WHERE/WHEN – Finn Stadium, Shelton, 2 p.m.
TICKETS – $10 Everyone
ON THE AIR/WEB – NFHS Network (Subscription required)
SEEDS/RECORDS – Berlin 11-1, St. Joseph 11-1
COACHES — Berlin: Joe Aresimowicz, 3rd year (28-7); St. Joseph: Joe Della Vecchia, 21st year (148-90)
1977-M lost to Hand 20-16; 1987-SS lost to Morgan 3-0; 1991-M lost to Darien 35-22; 1992-M lost to Middletown 36-8; 2007-M lost to Ledyard 21-14; 2009-M def. Bethel 46-6; 2012-M lost to Hillhouse 34-12; 2014-M Small lost to Brookfield 14-0.
St. Joseph (13-3)
1978-S lost to Stamford Catholic 20-9; 1979-S lost to North Branford 25-22; 1980-S def. Immaculate 43-7; 1981-SS def. Montville 37-30; 1982-SS def. Wilson 37-9; 1983-SS def. New Fairfield 20-0; 1984-SS def. New London 14-7; 1988-M def. Bethel 25-21; 1989-M def. Maloney 14-7; 1990-M def. Middletown 26-0; 2009-SS def. Montville 14-3; 2010-S def. Ansonia 49-28; 2013-M def. Brookfield 54-16; 2014-M Large def. Ledyard 37-7; 2016-M lost to Hillhouse 42-21; 2017-S def. Ansonia 42-36.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sr. QB/DB Kevin Dunn, Jr. RB/DE Zach Hrubeic, Sr. RB/LB Alex Halkias, Jr. RB/DB Larry St. Pierre, Soph. RB/LB Marco Scarano.
Sr. QB David Summers, Jr. RB Jaden Shirden, Jr. WR Will Diamantis, Jr. LB Cole daSilva, Sr. LB Jesse Lawson, Jr. DL Mike Morrissey, Jr. LB Alex Pagliarini.
Many around the state have thought that the one team that has a shot to knock off St. Joseph is Berlin. After two wins in the playoffs the Redcoats finally get their chance.
Led by their four-strong running back corps and an underrated QB in Kevin Dunn, the Redcoats have returned to the state championship for the first time since 2014, and first time since the program was crippled by recruiting sanctions in 2015.
The Redcoats boast, perhaps, the deepest and most talented backfield, with players who excel not just at running the ball, but catching passes, as well.
Berlin’s backfield is led by senior Alex Halkias, who has amassed 937 yards and 14 touchdowns, in addition to his 23 catches for 481 yards and 5 scores. Junior Zach Hrubiec, a monster at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, has 622 yards of total offense. Junior Larry St. Pierre has 1,300 all-purpose yards (including more than 400 yards of return yardage). Finally, emerging sophomore Marco Scarano has 653 all-purpose yards.
Scarano (9 TDs) will fly past you, St. Pierre (13 TDs) will run around you, Hrubiec (8 TDs) will run you over and Halkias (19 TDs) can do it all. The quartet has rushed for 28 of the team’s 31 rushing TDs this season.
Dunn, who seemed to fly under the radar the whole season, won’t be able to any longer. The senior QB totaled five touchdowns in the semifinal win over Sheehan, throwing for four and rushing for another. He has thrown for 2,053 yards and 27 TDs against just two interceptions this season.
Dom Scarano and Tyler Tralli anchor the Redcoats’ defense that has made life hard for offenses this year.
Meanwhile, this is where St. Joseph expected to be — playing for the school’s 14th state championship.
Despite being moved up a class due to the CIAC’s new success-modifier, the Hogs, last year’s Class S champion, have made easy work of the opponents they have faced during the playoffs.
On the legs of Jaden Shirden, who has amassed 238 rushing yards and six touchdowns through the first two rounds, the Hogs have averaged 50.5 points and allowed just seven points in each game.
Shirden is joined by 2017 New Haven Register All-State first team QB David Summers, who has thrown for 33 TDs this season and hasn’t throw an interception in close to a month. His favorite target is Will Diamantis, a junior who has caught 13 TDs and averages 22.3 yards per catch. That’s been huge especially with the loss of 2017 All-State receiver Phil Pasmeg for much of the season due to a broken collarbone.
Defensively, the Hogs have been dominant. They have shut out opponents five times – including a 28-0 season-opening win over LL finalist New Canaan – and have allowed just 5.6 points per game.
On the defensive line, Mike Morrissey has been a problem for opponents. The junior has 9 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss. Alex Pagliarini, Cole daSliva and Jesse Lawson man a fierce linebacking corps.
SPB’S PICK – St. Joseph
PETE’S PICK – St. Joseph
SCOTT’S PICK – St. Joseph
CALPREPS PROJECTION – St. Joseph 35-13