For the second straight year, the NVL boasts two Class S semifinalists on opposite sides of the draw, and both are the higher seeds entering Saturday afternoon’s contests. Will we see an Ansonia-Woodland rematch next weekend at Arute Field? See what we think.
No. 2 Ansonia (13-0) vs. No. 3 Rocky Hill (11-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 2 p.m., Sheehan High
Remmy’s Take: These two teams are mirror images of each other. Both play good defense and have outstanding rushing attacks. Rocky Hill may be the toughest team left in Class S not named Ansonia and this game could be the toughest this year in Class S. Terriers running back Chris Young has had an outstanding season and will need to run very effectively to give his squad a chance at leaving Sheehan with a win. As for Ansonia, the big question is whether it will need quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight to win this game. We saw what Arkeel Newsome did to Coginchaug out of the Wildcat. I think this is the game Ansonia will need McKnight to separate itself from Rocky Hill. McKnight did not look too good jogging out onto the field during pregame against Coginchaug. So, part of me thinks he will play but will not have his number called much; rather, he will be in there as a decoy. Something tells me we will not see much of McKnight unless Ansonia finds itself in a real dogfight just before halftime.
Kyle’s Take: Rocky Hill is Ned Griffen’s sentimental favorite (GOD’S OFFENSE, RIGHT?) in Class S but I’m not sure the Terriers do what they do well enough to thwart Ansonia. Maybe, though, they can do it well enough to make this a ballgame. We all tend to think that the way to beat the Chargers is through the air, but when was the last time a quality team lined up and smashed the ball on the ground? It was that Seymour game a month ago when the Wildcats should have beaten Ansonia. Maybe that bodes well for Rocky Hill, but it will also need some breaks and a way to latch onto Arkeel Newsome when he gets near defenders. Jai’Quan McKnight’s presence or absence from the game isn’t a huge deal to me because the Chargers’ best player will still have the ball in his hands on every play.
Picks: Remmy- Ansonia, 42-28. Kyle- Ansonia, 49-21.
No. 4 Woodland (11-2) vs. No. 8 Bloomfield (10-2)
When/Where: Saturday, 2 p.m., Wolcott High
Radio: 1320 WATR, watr.com and WATR on TuneIn Radio
Remmy’s Take: Woodland is coming off of a great win as the Hawks pummeled another Pequot team in the Morgan Huskies. This week, Tanner Kingsley hits the road (albeit a familiar game site) to face a Bloomfield team that just dominated No. 1 seed Capital Prep. The Warhawks have a solid rushing attack and a decent pass game. Woodland gets a few breaks and scores late to win this game.
Kyle’s Take: The Hawks have to feel good after playing their best game in recent weeks against Morgan. I was most impressed with the dedication Woodland made to the running game, which resulted in a near-even split between passing and rushing yards (261-260). Hopefully Sean McAllen will be able to play after sitting out the second half against Morgan, but Coby Vaccarelli is a bull of a running back who will be capable of filling in if need be. If Woodland can establish the running game again, I like the Hawks’ chances. Bloomfield is an interesting team on both sides of the ball. The Warhawks haven’t given up a touchdown in their last three games and have a tremendous pass rusher in Jonathen Mumby (14 sacks). They also run some read stuff out of the pistol (you can see some here), which is evident in the almost-equal split in rushing yards between quarterback Norvel Stewart (1,001 yards, 15 touchdowns) and running back Travis Thompson (1,101 yards, six touchdowns). We all know, though, that the team is without its best player in Tarance Mitchell, who had eight interceptions on the year. I think this is Woodland’s game to lose.
Picks: Remmy- Woodland, 35-28. Kyle- Woodland, 34-24.
Of course, we have to pick the other six state semifinals.
No. 4 Southington (10-1) vs. No. 8 Ridgefield (10-2): Remmy- Southington, 35-20. Kyle- Southington, 41-21.
No. 6 West Haven (10-2) vs. No. 7 Fairfield Prep (10-2): Remmy- Fairfield Prep, 21-15. Kyle- West Haven, 36-34.
No. 1 Darien (11-1) vs. No. 4 Middletown (11-1): Remmy- Darien, 34-20. Kyle- Darien, 24-20.
No. 3 New Canaan (12-1) vs. No. 7 North Haven (10-2): Remmy- New Canaan, 42-21. Kyle- New Canaan, 31-21.
No. 1 Valley Regional/Old Lyme (12-0) vs. No. 5 Brookfield (10-3): Remmy- Valley Regional, 42-28. Kyle- Valley Regional, 21-16.
No. 2 St. Joseph (11-2) vs. No. 3 Joel Barlow (10-2): Remmy- St. Joseph, 84-49. Kyle- St. Joseph, 55-35.
Extra Points: Over on the Rep-Am Red Zone blog, the guys have their semifinals picks and Kyle visualized a breakdown of the most successful playoff teams in the last decade. … WATR has picked up the Woodland-Bloomfield game on radio, so Kyle, Steve and Bob will be on air from Joe Monroe Field at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday. … Remmy went 12-4 in quarterfinals picks, while Kyle went 11-5. … Kyle joined Joe Zone and John Holt on this week’s episode of “GameTime” on CPTV Sports. You can watch here or below.
The State Semifinals Preview is presented by Wing It On! With its second location now open in Oakville, Wing It On! is still the Greater Waterbury area’s best tasting wing spot. Wing It On!’s variety of savory wing sauces have earned the Waterbury Observer’s 2012 and 2013 nods for Best Wings in Waterbury. Wing It On! also has burgers, wraps, salads and sides, and can cater your football parties and more. They delivery all day on NFL Sundays so you can defend against gameday hunger. Visit Wing It On! on Facebook or on the web for its full menu and location information.