Archive for December, 2009

Championship Saturday
December 4, 2009

Battle of The Fun Facts

It would be timely and appropriate to use this space  to offer up my picks for each of Saturday’s 6 championship games (just as you can do halfway down the FNF page) but instead I dare to present to you the battle of the fun facts in each class.

Some of the fun facts were brought to my attention online by the tireless Sean Patrick Bowley at the Connecticut Post:

Class LL Staples vs. Cheshire 7pm West Haven

Staples:  Amazingly, Wreckers Senior Captain Devin Graber  got just one answer incorrect on the SATs.

Cheshire:  Rams Head Coach Mark Ecke played tight end in college at Western Connecticut State and at the time Staples Coach Marce Petroccio was an assistant coach for West Conn.

Fun Fact Winner:  Staples

Class L  Pomperaug vs. Notre Dame West Haven 2pm Shelton

Pomperaug:  As mentioned in an earlier post, Panthers junior lineman Andrew Bleidner visits Southbury’s own Mr. Ed before every game and the “good luck talking horse” has correctly predicted all 12 of Pomperaug’s wins to date.

Notre Dame West Haven:  Green Knight senior standout Conor Keniry (who will play baseball on scholarship at Wake Forest) is the son of Cyril Keniry the last player to wear #22 at Boston College before Doug Flutie did.  The school later retired #22 and no one at BC has worn it since.

Fun Fact Winner:  Close call…but I say Notre Dame West Haven (hey..my wife’s a BC alum and Flutie can do no wrong….ever!)

Good Old #22!

For Sean Patrick Bowley’s article on the Keniry family click here.

Class MM New Canaan vs. East Lyme 2pm Stratford

New Canaan: Earlier this season Brianna Valente was the team’s regular placekicker after head coach Lou Marinelli recruited her from the girls’ soccer team. Brianna became the first female to score a point in New Canaan high school football history.

East Lyme:  Standout out senior running back Kevin Miao faced resistance from his parents when he first considered playing football.  Kevin is a concert level pianist and his folks were worried about his fingers getting hurt or broken (no kidding!).

Fun Fact Winner:  East Lyme.  I’ve personally heard Kevin Miao play the piano and he’s good..very good

Class M Bethel vs. Berlin 7pm Waterbury

Bethel:  First year Coach Jason Gill has the team playing for a state championship despite getting the head job just a week before the season started in August.

Berlin:  Redcoats Head Coach John Capodice was an assistant high school girls basketball coach back in the day. At what school? You guessed it – Bethel!

Fun Fact Winner:  Bethel and Coach Gill.  To get the job so late in the game,  qualify for the playoffs and then upset New London on the road in the State Semifinals – Gill gets the nod here.

Class SS Montville vs. St. Joe’s 2pm West Haven

Montville: Indians senior quarterback J.P. (Jon Paul) Morales was  not only the most well spoken player I interviewed at the championship luncheon on Wednesday at the Aqua Turf but he was also the best dressed.

St. Joe’s:  Cadets head coach Joe DellaVecchia played on the 1981 St. Joseph team that won a state championship by beating none other than  Montville.  Saturday,  DellaVecchia will look to coach his team and his starting quarterback (his son Joe) to another state title.

Fun Fact Winner: St. Joe’s

Class S Northwest Catholic vs. Hyde Leadership 2pm Waterbury

Northwest Catholic:  Family tradition.  Indians head coach Mike Tyler is a former Northwest player, his dad is a former assistant coach, his 3 brothers played at Northwest, he coached his oldest son Mike  at NW and currently coaches his middle son Lucas  and daughter Jessica  – yes daughter!

The Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs wrote a great piece on Mike in Thursday’s paper.

Hyde Leadership:  When Howling Wolves Head Coach Melvin Wells was a college player at Southern Connecticut State  his position coach was none other than Mike Tyler.

