Oct 222014
Woodland's Mike Kenney (9) and Coby Vaccarelli (25) try to make a tackle on Naugatuck's Jason Bradley (13) in last season's game in Beacon Falls. The George Pinho Trophy will be on the line for the second time in what has become arguably the league's best rivalry. (Credit: Elio Gugliotti)

Woodland’s Mike Kenney (9) and Coby Vaccarelli (25) try to make a tackle on Naugatuck’s Jason Bradley (13) in last season’s game in Beacon Falls. The George Pinho Trophy will be on the line for the second time in what has become arguably the league’s best rivalry. (Credit: Elio Gugliotti)

It’s time for the Naugatuck Valley League to move on with its football season. Once again, we’ll have no Game of the Week after the NVL-SWC Challenge debacle, so all six games that are on tap are included in this post. Oxford, Watertown and Wilby have bye weeks.

These Week 7 picks are presented by Blanchette Sporting Goods.

Friday, Oct. 24
Torrington (3-3) at Wolcott (4-1), 6:30 p.m.:
 Wolcott can clinch the NVL Iron Division championship with a victory at home. It would be the Eagles’ first division title since 2009.
Remmy’s Take: Both teams had embarrassing losses in crossover week. Wolcott wins because of the talent and coaching factors.
Kyle’s Take: Entering this year, Torrington appeared as though it was ready to turn the corner and become a challenger among the league’s upper echelons. That has not come to fruition on either side of the ball. Wolcott should be fine, although its defense needs to wake up if it plans on doing anything in the second half of the season that will prevent an upset of Naugatuck from being the peak of the season.
Picks: Remmy- Wolcott, 35-7. Kyle- Wolcott, 38-10.

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Oct 212014

nvl-swc fire
It was a very bad weekend for the Naugatuck Valley League. It’s probably not a stretch to say it was the worst weekend in the 83-year history of NVL football.

The South-West Conference obliterated the NVL in the Week 6 crossover schedule. Eleven matchups went to SWC teams; only Naugatuck’s destruction of Joel Barlow went into the Valley’s win column — one of many jokes swinging around in the social media sphere was that the NVL needed an SWC guy in Craig Bruno to gain that win. The two-year final score in the NVL-SWC Challenge was 19-7 in favor of the Fairfield County guys.

Several coaches felt embarrassment for the NVL in the immediate aftermath of the weekend’s chaos. It’s pretty easy to see why. The NVL did as much last weekend to further the Non-Violent League moniker than anytime pretty much ever. Four NVL teams with winning records — Holy Cross, Torrington, Crosby and Kennedy — lost to SWC teams with losing records. Woodland, a reigning state runner-up, only managed a touchdown at home against a Weston team that is among the lower half of the SWC. Seymour got shut out on its home field against a Bethel team that had recently posted a 42-0 loss.

And, of course, the Newtown ended The Streak.

We’re going to try a little bit to pick up the pieces. We like the coaches and players in the NVL, but we can’t shy away from what was just a horrible performance across the board. As one Twitter user said over the weekend, “You (guys) put in work for the blog. It is really the best in CT. But for god’s sake, these teams don’t show up for you.” So let’s face it — we’re almost as embarrassed as it seems the coaches were.

Remmy’s Reaction: I’m not sure I really have a reaction. It’s more of a shock to me that the NVL played so poorly against the SWC when I thought each NVL team would give its best shot (who knows? Maybe they did) when it finally had a shot to play out of conference. I can’t get over the fact that most teams got throttled.

Kyle’s Reaction: I’m glad some coaches texted me with the word “embarrassing” before I went ahead and put it out there myself, so clearly most folks are on the same page here. It’s just a shame. The NVL-SWC Challenge is a great thing. This year we got a few awesome games — Ansonia-Newtown and Holy Cross-Pomperaug top the list — and they were closer across the board than they were in 2013. But jeez, the physicality that marked pretty much every legitimate NVL team during the league’s glory days doesn’t seem to exist much except for a team or two. I’ve always put the NVL and SWC on equal planes, but for the time being, it’s pretty much impossible to do that. I don’t know what the problem is. There are depth issues all over the state, so that cannot be a legitimate argument. I’m sure kids are trying hard, and I know the coaches are well respected by their peers. But man, if this week didn’t cause for some self-examination, I don’t know what will.

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Oct 172014

NVL-SWC CHALLENGEHistory for Ansonia could be just a few hours away.

