Oct 072012

Ansonia running back Arkeel Newsome avoids Holy Cross’ Kevin Kalosky on Friday. Newsome saw his biggest workload of the season against the Crusaders, rushing 24 times for 164 yards and two scores in the Chargers’ 35-7 win. Credit: GWImages/@GWImages

So there’s no doubt Ansonia is still the best team in the NVL, but is the gap a bit smaller than we had previously thought? After the Chargers played their most competitive game in nearly two years with a closer-than-it-might-seem, 35-7 win over Holy Cross, is Ansonia beatable–maybe even by an NVL team?

That might still be a stretch, but at least it’s something to entertain. Elsewhere in the NVL: Wolcott remained perfect, Torrington is officially back on its feet, Watertown’s in the win column and three potential playoff contenders lit up their scoreboards. Again.

What Happened

Ansonia was never in danger of losing but had to play the entire four quarters against Holy Cross. The final score turned out to be 35-7, but it probably should have been closer to 21-0 (the Chargers had two pick-sixes and the Crusaders’ lone scoring drive came when a Holy Cross punt bounced off an Ansonia player and kept a drive going). Either way, the Crusaders’ defense played as well against Ansonia as any team has since Thanksgiving 2010, when Naugatuck gave the Chargers their last NVL loss in a 38-20 game.

Holy Cross was the first team so far to double-team Andrew Matos and it paid off, as Ansonia basically abandoned the passing game and Matos’ only score came on a rushing touchdown when Arkeel Newsome briefly was on the sidelines after tweaking his ankle injury again. Without the interception-return touchdowns (one thrown by Kristian Harmeling to Raeshaun Finney and the other by Isaiah Wright to Jai’Quan McKnight) Ansonia would have only had 21 points on the board. That sort of defensive effort would keep any of the league’s and state’s contenders right in any game.

The Crusaders definitely still have a lot of work to do on offense if they want to repeat as Copper Division champions. Wright took over as the wildcat quarterback on Cross’ second series and helped the team to its only success of the night, converting twice on fourth downs en route to a touchdown run. But Ansonia picked up on that in the second half and stifled him. Adrian Brown was rendered useless by the wildcat, which was interesting because it would seem that having Wright run the wildcat with Brown in the backfield would make for a tough option read for the defense. But Holy Cross didn’t go that route for most of the night. The Crusaders’ defense is strong but without an offense, the division will be out of reach.

Wolcott assumed the firm No. 2 spot in the Brass Division with a fairly easy, 48-19 win over Seymour. It turns out the Wildcats were about where we pegged them, in the third echelon of NVL teams. Their defense couldn’t handle all the dimensions Wolcott tossed in and the offense never got going in an effective enough capacity.

Mike Nicol revved up his arm again, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another. Joe Lynch had another solid game but yet another new weapon–this time wide receiver Matt Cyr–has stepped up for the Eagles. They may have as many players capable of scoring as anyone in the league. They have a legitimate shot to be 7-0 heading into their brutal final three-game stretch against Ansonia, Woodland and Holy Cross.

After Wilby scored the first touchdown of the night against Derby, the Red Raiders scored eight of the last nine touchdowns to pull away with a 53-14 win. Michael Kreiger and Dillon McMahon both had their best games since Week 1, with Kreiger throwing for more than 200 yards and McMahon catching two touchdown passes. Derby has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises so far and is sitting in Class S’ final qualifying position through four weeks. Wilby’s actually alive and well in Class L, too.

Speaking of Class L (which is just about the polar opposite of what it was last season, the most loaded class in the state), Torrington is right back in the thick of things after its 59-33 win over St. Paul. With Joan Toribio presumably still hampered with an injury and suspensions to key players still in place (the rumor mill has said hazing was the infraction), backup Devone Thomas had one of the best stat lines of anyone this season, going for 315 yards and five scores. Take that with a grain of salt, though, as St. Paul’s defense continued to live up to its reputation as the worst defense you’ll find in Connecticut.

Naugatuck and Woodland both rolled in big performances for their offenses. Naugy’s Mick Pernell has probably been the first-half NVL MVP as he added five more touchdowns to his total against Sacred Heart in a game that was calm as could be. Woodland’s Tanner Kingsley matched that feat in the air, throwing for five more scores against Kennedy with most of his weapons at his disposal. Both teams are perfect so far in the Copper Division.

Watertown finally got a win against Crosby in a 42-6 game that didn’t feature as much Indians’ offense as the score would suggest. Neither of these teams will probably end up getting more than three wins.

