Oct 022013
While quarterbacks Tanner Kingsley and Jason Bradley will grab the attention Friday night, the teams' top defensive backs -- Woodland's Coby Vaccarelli and Naugatuck's Nate Franklin -- could be among the most important players on the field. Credits: sscreativedesign/GWImages

While quarterbacks Tanner Kingsley and Jason Bradley will grab attention Friday night, the teams’ top defensive backs — Woodland’s Coby Vaccarelli and Naugatuck’s Nate Franklin — could be among the most important players. Credits: sscreativedesign/GWImages

We can’t remember the last time we had a Game of the Week that featured a pair of rivals in a matchup that is almost too close to call. That’s what we have in Week 4, though, when Naugatuck and Woodland put their 3-0 records on the line in a massive Copper Division contest. It’s time to preview this one, starting with our video, which is presented by the Pour House Sports Tavern in Naugatuck and Wolcott.

Remmy’s Keys to the Game: The Greyhounds must know that they have only beaten Woodland once over the last 10 years. Once the ‘Hounds accept the fact that their history with the Hawks has been awful, they may collect themselves and play great football this week. There are two things I think Naugy will need to do to win this game: Establish a run game with running back Tom Douty and play exceptionally in their secondary. Contrary to what most may think, Woodland is a pretty balanced team on offense but are obviously more of a threat to go up and down the field throwing the ball. Naugatuck has size and speed in the secondary at corner and safety, which I think will change Woodland’s game plan a bit and the Hawks will have to throw shorter routes and occasionally catch Naugatuck off-guard with passes down field to try and win this game.

Kyle’s Keys to the Game: Because these two teams are the ones with which I’m most familiar, I tried to go around the field and see which team might have an advantage in which area. When push comes to shove, I’m still going to take Tanner Kingsley as my quarterback and his new receivers have been very dependable early in the season. Jason Bradley is no pushover, either, but I sometimes worry that the Greyhounds just want to throw the ball downfield and hope for the best with their tall wide receivers. I’m not sure that will work against the Hawks. Naugatuck definitely has an advantage in its size on the offensive line, but Woodland blitzes more than any of the three teams the ‘Hounds have faced so far. I think the Greyhounds have to send more than four guys against Kingsley, too, because he is too good when he’s allowed to sit in the pocket. The only trouble Kingsley has had over the last year and a half is when teams get after him. Naugy’s top two cornerbacks, Nate Franklin and Maleek Brooks, are talented enough, I think, to man up and give the ‘Hounds some defensive flexibility. In the Greyhounds’ only test so far against Wolcott, the Eagles’ deep ball wasn’t near as effective as short passes in to the flats. The short passing game has been Woodland’s strength and I think there is some room to exploit that. How the teams mix in the run game and screens and their effects on blitzes will be fascinating.

Remmy’s Players to Watch: The stars in this game will be quarterbacks from both teams: Naugatuck’s Jason Bradley and Woodland’s Tanner Kingsley. Kingsley comes into this game completing 70 percent of his passes and has a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. What does that mean? It means if Naugy’s secondary (Ryne Griesenauer, Kevin Robinson, Maleek Brooks, etc.) are playing great defense, Hawks sophomore running back Sean McAllen, who leads the team in rushing, will have to step up. As for the Greyhounds, Bradley will have to make sure he does not turn over the ball by trying to make plays that aren’t there. If Naugatuck is able to run the ball with Tom Douty behind its massive line, it will shorten the game and keep Kingsley off the field.

Kyle’s Players to Watch: I’m thrilled to see how each team’s top cornerback (Woodland’s Coby Vaccarelli and Naugatuck’s Nate Franklin) impacts the game. Both teams have deep wide receiving corps (Naugy has Griesenauer, Bryan Coney and Rick Plasky, and Woodland boasts Mike Kenney, Dylan Abarzua and Jack Pinho) but I think those corners will have a big say in this game. In a game as close as this one should be, it may only take one turnover — one sharp defensive play by either guy — to determine a winner. In the other matchup I’m interested in, which pass-rushing linebacker will have the best game? Naugy’s Jour’dan Hopkins almost never drops back and likes to try to come through the middle, while Woodland’s Levi Fancher is capable of playing in different spots, including bringing pressure from the edge. Those two players are also capable of creating critical takeaways.

