This week’s schedule of games could give us some of our best games of the entire season. Ansonia and Wolcott can both clinch No. 1 seeds in the postseason with victories while Woodland needs a win over Seymour, plus a little help, to get in the Class S field. Derby is also barely alive for the playoffs and could end its losing streak against Shelton, while slugfests are set in Torrington and Waterbury.
Kyle and Remmy are back with video previews of all the games for the big week. We’re also thinking about getting together a tailgate Thursday morning at Jarvis Stadium, so we’ll have more details in the live scoreboard Wednesday.
Seymour Wildcats (5-4) at Woodland Hawks (6-3)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6 p.m., Woodland Regional High
Radio: WATR 1320 AM (5:50 p.m.)
Twitter: @whawksfootball, @SeymourFootball, @NVLFOOTBALL, @kylebrennan1
Series History: 11th meeting; Seymour leads, 6-4
Series Stat: No team has ever shut out the other
Last Year: Woodland def. Seymour, 28-7
At Stake for Seymour: First winning season since 2008
At Stake for Woodland:Class S postseason berth (with minor help)Remmy’s Take: This is my favorite Thanksgiving Eve game — always has been. Woodland is coming off of two shellackings at the hands of the top two teams in the Brass, Ansonia and Wolcott. The question here: Is Woodland mentally ready for this game? Seymour is also coming off of a bad loss to Watertown. Woodland has more talent. Tanner Kingsley, Anthony Scirpo, Rahmi Rountree and a splash of Joe Masulli — too much for the Wildcats this week.
Kyle’s Take: Seymour just hasn’t played very well against good team this season. Its offense doesn’t have a ton of firepower and its defense hasn’t really been able to slow down offenses of teams with winning records. Once again, the Wildcats will fall just short of a winning record. Woodland has too much to play for and its offense will be overwhelming after a pair of subpar performances.
Picks: Remmy- Woodland, 40-14. Kyle- Woodland, 47-10.
Wilby Wildcats (4-5) at Sacred Heart Hearts (3-6)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6 p.m., Municipal Stadium
Series History: 63rd meeting; Sacred Heart leads, 31-30-1
Series Stat: Sacred Heart has won only four times since 1994
Last Year: Sacred Heart def. Wilby, 39-34
At Stake for Wilby: .500 season in Gino Capuano’s last game as interim coach
At Stake for Sacred Heart: Cort Johnson’s first Thanksgiving win as head coach
Remmy’s Take: This is a toss-up, as far as I’m concerned. One of these first-year coaches will get their first Thanksgiving win. Wilby coach Gino Capuano has done an outstanding job this season and Sacred Heart’s Cortez Johnson has dealt with his fair share of adversity earlier in the season. Wilby evens up the series by taking the win this week. The Wildcats are just tougher up front and their running backs should have a field day.
Kyle’s Take: This game, which actually means a ton for the Class S playoff race, will be watched closely by Woodland (and Derby and Holy Cross, if they get more help) for bonus points. The Hawks are rooting big-time for Sacred Heart to gain 10 potentially necessary bonus points that may help them avoid the No. 8 seed. But Wilby’s running game has been a strength all season and the Wildcats should have plenty of success attacking a weak Sacred Heart defense. The Hearts’ passing game has been disappointing the last few weeks.
Picks: Remmy- Wilby, 34-20. Kyle- Wilby, 40-32.
St. Paul Falcons (2-7) at Hamden Hall Hornets (5-4)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Hamden Hall Country Day School
Series History: Second meeting; St. Paul leads, 1-0
Series Stat: St. Paul’s third different two-year Thanksgiving series in the last six years
Last Year: St. Paul def. Hamden Hall, 34-12
At Stake for St. Paul: Chance to finish season with three wins in four games
At Stake for Hamden Hall: 60.3 ppg average in current three-game win streak
Remmy’s Take: Prepare yourselves for a three-hour game. You’ll thank me for the heads-up. St. Paul’s season comes to a bitter end.
Kyle’s Take: The temporary lights brought in to Hamden Hall might burn out by the time this game finally ends. Both teams score a ton, throw a ton and don’t have great defenses (although St. Paul’s is way worse). The quarterbacks (Logan Marchi and TJ Linta) have combined for more than 3,100 passing yards and 54 touchdowns. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing Hamden Hall is better.
Picks: Remmy- Hamden Hall, 55-49. Kyle- Hamden Hall, 61-42.
