Word on the street is that some people are a little upset that we didn’t pick Woodland-Ansonia as our Game of the Week. We went through this last year a couple times, so just a reminder: We take a few things into account when we pick each Game of the Week (teams involved, game significance to standings and in rivalry context, and competitive balance are among them), and as you saw by our prediction earlier this week, we don’t think Woodland-Ansonia will be competitive enough to earn our spotlight.
Naugatuck-Derby certainly should be. Two of the three games in this series (since it resumed in 2009, of course) have been excellent and we expect the same Friday at the Ryan Complex. Remmy had confidence in both of these squads in Week 1 while Kyle did not. Now the tables have turned and these teams are playing in a game that could point to which will be a contender this season. It’s our Game of the Week, presented by DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding.
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Both teams have sophomore quarterbacks. Derby has Mike Kreiger and Naugy has Jason Bradley. I expect each of these players to determine the game for their respective teams. Quarterback play is sometimes overlooked when they aren’t the best players on the field. But one of these kids will turn into a man on Friday by putting their team over the top. Who will it be? Naugy has the daunting task of trying to stop Dillon McMahon. The same could be said for Derby, who will have to find a way to stop Mick Pernell. But the big question is this: Will Derby have enough defense to win this game? We all know the Raiders can score points on anyone. Their toughness on defense is something I am looking forward to seeing on Friday night. Derby wins if Pernell scores fewer than two touchdowns for Naugy. Naugy wins if Bradley throws for three touchdowns.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: These two offenses are pretty comparable in my mind, at least from what they showed in Week 1. They might not get to the end zone in the same exact manner, but they both have talented playmakers and rising quarterbacks. As Remmy pointed out, these offenses run through Dillon McMahon and Mick Pernell. They have comparable styles, too, in that they’re not huge but they’re both quick and shifty. For as much as we can point out their skills, we better believe that both coaching staffs are targeting those guys, too. Derby didn’t need to use it last week, but is this the contest we see McMahon throw to Michael Kreiger or Justin Olenoski? I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these coaches begin to open their toolbox and have a few unorthodox plays ready to go because these teams could be as evenly matched as we’ll see all of this season. But I think the game comes down to defense on both sides. Both squads gave up some second-half points in Week 1 (with JV defenses in for at least some of those scores) so this is the week the varsity units can start to prove themselves. I liked Naugatuck’s pressure up front last week and that could be the difference here.
Remmy’s Players to Watch: Derby wide receiver Dillon McMahon and Naugatuck running back Mick Pernell will be the two best players on the field. You can’t miss ‘em. Both of these kids will be the focal points for the offenses in this contest. Both can run the ball effectively and catch balls out of the backfield. Where they are most dangerous is on special teams. Prepared to be wowed. Naugy tight end Brandon Kuczenski will pose a mismatch problem for Derby. He is huge and has good hands. He will be a big-play threat. Derby wideout Justin Olenoski also has big-play potential. He had a touchdown reception last week at St. Paul and had a huge run for a score in Derby’s last scrimmage vs. Branford (who smoked Trumbull last week).
Kyle’s Players to Watch: Naugatuck quarterback Jason Bradley was definitely the breakout player of the week in the opener. When I saw him in the preseason (a practice and a scrimmage at Wolcott) he looked shaky. He was anything but against Wilby. He throws a clean ball and doesn’t force it, which are all positives. We’ll see how well he is able to look off and work around Dillon McMahon. Kuczenski could be limited by a shoulder injury that will probably linger the entire season, so we may see more targets for Naugatuck wideout Ryne Griesenauer. He’s about as tall a target as there is in the league and can move downfield. He should find the end zone at least once and could be the lynchpin for the Greyhounds. Naugatuck didn’t leave too many openings for Wilby quarterback Brandon Sierra last week so Derby’s Michael Kreiger will have to avoid sacks and turnovers that plagued the Wildcats. While he can make plays, the main matchup I’ll be watching is the Derby offensive line vs. the Naugatuck defensive line. The Greyhounds had several different types of fronts against Wilby (they mixed power and speed packages pretty nicely) so it will be up to the Red Raiders’ hogs to give Kreiger and their running game some time.
This game has the potential to be one of the top games we’ll see all season. With a pair of go-to playmakers headlining otherwise young pieces for both squads, we should see a game that (thankfully) goes down to the fourth quarter. It should either come down to a late defensive stop, or whoever has the ball last. We like the Greyhounds’ defense to be the difference in this one.
Picks: Remmy- Naugatuck, 34-31. Kyle- Naugatuck, 27-20.
This game will have live streaming video via the CIAC Network, and we’ll embed that into our Live Scoreboard post Friday. Remember, Woodland-Ansonia is the WATR Game of the Week and will be broadcast live starting at 6:50 p.m. with Steve Gesseck, Bob Sagendorf and I on the call. We’ll have a link to that, too.
We’re looking forward to what you guys think about this one (and hopefully we’ll see some good games this week!).
Week 2′s Game of the Week is presented by DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding. Since 1933, DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding has been providing Connecticut with quality replacement windows, gutters and home improvements of all kinds. Call today at 1-800-428-6438. DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding is a proud sponsor of the NVL Football Blog.