As some of our bloggers have written in their picks, this game is about as close to a toss-up coin flip as we have seen around here in a long time. Our first instincts were to pick Naugatuck — maybe because the Greyhounds were our preseason picks to win the Copper Division — but Woodland also has played three teams with a combined record of 0-9. We can look at last year and see how Kingsley carved up Naugy’s defense for a then-NVL record 502 yards and eight touchdowns, but those Hawks are otherwise different than these Hawks. Sure, Naugy had plenty of luck go its way to beat Wolcott, but we know these Greyhounds have been there and done that. Sometimes that’s just enough.

Picks: Remmy- Naugatuck, 40-33. Kyle- Naugatuck, 44-42.

Extra Points: The Naugatuck-Woodland game is also the WATR Game of the Week. Tune into 1320 WATR-AM or watr.com for the broadcast starting at 6:20 p.m. … The Red Zone blog is updated with new stuff (and more coming), including Kyle’s analysis of the Week 4 state polls and soon his Week 4 edition of Gimme Five. … The Lonesome Polecat’s Ned Griffen always has the fix for you statewide football fans, but the centerpiece of this week’s blog is last week’s Wolcott-Seymour game. … Sean Patrick Bowley posted his beat report on the NVL, too, and included Vincent Gambino’s game-winning touchdown pass to Jay Pelletier in his GameTime plays of the week video (see that below). … There’s lots of stuff for us to update around here, including the record chases of Tanner Kingsley, Logan Marchi and Arkeel Newsome. We’ll have some more info on that soon. … The Rep-Am’s Rick Wilson wrote a game rewind from that Wolcott-Seymour classic, and Mark Jaffee caught up with Marchi after UConn fired coach Paul Pasqualoni earlier this week. … Kyle had the pleasure of writing about Woodland’s entry into the Rep-Am Red Zone Hall of Fame, which is Pat Krakowski. There is all sorts of stuff on Krakowski and the 2003-04 Hawks in the Red Zone, from the main feature to all sorts of extra stories and multimedia (including highlights from the last four games in 2004).

(Fast forward to 5:54 for the Wolcott-Seymour game-ender.)

The Week 4 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.

  26 Responses to “Game of the Week: Naugatuck at Woodland”

  1. Blasphemy Kyle! lol
    I think this game will be a shootout also. I just think Naugy has bigger, faster and more athletic kids this year. The pressure is on to have another great game of the week.
    Also Kyle, I enjoyed watching your Woodland HOF videos. I wish Coach Anderson was coaching high school ball somewhere. He is too good of a coach not to be coaching. I would love to see him at Shelton someday.

    • I won’t be able to show my face around there anymore if I’m wrong.

      Those highlight videos get me so fired up. We’ve actually got a little video series coming up with Anderson over on the Rep-Am soon. Should be pretty fun.

      Next step from old highlight videos is full game tapes from all the great games in league history. That’ll be my next offseason project.

    • Oh Yea, Fish. My sentiments exactly.

  2. i think houndogs might be better defensively—–but in a rivalry you never know—–should be great crowd…….but that mountain walk…….woody should install a zip line from field to parking lot

  3. You know I am a little confused about the woodland game. I know it was only a scrimmage and that their QB sat it out, but I was at the Woodland/Oxford scrimmage and Woodland defense was just very shaky. Kids could have been out and who knows what else could have been going on but I just did not see much talent on the D side of things. I love their offense and I am sure they will score but can they stop Naugie from doing the same. This may come down to who has the ball last. Finally, after seeing Seymour / Wolcott for a half last week it seems like this league is a lot more balanced (after the Big Blue) when playing for second place. There are more good coaches and more good athletes. I just wish we play some D.

