OK, there’s no more time to waste. We’ve already previewed each team (thanks to all the coaches who participated), but now it’s time to put everything into perspective and answer a few pressing questions — because we experts KNOW what’s going to happen.
Is there anything stopping Ansonia from winning its third straight state and league championships while running its winning streak into the 40s? (Not that we can see.) Are we going to be in for some of the longest games in conference history? (Put it this way: It’s a good thing the Woodland-St. Paul game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday.) How many more records will go down this year? (Enough to make our new NVL record book a popular area of the website.) Will we actually see competitive games on the regular this fall? (God, we hope so.)
Let’s get cracking. First, you’ll watch Kyle and Remmy summarize almost everything you’ll read below and waste a solid 15 minutes of your time. Then, you can move to a little team-by-team run-through for what we expect from each squad.
Returning Starters: 7 (preview)
Player to Watch: Arkeel Newsome (Sr., RB/DB) – Newsome could well have a season more like his 2011 campaign than the one he had last year, as long as he stays healthy. With a depleted group of wide receivers and one of the best offensive lines in Connecticut, Newsome should see touches somewhere near his 2011 total and will have an awful lot of room to run with the hogs in front of him.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: For whatever weakness (more like inexperience at this point) the Chargers may have at linebacker and safety, they’ll make up for it by being basically unstoppable on offense. Business as usual at Jarvis Stadium.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: Another undefeated season wouldn’t be a surprise to Ansonia fans and practically everyone else in the state. Player of the Year watch: Arkeel Newsome – shocker.
Returning Starters: 8 (preview)
Player to Watch: Myles Goulbourne (Sr., QB/DB) – At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Goulbourne may have the best frame of any quarterback in the league. He has a strong arm and good speed, but he’s still raw and seems to be more comfortable taking off than going through his reads. His development will mirror any success the Bulldogs have.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Crosby has decent skill on offense, with Goulbourne, running back Chris Herrera and wide receiver Jason Morrison, but the Bulldogs’ defense leaves much to be desired. They still aren’t at the level to challenge the Brass Division’s best.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: Athletes roam the building in bunches, yet we have not seen a fantastic football team at Crosby in years. Here’s to hoping the Bulldogs finish the season as the best team in Waterbury.
Derby Red Raiders
Returning Starters: 9 (preview)
Player to Watch: Tyrae Small (Sr., RB/DB) – Small will be one of the most crucial two-way players in the NVL. He’s become much stronger over the last year and should be a force running the ball for the Red Raiders, but he might be even more important at safety considering the strength of the offenses on Derby’s schedule. He should start this season with momentum he gained at the end of last year.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Between the offensive balance brought by Small and quarterback Michael Kreiger, and the defensive speed that George French thinks could be the best in his four years, Derby is primed for its best season in the NVL. If the receivers settle in and lines take shape, the Raiders could be in play for a Class S postseason berth.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: If there’s a year in French’s tenure at Derby that the Raiders could really make some noise, this is it. Tyrae Small (the Black Mamba) is due to have a big, big year and a more experienced Kreiger at quarterback will make this team dangerous.
Holy Cross Crusaders
Returning Starters: 8 (preview)
Player to Watch: Gerron Pendarvis (Jr., RB/DE) – The NVL knows what to expect from Pendarvis on the defensive side of the ball: He’s freakishly strong and has a knack for getting to whomever has the ball. But Holy Cross’ success may be contingent on how he performs on offense. We still don’t know exactly how he’ll be used (at tailback or in the slot), but he figures to get significant touches.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: As it usually is, the Crusaders’ defense should be one of the best units in the league with special strength in its linebackers. Whether or not Holy Cross can score consistently with new quarterback Joe Kalosky and skill players who aren’t used to being go-to guys is what will either propel the Crusaders into or keep them out of the Copper Division and Class S postseason races.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The Crusaders are always a solid team but I don’t know who the one real playmaker on this squad is. Their defense will win them some games.
Returning Starters: 11 (preview)
Player to Watch: Ty’zhon Young (Sr., RB/LB) – Kennedy’s running game is always its bread and butter, and the Eagles have a very talented back this year in Young (Dashaun Abdul-Lateef is a pretty good second option, too). He’s a strong runner and has a pretty good offensive line in front of him, led by Tim Lamadeleine.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Kennedy steal more than a few wins this year with perhaps the best offense it’s had since 2008. The Eagles aren’t explosive enough or good enough on defense to compete at the top of the Copper Division, but they’re not a team to be taken lightly.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The Eagles have some athletes this year. They’re not enough to contend in the Copper, though.
