Do you know me?
I’m the SCC’s all-time leading passer and led my team to 18 wins in three seasons as a starter. Toward the end of my senior season, I passed an alum of my school to set the conference record for passing yards, but very few people seemed to notice because my team wasn’t in playoff contention.
In fact, I never played in a postseason game, unfortunately, although we were real close in my junior year, losing only one Division II game (to North Haven) and missing the postseason by just two spots, while such state powers as Quinebaug Valley and Gilbert/NW Regional went in our place.
Have you figured it out? Another hint: he’s still playing. Hey, I saw that light bulb go off in some of your brains, he is none other than Foran senior Jake Kasuba, who passed alum Jake White (6,731 yards) two weeks ago for the all-time SCC lead. In fact, with 150 hard-earned yards through the air last Friday night, Kasuba is now sixth all-time in Connecticut history (7,303 yards) and should be able to get as high as fourth with decent numbers in his final two scholastic games.
If this is all news to you, don’t feel bad. Neither Kasuba nor his coach – Jeff Bevino – had any idea, either. Kasuba burst onto the SCC scene two seasons ago when he threw for 287 yards in his first start as a sophomore (albeit in a loss to Hillhouse), but his name was really thrown into the SCC discussion of top quarterbacks when his 323 yards and three touchdowns helped take down Notre Dame later that season.
Kasuba narrowly missed becoming the third player in SCC history (both White and Amity’s Bill Choiniere did it in 2008) to throw for 3,000 yards last season (adding 27 touchdowns against just seven INTs), but much of his supporting cast graduated and while Kasuba’s exploits may not be as well known as they probably should be, opponents knew what the key to beating Foran this season was and it was stopping No. 7.
Last Friday, North Haven made sure Kasuba wouldn’t beat them by throwing the ball, setting up in Cover-2 from the opening kickoff and – although Kasuba ended up completing 14-of-20 passes for 150 yards – the result was a 27-0 loss, Foran’s fifth in nine games this season. Kasuba did have some space to run, but took a beating every time he tried, which isn’t a whole lot of fun in ideal circumstances for someone listed at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, but even less so when you’ve been battling turf toe for most of the season.
“The kid (Kasuba) has had a marvelous career, he really has,” Bevino said. “He’s accounted for 10,000 total yards in three years and this season isn’t even over yet. And a lot of people don’t know that he’s played hurt for most of this season, too.”
Kasuba will finish his career with games against Guilford and then surging Jonathan Law on Thanksgiving, and a legacy of three straight winning seasons is not shabby for the program he walked into three years ago.
“I look at my numbers sometimes, but I don’t want to get too caught up in them,” Kasuba said. “I just play the game and see how it goes. Unfortunately, not many teams get to the playoffs. We were close last year, we went 8-3 and had a great year. It hurt a little bit to be that close, but it happens. We were 6-4 and 8-3, and those were great years for our program.”
When you cover high school athletics, particularly in a sport like football where few teams actually make the postseason, there are plenty of people worth mentioning who may never play after Thanksgiving.
Like the SCC’s all-time leading passer, for instance.
ANGLES AND BREAKS
With Wilbur Cross at least approaching the CIAC postseason door, if not knocking on it, the Governors were tied with favored Notre Dame 28-28 with two minutes left at Jess Dow Field last Thursday night. On a second-down play, ND quarterback Christian Lupoli couldn’t handle a bad snap, and then appeared to grab it only to have the wet ball elude him and Cross pounce on it.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen the play in question by now (hooray for technology), and – while ND has argued that the ground caused the fumble, it sure looks to me like Lupoli never had control of the ball in the firstplace. But it was far from an easy call, and from where the referee was (correctly) positioned, it was nearly impossible.
It would have been easy for Cross coach John Acquavita — whose team hasn’t been the playoffs in three decades (1984) — to harp on the no-call after the game, but he didn’t, saying, “I wouldn’t be a ref. It’s a hard job.”
Later on, he continued, “It was probably a fumble, but we should have had their heads hanging in the first half, and we didn’t do enough.”
Refereeing is indeed a very hard job, and the constant abuse they face from the stands (and sometimes sidelines) every week doesn’t help make referees any better. If it were an issue where an officiating crew was overzealous or a rule issue, then you can understand frustration. However, in this case it was a judgment call made instantaneously from a less than ideal position. What are you going to do?
As Acquavita pointed out, what a team can do is overcome it. Notre Dame faced a 3rd-and-17 on the next play, but Cross somehow let Jonathan Aceto behind them for the eventual winning touchdown.
The Governors had plenty of chances to extend their 14-7 lead before halftime, and – as Acquavita admitted afterward – probably should have had a little more respect for emerging star Nico Ragaini instead of leaving him in single-coverage for most of the game.
Those are all things you can control. The officials? You can’t, so worrying about them is wasted breath and wasted energy.