Fun Fact Winner: Northwest Catholic

Lasting Impression From The Luncheon

Wednesday’s annual CIAC championship luncheon with all 12 teams represented again proved to be a great event.  What struck me most about the day was  how few African-American players were in attendance.  New Haven’s Hyde Leadership appeared to be the only school with African-American players at its’ table.  That evidence suggests to me that it is becoming more and more challenging for urban schools to maintain a championship caliber program.

I asked Hyde coach  Melvin Wells about this very issue and he did not shy away from the topic.   Wells says it has become increasingly difficult to keep kids interested in playing and making the commitment to football in this “Nintendo” world we live in.  There’s no “reset button” on the football field.  Things some programs can take for granted are a lot more challenging at a city school like Hyde.  Coach Wells cited transportation issues;  Hyde coaches must often hand out bus tokens just to make certain players get to and from practice. The Thanksgiving weekend was particularly challenging coordinating practice times and making sure some players had a place to stay if family members were out of town.

The number of committed players needed to achieve success in football makes it  more challenging than a sport like basketball which has smaller rosters.

Bridgeport Central was an exception this year with a (9-1) regular season but the city’s two other non-tech public schools (Bassick and Harding) plus Hartford’s Bulkeley and Weaver High Schools had a combined record of (1-34) when you take out the games in which they played each other.  That’s troubling news and testament to just how remarkable the 2009 seasons were for both Hyde and Bridgeport Central.

Bassick Is In The Top 10

Despite the (2-8) regular season, Bassick had made the Top 1o nationally! The Top 10 Finalists that is in the State Farm Friday Night Feats video competition.  Bassick submitted a student produced video of its’ last second winning touchdown vs. Harding. The school has already won $2,500 and is now in the final ten for either a $15,000 prize or second and third prizes of $10,000 and $5,000.

It comes down to an online vote with voting running through December 10th.  You need to have a registered YouTube account to vote.

For more info and to support the Bassick Lions by voting, click here.

Click here for the story Joe Zone did on Bassick on Thursday’s 5:30pm news.

What Now?

On Thursday, Hofstra University – Wayne Chrebet’s alma mater and UConn’s opening opponent at Rentschler field last fall – announced that it would do away with its’ football program. The news follows Northeastern University’s move late last month to do the same thing.

When a program shuts down players need to make difficult decisions about their futures.  Do I keep playing football? What school can I transfer to and keep playing?

Connecticut kids have been impacted by the Hofstra and Northeastern decisions.  Scanning the rosters I actually saw less players with CT connections than I anticipated but there were a few.

No Connecticut players were on pace to return to play for Northeastern next fall but one of the Huskies’  captains this year for what proved to be the final season in program history was Craig Kenney.  Craig is the former all state standout from Branford High School where he was a star linebacker and quarterback for the Hornets.

Connecticut players at Hofstra were West Hartford’s Derek Benson ( a senior) and Hartford’s Nick Talbert ( a freshman). Nick was a football and basketball star at Weaver high school.  His Hofstra football bio says that he was also recruited by New Hampshire, UMass, Rhode Island and Akron.  Maybe one of those schools will come calling on Nick again.

There’s also a Connecticut connection on the Hofstra coaching staff. Defensive Coordinator Frank Forcucci spent ten years coaching high school football in Connecticut including as the Head Coach at Bristol Central in 1998.

Late in the season Hofstra and Northeastern played each other in a Colonial Athletic Association game.  On Saturday November 14th Northeastern beat Hofstra 14-13. Hofstra’s only touchdown that afternoon came from #80, Nick Talbert.

Athlete of The Week Winners

Friday night at 6pm we’ll announce our final FNF Athlete of the Week winner for 2009.  Each winner (as chosen by viewers  in a online vote) has received their own Property of Friday Night Football t-shirt.

Here is a list of this fall’s winners:

Week 1 Athlete Of The Week: Jack Murphy, QB Northwest Catholic.