Naugatuck Greyhounds (6-3) at Ansonia Chargers (10-0)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Jarvis Stadium
Radio: WATR 1320 AM (10:15 a.m.)
Twitter: @NVLFOOTBALL, @kylebrennan1
Series History: 113th meeting; Ansonia leads, 65-37-10
Series Stat: After Naugy’s five-game winning streak from 1968-72, Ansonia led the series, 33-30-10; the Chargers are 32-7 since
Last Year: Ansonia def. Naugatuck, 49-14
At Stake for Naugatuck: An upset in Shawn Kuczenski’s final game as interim coach
At Stake for Ansonia: No. 1 seed in Class S playoffs and 21-game NVL win streak
Remmy’s Take: Naugatuck is having a great season despite what occurred last offseason with its former head coach. Mick Pernell has played great and we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from young Naugy quarterback Jason Bradley. And we have Ansonia, who has clinched a playoff berth, wanting to get this game over with and rest its players for next week’s home quarterfinal game. This one could get ugly in a hurry. Don’t think for a second Ansonia hasn’t forgotten about what happened the last time Naugatuck visited Jarvis Stadium. With that said, I expect Turkey dinner to be served at halftime.
Kyle’s Take: As if the Ansonia-Naugatuck rivalry needed a little more fuel added to its fire, the rumor mill kicked up last week and produced a story that Naugatuck athletic director Tom Pompei sent a message to Ansonia AD Tony Piccolo following my story after the Chargers’ win in the Brass Division title game, apparently upset that Tom Brockett said he didn’t value the division title (which he shouldn’t, with his team’s expectations). This is absolutely true to my knowledge and might make this game end sooner than it otherwise may have.
Picks: Remmy- Ansonia, 49-7. Kyle- Ansonia, 55-14.
Wolcott Eagles (8-1) at Holy Cross Crusaders (6-3)
When/Where: Thursday, 10 a.m., Municipal Stadium
Twitter: @WolcEagleFtball, @HC_Football
Series History: 38th meeting; Holy Cross leads, 31-6
Series Stat: Wolcott hasn’t beaten Holy Cross since a 28-21 win in 2001
Last Year: Holy Cross def. Wolcott, 35-20
At Stake for Wolcott: No. 1 seed and home quarterfinal in Class M playoffs
At Stake for Holy Cross: Outside shot at Class S postseason berth
Remmy’s Take: This is definitely the best Thanksgiving Day game (on paper). Holy Cross will not make the playoffs this season. But we can bet the Crusaders would like nothing more than to smash Wolcott and go home with a win to end the season. Cross had a magical season in 2011. It lost many key players from that squad and I think that hurts them this time around. Historically, this is one of the more lopsided matchups the NVL has seen. There’s one big difference this time around — Wolcott has Jason Pace steering his team in the right direction for a second straight season. The Eagles get it done this year. Their defense is scrappy and very tough. They’re riding the wave. WAR DAMN EAGLE.
Kyle’s Take: This could end up being the best game of the week. It’s the first time in a long time that Wolcott is the unequivocal favorite and the Eagles have more to gain than the Crusaders (even if Cross wins, it’s unlikely that enough will happen to make a playoff berth possible). But Holy Cross has dominated this series and probably holds a mental edge. If there’s any high-profile game this year I could see being a defensive battle, this is it. The Crusaders’ defense is due for another good performance and will have a good plan to limit Wolcott up front, and I think the Cross running game will have success. But the best player on the field will be wearing scarlet.
Picks: Remmy- Wolcott, 28-14. Kyle- Wolcott, 20-17.
Derby Red Raiders (6-3) at Shelton Gaels (5-4)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Finn Stadium
Series History: 102nd meeting; Shelton leads, 52-42-7
Series Stat: Last year’s seven-point game was the closest since Derby’s 13-12 win in 2002
Last Year: Shelton def. Derby, 26-19
At Stake for Derby: Outside shot at Class S postseason berth
At Stake for Shelton: Nine-game winning streak over Derby
Remmy’s Take: I’ve picked Derby to win the last two meetings. NVL bias? Perhaps. But no one can outright discount Derby from winning this game, or at least keeping it close, in 2012. Ray Kreiger wasn’t able to beat the Gaels but little brother Mikey will. I don’t believe Derby is satisfied with finishing over .500 this season. The Raiders really want this win. Guys like Kreiger and Tyrae Small need this win. I think it will lead to a great offseason and great start to the 2013 season for them, as well.
