To our knowledge, this is the first time in the history of our selecting a Game of the Week that St. Paul is involved. No pressure, Falcons. No pressure.
This should be a pretty good ballgame, considering these teams boast what we think will be two of the best offenses in the league and neither has a suffocating defense to shut down the other. Let’s get after it. (By the way, this Game of the Week is presented by DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding.)
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Derby’s play in the secondary will be the difference in this game. Expect more Raiders in coverage to try to stop the St. Paul passing attack. I don’t suspect Falcons will run the ball much even if Derby comes out with a weak defensive front. The second biggest key to this game will be the success of Derby’s run game. If Tyrae Small and company are able to milk the clock with long drives and keep Logan Marchi off the field as much as possible, expect Derby to win big. Otherwise, this game could be very, very close.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: This game is all about the turnover margin. In the Red Raiders’ last few games against St. Paul, they’ve done a good job of mixing up defensive looks and coverages to confuse Marchi and grab some early turnovers. If that’s the case again Friday night, Derby will be the winner. Neither defense is particularly stout, but Derby’s is definitely expected to be better with Small at safety and some decent playmakers among the front (although there aren’t a ton of them). St. Paul’s offense is based on quick throws (although not necessarily short routes) which will make it tough for the Raiders to get after Marchi with regularity, but Derby’s disguised coverages will make it tough on the opposing passing game. On the other side, the Red Raiders will get their points — they just have to keep the ball in their hands and take advantage of their possessions.
Remmy’s Players to Watch: Logan Marchi‘s name has been heard around the state. But it’s his receivers who will have to perform well for the Falcons on Friday if they want to leave Derby with a win. Wide receivers Daija Fitzpatrick and Brendan Carroll cannot drop passes. We saw way too much of this last season. Reid Morin is St. Paul’s best wideout, so look for him to make some great plays out there. On the Derby side, quarterback Mike Kreiger cannot force the ball into the Falcons’ secondary and expect to win the game that way. Also, look for Raiders defensive lineman Arben Komani to get after Marchi and give him fits.
Kyle’s Players to Watch: Everybody (including us, really) is overlooking St. Paul running back Eli Parks, who is a pretty good scat back with potential to catch the ball from the backfield and make defenders miss. The Falcons probably won’t run a whole lot (their offensive line isn’t very good, and passing is their obvious strength) but Parks should be important. Tyrae Small is the second most important player in this game, after Marchi. Small may be the strongest runner in the NVL and should have a field day against St. Paul’s defense. He’ll also be crucial on defense at safety, where he can make things difficult on Marchi and pick off a pass. Also for the Red Raiders, look out for my boy Ricky Bartone. He doesn’t have the name recognition yet of Jordan LaRue or the rest of the wide receiving corps, but Bartone is a gamer and is going to become a darned good player.
Hopefully this is the start of competitive games in this year’s Game of the Week series. Remmy will be in the house, as will the crew from WELI, and it should be a close one until the final possession. In the end, Derby gets one more stop than St. Paul.
Picks: Remmy- Derby, 47-42. Kyle- Derby, 40-34.
Extra Points: Over on the Republican-American’s Red Zone blog, Kyle breaks down the levels of contenders in Greater Waterbury football in a fancy graphic, while he and Mark Jaffee share their Week 1 picks. Kyle also shares his rationale for his preseason ballot for the New Haven Register poll. … Our good friend Ned Gryffindor at The Day has a whole lot of action in his final preseason post, including his predictions for which teams will make the postseason field. … You can also check out our other pal Sean Patrick Bowley’s new website, GameTime, which launched this week. … The Derby-St. Paul and Holy Cross-Watertown games will be broadcast live on the radio. We’ll have links to those broadcasts in our live scoreboard, which will also include tweets from various games.
Week 1′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.