Returning Starters: 9 (preview)
Player to Watch: Jordan Hopkins (Jr., RB/LB) – The Arizona transplant is a major two-way addition to the Greyhounds, who will benefit from Hopkins especially on the defensive side. He’s a 6-footer weighing in at well over 200 pounds, so he’ll move the pile on offense, and that size combined with good instincts at the line of scrimmage should make him an excellent defender.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: With an offense chock full of talent, a line that returns four starters and a quarterback like Jason Bradley to sling it around, Craig Bruno’s first year is shaping up to be a great one. The way Naugy’s defense grows will make the difference.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: A new field along with a new coach brings a new attitude. This team will contend for the Copper Division title behind its new head coach, some stud athletes at the skill positions and an improved offensive line.
Sacred Heart Hearts
Returning Starters: 4 (preview)
Player to Watch: Parris Wolfe (Sr., WR/DB) – Wolfe didn’t play in the jamboree, which is a bit of a concern because he is easily the team’s best skill position player. He’s got good size and is probably one of the fastest players in the NVL. Without him, the Hearts will have trouble scoring.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Sacred Heart is struggling to populate the sidelines and doesn’t have much experience on either side of the ball. Cortez Johnson is doing what he can with the Hearts, but it’s probably going to be a long season.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: With numbers on the decline, the Hearts are in for a tough season. They’ll show up and compete, but won’t have the horses to finish the season with a great record.
Returning Starters: 9 (preview)
Player to Watch: Christian Thurmond (Sr., TE/DE) – We’ve seen over the last few years a glimpse of what we can expect from Jack Briggs at running back and linebacker, but Thurmond could really be the difference maker for the Wildcats. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he has the size to be an integral part of Seymour’s passing game with quarterback Frank Marcucio, as well as be a defensive force up front.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Seymour’s talent level is probably at a high in Tom Lennon’s tenure, but the league could be as deep as it’s been in recent memory, too. The Wildcats’ fronts on both sides of the ball should be their strengths; the quality of play from the skill guys will determine whether Seymour can take the No. 2 spot in the Brass.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The ‘Cats come into 2013 the most balanced [on offense] I’ve seen since 2007. A lack of depth could stop them in their tracks this year.
St. Paul Falcons
Returning Starters: 10 (preview)
Player to Watch: Logan Marchi (Sr., QB) – Who else would we pick? Marchi should hold all the NVL’s career passing records by the end of the season, and with all his wide receivers back this should be the Falcons’ best year since 2009. His arm strength is unrivaled, but it actually might be the case of the drop epidemic that has contributed to recent struggles.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Even though a good chunk of St. Paul’s defense returns, it allowed nearly 50 points per game last season and can’t be expected to be much better this year. The offense will have to pick up all the slack and not waste any possessions — that means far fewer interceptions and dropped passes than in the past — for the Falcons to have any divisional aspirations.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The success of this team lies square on Marchi’s shoulders. One of the top receiving corps in the NVL should finally get St. Paul some respect and some much needed upsets over NVL foes.
Torrington Red Raiders
Returning Starters: 2 (preview)
Player to Watch: Desmond Langs (Sr., WR/DB) – Langs is the only skill player who returns to the Red Raiders with any sort of significant experience. He has to be the leader of that group, and might be used in different ways to get him the ball without a proven quarterback on the squad.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Torrington has lost as much as any team over the last few years, but in many ways it’s good that Gaitan Rodriguez begins with almost a clean slate. The Red Raiders might compete for a few wins, but they’re probably a ways from contending at this point.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The Raiders lost a lot of playmakers along with their coaching staff. Starting fresh is great but it won’t directly translate to more wins in 2013.
Returning Starters: 3 (preview)
Player to Watch: Anthony Yordon (Sr., RB/LB) – The Indians are one of the most inexperienced teams in the league, so simplicity is a safe bet. Yordon is a tough runner and could meet some success if Watertown’s offensive line can play aggressively.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Watertown appears to be stuck in a rut at this point, with not much in the way of experience or explosive playmakers. The Indians again will probably be stuck near the bottom of the Brass Division.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The Indians could be in for a long season with no star playmaker. We’re still waiting for this program to start making noise.
Returning Starters: 6 (preview)
Player to Watch: Jacob Thomas (Sr., RB/DB) – Meet the best offensive player in Waterbury. Thomas is a tough runner who always keeps his legs moving and is versatile enough to make plays in lots of different ways. He’s entering his third year of starting in the backfield and he has a pretty strong offensive line to run behind with tackles Bryan Ballenilla and Gregory Thompson.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: It’s too bad that Wilby and Holy Cross don’t play this season because we might not be able to tell which team is the best in the city. The Wildcats’ defense leaves something to be desired, but its offense can score and might be able to engineer enough upsets to finish above .500.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: With an upgrade at quarterback (Darrien Bell) and Thomas back for another season, Wilby could really make some noise in the Brass Division.
