Craig Bruno vs. Bunnell.
Joe Stochmal vs. Seymour.
Masuk vs. No. 1 Ansonia.
No. 6 Newtown vs. Wolcott.
Those are just a few of the marquee match-ups and storylines on tap for the latest amalgamation of the great 2013 interleague battles. This one pits the old school Naugatuck Valley League, centered around the swath of former industrial river that juts north from Derby toward Waterbury and Torrington, vs. the woodsy northern Fairfield County league centered around the Housatonic River basin.
[Watch: Week 5’s Plays of the Week!]
During it’s storied history, which began in 1930, the NVL has won 32 CIAC state championships, dominated by Ansonia’s 18, and has earned eight No. 1 rankings.
The SWC, formed in 1996 with the merger of the Western Connecticut Conference and Western vestiges of the Coastal Football Conference, has won 12 state championships, led by three apiece from Newtown and Masuk. Only Stratford in 1988 has boasted a No. 1 ranking, and that was while it was in the Coastal.
This is the first of a two-year deal to match leagues. The teams were ranked by recent historical records and paired up. Next season, the format will change. The No. 1 ranked teams from each league will play the No. 2s, the No. 3s vs. the No. 4s and so on. (See below for the 2014 match-ups).
This is Oxford’s final year in the SWC. Its game vs. Derby next season will be as a member of the NVL.
(Note: If you’ve already voted, the blog will not allow you to vote again. Refresh the page to see results).
Thursday, Oct. 17
Brookfield (4-1) at Wilby (3-2)
Where–Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
Players to Watch–Brookfield: Soph. RB/LB Bobby Drysdale; Sr. QB Brad Westmark; Sr. OL/DL Louie Rodriguez; Soph. LB Austin Reich; Soph. TE/DE Nick Seis; Wilby: Soph. QB Darrien Bell; Sr. RB/FS Jacob Thomas; Sr. LB Alex Guzman
Outlook — Wilby’s been the most explosive Waterbury school this year thanks to the talents of Bell, a do-it-all sophomore who has a knack for making things happen (just ask Derby). Brookfield’s got talented sophomores, too. Like, a roster full of them, particularly Drysdale and Reich. Plus the Bobcats have enough senior leadership, including from Westmark and Rodriguez, to make them a legit SWC contender. Their only loss was to Newtown. They might be much for Wilby.
Our picks — Sean Patrick Bowley: Brookfield; Mike Pucci: Brookfield
Who will win Oxford at St. Paul?
St. Paul (6-3)
Total Response: 170 Votes
Masuk (4-1) at No. 1 Ansonia (5-0)
Where — Jarvis Stadium, Ansonia
When — 6:30 p.m.
On the Air — WELI 960-AM | WATR 1320-AM | CPTVSports (check local listings)
Players to Watch — Masuk: Sr. QB Malik Cummings; Sr. WR P.J. Kokkoros (1,030 yards all-purpose); Sr. RB Joe Damota; Jr. LB Joe Plescia; Ansonia: Sr. RB/DB Arkeel Newsome (1,184 yards, 19 TD) Sr. OL/DL Ryan Hovan (6-5, 230); Sr. OL/DL Matt Simon (6-3, 260); Jr. QB/DB Jai’Quan McKnight.
Outlook — Despite earning high praise through the first four weeks after a tumultuous preseason, Masuk was stunned by Pomperaug 35-32 last week, taking gobs of luster off this anticipated clash between the two best programs in the SWC and NVL, respectively. Now Masuk takes a short trip down Route 34 to Jarvis Stadium for the first time in an attempt to knock off the state’s No. 1 team. Ansonia ‘struggled’ in the first half vs. Derby, before Arkeel Newsome turned on the jets for 315 yards and five touchdowns in a 62-28 wipeout. Newsome is 290 yards away from breaking Alex Thomas’ Connecticut career record of 8,279, well within striking distance.
Our picks — SPB: Ansonia; Pooch: Ansonia
Who will win Woodland at Seymour?
Total Response: 192 Votes
Friday, Oct. 18
Bunnell (3-2) at Naugatuck (4-1)
Where — Memorial Field, Naugatuck
When — 7 p.m.
On the air — WATR 1320-AM
Players to Watch — Bunnell: Sr. QB Nolan Aurelia; Sr. WR/DB Devante Teel; Sr. DE Chavez Martinez; Naugatuck: Jr. QB Jason Bradley; Sr. WR/DB Ryne Greisenhauer; Sr. RB/LB Tom Douty.