One thing officials can keep an eye on, however, is head-to-head contact. I have not seen a penalty called for it all season, and at least one hit per game seemed to warrant it. The penalty (15 yards) is harsh, but the sport won’t survive if it isn’t safe enough to play … Lyman Hall ended the SCC’s longest losing streak at 11, even if they had to go all the way to Montville to do it, knocking off St. Bernard-Norwich Tech, 42-14, in part by employing a wing-T offense and having five people score touchdowns. The Trojans also had the quote of the week from interim coach Aidan Lynch (who got his first win), “I feel like I’m 50 pounds lighter,” Lynch said. The SCC’s longest losing streak now moves across town to Sheehan (8), but may not stay there too long … West Haven took someone (who looks a lot like me) saying they were going to finish 4-7 to heart, blanking Hand at the Surf Club, 21-0, holding the Tigers to 172 total yards after giving up 42 points to Cheshire and 40 to Notre Dame, and 38 to Wilbur Cross just the week before … Fairfield Prep had no trouble with Hamden, 42-0, and got to get Colton Smith some more rest. He might need it because Prep will have to play Xavier next week without lineman Anthony Palazzolo, who was ejected in the second quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct. Hamden, 1-39 in its last 40 Division I games, has a chance to get a Division I win when it plays Amity on Friday … Jonathan Law clearly chested the paying public by winning its game against Branford 24-21 on Mick Murray’s 31-yard field goal with 4:29 remaining. I mean the game almost didn’t go down to the final play. It was the fourth straight win for Law who evened up their season at 4-4 … We’ll spend next week going over possible playoff scenarios, but there is much in doubt after Shelton, who has virtually clinched a berth in the postseason. Can Notre Dame, North Haven (who has Darien Saturday), Fairfield Prep, and Cheshire afford another loss? Do Wilbur Cross and Xavier have a prayer with three defeats? It is really hard to say at this point. Hopefully by next week, it will be slightly clearer … If you haven’t yet, follow me on Twitter at @currenscc (now with 1,000 followers).
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mark Piccirillo, Shelton
Despite playing quarterback, Piccirillo carried the ball a remarkable 44 times for 235 yards in Shelton’s 28-20 win over Xavier. Piccirillo was involved in 64 of the Gaels’ 69 plays from scrimmage (he also threw 20 passes) and accounted for all four of his team’s touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Number of losing seasons that the Hand football program had suffered prior to this season. Its last was a 4-6 mark in 2006, but you have to go all the way back to 1987 prior to that when the Tigers went 2-7-1. Hand also finished below .500 in 1979, and that’s it (the program started in 1971). Quite a remarkable record.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Fairfield Prep at Xavier, Friday, 7 p.m.
We’ve already mentioned that Prep will be without Anthony Palozzolo Friday night, but it is a tricky game for the Jesuits any way you slice it. The Falcons – on Senior Night – need a win to have any chance to extend their season. Throw in that it figures to be a cold, cold night at Palmer Field, and Fairfield Prep will have earned it if they emerge victorious.
- 1) Shelton (9-0; Last Week 1) – Well, West Haven doesn’t look like the fairly easy game it did a week ago, huh?
- 2) Fairfield Prep (7-2; LW 2) – Might they be a little too rested by the time Friday night at Palmer Field rolls around?
- 3) North Haven (8-1; LW 4) – Have to consider them fairly big underdogs, but maybe that’s what they want.
- 4) Notre Dame (7-2; LW 3) – Might be the last time Nico Ragaini sees single-coverage in high school career.
- 5) Cheshire (7-2; LW 8) – Do they have enough points to get into postseason at 8-3? Probably not, unfortunately.
- 6) Wilbur Cross (6-3; LW 7) – Have to be proud of the effort, but tough to get so close and still lose to ND.
- 7) Xavier (6-3; LW 5) – Three straight losses and last year’s Class LL finalist coming to Palmer Field Friday.
- 8) West Haven (5-4; LW 9) – Great effort by another team long since eliminated from playoffs. Good to see.
- 9) Hand (3-6; LW 6) – Didn’t expect them to get shut down completely. Have one last chance to play spoiler.
- 10) Foran (4-5; LW 10) – Score actually should have been a lot closer against North Haven than it appears.
- 11) Amity (2-7; LW 11) – The showdown with Hamden is finally here on Friday, weather permitting.
- 12) Hamden (2-7; LW 12) – Like Amity, I think this is the game the Dragons really want to win now.
- 13) Hillhouse (4-5; LW 13) – Road to a winning season means having to beat Branford and then Wilbur Cross.
- 14) Jonathan Law (4-4; LW 14) – Not exactly blowing people out, but from where they started, impressive run.
- 15) Branford (2-6; LW 15) – Tough loss, but have to feel like they have a chance in final three games.
- 16) Guilford (2-7; LW 16) – Would like to get a result against Foran with Hand on Thanksgiving, but who knows?
- 17) Sheehan (0-8; LW 17) – Now have SCC’s longest losing streak, but East Haven, Branford, and Lyman Hall left.
- 18) East Haven (2-7; LW 18) – Defense did decent job against Ludlowe, but couldn’t manage any offense.
- 19) Lyman Hall (1-8; LW 19) – Can’t move them up here, but can give them a quality slow clap for getting a victory.