    • I thought the same thing at that scrimmage, Joe. I know the three teams Woodland has played so far haven’t been very good, but the defense looks faster than it did that day. Having said that, I don’t know if the Hawks gets more than a stop or two in this game without creating a turnover.

      The only thing that would make this season better so far is some defense. Sadly I don’t know if those days are coming back anytime soon.

  4. ive said on a couple of occasions that the state of defense across the board is horrible,its like the first one to play D wins

    • Wags, coaches around the state have decided not to play a physical brand of defense. It’s because of concussions and feat of possible litigation. Therefore, football has transformed into a finesse game where a lot of teams became pretty good at the spread offense. I have yet to see a spread offense team who is not soft and weak on defense. Only exception I can think of is Hand the past few years. The trend will continue and I think we’ll see a lot more shoot outs. Personally it drives me nuts to see teams put up 40+ points in a game and lose.

  5. Here’s something I’ve posted on the Rep-Am Red Zone that some of you may enjoy. A nice, long, sarcasm-laden post on the 50-point rule.




    • The intent isn’t terrible, but the execution is very bad as it stands right now for all the reasons I mentioned in my post. They need to switch to an automatic running clock — don’t leave it up to coaches and referees.

      • Oh Yeah, just run the clock… like they do in other states. CT is soooooooooooo behind the high school football times.

  8. Not an excuse wags and I believe the future of football is in big trouble. It is mandatory by CIAC that all coaches take class on concussion prevention and treatment to maintain their coaching certification. It’s because of huge lawsuits that were levied against coaches across the country. By today’s definition of a concussion, old school guys never would have played. We probably had multiple concussions AT PRACTICE. Kids know how to milk the system to get outta tough practice nowadays. So, coaches spend more time on offense to eliminate “concussions”. I too miss tough defensive battles.

    • We all woulda been out. We never mentioned we had a headache to a trainer during a game. You do that now and your sitting out a week until dr clearance. You get that nice white flash and that smokey taste in your mouth. Gotta love it!

  9. ValleyFalls1

    On the 50 point rule, or as it is formerly known, The Score Management Policy
    -Well written article. Well written listing of pro and cons. Who holds the power to eliminate and/or change this rule? I read about the NC coach making the impassioned plea; who was on the receiving end and ultimately decided to keep the rule? A simple internet research revealed, this rule is completely out of step with the rest of the states where some degree of score management is in effect. Not all states have a formal score management policy.

    Yes establish a threshold perhaps at 50 points (higher than most other states, but at least it’s there), start the running clock. Stop the running clock if the opposing team catches up.

    There are lessons to be learned from defeat, there are even greater lessons to be learned from serious defeat. Gotta have the determination, courage and guts to grab them.

  10. ValleyFalls1

    ooops mis-spelled formally :) UGH!

  11. I haven’t been this excited for a football game in a long time. We think there could be a couple thousand in Beacon Falls tonight — I sure hope so, anyway.

    Here’s a game preview I wrote for the Rep-Am: http://rep-am.com/sports/redzone/754605.txt

  12. Kyle, wishful thinking. Would be nice but isn’t going to happen. There hasn’t been a couple thousand there since 2004 when we played woodland for the nvl title.

    • I think 2,000 is possible tonight. I haven’t heard this much buzz for a game in school in like six years.

      5,000 isn’t going to happen, but I would not be surprised to see 2,000 or 2,500. The Naugy-Wolcott game had 2,000, so it’s out there.

  13. youll need snow shoes to climb hill in rain

  14. It looks like we’re going to be OK tonight in terms of the weather.

    And Wags, there’s that nice winding paved path up the hill if the steep route isn’t your cup of tea these days.

  15. ihave no choice lol