Who Did It

Top Passers: Logan Marchi (SP): 21-32, 245 yds, 4 TD; Michael Kreiger (DHS): 11-14, 222 yds, 3 TD, rush TD; Mike Nicol (WOL): 9-15, 189 yds, 4 TD, rush TD; Tanner Kingsley (WRHS): 14-16, 167 yds, 5 TD
Top Rushers: Devone Thomas (THS): 39 rush, 315 yds, 5 TD; Arkeel Newsome (AHS): 24 rush, 164 yds, 2 TD; Mick Pernell (NHS): 7 rush, 158 yds, 5 total TD; Jim Vartelas (SEY): 16 rush, 126 yds; Joe Fancher (WRHS): 11 rush, 121 yds; Joe Lynch (WOL): 13 rush, 109 yds, 2 TD; Roshawn Gainey (CHS): 13 rush, 89 yds, TD; Isaiah Wright (HC): 22 rush, 82 yds, TD; Tyrae Small (DHS): 18 rush, 73 yds, TD; Paulo Villanueva (WAT): 5 rush, 65 yds, 2 total TD
Top Receivers: Dillon McMahon (DHS): 6 rec, 132 yds, 2 TD; Matt Cyr (WOL): 3 rec, 99 yds, 3 TD; Daija Fitzpatrick (SP): 7 rec, 95 yds; Ben Pryor (SP): 6 rec, 71 yds, 2 TD; Anthony Scirpo (WRHS): 5 rec, 50 yds, 3 total TD

Week 4’s Blanchette Sporting Goods Player of the Week is Wolcott quarterback Mike Nicol. Nicol threw for a season-high four touchdowns and ran for another as he led the Eagles to a 48-19 victory on the road over previously unbeaten Seymour. Nicol has Wolcott off to a 4-0 start and atop both the Brass Division and Class M playoff standings. Credit: Remmy/NVL Blog

What’s Next

The next of the big Copper Division dominoes will fall Friday night when Naugatuck visits Torrington (who, by the good luck of scheduling, hosts all three of the crucial divisional clashes). The Greyhounds don’t yet have what any of us would consider a quality win under their belts while the Red Raiders are hot, even though they haven’t been at full strength in two weeks. If Torrington wins, it will establish itself as the firm controller of the division and could all but clinch the title against Woodland. If Naugatuck wins, the Greyhounds assume the top spot. Kyle and crew will be broadcasting that game on WATR.

Thursday night will be time for an old Valley classic at Jarvis Stadium between Seymour and Ansonia. Unfortunately, we probably will not be treated to the type of game we’ve been treated to in the past (though not for the last few years). Holy Cross also faces Kennedy on Thursday with a chance to snap its two-game winning streak. The Crusaders may well be playing elimination games the rest of the way.

Woodland (vs. St. Paul), Wolcott (vs. Wilby) and Derby (vs. Watertown) all have tune-up games before each team’s huge Week 6 contests (Woodland at Torrington, Derby at Wolcott). Crosby at Sacred Heart is the throwaway game of the week.

Blog Notes

The Predictions Tracker is updated through Week 3 and will include Week 4 by the end of the night. … All the photos and videos that go with this week’s games are in the game articles linked to above, but here are some links to the highlights done by our friends at WFSB Friday Night Football (Ansonia-Holy Cross, Wolcott-Seymour, Watertown-Crosby). … The NVL fantasy football update is also finally coming tonight. See where Kyle and Remmy stand against each other. … Kyle will also have the first look at the local teams’ playoff prospects this week in the Rep-Am Red Zone. We’ll toss up some links when they’re ready.

  18 Responses to “Week 4 Wrap”

  1. if it wasn’t a freak fumble rec. by HC after the ball hit the back of a Ansonia player on a punt return HC would of been SHUT OUT! You know it and everyone else knows it Ansonia will not be beat this year in the NVL. It was one of the worst games Ansonia played this year and they still won by 4 TDsto a team who was to contend for the leauge title. Next up Seymour, Early prediction Ansonia 50-13

  2. Nothing that showed if Naugy/Torrington/Woodland were actually any good. St Paul showed SOME improvement as far as their offensive efficiency (high comp %, no turnovers) … Wilby HUGE disappointment. Thought that’d be a competitive game

  3. Man, week 4 scores are all blow outs. I predict that week 5 will be the same except fot Torrington vs Naugy which may be close. Does anyone practice defense anymore?

    • Fish, I was watching college football this weekend and the coaches and analysts were talking about how 10-15 years ago there would be some days where they would do almost 2 hours of straight hitting and tackling drills, but now with all the concern with injuries and concussions they have stopped. I understand the concerns but watching any level of football its pretty easy to see that the root of any bad defense is poor tackling. I havent seen a high school practice since I was in them, but I wonder if high school football is having the same problem as college. I remember hearing that once the season starts some teams only go half pads every day, you cant effectively learn to tackle someone in half pads.

      • You are correct Jamie. It is the fear of litigation and the pussification of America that has led to the downfall of good defense. You only need to look at the top 4 teams in the state polls to see who still emphasizes good defense. I know the public high schools in the top 4 polls practice proper tackling technique and encourage a physical brand of football from the time they are 8 years old. Thats why as long as those 4 coaches are still employed, those teams will continue to dominate.

