The NVL Copper Division title will be on the line — for Woodland, at least — Friday night at Municipal Stadium when the Hawks take on Holy Cross. A Woodland victory gives it the division title for the second year in a row, but a Cross win puts it in control of its own destiny. It would also make next week’s Naugatuck-Holy Cross game a massive one in more ways than it already is. Let’s get to the preview (sorry, again, for no video previews this week).
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Woodland has already won more games than I had predicted prior to the start of the season. If the Crusaders have any shot at winning this game, the passing game must come to life. But it’s the defense that will be on its toes all game with Woodland being able to run and pass very effectively. I don’t believe Woodland will have a problem stopping the Holy Cross ground game. Therefore, the Woodland defensive backs are going to have to be up to the task this week to secure the win. Expect two-plus interceptions by the Hawks in this game.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: It cracks me up to hear all the weak-schedule jabs being thrown around these parts. Some of our commenters talk about the soft schedule Woodland has faced, but it seems like the those-who-live-in-glass-houses-shouldn’t-throw-stones adage applies pretty perfectly. Regardless, Woodland should be OK in this game. The Hawks would probably prefer the weather to be settled by kickoff (with the game being Cross’ home contest on turf, there’s no way it ends up canceled) but it probably won’t matter all that much with their strong running game and passing attack that relies more on short routes. Holy Cross needs to find a way to keep the ball in its possession and needs to play tight to the line of scrimmage to not give room for those short patterns to develop. The Crusaders also have to win the turnover battle or else it won’t win the game (in Tanner Kingsley’s two career games against Holy Cross, he’s thrown five interceptions).
Remmy’s Players to Watch: Hawks sophomore Sean McAllen has been tearing it up this season with 785 rushing yards and will have another good game this week. Another sophomore to watch for, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, is Coby Vaccarelli, who is second on the team in tackles behind Levi Fancher, who is having a monster season on D.
Kyle’s Players to Watch: In the likely scenario that Woodland takes the lead, Holy Cross quarterback Joe Kalosky will end up throwing quite a bit. Look for the Hawks to focus their pass defense on a double-team of Trai Weaver, who is by far Kalosky’s favorite target and the team’s best playmaker. Crusaders running back Drew Bialoglowy was injured early last week and his status is uncertain. Weaver will be among those in coverage against Tanner Kingsley and his offense. Cross linebackers Bryan Burnette and Mike Gugliotti will have to get a bit of pressure on Kingsley so the Crusaders can force some turnovers. For Woodland, wide receiver Taylor Tucciarone has emerged as a big-time playmaker over the last few weeks and figures to keep his prominent role in the passing game. Mike Kenney is Kingsley’s favorite red zone target.
This is a little bit of a down year for Holy Cross, we think, before the Crusaders really come back strong next year with a great group of players who are currently juniors. Right now, though, Woodland is playing great defense and is clicking like few other teams on offense. The Hawks will win the Copper Division title, which will be their fifth division title in 10 years.
Picks: Remmy- Woodland, 42-18. Kyle- Woodland, 48-14.
Extra Points: The Woodland-Holy Cross game will be broadcast Friday on 1320 WATR-AM and watr.com. … The Red Zone blog is updated with new stuff (and more coming), including local power rankings, Kyle’s analysis of the Week 8 state polls, his Week 7 edition of Gimme Five and more. … The Lonesome Polecat’s Ned Griffen always has the fix for you statewide football fans. … This week’s entries into the Rep-Am Red Zone Hall of Fame are Seymour’s Edwin Esson and St. Paul’s Byron Jones. … Kyle and Coach Chris Anderson also have their latest entry in the Chalk Talk series.
The Week 8 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.