Outlook — Craig Bruno won two state championships at his alma mater but took his unorthodox ‘Brunoball’ to Naugatuck in hopes of reviving that dormant program. Now the program he built comes to Memorial Field for a little ‘housewarming’ party. Don’t expect any candlesticks or silverware, though. Both sides desperately want to make a point. The Bulldogs have been finding their way under new coach Doug Cotto but have yet to earn a signature victory. Naugatuck and its high-powered offense is better playoff position at 4-1 and needs this one to stay in the hunt.
Our picks — SPB: Naugatuck; Pooch: Naugatuck
Who will win the Route 17 Bowl?
Coginchaug/Hale Ray (5-4)
North Branford (4-5)
Total Response: 200 Votes
Derby (4-1) at Bethel (3-2)
Where — DeSantis Field, Bethel
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Derby: Jr. QB Mike Kreiger (1,500 yards total offense, 3 TD rushing, 11 TDs passing); Sr. RB Tyrae Small (729 yards all-purpose); Sr. WR Sal Frosceno (273 yards, 4 TDs receiving); Sr. WR Tyler Dobek (308 yards, 5 TDs receiving); Bethel: Sr. QB/DB Joe Piatnik (927 yards total offense, 8 TDs); Sr. WR/DE Cal Daniels; Sr. FB/LB Zach Farrell (330 yards rushing, 4 TDs); Sr. OL/DL Ryan Deletis (8.7 tackles/gm); Sr. OL/DL Ethan Draper.
Outlook — It’s a contrast of styles and relative might: Derby and its swashbuckling offense led by Kreiger and Bethel’s mighty option, led by the equally talented Piatnik. Bethel is huge up front and likes to control the clock and batter opponents. But it’s not like Derby hasn’t seen that before (Read: Ansonia). Derby is of smaller stature, but has been effective spreading the field, allowing Kreiger to work his magic. But Bethel’s also familiar with Derby’s style in the SWC (read: Newtown). This will come down to which defense can stop the opposing playmakers. And there are many. Derby is coming off a loss to Ansonia, Bethel has won three straight after starting 0-2 with losses to Barlow and Newtown. This game has potential to be one of the best.
Our picks — SPB: Bethel; Pooch: Derby
Who will win the Candlewood Cup?
New Milford (3-6)
New Fairfield (1-8)
Total Response: 185 Votes
Immaculate (0-5) at Crosby (0-5)
Where — Crosby High School
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Immaculate: Sr. WR/LB Mike woods; Sr. C/DT Riley Cross; Sr. WR/DB Shane Murphy; Jr. QB/FS Daryl Bowman (6-2, 175); Crosby: Fresh. QB Mike Marshall (1,088 yards, 6 TD passing, 6 INT), Sr. FB/LB Chris Herrera (255 yards rushing), Sr. WR/FS Myles Goulburne (394 yards receiving, 2 TDs).
Outlook — The Mustangs have struggled for years since its powerhouse days of the early 2000s. They’ve lost 41 straight games dating back to 2009. Coach Tom Taylor, now in his second year, has yet to win his first game. Crosby had success as recently as 2008, but the Bulldogs are on a 13-game losing streak. Here’s a chance for one of these two programs to snatch some 2013 glory. Freshman QB Marshall has put up nice numbers for Crosby. His favorite target is the former QB Goulburne.
Our picks — SPB: Crosby; Pooch: Crosby
Who will win Danbury at Ridgefield?
Total Response: 185 Votes
Joel Barlow (4-1) at Torrington (0-5)
Where — Robert H. Frost Sports Complex, Torrington
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Barlow: Sr. QB/DB Jack Shaban (795 total yards, 12 TDs); Jr. RB/DB Harry Wilson (439 yards, 4 TDs rushing); Sr. FB/LB Steve Miller; Sr. OL/DL Alex Gallaer; Torrington: Soph. WR/DB Tyler Diesi; Soph. QB Connor Finn (6-0, 180); Jr. OL/DL Ben Bonvicini.
Outlook — Barlow has run wild through some of the best teams in the SWC thanks to electric QB Shaban, a three-year veteran running the team’s vaunted option. Torrington has played well in spots, but remains an extremely young team which is still learning under new coach Gaitan Rodriguez. Shaban and the Falcons, who have run for a combined 1,742 yards (371 per game), should have yet another field day against the young Raiders.
