Team-by-team looks at the 2018 Naugatuck Valley League football season. Compiled by the GameTimeCT staff.
CHEAT SHEET — Crosby put together a .500 season last year. It was a season that, but for a play here and there, might have been even more. Still, the Bulldogs hadn’t finished at .500 since they went 9-2 in 2008, narrowly missing the (four-team, with six divisions) Class L playoffs.
CHEAT SHEET — Holy Cross has the pieces together to be a solid team again, with Corey Fappiano back at quarterback. He was an All-NVL player last season as a punter, but his offensive abilities are well-regarded around the league, leading a couple of rival coaches to mention them as a team on the rise.
CHEAT SHEET — The two-time defending Brass Division and Waterbury city champs return 10 of 11 starters back on both sides of the ball, including captains Jake Desjardins, Elijah Nelson and Marquise Blagmon.
CHEAT SHEET — Starting his second year, coach Thomas Allen is optimistic about improvement with a dedicated senior class led by Robert Guerin, Quinten Asideu and Saijon MacIntosh.
CHEAT SHEET — The Spartans head into their third season with one of the top defensive players in the NVL. Jalen Gopie, who had 12 and a half sacks last year as a sophomore. Coach Pete Flammia sees him as one of the top players in the NVL.
CHEAT SHEET — It has been tough for the Wildcats: Not since its last win has Wilby allowed fewer than 27 points in a game. Only three times in that stretch have the Wildcats scored more than 14 points, including last year’s heartbreaking 50-48 loss to Kennedy (intracity rival Kennedy High, that is) on an overtime two-point conversion.
CHEAT SHEET — Rival coaches generally see lots of talent on the Chargers’ roster. Few see them going anywhere, even if a few mention Naugatuck as a favorite. A few key players have been around for at least some of the team’s eight consecutive state final appearances, one shy of the state (and, as it happens, school) record since the CIAC tournament began in 1976.
CHEAT SHEET — Zerion Montgomery takes over at quarterback, and yes, he’s younger, a sophomore. The Red Raiders are putting some new players in key spots, replacing most of their line, including all-state lineman Anthony Slowik.
CHEAT SHEET — They connected 37 times last season in 10 games, quarterback Cayden Mitchell to receiver Julian Ferrante. It’s a combination that returns a year older for Oxford this season, one that has caught eyes around the NVL.
CHEAT SHEET — Gone is a graduated class that included Bobby Melms, who rushed for over 3,000 yards in his Seymour career and helped the Wildcats go 27-8 the past three years, with a couple of Class S semifinal appearances. This year’s senior class includes 13 players, and Cade Klarides-Ditria, one of three captains, said all of them are working to be leaders.
CHEAT SHEET — Woodland bounced back from a 1-9 2016 to a .500 season last year, with three wins in a row clinching that mark for the Hawks before a season-ending loss. With some skilled players returning, including a maturing quarterback in Tyler Bulinski, there’s optimism that the Hawks can keep it going.
CHEAT SHEET — A large senior class — 18 in all, including Zack Koslosky, Jayden Anderson, Tyrell Allen and Mike Natkiel — has come of age after earning a playoff berth in 2017. Quite a few Valley observers think this might be the one that finally ends Ansonia’s eight-year win streak over the league.
CHEAT SHEET — St. Paul “has a system and a coach that make them dangerous,” says one rival coach. Another calls the Falcons a sleeper in the NVL.
CHEAT SHEET — A lot of the offensive firepower that produced 422 points last year has graduated. And the defense that allowed 398 has some pretty good players back a year older, led by all-state linebacker Jake Filippone.
CHEAT SHEET — The Indians graduated just about everybody of consequence from last year’s Class M playoff, including All-State TE Joe Deptula and QB Nick D’Elia. Charlie Mazzarella and Alban Blaceri at least give Watertown a foundation on the offensive line.
CHEAT SHEET — Torrington football coach Gaitain Rodriguez is looking to get the Raiders back on the right track after a tough two seasons.