No. 4 Bullard-Havens at No. 1 Valley Regional/Old Lyme
- WHERE/WHEN — Blythe Field, Deep River, 2 p.m.
- PLAYERS TO WATCH — Bullard Havens Tech: Chris McNamara, Sr., QB; Jose Cotto, Sr., RB; Hakeem Fletcher, Sr., LB; Valley Regional/Old Lyme: Chris Jean-Pierre, Sr., QB; Justin Cheverier, Sr., LB/RB; Evan Smith, Sr., WR/DB.
OUTLOOK — Valley’s well-balanced offense is led by senior quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre, a dual-threat who has done a sensational job moving from wide receiver this season. Jean-Pierre has thrown for 1047 yards and 18 touchdowns. His top targets are seniors Andrew Tuscano (22 receptions, 414 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Evan Smith (20 receptions, five touchdowns). The Warriors can also get it done on the ground behind a vastly improved and revamped offensive line. Jean-Pierre has rushed for 977 yards and 15 touchdowns, senior Justin Cheverier has 657 yards and seven touchdowns, while the speedy Smith has rushed for 374 yards with six touchdowns.
The Warriors defense, which has traditionally been one of the stingiest in the state under longtime defensive coordinator Paul Ginter, features nine senior starters. The unit is led by Cheverier, an outside linebacker who is the state’s all-time leader in career tackles. Cheverier has a team-high 172 tackles (41 solo) and five sacks. Senior linebacker Tahjay Marshall has 92 tackles and three fumble recoveries, senior end Tyler Cheverier has 90 tackles and a team-high 12 sacks, and senior linebacker Dan Figuenick has 89 tackles.
The key to this game could be how Bullard Havens’ prolific offensive attack fares against the Warriors high-caliber defense.
The Tigers, who have won eight straight after a 32-20 loss against Class S-Small participant Capital/Achievement, have scored over 40 points in five games and have averaged 321 rushing yards per game. This is the Bridgeport school’s second playoff appearance in three years. Bullard Havens lost to Berlin, 41-14, in the Class M quarterfinals. The Tigers lost to Montville in the 2009 Class SS quarterfinals and, like the rest of the Constitution State Conference, have never won a state playoff game.
Bullard Havens’ high-scoring offense is led by senior running back Jose Cotto and senior quarterback Chris McNamara. Cotto has rushed for 1,851 yards and 19 touchdowns. Cotto has also caught four touchdown passes. McNamara has rushed for 584 yards and 15 touchdowns, while senior Wesley Raffington (442 yards) and freshman Tyrese Wright (393 yards) each have four rushing touchdowns. Raffington has returned two kick-offs for touchdowns.
The Tigers don’t throw the ball much but McNamara, a left-hander, is capable. McNamara has completed 30 of 68 passes for 704 yards and 10 touchdowns. His favorite targets are senior Hakeem Fletcher (seven receptions for 144 yards, three TDs), senior Justin Banks (eight receptions for 126 yards), and junior Ryshon Penix (two touchdowns).
Fletcher, an outside linebacker, leads the Tigers defense with 114 tackles (83 solo) and four sacks. Senior lineman Trevon Teele has 63 tackles and 7.5 sacks, while senior lineman Kevaun Gilling has 56 tackles and four sacks.
Pooch’s Pick — Valley Regional/Old Lyme
SPB’s Pick — Valley Regional/Old Lyme 52, Bullard-Havens 12
Who will win the Class L quarterfinal North Haven at Windsor?
Total Response: 293 Votes
No. 3 Windham (10-1) vs. No. 2 Ansonia (10-1)
- WHERE/WHEN — Jarvis Stadium, Ansonia, Saturday, 2 p.m.
- PLAYERS TO WATCH — Windham: Joseph Santiago, Sr., RB/CB; Gilberto Torres, Sr., RB/LB; Seiji Arzuaga, Sr., FB/DB; Cullan Contos, Jr., RB/DB; Ansonia: Jai’Quan McKnight, Sr., QB/DB; Tajik Bagley, Jr., RB/DB; Tyler Bailey, Jr., RB/WR/DB; Witold Gul, Sr., WR/DB.
YOU SHOULD KNOW — Ansonia has reached the postseason for the ninth straight time. It has won three straight titles, including the last two in Class S. The Chargers have captured a state record 19 titles. Windham is making its first playoff appearance since 2006. …The Whippets are having their best season since then and are the reigning ECC Small Division champions. …Ansonia defeated playoff teams Naugatuck and Wolcott, and have lost only to unbeaten Newtown.
- OUTLOOK — The Chargers have rushed for 3,213 yards and 45 touchdowns. Bagley has developed into one of the state’s top running backs. He’s rushed for 1, 259 yards and 22 touchdowns. …McKnight is a dual-threat. He’s completed 43 of 91 passes for 929 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s added 638 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Bailey has caught 29 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns and has rushed for 14 scores. Gul (four touchdown receptions) gives Ansonia another option on offense. …The Chargers defense, which has allowed just 13 points per game, is led by seniors Tyler O’Connell, Larry Cafaro and Paul Makinano. McKnight, Bagley, Bailey and Gul are all apart of an experienced secondary. …Windham also thrives on running the ball. Santiago, Torres, Contos and Arzuaga have all contributed out of the backfield. But QB Brody Labbe, a converted halfback, has proven he can throw the ball, if necessary, as evidenced in a 49-29 victory over then-unbeaten Plainfield at home. The Whippets’ only loss is to Class M-Small semifinalist Ledyard, 59-13, on Oct. 31.
Pooch’s Pick — Ansonia.
SPB’s Pick — Ansonia 49, Windham 13
Who will win the Class L quarterfinal Bunnell at Hand?
Total Response: 406 Votes