Our picks — SPB: Barlow; Pooch: Barlow
Who will win Hand at Guilford?
Total Response: 266 Votes
Kennedy (0-5) at Stratford (1-4)
Where — Penders Field, Stratford
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Kennedy: Sr. RB Ty’zhon Young, Sr. QB Larry Lock, Sr. RB Dashaun Abdul-Lateef; Stratford: Sr. QB Mike Cannata, Sr. WR Bryan Lesperance, Sr. RB/LB Sam Ryan.
Outlook — Both teams have capable stars, but have struggled to stop opponents in their respective conferences. Kennedy’s allowed 188 points in five games. Stratford has been a bit better, but not by a ton. The Red Devils have allowed 144 points, an average of 29 per game. The Red Devils have lost four straight games since an opening 36-13 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield, but came close in losses to Weston (21-14) and New Fairfield (28-21). Kennedy has lost 14 of 15 games dating back to last year.
Our picks — SPB: Stratford; Pooch: Stratford
Who will win the Shunpike Showdown?
Rocky Hill (9-0)
Total Response: 84 Votes
New Fairfield (3-2) at Sacred Heart (0-5)
Where — Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — New Fairfield: Sr. QB Michael McCourt (839 yards, 9 TD passing), Sr. RB/WR/S Joey Hicks; Sr. RB/S/KR Colin Cioffi (358 yards, 5 TD rushing), Soph. RB James Lewis (307 yards, 2 TDs rushing), Soph. WR Greg Radovic; Sacred Heart: Sr. RB/DB Parris Wolf; Sr. FB/LB/G Matt Campion; Sr. OL/DL Zachary Rush (6-5, 230).
Outlook — Wolf is a playmaker for Sacred Heart. But opponents have typically knocked the struggling program out of competition quickly and decisively. Sacred Heart is short on numbers and size. New Fairfield isn’t exactly huge, either. But the Rebels have a few feathers in their helmets, notably a 46-25 win over Oxford in Week 2. Led by a scrappy QB in McCourt, who has playmakers Cioffi and Hicks by his side, New Fairfield has run a balanced and effective offense. Defense was an issue in losses to contenders Barlow and Bethel.
Our picks — SPB: New Fairfield; Pooch: New Fairfield
Who will win Middletown at Windsor?
Total Response: 144 Votes
No. 6 Newtown at Wolcott
Where — Monroe Field, Wolcott High School
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Newtown: Sr. QB Drew Tarantino (1,308 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INT passing); Jr. WR/DB Julian Dunn (583 yards, 11 TD receiving); Sr. RB Cooper Gold (536 yards, 6 TD rushing); Jr. LB Tim Krapf, Jr. LB Jaret DeVellis (3 INT); Sr. OL/DL Dom Scarangella; Wolcott: Jr. QB Vincent Gambino (1,076 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INT); Sr. WR Jayson Matos (420 yards, 4 TD receiving); Sr. WR Adam Santopietro (333 yards, 6 TD rec); Sr. WR Jay Pelletier; Sr. RB Joe Lynch (342 yards, 7 TDs rushing).
Outlook — This has potential for being the best game of the bunch. Both teams feature strong quarterbacks and a deep roster of skill players. Wolcott has Gambino, who’s surprised with his outstanding play early this season. Senior receivers Jayson Matos, Adam Santopietro, and Pelletier give the Eagles plenty of options. Lynch is also good for yardage at tailback. Newtown, meanwhile, has the three-year veteran in Tarantino, a mistake-free talent who loves the lob to standout junior receiver Julian Dunn, who’s accounted for 11 of Tarantino’s 17 TD passes. The Hawks also have a solid offensive line and Gold is a threat at tailback. Wolcott’s defense has been prone to allowing its stronger opponents to ring up the scoreboard, while Newtown — which returned only two starters on defense — has been consistently good. The Hawks allow just over 14 points a game, a majority of which came courtesy of Barlow’s Jack Shaban in Week 4. Hurting up front, especially with the loss of lineman Tom Longo a few weeks ago, Wolcott gives up some size to the Hawks on the lines. It’ll be a critical component to this game. If Gambino and Co can somehow overcome that disadvantage, they stand a puncher’s chance vs. the No. 6-ranked team in the state.
Our picks — SPB: Newtown; Pooch: Newtown
Who will win Newtown at Masuk?