The No. 4 Chargers (5-0) visit No. 5 Newtown (5-0) tonight at 7 p.m. in the most anticipated game of the season as Ansonia looks to tie Cheshire’s all-time winning streak of 49. Kyle will have the broadcast starting at 6:50 p.m. on Ivy Radio — you can click on that link, or search “Ivy Radio” on your TuneIn Radio app (you might need to load other results to find it). He’ll be joined by the Laxworm for the game and by Sean Patrick Bowley at halftime.

For every bit of pregame you could want, check out the Ansonia-Newtown page on the Rep-Am’s Red Zone blog.

Of course, there are a bunch of key games in the NVL-SWC Challenge, which New Milford kicked off Thursday night with a 48-8 win over Kennedy. The SWC won the challenge, 8-6, last year. Important games on tonight’s schedule include Wolcott at Masuk, Naugatuck at Joel Barlow, Bethel at Seymour and Pomperaug at Holy Cross. The WATR gang, made up tonight of Marc Schwartz and Bob Sagendorf, will have the call of Holy Cross-Pomperaug on 1320 WATR at 6:50 p.m.

The rest of tonight’s NVL-SWC Challenge schedule includes Weston at Woodland, Torrington at Bunnell, Wilby at New Fairfield, Stratford at Watertown and Sacred Heart-Kaynor Tech at Brookfield. Oxford and Derby will meet tonight in an NVL Copper Division game, while Crosby and Notre Dame-Fairfield meet Saturday afternoon to conclude the week.

St. Paul has a Week 6 bye.

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Oct 142014
Ansonia quarterback Jai'Quan McKnight has never lost a game with the Chargers. He and his team will try to tie Cheshire's all-time winning streak Friday at Newtown. (Credit: GWImages)

Ansonia quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight has never lost a game with the Chargers. He and his team will try to tie Cheshire’s all-time winning streak Friday at Newtown. (Credit: GWImages)

It’s finally time for the game for which everybody has been waiting. It’s Ansonia’s chance to take its place in Connecticut high school football history. Win, and Cheshire’s 49-game winning streak in the 1990s will no longer stand alone. Newtown, the only ranked team on the Chargers’ schedule since 2010, will try to prevent it.

This Game of the Week is presented by Blanchette Sporting Goods.

Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Newtown is a very sound team that has some studs and runs an offense that doesn’t rely on just one of its superstars to get things done. The QB, Jacob Burden, is a first-year starter and has many weapons at his disposal. His offense has shown it can rely on its rushing attack to win games. It’s a bit easier to run the ball effectively with a massive offensive line. The Nighthawks have played in a few games where things have been shaky. However, they were able to correct the issues and put each of those games away. We’ve seen how effective Ansonia’s defensive front is against the run versus NVL teams. But this week will be true test for that defense due to Newtown’s size up front. I think Newtown’s size on the offensive line could help or really hurt it come Friday. Ansonia’s guys aren’t as big, but they are very fast, relentless and blow up many plays in the backfield. If Newtown’s line is able to wear down Ansonia’s defense, it’ll be a long night for the Chargers and it’ll give Newtown the opportunity to control the clock and keep Ansonia’s offense off of the field. The Nighthawks may very well rely on their wide receivers to make plays and win this game for them. But my guess is Newtown will try to establish the run before going to its wideouts and will try to wear Ansonia down. This could really hurt Ansonia as most of its guys play both ways. Being that the Nighthawks are fairly balanced, it will be interesting to see how Ansonia lines up on defense. Ansonia usually has the athletes to be able to cover WRs one-on-one but that’s going to be tough with a target like WR Julian Dunn and two other solid receivers on the field for Newtown. I believe Ansonia will take its chances and start the game playing man coverage and will try to shut down Newtown’s run game with an extra safety in the box. This will also allow Ansonia to get pressure on Burden and may lead to Newtown calling quick pass plays (fades to Dunn and quick drags over the middle just behind blitzing LBs). Being able to force turnovers by pressuring the first-year QB will be on the minds of that defensive front. As for the Ansonia offense, McKnight will have to play a hell of a game. I think it’s great that Tajik Bagley is relatively healthy for this game as it allows Ansonia to call more of a variety of plays on offense and makes for a more exciting game in general. Spreading out Tyler Bailey wide will take one or two guys out of the box and will allow McKnight and Bagley to play off of each other. Newtown will try and make sure Bailey and Bagley don’t get theirs, though. But that opens things up for McKnight, big time. Ansonia loves to run power and if Newtown’s defensive ends crash down and safeties cheat, expect McKnight to run wild on QB keeps and hit Witold Gul on some big passes for scores as well. I think that’s how the game will be won.

