For most of the 14 Naugatuck Valley League schools in action Wednesday and Thursday, this week will mark their final games until next September and the last outings for many seniors. For five teams, though, the playoffs are either an assured destination or a hopeful one.
Still, playoffs or not, Thanksgiving is a special week of football. And this year’s matchups could be some of the most even across the board in recent memory. Let’s get to the previews! We start off with the video preview by Kyle and Remmy, which is presented by Pour House Sports Tavern in Naugatuck and Wolcott. (Note: We apologize that the wind might be annoying. It was blustery during our shooting.)
Woodland Hawks (9-2) at Seymour Wildcats (6-4)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6 p.m., DeBarber Field
Radio: WATR 1320 AM (5:50 p.m.)
Twitter: @SeymourFootball, @NVLFOOTBALL, @kylebrennan1
Series History: 12th meeting; Seymour leads, 6-5
Series Stat: Only two of 11 meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer
Last Year: Woodland def. Seymour, 62-26
At Stake for Seymour: First win over Woodland since 2008
At Stake for Woodland: First home playoff game since 2004
Remmy’s Take: The Hawks are coming off of a loss in which they were completely dominated. I look for them to get back on track this week in terms of playing a better game. However, if Seymour’s Joey Salemme is at quarterback for the Wildcats, it’s going to be a wild night down at DeBarber. Seymour may not have as many playmakers on the field compared to the Hawks. But I think the defense will show up this week much like it did against Ansonia. Seymour is going to need a turnover or two and I think they get ’em. I’m going with the ‘Cats this week.
Kyle’s Take: These teams enter what could be their final Thanksgiving eve meeting — you heard it here first — from different directions. The Wildcats have to feel good about the way they’re playing while the Hawks probably had a back-to-the-drawing-board feel to the post-NVL title game meetings. The weather could play a big role in this game, especially considering Seymour probably wants to play this as long as it’s physically possible with the winter weather expected Wednesday. Woodland can run the ball, but it seems like the Hawks feel obligated to use Tanner Kingsley even when running is working or seems like the better option. I think Sean McAllen will need a big game for Woodland to win, and the Hawks have to tackle Joey Salemme when he’s in the middle of the field. This should be the series’ best game since 2007.
Picks: Remmy- Seymour, 35-34. Kyle- Woodland, 31-27.
Sacred Heart Hearts (0-10) at Wilby Wildcats (4-6)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6 p.m., Municipal Stadium
Series History: 64th meeting; series tied, 31-31-1
Series Stat: There have been at least 70 combined points in the last three games
Last Year: Wilby def. Sacred Heart, 52-28
At Stake for Wilby: Gino Capuano’s 10th career victory
At Stake for Sacred Heart: Avoiding first winless season since 2003
Remmy’s Take: Sacred Heart has been struggling all season long. Wilby will be too strong up front for the Hearts. Wildcats roll.
Kyle’s Take: Kudos to the Hearts’ coaching staff for getting a team out on the field for all 11 games this year. Hopefully the school realizes co-oping with Kaynor Tech is the right thing to do in the program’s interest for next year. The Wildcats shouldn’t have much trouble here.
Picks: Remmy- Wilby, 42-21. Kyle- Wilby, 48-20.
Xavier Falcons (7-3) at St. Paul Falcons (6-4)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., St. Paul Catholic High
Series History: First Thanksgiving eve meeting
Series Stat: This game does not count toward CIAC playoff points
Last Year: St. Paul def. Hamden Hall, 55-48
At Stake for St. Paul: Nothing, because this is a scrimmage
At Stake for Xavier: Some game action in case it slips into the Class LL playoffs
Remmy’s Take: Xavier. ’nuff said.
Kyle’s Take: I’ve had a few people ask me if St. Paul’s stats will count toward the record books in this game, and I believe the answer is yes. I’ll get back to everyone with a sure answer once I talk to the records czar. Either way, Xavier wins big.
Picks: Remmy- Xavier, 55-7. Kyle- Xavier, 49-12.
Ansonia Chargers (11-0) at Naugatuck Greyhounds (9-1)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Veterans Field
Radio: WATR 1320 AM (10:15 a.m.)
Twitter: @AnsoniaFootball, @NVLFOOTBALL, @kylebrennan1
Series History: 114th meeting; Ansonia leads, 66-37-10
Series Stat: Naugy hasn’t won two Thanksgiving games in a decade since the 1980s
Last Year: Ansonia def. Naugatuck, 48-27
At Stake for Naugatuck: Its first Class L playoff appearance since 2010
At Stake for Ansonia: No. 2 seed in Class S playoffs and 39-game winning streak
Remmy’s Take: This could very well be the best game of the week. Arkeel Newsome vs. Jason Bradley. Does it get any better on the new turf in Naugy? No! Naugy certainly has some playmakers on both sides of the ball. Jason Bradley has been on fire (thanks for helping me win NVL fantasy this season) for the Greyhounds. I think if Naugy is able to simplify its offense, it has a chance at keeping this game close by feeding running back Tom Douty the ball very often and having Bradley execute with his arm off of the play-action. Ansonia’s speed will win it this game, though. Too much Newsome, McKnight and Bagley.