Returning Starters: 10 (preview)
Player to Watch: Vincent Gambino (Jr., QB) – Gambino doesn’t have the size of predecessor Mike Nicol but should bring more to the passing game. The Eagles have an awful lot of guys capable of finding the end zone and Gambino has the poise and touch to spread it around. He’ll be running the same spread option as Wolcott has run under Jason Pace, and although he won’t run as much he can still pop one for good measure.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Making the Class M postseason for a third year in a row will be a tough task, considering the weakness of Wolcott’s secondary and the improvement throughout the league. But Gambino, Joe Lynch and the cast of receivers should give the Eagles a shot to get back.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: Gambino has big shoes to fill after Nicol’s departure. The Eagles will be competitive this year behind strong running from Lynch and good talent at wideout.
Returning Starters: 7 (preview)
Player to Watch: Tanner Kingsley (Sr., QB) – Kingsley will get a chance to show just how good he is this fall with an almost entirely new group of skill players around him. Only wideout Jack Pinho and tight end Levi Fancher return to the receiving corps and the size that made last year’s group so good isn’t there. Still, Kingsley’s signature is his accuracy and not necessarily the big play, so he should be able to groom some new targets.
Kyle’s Two-Sentence Take: Almost as important as the gaps that need to be filled in the receiving game are the ones that need to be plugged on defense, which lost eight starters. With a schedule that isn’t brutal and Kingsley back for one more year, Woodland is still a Copper Division contender with a shot to return to the Class S playoffs.
Remmy’s Two-Sentence Take: The Hawks don’t have the receiving corps we’re used to seeing, but make no mistake: Kingsley is enough to keep this team in games. Defense will be the question mark in Beacon Falls this year.
Of course, what good are team previews without some predictions go along with them? Here are Kyle’s and Remmy’s picks for each team’s record and finish in each division’s standings.
|1. Ansonia (11-0, 9-0, 6-0)||1. Ansonia (11-0, 9-0, 6-0)|
|2. Derby (9-2, 8-1, 5-1)||2. Derby (8-3, 8-1, 5-1)|
|3. Wolcott (7-4, 6-3, 4-2)||3. Wolcott (7-4, 7-2, 4-2)|
|4. Seymour (5-6, 5-4, 3-3)||4. Seymour (6-5, 6-3, 3-3)|
|5. Wilby (5-6, 4-5, 2-4)||5. Wilby (5-6, 4-5, 2-4)|
|6. Crosby (2-9, 1-8, 1-5)||6. Crosby (2-9, 1-8, 1-5)|
|7. Watertown (1-10, 1-8, 0-6)||7. Watertown (1-10, 1-8, 0-6)|
|1. Naugatuck (10-1, 8-1, 6-0)||1. Naugatuck (10-1, 8-1, 6-0)|
|2. Woodland (9-2, 7-2, 5-1)||2. Holy Cross (7-4, 5-4, 5-1)|
|3. Holy Cross (6-5, 4-5, 4-2)||3. Woodland (6-5, 5-4, 4-2)|
|4. St. Paul (7-4, 5-4, 3-3)||4. St. Paul (7-4, 5-4, 3-3)|
|5. Kennedy (4-7, 4-5, 2-4)||5. Kennedy (5-6, 4-5, 2-4)|
|6. Torrington (1-10, 1-8, 1-5)||6. Torrington (1-10, 1-8, 1-5)|
|7. Sacred Heart (0-11, 0-9, 0-6)||7. Sacred Heart (0-11, 0-9, 0-6)|
Kyle’s and Remmy’s NVL Championship pick: Ansonia over Naugatuck.
Ansonia is a sure bet to return to the Class S playoffs, and we think Naugatuck has a very good chance to make the Class L field. Wolcott will be in the mix to return to the Class M postseason, and of the many local Class S contenders (Derby, Woodland, Holy Cross, St. Paul and Seymour), we think the Red Raiders have the best shot to get in.
Next thing’s next. Since the coaches don’t pick a Preseason All-NVL team, we took the liberty and did it ourselves. We chose 13 players on each side of the ball for our first team, plus three special teamers. These selections are made based on observations from last season and this preseason, as well as last year’s All-NVL teams.
