Note: Thursday night games not included.
Morgan at Valley Regional/Old Lyme
WHERE — Richard Blythe Field, Deep River
WHEN — Friday, 6:30
RECORDS — Morgan 6-1, Valley 7-0
LAST YEAR — Valley 51-6
ON THE AIR — CPTVSports.org
OUTLOOK — Valley served notice to the rest of the Pequot by thrashing previously unbeaten Coginchaug on its home field, 56-6, in Week 7. And, frankly, it wasn’t even that close. The Warriors picked off six passes and recovered a fumble and could have done far worse were it not for 50-point rules and overall decency. And that was a Coginchaug squad that had beaten Morgan 26-25 just a few weeks prior. Then again, Morgan was without its top back Jake Ward due to a knee injury. He and his near 250-yards-per-game average is back to run behind the Huskies’ massive line. The general consensus is that Morgan is so much better than one measly loss without its RB stud. Then again, again, Valley dismantled Morgan on its home turf 51-6 a year ago even WITH Ward running on Morgan’s side. Despite the Huskies holding a considerable advantage up front, Ward could muster just 90 yards last year thanks to Valley’s formidable defense. And though it’s been banged up a tad this year, it remains formidable. If Morgan can’t run again expect the same kind of domination. Valley’s offense, led by Chris Jean-Pierre at QB, Justin Cheverier and Evan Smith at RB, is near impossible to stop — especially with it only needs half a field to score.
New Canaan at St. Joseph
WHERE — Dalling Sports Complex, St. Joseph HS, Trumbull
WHEN — Saturday, 1:30
RECORDS — New Canaan 7-0, St. Joseph 6-1
LAST YEAR — New Canaan 62-21, 31-20 (FCIAC Championship)
ON THE AIR — MSGVarsity.com
OUTLOOK — It was shortly after St. Joseph’s disastrous 21-17 loss to Darien, a game in which the Hogs led 17-0 toward the end of the third quarter but wilted in a rash of turnovers, that St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia decided to make a change. He inserted sophomore Cory Babineau in place of junior Kevin Trefz at quarterback hoping to strengthen St. Joseph’s passing game and reduce turnovers. Three games later, with results still not quite to Della Vecchia’s liking, senior receiver Lars Pedersen has suddenly emerged as a viable QB option. He started the entire Trinity Catholic running out of a wildcat and wound up with 145 yards rushing with two touchdowns. So consider the St. Joseph QB situation… situational as the Hogs head into their biggest game of the year. “We’re not at a point where anybody stands out, that’s proven they’re the guy, so to speak,” Della Vecchia said. “We need a guy to manage the game we can’t just pound the ball inside all day. So we’re playing to everybody’s strengths (at QB). That’s how we’re attacking it.” Thankfully, St. Joseph is solid everywhere else, even if their best receiver is behind center. The Hogs still have a solid offensive line and RB Mufasha Abdul-Basir, who’s run for 1,131 yards and 10 touchdowns, not to mention an outstanding defense — led by junior linebacker and leading tackler Cam Ryan. It’s only allowed 105 points, much of which came in SJ’s 48-33 victory over Fairfield Prep. While not the juggernaut it was a year ago, New Canaan hasn’t broke a sweat since beating Hand 21-14 in the season-opener. DE Zach Allen and Alex LaPolice lead, perhaps, the FCIAC’s best defense (ok, maybe second-best next to Darien). It’s allowed just 70 points in six games. And, of course, offensively the Rams have been innovative and flawless. Junior QB Mike Collins has thrown for 1,226 yards and 15 touchdowns against a mere 3 interceptions and the run game, manned by a stable of Cognetta brothers, has been good in a pinch. “I really don’t know what to expect,” Della Vecchia said. “We were both loaded a year ago and we both lost some firepower. They’re tough to beat because they don’t make mistakes. They’re very crisp and go 100 miles per hour. We have to be mentally prepared and we can’t make mistakes.” …With Darien unbeaten, a New Canaan victory all but assures it a spot in the FCIAC Championship. St. Joseph can muck up the works and put itself in a better position to qualify with a victory.