Kyle’s Take: Call me crazy, but I think this is going to be a very good football game. The only team that gave Ansonia any trouble was Seymour, which ran the Wildcat offense and utilized onside kicks. Well, say hello to Naugatuck. Greyhounds quarterback Jason Bradley has all the running traits of a good Wildcat back — and he’s also a tremendous passer. Plus, you know Craig Bruno will have his team ready for the trick special teams plays that will surely be in store. It will come down to a few factors. One is whether the Naugatuck linemen can man up and get extra physical for the first time in a big game. Another is whether the Greyhounds can complete sure tackles on Arkeel Newsome. I think Naugy will stay close throughout this game — I actually contemplated picking the ‘Hounds — but in the end the Chargers will be too much offensively.
Picks: Remmy- Ansonia, 48-28. Kyle- Ansonia, 40-32.
Holy Cross Crusaders (7-3) at Wolcott Eagles (7-3)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Joe Monroe Field
Twitter: @WolcEagleFtball, @HC_Football
Series History: 39th meeting; Holy Cross leads, 31-7
Series Stat: The Eagles broke a 10-game losing streak to Cross last year
Last Year: Wolcott def. Holy Cross, 21-14
At Stake for Wolcott: Third straight Class M playoff berth, with losses by Stonington and Quinebaug Valley
At Stake for Holy Cross: Class S playoff berth, with a Coginchaug loss to Cromwell
Remmy’s Take: Both teams come into this Turkey Day game with identical records. But Wolcott has been playing better football behind spectacular play by its quarterback, Vincent Gambino. With Joe Lynch in the backfield for Wolcott and Gambino making big plays with his arm, Wolcott will win its second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game against the ‘Saders.
Kyle’s Take: Of these two teams, Wolcott has by far been the more consistent. The Eagles are playing lights-out on offense (remember that they even played fairly well against Ansonia) and their defense should carry some confidence after two strong efforts. Holy Cross has been banged up all year and unless it brings a whole new offensive look out for this game, I think Wolcott will be too much.
Picks: Remmy- Wolcott, 42-20. Kyle- Wolcott, 34-24.
Shelton Gaels (6-4) at Derby Red Raiders (5-5)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:30 a.m., DeFilippo Field
Series History: 103rd meeting; Shelton leads, 53-42-7
Series Stat: Six of the nine highest-scoring games have happened in the last nine years
Last Year: Shelton def. Derby, 27-21
At Stake for Derby: Second straight winning season under George French
At Stake for Shelton: 10-game winning streak over Derby, longest in series history
Remmy’s Take: I would have taken Derby in this game, but without arguably the biggest playmaker on the team in Tyrae Small, I have go to with Shelton here. The Gaels have played some SCC teams very tough this year.
Kyle’s Take: Shelton’s banged up, too, but it sounds like tailback Jason Thompson has a chance to return from a collarbone injury. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though Tyrae Small will be able to do the same from his broken shoulder. Derby has enough grit to keep this one close for a half or so, but Shelton has been very good against some outstanding teams this season.
Picks: Remmy- Shelton, 42-20. Kyle- Shelton, 33-14.
Torrington Red Raiders (2-8) at Watertown Indians (1-9)
When/Where: Thursday, 10:15 a.m., Mills Complex
Series History: 48th meeting; series tied, 23-23-1
Series Stat: Neither team has scored 40 points since 1992
Last Year: Torrington def. Watertown, 35-21
At Stake for Watertown: Snapping a seven-game losing streak
At Stake for Torrington: 3-1 finish in Gaitan Rodriguez’s first year
Remmy’s Take: Watertown has had a disappointing season. It’ll end on another bad note after Torrington beats the Indians.
Kyle’s Take: The Indians, as some coaches have told me, are probably the worst team in the league right now. The Red Raiders are looking to finish some nice momentum going into the offseason. Torrington will get it.
Picks: Remmy- Torrington, 42-14. Kyle- Torrington, 38-7.
Crosby Bulldogs (1-9) at Kennedy Eagles (2-8)
When/Where: Thursday, 10 a.m., Municipal Stadium
Series History: 49th meeting; Crosby leads, 33-15
Series Stat: Last year’s game was the series’ highest-scoring by 34 points
Last Year: Kennedy def. Crosby, 62-44
At Stake for Kennedy: Most wins in a season since 2008 (five)
At Stake for Crosby: Snapping first Thanksgiving losing streak since 2005-07
Remmy’s Take: Kennedy will run the ball effectively and as a result, it will control the clock. I think Kennedy will intercept Crosby quite a few times and take advantage of those turnovers and turn them into points.
Kyle’s Take: Never one of the holiday’s prettier games, this one won’t be very glamorous. Both teams should feel like they have a decent chance to win, but Kennedy will take better care of the ball and will end up winning it.