Total Response: 240 Votes
Seymour (3-2) at Oxford (3-2)
Where — Oxford High School
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Seymour: Sr. RB/DB Joey Salemme (979 yards, 11 TD rushing); Sr. FB/DB Jack Briggs; Sr. LB/OL/DL Zach Sirowich (9 tackles/game) ; Sr. DE/WR Christian Thurmond (266 yards, 6 TDs). Oxford: Sr. QB Kyle Chudoba (839 yards, 9 TD passing); Sr. RB Steve Persson (398 yards, 5 TD rushing); Sr. WR Chris Van Kamerik; Sr. LB Jeff Haney.
Outlook — Once upon a time, Oxford students went to Seymour and helped the Wildcats dominate the Valley and win state championships in bunches. One of those players was one Joe Stochmal. Now Stox will line up on the same field with Seymour again, this time on the opposing sideline. Oxford has its own football team now. It’s trying to craft its own Valley history. Close ties, families and friendships abound on both sides in in the inaugural game of a rivalry that will kick into gear this time next year when Oxford joins Seymour in the NVL. Salemme has been the Wildcats’ spark plug on offense, Briggs and Sirowich on defense. Oxford, which has has its troubles on defense, counters with Persson, Chudoba and Van Kamerik, an all-state talent at receiver and defensive back.
Our Picks — SPB: Oxford; Pooch: Oxford
Who will win Morgan at OSW?
Old Saybrook/Westbrook 7-2
Total Response: 107 Votes
Watertown (1-4) at New Milford (1-4)
Where — New Milford High School
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Watertown: Sr. RB Anthony Yordon (608 yards, 3 TD), Sr. OL/DL Rob Ernst; Jr. QB A.J. Cattaneo; New Milford: Sr. QB Nick Kimball; Sr. RB A.J. MacDonald; Sr. WR Ryan Grenier; Jr. DL/FB Johnny Nepomuceno
Outlook — John Murphy’s project has struggled a tad more than expected so far. The Wave have been hit with injuries and have had to adjust on the fly. They’ve also had to switch quarterbacks since projected starter Jamie Portunado broke his arm in the preseason. New Milford has a long way to go, but so does Watertown, which has been shut out in back-to-back weeks, 42-0 vs Seymour and 27-0 vs Wilby. Yordon is key to the Indians’ offense. When he doesn’t get moving, neither does Watertown. Can New Milford stop him? The Wave defense has allowed an SWC-worst 243 points.
Our Picks — SPB: New Milford; Pooch: New Milford
Who will win the Stoddard Bowl?
Total Response: 134 Votes
Woodland at Pomperaug
Where — Arum Athletic Complex, Southbury
When — 7 p.m.
Players to Watch — Pomperaug: Jr. QB Wade Prajer; Jr. WR Steven Croce; Sr. LB/FB Jack Yule; Jr. WR/DE Ryan Johannes (6-4, 210); Woodland: Sr. QB Tanner Kingsley (1,389 yards, 21 TDs, 3 INT passing), Soph. RB/DB Sean McAllen (585 yards, 5 TD rushing); Jr. Ol/DL Will Flormann; Sr. TE/LB Levi Fancher, Sr. WR/DB Jack Pinho.
Outlook — Pomperaug stunned the state a week ago, rallying from 14 points down and outdueling unbeaten Masuk to win 35-32. Prajer, the quarterback, is toppling school passing records. He set the attempts record a week ago with 61. Last week, he attempted 54 and completed 38 (tying a state record) for a school-record 401 yards. Coach Dave Roach hopes the victory gets his team to believe it’s a player again and that his dormant program will awake. This is a perfect opportunity. In comes another unbeaten to test that hypothesis. Led by state record-breaking senior Kinglsey and his array of weapons — especially emerging sophomore back McAllen, who set a school record with 274 yards on nine carries vs. St. Paul — the Hawks are riding the inside track to the NVL championship an another state playoff berth. Pomperaug will test the Hawks’ defense, trying to set up runs with Prajer and the pass game (a weird prospect if you know Pomperaug’s history). If the Panthers can score, this has potential to be another barnburner. Finding a way to stop Kingsley and Co. at least few times is highly advised. Few have.
Our picks — SPB: Woodland; Pooch: Woodland
Who will win the Beehive Bowl?