      • The fact that we (society, Drs and scientists) know more about the brain and how it works is having an affect on the way the game is played as well. You can call it pussification if you want but there is life after football (at every level). ESPN’s Outside the Line did a special on concussions that every parent, player and coach should watch. Brain injuries are real and we’re just learning the long term affects of them. Who wants to see a young man screwed up for life for a game. We’re adults for a much longer time than we are teens.
        But youre right, tacking nowadays is pretty bad.

      • There is life after football for sure. I saw the alarming and fearful ESPN special and I doubt Bob Ley ever wore a football helmet. What should we do? Outlaw football and all contact sports? There are correct ways of teaching tackling without making full contact with the head. The equipment today is far superior than that of 20 years ago. Coaches are afraid of being sued today and choose not to spend time on tackling/contact drills. One sight of a kid who gets his bell rung and its a ten day vacation for that kid. I dont blame coaches for erring on the side of caution, who wants to get sued over a few thousand dollar coaching gig? One could argue that not teaching proper tackling technique is just as dangerous. I’m sure some scumbag lawyer has sued a coach for failing to practice proper technique. It will be interesting to see how football and other contact sports progress.

      • Here’s an idea……if you are fearful of getting hit don’t play football. If you are afraid to get hurt don’t play football. It is a simple concept….you go into playing football fully aware of the risks for injury. We hit EVERY day in some capacity when OLDSCHOOL played. It is part of the game and to not hit in a practice situation lends itself to not hitting in a game. Shame on those people who want to blame the game of football for their ailments and afflictions.

  4. If Lynch were still with the Crusaders this would have been a better/closer game. Hard to believe HC admin could not have worked something out to allow this kid to grarduate with his friends.

  5. After 4 weeks this season is playing out like last season. There are very good teams who beat everybody they play by a ton. There are so-so teams who beat bad teams by a ton, but can’t touch the upper echelon, and there are terrible teams who can’t even come close to teams on the other 2 levels. Sad.

  6. johnnyribbs

    Drake – is that any different from EVER in this league (or most leagues?). Agreed this year Ansonia seems even further away from that “second level” than most years……but that 3 tiered level has always existed no?

    • Ribbs, what did you think of the ‘Cats on Friday night? Wolcott?

      • I’m not Ribbs, but I thought the Cats played hard against a better team.

        The game turned in the 2nd quarter. Wolcott up 14-7, Seymour driving with all the momentum. Cats 3rd and goal from the 7. Conlan passes to Thurmond on the slant. He’s well covered, but got his hands on it and can’t hold on.

        On 4th down Conlan rolls out and short-hops a wide open Briggs.

        Wolcott takes over and drives to their own 40 where Seymour has them stopped. On third down, D’Agostino can’t quite reach a sure pick, then Seymour roughs the kicker on the ensuing punt, which went out of bounds at midfield. Wolcott first down, they drive for a TD and the game was never really in doubt from there.

        The game was more competitive than the final score, but the Cats had no answer for Nichol to Cyr. I actually thought they covered pretty well in the secondary, but he got everything thrown his way,

  7. johnnyribbs

    I thought the CATS showed their youth, which was to be expected. I think we need field turf like crazy.

    The roughing the punter was the turning point as Donald points out. Aggressive kick returns are fine, but under those conditions the Seymour returners could have been coached to get away from the ball on that muffed punt. Same deal with the missed extra point, took the coach waaay too long to realize Conlan was on the sidelines and wouldn’t be able to hold (led to the missed point). Special teams is huge and I saw that as the only real downside.

    I expected Seymour to put up 3 scores, but didn’t think Wolcott had that many scores in them. I saw more good than bad, and if Seymour cleans up the way they should they should have 3 (maybe 4?) more wins in them. Gotta go take our medicine this week at Jarvis.

    Heard some grumbling in the stands that Wolcott didn’t pull their starters when Seymour did. Ask the Wolcott faithful how many times Spoony pulled his starters up big on Wolcott. Another good crowd at Debarber and kudos to Wolcott for filling up the visitor section for the first time this year.

    • Ribbs, Spoony spanked Wolcott 49-0 in ’07 and didnt call off the dogs. I dont have a problem with it. Can’t tell your boys to stop playing hard. Just put games like that one in your memory and avenge it someday when you can. I saw the film, Wolcott made some ridiculous plays and got all the lucky bounces. Seymour looks very young but played hard.

  8. johnnyribbs

    We are in agreement Fish, that was my point. Seymour has decades of routs in the books that many of the other NVL’ers can try and make up for when they get a shot.

    • Yeah, Nicol and Lynch, especially, should have come out a little earlier in the 4th quarter. But at no point did I feel Wolcott did anything grimy by leaving those kids in there. Lynch was there until the final whistle, I believe, but Gambino also saw some action at QB for the Eagles. There were plenty of JVs at the end. Wasn’t that hard to make out the new kids because every starter was covered in mud by the middle of the 1st quarter.