Kyle’s Keys to the Game: Remmy with some solid analysis so I don’t know how much more I have to add to all of that. I will put out a couple of points I’ve been talking about through the weekend and leading up to this game. I think the first quarter will be absolutely critical, particularly for Newtown. Can the Nighthawks handle Ansonia’s speed? It won’t take long to figure that out. If Newtown shows its ability to stick around and keep hitting in the second half, how will the Chargers react? They’ve only been in that situation once, and they got lucky to escape with a win in the face of six mistakes. Newtown is more multi-dimensional than Ansonia on offense, but the Nighthawks cannot turn over the ball. Jacob Burden will only be in his sixth start at quarterback and has thrown three interceptions this year. The Chargers’ secondary will be the most talented one he’s seen so far. Ansonia is always aggressive in the secondary, usually playing press coverage with a high safety. With multiple All-State-caliber wide receivers in Julian Dunn and Troy Frangione, the Chargers will have to mix coverages. I wonder, too, what kind of pressure Ansonia will try to bring against a Newtown offensive line that averages 6-foot-1, 264 pounds. The other thing for Newtown is that sound tackling is a must. There are so many teams that lose to Ansonia for no simpler reason than the fact that they can’t make the first tackle a yard or two off the line of scrimmage. Newtown’s linebackers are very talented, and with a group of big men up front, they stand a chance against Ansonia’s triple-headed offense. Still, though, the speed adjustment will be something for which the Nighthawks can’t really prepare.

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Oct 132014
Wolcott senior running back Mike Audibert and his Eagles will look to guard against a letdown this week at Masuk after their big win over Naugatuck.

Wolcott senior running back Mike Audibert and his Eagles will look to guard against a letdown this week at Masuk after their big win over Naugatuck.

The second of the two-year series that is the NVL-SWC Challenge is here, and it appears as though we’re going to get more competitive and exciting matchups across the board than the duds we had last year (only one of the 14 games in 2013 was decided by one score). Of course, the monster game is Friday’s Ansonia-Newtown game, which we will preview in detail beginning on Tuesday.

In the meantime, check out our other NVL-SWC Challenge picks, brought to you by DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding.

Thursday, Oct. 16
New Milford (2-3) at Kennedy (3-2), 6 p.m.:
 Kennedy actually played in the tightest NVL-SWC Challenge game of them all last year. Maybe it will kick off this year’s series in the same way?
Remmy’s Take: New Milford current sits in the middle of the pack in the SWC. The Green Wave has scored a ton of points in its wins and did play Masuk tough this year while Kennedy has dropped its last two games in the NVL. Kennedy may get a lot out of its defense this week and should keep this game competitive through the fourth quarter, but I think the Wave has too much offense and will ultimately pull out the win. If the Eagles are going to win this one, they’ll have to string together long drives and possess the ball for over 30 minutes in the game.
Kyle’s Take: It’s hard to know what exactly New Milford is capable of doing. It very well could have beaten Masuk in Week 2 and pounded Pomperaug, but it lost to Stratford by 10 points. Kennedy should be right in this ballgame, but I think the Green Wave is starting to feel some momentum and will make it three wins in a row.
Picks: Remmy- New Milford, 35-28. Kyle- New Milford, 32-20.

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Oct 092014

week 5 scoreboard 14
There are quite a few important games sprinkled through the three days of Week 5. We get started up with the Thursday night game at Municipal Stadium between Kennedy (3-1) and Holy Cross (3-1). Kyle’s WATR crew will have that game and start its broadcast on 1320 WATR at 5:50 p.m.

On Friday night, the big game is a battle of unbeatens at Joe Monroe Field when Wolcott (3-0) hosts Naugatuck (3-0) in a game that will likely decide the NVL Iron Division champion (although not clinch the title quite yet). The WATR gang will also have that call on 1320 WATR at 6:50 p.m.

The other key ballgame of the week will be Saturday afternoon as Torrington (3-1) plays its first game at its new turf complex against Derby (2-1) in a game that could turn out to be a shootout. The guys from 89.9 WAPJ will have the broadcast beginning at 2:50 p.m.

Other games this week include Seymour (2-1) at Wilby (0-4), Ansonia (4-0) at St. Paul (1-3), Crosby (2-1) at Oxford (0-4) and Watertown (0-4) at Sacred Heart-Kaynor Tech (0-4), all on Friday night.

Woodland has a Week 5 bye. Enjoy, friends.

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