Picks: Remmy- Kennedy, 35-27. Kyle- Kennedy, 46-40.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Extra Points: We’d like to thank everyone who’s made this another great year! We especially want to acknowledge the photographers who allow us to showcase their awesome work on our blog. Together, they’ve covered just about every team in the league so you can find photos of many of our league’s players on their websites. We encourage you to browse their albums and consider buying a photo to help support these guys’ work. Visit Gregg’s and Stan’s websites for more. … There will be plenty up on the Rep-Am Red Zone blog early this week, including a special Thanksgiving edition of Gimme Ten and Kyle’s final postseason breakdown, with full scenarios and projections. … Naugatuck’s Wayne Edmonds is the Greyhounds’ inductee to the Rep-Am Red Zone Hall of Fame. Wait for Ansonia’s selection on Wednesday. In the meantime, the old-timer selections from each school are rolling out. The Chargers’ pick is Bubby Natowich, and Naugatuck’s choice is Dick Tuckey. … Make sure to listen to Laxworm’s “The Show” with our Thanksgiving special from Porky’s Cafe in Shelton. The Laxworm, SPB and I chatted with coaches and captains from Derby, Shelton, Trumbull and St. Joseph to preview Thanksgiving and talk about the playoffs. For those interested in the Derby-only stuff, fast-forward to the 62-minute mark.
Playoffs Update (Tuesday): Kyle has posted his final breakdowns and scenarios for all four classes (Class LL, Class L, Class M, Class S), and projections for the 16 quarterfinal matchups should be posted later today. For the NVL teams, Kyle has Ansonia projected to be the No. 2 seed in Class S with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 Coginchaug; Woodland is projected to be the No. 4 seed in Class S with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 Morgan; Naugatuck is projected to lose a tiebreaker with Daniel Hand for the No. 8 spot in Class L; Wolcott is projected to finish two points shy of Stonington for the No. 8 spot in Class M; and Holy Cross is projected to finish outside the top 10 in Class S. (Our pal Ned Griffen also has his projections, which differ a little from those by Kyle. We will find out who knows more.)
Red Zone Blog Update (Tuesday): Kyle was also busy cranking out his special Thanksgiving Gimme Ten. Check out the 10 best seasons by local teams, the nine top local games of the season, eight Thanksgiving stats (you’ll have to look in Tuesday’s print edition for that), seven area teams with playoff chances, six of the best local Thanksgiving rivalries, five game-changing players for Thanksgiving, four questions for Thanksgiving, three bold Thanksgiving predictions, two games that will be broadcast and one thing on your Thanksgiving to-do list. Also on the blog are this week’s state polls analysis and area picks by Kyle and Mark Jaffee. There is also a great profile on Ansonia’s Bubby Natowich by Roger Cleaveland.
More News and Notes (Tuesday): Upon consultation with the two curators of the Connecticut high school football record book, Bob Barton and Gerry deSimas Jr., it has been determined that stats from the St. Paul-Xavier scrimmage will not count toward official all-time stats. (The game is, in fact, described as a scrimmage in this Rep-Am story.) That means The Falcons’ Logan Marchi will finish his career tied for the state record with 112 touchdown passes. Woodland’s Tanner Kingsley needs five to tie that mark. … The Seymour-Woodland game will remain on for Wednesday, and a decision will be made about moving the game by 2 p.m. Wednesday. If the game is moved, it would be pushed to Thanksgiving. … As mentioned by some, parking figures to be difficult at the Naugatuck-Ansonia game due to construction at the school, so it’s advised to get there early.
NVL Fantasy Football Update: Remmy has clinched the 2013 NVL Fantasy Football championship by beating Kyle, 250.4-196.5, in Week 10. Remmy leads Kyle, 6-4, on the season. We’ll take one last go at it this week with the following starting lineups:
- Team Kyle: QB Tanner Kingsley, QB Logan Marchi, RB Jacob Thomas, RB Joey Salemme, WR Trai Weaver, WR Jayson Matos, WR Mike Kenney, WR Taylor Tucciarone, Naugatuck defense
- Team Remmy: QB Jason Bradley, QB Vincent Gambino, RB Arkeel Newsome, RB Joe Lynch, RB Sean McAllen, WR Ryne Griesenauer, WR Adam Santopietro, WR Reid Morin, Ansonia defense
Valley Strong: There’s a movement right now going through the Valley to help out 16-year-old Seymour cheerleader Nina Poeta, who was just diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor after she’d been experiencing headaches. In just a few days, an online fundraiser has already come up with more than $50,000 for the Poeta family as Nina’s radiation treatments are set to begin Monday. The fundraiser is still open, and you can click here to find out more about Nina and how you can donate to her cause. Nina’s part of the group that always supports the Wildcats on the field, and it’s pretty incredible to see the support everyone is sending her way. We’re wishing and praying for the very best for Nina and her family.
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