Notre Dame-WH at Cheshire
WHERE — The Maclary Complex, Cheshire HS
WHEN — Friday, 7 p.m.
RECORDS — Notre Dame-WH 5-2, Cheshire 6-1
LAST YEAR — Notre Dame 28-0
ON THE AIR — GoGreenKnights.com
OUTLOOK — Off to its best start since 1998, Cheshire finally fell from the unbeaten ranks with a mildly startling 51-28 loss to Fairfield Prep. The Rams defense, which was well-regarded going into the game, was simply kept at bay by Prep’s offensive line while QB Colton Smith sliced and diced his way to over 500 yards of total offense. So now Cheshire is suddenly in survival mode as it gears up for its most important game until Thanksgiving. With a 27-24 victory over unbeaten Xavier, won on back-to-back pick-6s courtesy of Chris Stanio and Kameron Matthews, Notre Dame reaffirmed itself as a legitimate threat in the season’s second half. That’s even more impressive considering Notre Dame won without the services of do-everything captain Zach Cofrancesco, who will be out for at least the remainder of the regular season due to a foot fracture. Notre Dame’s defense will, of course, be challenged by Cheshire’s offensive line and RB Andrew Yamin, who has run for over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. Even in the Prep loss, Yamin managed over 200 yards on the ground. So it’s likely ND’s offense, led by QB Christian Lupoli’s 900 passing yards and team-leading (yes) 573 rush yards, will have to score points on its own. Don’t expect any interception TDs in this one.
Platt at Berlin
WHERE — Scalise Field at Sage Park, Berlin
WHEN — Friday, 6:30
RECORDS — Platt 6-1, Berlin 7-0
LAST YEAR — Platt 44-6
OUTLOOK — Platt’s back on a roll after suffering its only loss of the season in Week 2 vs. East Catholic, a game in which Platt surrendered 448 rushing yards and was unable to keep pace thanks to some unfortunate third-quarter events. The Panthers have since won five consecutive games quite easily… except when they faced another running team in Rocky Hill. Platt surrendered 250 rushing yards but jumped out to a big lead and eventually held off the Terriers, 28-17. Now comes the Panthers’ biggest test of the year. Berlin loves to run, too and has backs Owen Taylor and Anthony Sisti, who have helped the Redcoats run for over 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns. But what’s of utmost concern to Platt is Berlin’s defense. Taylor and Jeremy Eliades lead a unit that’s surrendered a mere 30 points this season, mostly when the games have been out of reach. If Platt wants to make a playoff return, it’ll have to find ways to score against one of the CCC’s stingiest defenses. Thankfully, the Panthers have one of the CCC’s best backs in Tyzhan Leatherwood, who averages 207 rush yards and has scored 17 TDs. That’s the matchup worth watching and the key to this CCC D-III clash.
Windham at Ledyard
WHERE — Mignault Field, Ledyard
WHEN — Friday, 6:30
RECORDS — Windham 7-0, Ledyard 7-0
LAST YEAR — DNP
OUTLOOK — There’s been no team on the schedule that’s been any match for Ledyard. Back Jo Jo Schumaker, QB Ty Ebdon and the dynamic Thomas brothers, Phyllip and River, have led a unit that’s smoked the opposition by an average score of 50-10. Windham, meanwhile, has bee the surprise of the ECC this season. Historically a run-heavy team, the Whippets have shown they can heave the ball at times behind quarterback Brody Labbe, as they did in a 49-29 shootout victory over Plainfield. The Whips can also play defense, too. Led by Labbe’s three picks, Windham shut down Griswold, 28-0, to wrap up the ECC Small division a week after Griswold, oh by the way, took down mighty Norwich Free Academy. So Windham looks legit, especially when backs Cullen Contos and Joe Santiago are able to bust loose. But, again, Ledyard is the established power. The Colonels haven’t lost a regular-season game since last year’s 28-21 surprise vs. Stonington. But this team is literally a year wiser and, frankly, better. It’s going to take everything Windham can muster to pull off an upset. Though, in the meek ECC, we’ll be surprised at nothing.