WHERE/WHEN – Veterans Stadium, New Britain, 2 p.m.
TICKETS – $10 Everyone
ON THE AIR/WEB – NFHS Network (Subscription required)
SEEDS/RECORDS – No. 7 Maloney 10-2, No. 1 Hand 12-0
COACHES — Maloney: Kevin Frederick, 5th year (38-16); Hand: Dave Mastroianni, 2nd year (24-1)
1989-M lost to St. Joseph 14-7; 2006-MM lost to New Canaan 53-21.
1976-M def. St. Paul 29-0; 1977-M def. Berlin 20-16; 1980-M lost to Seymour 14-7; 1981-M lost to Killingly 14-7; 1982-M def. East Hartford 28-0; 1983-MM lost to East Catholic 14-12; 1984-MM def. Wilton 14-7; 1989-MM def. Darien 34-28; 1993-M lost to New Canaan 35-14; 1994-M lost to Foran 28-24; 1997-L def. Staples 14-7; 2003-M def. Ledyard 28-0; 2004-M def. Brookfield 35-6; 2005-M def. Hillhouse 34-0; 2007-MM lost to New Canaan 34-30, 2011-L def. New Canaan 31-0; 2012-L def. Windsor 23-6; 2017-L def. Masuk 35-21.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sr. WR/DB Victor Marquez, Sr. QB Elliot Good, Soph. RB James Tarver, Sr. OL Ryan Martel (6-6, 330), Sr. OL DJ Posey (6-4, 285); Jr. T/DT Trevor Santiago (6-5, 295).
Jr. QB Phoenix Billings; Jr. RB Colin McCabe; Sr. OL/DL Jack Flanagan (6-2, 235); Sr. WR/DB Ian Butler; Jr. OL/DL Ben Corniello (6-2, 235); Sr. OL/DL Macken McDonald (6-2, 265); Sr. S Julian Banerji; Jr. WR Ethan Haberman (6-4, 210); Sr. WR/CB Chris Bartosic; Sr. LB Kevin Girardi.
A 29-22 midseason upset loss to Bristol Central, a 36-20 loss in the Stoddard Bowl to Platt and a two-score deficit in the state quarterfinals to Middletown … every one of those setbacks could have knocked Maloney’s football team out for the rest of the season.
Instead, the Spartans rallied each time. They won their next four games after their loss to Bristol Central. After losing their season finale to arch-rival Platt, they came back from 14 down to beat Middletown, 20-14, in the Class L quarterfinals and they avenged their loss to Platt, 16-6, in the L semifinals.
Led by wide receiver Victor Marquez, whom coach Kevin Frederick calls the best player in the state, veteran quarterback Elliott Good and massive lines on both sides of the ball, the Spartans have shown time and time again they won’t go away easily.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, they’re running into a juggernaut. Hand, seeded No. 1 in the Class L tournament and ranked No. 2 in the GameTimeCT / New Haven Register Top 10, has followed up last year’s championship season by decimating opponents on their way to a 12-0 record.
The Tigers have scored a staggering 82 touchdowns this season – 7.4 a game – led by juniors, QB Phoenix Billings and RB Colin McCabe. Billings has thrown for 20 TDs and rushed for 10, while McCabe has rushed for 31 TDs.
It’s not just the offense that is playing absurdly well. The Tigers’ defense has made it a mission to get into the backfield and attack the quarterback.
Led by senior DE Jack Flanagan (9.5 sacks) and junior DE Ben Corniello (9.5 sacks) the Tigers defense has produced 41 sacks this season, smothering teams while Billings and the offense marches up and down the field.
If teams manage to get a pass off, watch out for Ian Butler (four interceptions) and the rest of the Tigers secondary.
SPB’S PICK – Hand
PETE’S PICK – Hand
SCOTT’S PICK – Hand
CALPREPS PROJECTION – Hand 48-21