Preseason All-NVL Blog First Team Offense
QB: Tanner Kingsley (Woodland), Logan Marchi (St. Paul)
RB: Joe Lynch (Wolcott), Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia), Jacob Thomas (Wilby)
WR: Reid Morin (St. Paul), Jay Pelletier (Wolcott)
TE: Christian Thurmond (Seymour)
OL: Mark Cavagnuolo (Naugatuck), Mike Gugliotti (Holy Cross), Ryan Hovan (Ansonia), Matt Simon (Ansonia), Zach Sirowich (Seymour)
Preseason All-NVL Blog First Team Defense
DL: Bryan Ballenilla (Wilby), Antone Mack (Ansonia), Gerron Pendarvis (Holy Cross), Ernie Tracy (Torrington)
LB: Jack Briggs (Seymour), Bryan Burnette (Holy Cross), Levi Fancher (Woodland), Jordan Hopkins (Naugatuck), Saiheed Sanders (Ansonia)
DB: Nick D’Agostino (Seymour), Jai’Quan McKnight (Ansonia), Kevin Robinson (Naugatuck), Tyrae Small (Derby)
Preseason All-NVL Blog Special Teams
K: Frank Marcucio (Seymour)
P: Kyle Broderick (Holy Cross)
KR: Parris Wolfe (Sacred Heart)
Preseason All-NVL Blog Honorable Mention Offense
QB: Jason Bradley (Naugatuck), Vincent Gambino (Wolcott), Michael Kreiger (Derby)
RB: Chris Herrera (Crosby), Eli Parks (St. Paul), Ty’zhon Young (Kennedy)
WR: Brendan Carroll (St. Paul), Bryan Coney (Naugatuck), Daija Fitzpatrick (St. Paul), Ryne Griesenauer (Naugatuck), Desmond Langs (Torrington), Jordan LaRue (Derby), Jayson Matos (Wolcott), Jack Pinho (Woodland)
TE: Larry Cafaro (Ansonia), Kasseme Smith (Wilby)
OL: Zac Burksa (Wolcott), Corey Dzienkiewicz (Ansonia), Alex Guzman (Wilby), Dan Hink (Seymour), Jake Laliberte (Woodland), Tim Lamadeleine (Kennedy), Kevin Mariano (Naugatuck), Jack Reardon (Naugatuck), Tyler Staples (Wolcott), Curtis Wickline (Holy Cross)
Preseason All-NVL Blog Honorable Mention Defense
DL: Bobby Ernst (Watertown), Will Flormann (Woodland), Arlind Isaku (Holy Cross), Arben Komani (Derby), Tom Longo (Wolcott), Gregory Thompson (Wilby)
LB: Maleek Brooks (Naugatuck), Sean Brooks (Wolcott), Julian Falcioni (Seymour), Kyle MacLean (St. Paul), Nick Rinaldi (Wolcott), Chris Slavin (Woodland)
DB: Dashaun Abdul-Lateef (Kennedy), Juwan Hall (Holy Cross), Tom Majchrzak (Ansonia), Coby Vaccarelli (Woodland), Trai Weaver (Holy Cross)
Preseason All-NVL Top Player Awards
Top Quarterback: Logan Marchi (St. Paul)
Top Running Back: Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia)
Top Wide Receiver: Reid Morin (St. Paul)
Top Lineman: Ryan Hovan (Ansonia)
Top Defender: Gerron Pendarvis (Holy Cross)
Finally, back by popular demand, we present to you the 2013 NVL Football Fantasy League. Because we don’t want to be exploiting all the children, it’s only Kyle and Remmy and there’s no money on the line. JUST BRAGGING RIGHTS (as are the weekly picks, which are coming your way soon).
We decided to open up the selections a little bit more this year, so each week we’ll start our entire team. Each squad consists of two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, two flex players and a team defense. If we need to during the season, we’ll utilize a waiver wire. Here’s how the draft went down.
|Team Kyle||Team Remmy|
|1. Logan Marchi (QB, St. Paul)||2. Arkeel Newsome (RB, Ansonia)|
|3. Tanner Kingsley (QB, Woodland)||4. Reid Morin (WR, St. Paul)|
|5. Tyrae Small (RB, Derby)||6. Jason Bradley (QB, Naugatuck)|
|7. Jacob Thomas (RB, Wilby)||8. Ansonia defense|
|9. Brendan Carroll (WR, St. Paul)||10. Joe Lynch (RB, Wolcott)|
|11. Jordan LaRue (WR, Derby)||12. Bryan Coney (WR, Naugatuck)|
|13. Naugatuck defense||14. Jordan Hopkins (RB, Naugatuck)|
|15. Jay Pelletier (WR, Wolcott)||16. Daija Fitzpatrick (WR, St. Paul)|
|17. Jack Briggs (RB, Seymour)||18. Jai’Quan McKnight (QB, Ansonia)|
We’ll keep track of our fantasy standings, as with the weekly picks, all season long. In the meantime, go right ahead and add your thoughts to the upcoming season in the comments. For anyone who makes preseason standings predictions, we’ll add them to the page we keep every season. It should be a fun one!