East Haven (1-8)
Total Response: 161 Votes
Saturday, Oct. 19
Holy Cross (3-2) at Weston (3-2)
Where — Weston High School
When — 1 p.m.
Players to Watch — Holy Cross: Jr. FB/DE Gerron Pendarvis; Jr. RB Andrew Bialoglowy (340 yards rushing); Sr. RB/LB Bryan Burnette; Sr. OL/DL Curtis Wickline Weston: Erik Dammen-Brower (852 total yards, 6 TDs passing; 7 tackles/gm), Jr. RB/LB Peter Lummis; Fresh. DB Alex Fruhbeis (4 INT), Fresh. DE Zach Spencer (7.6 tackles/gm);
Outlook — Weston has dropped back a bit after graduating a horde of starters from last year’s Class M semifinal squad. But it still has talented QB/DB Erik Dammen-Brower, who has helped ease the Trojans’ growing pains. Weston’s done well against some of the league’s weaker teams, but has struggled against the SWC’s stronger clubs. It has found success running, with 1,253 total yards between four different players, especially Lummis who ran for 304 vs. Notre Dame-Fairfield. The defense has been led by Dammen-Brower and a a few freshmen standouts, particularly Spencer, who has been a force. Holy Cross has had similar issues. It’s been fine vs. the NVL’s weaker teams, but struggled to score vs. Derby and (of course) Ansonia. Bialoglowy powers the Holy Cross offense. Pendarvis, a 6-1, 200-pound brute at end, leads the charge on the Crusaders’ defensive side.
Our picks — SPB: Holy Cross; Pooch: Holy Cross
Who will win the Carini Bowl?
Lyman Hall (5-4)
Total Response: 155 Votes
Notre Dame-Fairfield (0-5) at St. Paul (3-2)
Where — St. Paul High School
When — 1:30 p.m.
Players to Watch — Notre Dame-Fairfield: Sr. RB/LB Marcus Fulton; Soph. FB/LB Hakim Flemming; Sr. QB Trent Hudson. St. Paul: Sr. QB Logan Marchi (1,630 yards passing, 16 TDs, 7 INT passing); Sr. WR/DE/KR Reid Morin; Jr. RB Eli Parks.
Outlook — St. Paul is best known for the UConn recruit behind center. Marchi has compiled a state-best 1,630 yards in five games, an average of 326 per game. Add that to a run game that averages just over 100 yards per game and, statistically, St. Paul been one of the NVL’s most explosive offenses. But the Falcons were humbled last week in a 56-16 loss to Woodland. Defense has also been a major issue. The Falcons allow just over 37 points per game. But St. Paul has had few issues with the weaker teams in the NVL. Notre Dame-Fairfield would fall into that category. The struggling program hasn’t been remotely close to the SWC power it was eight years ago. Low in numbers, the Lancers have won just six games under three different coaches in four years. Until last week’s shootout vs. Weston, the Lancers were averaging just under six points per game. Notre Dame should be able to score, but probably won’t have an answer for Marchi and Co.
Our picks — SPB: St. Paul; Pooch: St. Paul
Who will win North Haven at Amity?
North Haven (7-2)
Total Response: 206 Votes
Next Year’s SWC-NVL Challenge
Wolcott at Masuk | Ansonia at Newtown | Pomperaug at Holy Cross | Weston at Woodland | Naugatuck at Barlow| Torrington at Bunnell | Bethel at Seymour | Oxford at Derby* | Sacred Heart at Brookfield | Wilby at New Fairfield | Stratford at Watertown | New Milford at Kennedy | Crosby at Notre Dame-Fairfield | St. Paul at Immaculate.
*NVL conference game
- Let’s Play the SWC-NVL Challenge! Preview capsules and pick the winners
- Wildcats past and present gear up for inaugural Seymour-Oxford rivalry
- Ansonia’s Newsome chases history vs. Masuk
- Xavier (4-1) faces Philips, West Haven (4-1) in huge SCC clash
- Sean Patrick Bowley’s Audibles: Your statewide guide to Week 6
- Pooch’s Picks: Greater New Haven County predictions
- State football beat: Out of nowhere, Leatherwood leading unbeaten Platt
- Inside the SCC: Fairfield Prep looks like its for real
- GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 Poll for Week 6
- FCIAC Football beat: Roberts, Trumbull rebound after rough start
- Video: Week 5’s Plays of the Week
- Week 5’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback; Look ahead to Week 6