Our first Game of the Week was an awfully good one (all-time good? Maybe not considering Derby’s history, but still pretty good), so the pressure is on Naugatuck and Wolcott this Friday night. There are all sorts of juicy storylines to this game. Let’s bullet them:
- It’s the first football game on the new (sharp!) turf at Naugatuck High. If you’re going, you may want to get there a bit early. Parking in the lower lot is going to be pretty chaotic with all the construction going on. If you don’t have another game to be at Friday, you really should go to this one.
- New Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno shows off his high-octane offense for the first time in front of his home fans, many of whom have been disgruntled over the last decade or so. On the other side, Wolcott coach Jason Pace avoided a suspension for the Eagles’ 56-point win (nobody seems to know whether it was 62-6 or 61-6 last week) over Sacred Heart.
- Quarterbacks Jason Bradley and Vincent Gambino are not only two of the best quarterbacks in the league, but they’ve been competing against each other for about half their lives. They’re two good athletes and two good young men.
- Kyle will broadcast the game with Steve Gesseck and Bob Sagendorf on 1320 WATR and watr.com. CPTV Sports will broadcast the game live on TV. If you’re in a staying-home mood (which you should not be), you can watch the CPTV Sports feed and listen to the WATR stream!
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Naugatuck’s size advantage on the line of scrimmage and at wideout could be the deciding factor in getting a win over Wolcott. What this means for Wolcott is it needs to pressure ‘Hounds quarterback Jason Bradley and make him throw on the run. Expect Wolcott to blitz early and often if Bradley isn’t delivering the ball very quickly after the snap. If the Eagles can keep Bradley in the pocket, the defensive line must get its hands up on every pass attempt and hope that a tipped ball turns into an interception. Bradley is not a tall quarterback, so the Eagles can get their hands (talons?) on the ball. As for Wolcott, it needs to establish its running game with Joe Lynch and execute the read-option to perfection with quarterback Vincent Gambino. Gambino could be the key to Wolcott’s success in this game if he can take some of the pressure off of Lynch by unexpectedly running the ball during key moments of the game where everyone thinks Lynch will get the rock. If Wolcott is forced to pass the ball more than 20 times in this game, it’s going to be a long night for the Eagles.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: Most of my keys in this game revolve around what Wolcott’s defense can do against the Greyhounds. Naugatuck’s offensive line is probably second best to Ansonia in the NVL. It will be interested to see if the Eagles can get any penetration against the ‘Hounds, both to pressure Bradley and disrupt any running game Naugy tries to establish (trick plays included). Wolcott doesn’t have a lot of size in the front seven but it does have speed, which might be enough to wreak a little bit of havoc. Still, I like Naugatuck’s offensive line to do its job and do it well. The Greyhounds’ wide receivers have to be aggressive in attacking the football to increase their size advantage against the Wolcott secondary. For the Eagles’ offense, they have to keep Naugy guessing with a good balance. Wolcott has enough playmakers to spread out the field, and even if it chews up small chunks of yardage at a time that will be enough to hold the ball and run some clock.
Remmy’s Players to Watch: Wolcott quarterback Vincent Gambino could be the star in this game should he connect with his wide receivers for big gains. Jayson Matos, Jay Pelletier and Adam Santopietro will need to contribute for Wolcott to win this game. The ‘Hounds will try to do what they do best — pass the ball with quarterback Jason Bradley in the shotgun. Two names you’ll hear all night are Ryne Griesenauer and Bryan Coney, both wide receivers. These are Bradley’s main targets and being that they both have great size and athleticism, these guys can wreak havoc on the undersized Wolcott secondary.
Kyle’s Players to Watch: Naugatuck’s offensive line against Wolcott’s front seven is the key matchup in this game. The ‘Hounds have some talented guys up front, including Mark Cavagnuolo, Jack Reardon and Kevin Mariano, and they give a great foundation to the many things Bruno wants to do on offense. They’ll have some challenges to deal with from a veteran group of Eagles up front, including linemen Tom Longo and Tyler Staples and linebackers Nick Rinaldi, Dan Catania and Sean Brooks.
This is the game where we’ll find out the potential of both teams moving forward. How many dimensions does the Naugatuck offense have? Can Wolcott defend the pass? Can the Greyhounds play physical defense? Who will emerge as the leader of the Eagles’ offense? There are lots of questions but we think there are a few more known quantities on Naugatuck’s end right now. That offensive line and overall size advantage could make the difference.
Picks: Remmy- Naugatuck, 35-27. Kyle- Naugatuck, 36-21.
Extra Points: The Red Zone blog is updated with new stuff (and more coming), including Kyle’s analysis of the Week 2 state polls and a list of 10 things we learned in Week 1. … The Lonesome Polecat’s Ned Griffen has a long post with all sorts of stuff for you statewide football fans. We’re sure Sean Patrick Bowley will have some good stuff coming up, too. … The Rep-Am’s Mark Jaffee wrote a pair of nice features on Torrington’s Ernie Tracy and Wilby’s Alex Guzman.
The Week 2 Game of the Week is presented by Blanchette Sporting Goods. BSG has been a family-owned and operated sporting goods store for more than 40 years. Located in Shelton, Blanchette carries not only a wide selection of equipment, but also a full line of apparel for several Valley schools. Blanchette can also handle embroidery, screen printing, trophies and more. Call today at 203-929-6331 or visit the showroom on Bridgeport Avenue.