lebel (50 catches, 692 yards, 13 TD receiving); Sr. WR Jason Pelletier (33 catches, 456 yards, 8 TD receiving); Sr. RB Mike Audibert (1,260 yards, 25 TDs rushing). Ledyard: Jr. QB Ty Ebdon (2,066 yards, 29 TD, 4 INT passing); Sr. RB/LB Jo Jo Shumaker (1,798 yards, 35 TDs); Sr. WR/DB Phyllip Thomas (29 catches, 740 yards, 11 TDs), Sr. WR/DB River Thomas (30 catches 623 yards, 9 TDs); Sr. LB Leo Clinton, Jr. (80 tackles, 3 sacks); Sr. LB Kyle Zeppieri (69 tackles, 3 sacks)
- YOU SHOULD KNOW — Wolcott is back in the postseason after a year’s respite and for the third time in four years. …Ledyard is making its second consecutive state playoff appearance and third in the last four years. It has won four state titles its history, all under former coach Bill Mignault. It is undefeated for the first time since 1993. …Wolcott’s only losses were to Ansonia 48-27 and Masuk 55-35. …Ledyard’s closest game was a 27-point victory over New London.
- OUTLOOK — Ledyard was everybody’s favorite pick out of the ECC and the Colonels haven’t disappointed. They’ve scored the most points in the state, 561, and beaten opponents by an average score of 51-12. Shumaker has been one of the state’s best tailbacks, Edbon one of the state’s most efficient quarterbacks and the Thomas brothers — Phyllip and River — are pure athletes and game breakers. Leo Clinton Jr. and Kyle Zeppieri lead the defense. Now Ledyard will get to strut its stuff on the state stage against a Wolcott team that’s been one of the NVL’s best in recent seasons. The Eagles come armed with an equally diverse offense. Vincent Gambino is a two-year star at quarterback and a nice compliment of receivers, including Jason Pelletier and Phil Lebel. While the offensive line was revamped this year, its starters have had a full year to grow. RB Mike Audibert is a game-breaker that has missed the team’s last two games with a leg injury. But he says he’s ready to go. Lebel is a hard-hitting safety who leads a defense that’s struggled at times to stop big-time offenses. Wolcott’s defense relies on a solid pass rush and turnovers to give Gambino and Co room to work. Both the ECC and NVL have seen their share of struggles in non-conference games this year, so this is a litmus test for both heading into the state finals. This could be one of the highest-scoring games in the semifinals.
SPB’s Pick — Ledyard 62, Wolcott 41
Pooch’s Pick — Ledyard
Who will win the Class L quarterfinal Platt at Naugatuck?
Total Response: 294 Votes
No. 3 Ellington/Somers at No. 2 St. Joseph
- WHERE/WHEN — McDougall Stadium, Trumbull HS, Saturday, 2 p.m.
- RECORDS — Ellington/Somers 9-2; St. Joseph 9-2
- PLAYERS TO WATCH —Ellington/Somers: Jr. RB/DB Mark Hickman (1,468 all-purpose yards, 10 TDs), Jr. QB Christian Rider (674 yards passing, 674 yards rushing, 11 TDs), Soph. Izaiah Castro-Vega; Sr. WR/LB Shane McGowan, Sr. TE/LB Benjamin Kloter. St. Joseph: Sr. WR/DB/KR Lars Pedersen (1,809 all-purpose yards; 5 INT); Sr. RB/DB Mufasha Abdul-Basir (1,950 yards, 17 TDs rushing); Soph. QB Cory Babineau (776 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INT); Jr. LB Cam Ryan (9.4 tackles/game; 7 TFL); Jr. DL Mike Jones (6.5 sacks); Sr. G Troy Vazzano; Sr. T Marc Bernatchez; Sr. SS Connor Shay (6.3 tackles/game).
- YOU SHOULD KNOW — St. Joseph is making its fifth state playoff appearance in five years and has already won three state championships during that time, including last year’s Class M title. St. Joseph owns the second-most CIAC championships in state history with 11, only Ansonia (19) has more. …Ellington Somers is making its third state playoff appearance in four years, the first under coach Sean Byrne, but has never won a state playoff game.
- OUTLOOK — Worlds are colliding as St. Joseph, the Catholic school from the big, bad FCIAC tangles with Ellington/Somers, a small-town co-op from the Pequot Uncas. St. Joseph was the third-best team in the FCIAC with wins over Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame-WH on its resume. And the Hogs almost (should have) beat Darien. Though not the juggernaut it was a season ago, St. Joseph remains formidable with a big and strong line, a stout defense, led by LB Cam Ryan, and — of course — two of the state’s most explosive players: Mufasha Abdul-Basir and Lars Pedersen. St. Joseph’s only weakness is at quarterback, where it’s tried two, sometimes three players. But sophomore Cory Babineau seems to have grown into the role in recent weeks. Ellington/Somers, meanwhile, has overachieved with a relatively young squad led by standouts Mark Hickman and Christian Rider. They’ve been playing with an angel on their shoulder: Former Knight Austin Tautkus, the son of former coach Keith Tautkus, who died in an ATV accident this summer. The Knights are a gritty group, and have found ways to win against the odds all season. This? This is a tall order.
SPB’s Pick — St. Joseph 48, Ellington/Somers 7
Pooch’s Pick — St. Joseph
Who will win the Class L quarterfinal Maloney at Middletown?
Total Response: 275 Votes