THIS WEEK’S SPOTLIGHT
Fairfield Prep at No. 6 Cheshire
• When: Friday, 7 p.m.
• Where: Maclary Complex, Cheshire
• Records: Fairfield Prep 4-2; Cheshire 6-0
• Players to watch: Fairfield Prep — Colton Smith, Sr., QB; John DelliSanti, Sr., WR/S; Anthony Palazzolo, Sr., OL/DL; Cheshire — Andrew Yamin, Sr., RB/LB; Tyler D’Errico, Sr., OL/LB; Cullen Clairmont, Sr., OL/DL
• You should know: Fairfield Prep is in a familiar position. The Jesuits were also 4-2 heading into their contest with Cheshire last season. Prep blanked the Rams 26-0 to begin a five-game winning streak to end the regular season that helped the Jesuits qualify for the Class LL state playoffs.
But this year’s Cheshire team, led by arguably the state’s best running back in Yamin, is much more dangerous. The offensive line is big and physical.
The Rams’ schedule has been relatively favorable to this point with their opponents compiling a 7-29 record. Still, it’s been difficult to contain Yamin, who’s rushed for more than 200 yards in five of Cheshire’s six games.
Some pundits have argued the Rams are too one-dimensional, but senior quarterback Josh MacNiven remains a threat. The Rams may need to pass the ball against an equally big and physical Prep defensive line.
Clairmont, senior defensive end Brandon Caterino, junior linebacker Chris Hillburn and junior defensive back Nate Hillburn lead a Cheshire defense which has allowed just 11 points per game.
Prep presents the Rams with their biggest challenge of the season. The Jesuits, whose opponents’ win-loss record is 22-13, suffered their only two losses to Shelton (6-0) and St. Joseph (5-1), teams both ranked in the Register Top 10 Poll.
Smith is a dual-threat quarterback who has thrown for 786 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 589 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Joe Ganim (59 carries, 355 yards, 6 TDs) has also contributed out of the backfield.
DelliSanti is one of the state’s top receivers. He’s made 24 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns while junior Brendan Beiser has chipped in with 13 receptions for 135 yards and two scores.
The Prep defense has been an area of concern, but that unit seems to be improving. Senior linebackers Colin Ihlefeld (46 tackles) and Logan Clair (38 tackles, two sacks, one interception) and junior safety Connor Bercik (39 tackles) have performed well.
• Pooch’s Pick: Fairfield Prep.
• Amity (2-4) at Wilbur Cross (4-2), 2:30 p.m.: Cross has surrendered an average of 47 points in its two losses.
Pooch’s pick: Wilbur Cross.
• O’Brien Tech (0-5) at Cheney Tech (5-1), 6 p.m.: Cheney Tech continues on its quest to qualify in Class M.
• Pooch’s Pick: Cheney Tech.
• Plainfield (4-1) at Branford (1-4), 6:30 p.m.: Branford picked the wrong year to schedule Plainfield.
Pooch’s pick: Plainfield.
• No. 5 Shelton (6-0) at Hand (2-4), 7 p.m.: Shelton shouldn’t look past a Hand team that is better than its record indicates.
Pooch’s pick: Shelton.
• No. 7 Xavier (6-0) at Notre Dame-West Haven (4-2), 7 p.m.: ND has the talent to pull the upset here.
Pooch’s pick: Xavier.
• Holy Cross (4-2) at No. 10 Ansonia (5-1), 7 p.m.: Time to start a new streak, Ansonia.
Pooch’s pick: Ansonia.
• Bunnell (2-4) at New Milford (3-3), 7 p.m.: New Milford has won three in a row.
Pooch’s pick: New Milford.
• Derby (4-1) at Kennedy (3-3), 7 p.m.: Good chance for Derby to move to 5-1 ahead of next week’s showdown with Valley rival Seymour.
Pooch’s pick: Derby.
• East Haven (1-5) at Lyman Hall (0-6), 7 p.m.: Lyman Hall has been shut out three times this season.
Pooch’s pick: East Haven.
• Hamden (2-4) at West Haven (3-3), 7 p.m.: Schedule is daunting the remainder of the way for West Haven, which faces Cross, Hand, Shelton and Prep to close out the regular season.
Pooch’s pick: West Haven.
• North Haven (5-1) at Guilford (2-4), 7 p.m.: North Haven has rushed 230 times for 1,548 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Pooch’s pick: North Haven.
• Notre Dame-Fairfield (1-5) at Stratford (4-2), 7 p.m.: Stratford has won four straight games since losing its first two.
Pooch’s pick: Stratford.
• Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech (0-6) at Seymour (3-2), 7 p.m.: Seymour looks to rebound after getting shut out by Bethel last week.
Pooch’s pick: Seymour.
• Sheehan (0-6) at Law (1-4), 7 p.m.: Despite being decimated by injuries, especially at quarterback, Sheehan has been competitive in most of its games.
Pooch’s pick: Sheehan.
• Woodland (2-3) at Naugatuck (4-1), 7 p.m.: Don’t think Naugatuck has forgotten about last season’s 25-22 loss to the Hawks.
Pooch’s pick: Naugatuck.
• Foran (2-4) at Hillhouse (3-3), at SCSU, 8 p.m.: Hillhouse has averaged 44 points in its last two games, both victories.
Pooch’s pick: Hillhouse.
• Morgan (5-1) at Lewis Mills (0-6), 1 p.m.: Couldn’t blame Morgan if they looked ahead to next week’s showdown with Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
Pooch’s pick: Morgan.
• Valley Regional/Old Lyme (6-0) at Coginchaug (6-0), 1 p.m.: The two remaining unbeaten teams in the Pequot Conference square off in Durham.
Pooch’s pick: Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
• Haddam-Killingworth (2-4) at Nonnewaug (1-5), 2 p.m.: H-K will try to win its third straight.
Pooch’s pick: Haddam-Killingworth.
• Quinebaug Valley (2-4) at Platt Tech (1-4), 2 p.m.: Platt Tech will attempt to win its second straight.
Pooch’s pick: Quinebaug Valley.
• Cromwell (3-3) at Hyde (3-3), 3 p.m.: This used to be one of the Pequot’s most intense rivalries.
Pooch’s pick: Hyde.
• Old Saybrook/Westbrook (0-6) at North Branford (5-1), 6:30 p.m.: North Branford’s next four opponents after OS/W are a combined 18-6.
Pooch’s pick: North Branford.
Last week: 18-6; Season: 113-31.