Kyle’s Take: I’ve never picked Derby in this game, and I’ve been right so far. But I think this is the year it changes for the Red Raiders. I don’t know if I would pick them if Tyrae Small hadn’t become such an integral and successful part of the offense over the last few weeks, but his hard running in Week 8 and Week 9 really helped Derby’s offense hang on to the ball and score points. Plus, Dillon McMahon has been a bit quiet over the second half of the year. He can go out with a bang.
Picks: Remmy- Derby, 34-27. Kyle- Derby, 27-24.
Watertown Indians (2-7) at Torrington Red Raiders (5-4)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:15 a.m., Robert H. Frost Complex
Radio: WAPJ 89.9/105.1 FM (10:10 a.m.)
Series History: 47th meeting; Watertown leads, 23-22-1
Series Stat: Watertown broke Torrington’s three-game winning streak last year
Last Year: Watertown def. Torrington, 18-13
At Stake for Watertown: All-time lead in Thanksgiving series
At Stake for Torrington: Revenge for last year’s upset loss
Remmy’s Take: Another very tough game to pick. Watertown has upset Torrington many times in what is usually a street fight. Watertown showed me something last week with its dominant performance against Seymour. But I just think Torrington has been playing with a chip on its shoulder all season long and wants to prove to the NVL that it’ll be back next season to contend. Torrington evens up the series this week.
Kyle’s Take: On a pretty regular basis, this is the best game of all the Thanksgiving rivalries. These teams really don’t care for each other and usually pride is all that’s on the line. The last few meetings in this series have been pretty contentious and I expect the same thing this year. Both are probably playing their best football of the season right now after seasons filled with disappointment and injuries, but I think the Indians have the edge. They’re physical.
Picks: Remmy- Torrington, 34-27. Kyle- Watertown, 20-14.
Kennedy Eagles (0-9) at Crosby Bulldogs (1-8)
When/Where: Thursday, 10 a.m., Jimmy Lee Stadium
Series History: 48th meeting; Crosby leads, 33-14
Series Stat: Crosby’s winning percentage is second-highest of all NVL Thanksgiving rivalries
Last Year: Kennedy def. Crosby, 39-24
At Stake for Kennedy: Avoiding first winless season since 2004
At Stake for Crosby: Avoiding eight-game losing streak to end season
Remmy’s Take: Yes, Crosby loves turning over the ball. But Crosby also knows what a win tastes like. The Dawgs showed some grit in their win over St. Paul whereas Kennedy has yet to win a game and is the youngest team in the NVL. Not this year, my friends. Crosby will have smoked eagle for dinner.
Kyle’s Take: Kennedy hasn’t shown much to make me believe they can win this game except total effort for four quarters every time. The Eagles are young and could really use this one win to propel them into next season. You can say whatever you want about Chris Sarlo, but I think he’s the right man for an awfully tough job. Kennedy is persistent on the ground and needs to stay away from the passing game, where most of its turnovers come. Crosby gives away the ball too much.
Picks: Remmy- Crosby, 42-28. Kyle- Kennedy, 34-26.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Extra Points: We’d like to thank everyone who’s made this a great year so far, especially the photographers who have allowed us to showcase their awesome work on our blog. Together, they’ve covered just about every team in the league so you can find photos of many of our league’s players on their websites. We encourage you to browse their albums and consider buying a photo to help support these guys’ work. Visit Gregg’s and Stan’s websites for more. … There will be plenty up on the Rep-Am Red Zone blog early this week, including a special Thanksgiving edition of Gimme Five and Kyle’s final postseason breakdown, with full scenarios and projections.
Update: Kyle’s begun his Thanksgiving “Gimme Ten” list. Check out the 10 teams with the best season so far, the nine best games leading up to Thanksgiving, eight interesting Thanksgiving numbers, the seven area teams still alive for the postseason, the six best local Thanksgiving rivalries and more to come. Also, check out the Rep-Am’s Thanksgiving Football Contest.
Playoffs Update: Kyle has finally finished all his postseason scenarios for every single team in the state, and there’s extra emphasis on the local teams in the breakdowns. Check out all of them on the Red Zone.
Vote for Zach Sirowich of Seymour - Timex Heart of a Giant
Also, for you Naugatuck-Ansonia folks, we found this full game broadcast of the 1981 Thanksgiving classic. The Greyhounds beat the Chargers 24-20 en route to their first CIAC state title and the No. 1 ranking in New England. It’s really cool to watch (although maybe painful for some Ansonia fans).
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