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.
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
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.
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.