Week 2 Athlete Of The Week: Greg Palmer, QB Cheshire

Week 3 Athlete Of The Week: Tanner Bachand,  QB St. Paul

Week 4 Athlete Of The Week: Jonathan Esposito, RB Conard

Week 5 Athlete Of The Week: Chris Bachand, RB St. Paul

Week 6 Athlete Of The Week: Jake Yourison, RB Naugatuck

Week 7 Athlete Of The Week: Tucker Schumitz , QB Foran

Week 8 Athlete Of The Week: Ross McDonald, RB Avon

Week 9 Athlete Of The Week: Bobby Kinnebrew, RB Ansonia

Week 10 Athlete Of The Week: Anthony Morales, QB  Cromwell

Week 11 Athlete of the Week: Announced Tonight on the 6pm News

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

All of us come from one of two types of families and can never quite understand the other type completely.  Those families that grew up in a house with a garage and those who didn’t.  My family didn’t have a garage, my wife’s did – it’s a minor miracle we’re still happily married.

See you Saturday Night at 11:15pm for a special Championship Edition of FNF!

John

What If….
December 1, 2009

The 8 On The Outside Tournament

What if the following 8 teams that all missed the playoffs held their own postseason event?  These are teams that all had playoff hopes heading into Thanksgiving week or made headlines last week (Newtown beating Masuk). 3 of them had 1 regular season loss  (conference championship games excluded).

(1) Bridgeport Central    vs.  (8) Prince Tech

(4) Windsor vs. (5) Newtown

(3) Ridgefield vs. (6) Wolcott

(2) Masuk vs. (7) Cromwell

I see semifinals of Central vs. Windsor and Ridgefield vs. Masuk with Ridgefield then meeting Central for the title.

That’s a lot of teams having good seasons that will be home on Tuesday night.   That’ll that change of course come next season with the field expanding from 24 to 32

What If Part 2

Consider these 3 factoids:

If the Watertown / Torrington game had gone the way it projected on paper (a win for favored Watertown instead of a Torrington upset) Wolcott would be in the Class SS playoff field instead of St. Joseph.

If Prince Tech (which played only 9 games instead of 10) had found a 9th    in- state opponent that they were competitive with  they may have finished (9-0) and in the Class S playoffs – effectively keeping Ansonia home. Prince went out of state for a 9th opponent – scheduling a good Eastchester, New York team and losing 41-0.

If Staples doesn’t block the last second field goal try from Greenwich on Thanksgiving and ends up losing to the Cardinals does the state’s #1 team miss the playoffs with just one loss?  Well, it would have been very close with Staples battling Bridgeport Central for the fourth and final spot in Class LL.

Officials Left off Guest Lists in Manchester, Durham & Glastonbury

It’s never our policy to make officials look bad on the FNF show. Quite simply they make the right calls the overwhelming majority of the time.

With that said, we’ve had more than the normal number of questionable calls brought to our attention in recent days.

Jim Bransfield of the Middletown Press is convinced that the officiating crew blew it in last Wednesday’s game between Cromwell and Vinal/Tech Coginchaug.

Cromwell handed Vinal its first loss of the season. Bransfield thinks it may have ended differently had the right calls been made.  As it is, Vinal still made the postseason but a home game turned into a road game as they play at 2 seed East Lyme tonight.

Glastonbury’s one and only loss of the regular season came in the finale when Simsbury stuffed a 2 point try in Overtime to beat the Tomahawks, 34-33.  Both teams are playoff participants but we had a viewer call us volunteering video that he claimed showed Glastonbury QB Sean McQuillan actually crossing the goal line on the 2 point try.  We passed on seeing the video.  I personally like it better with both Glastonbury and Simsbury qualifying.  Had Simsbury lost that day they would not be playing tonight, Masuk would.

A (9-1) East Catholic team would have made the Class S field but the Eagles lost in Week 9 to Tolland 20 to 15.  However, an emailer claims two East Catholic touchdowns were called back in the Tolland game despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line.  No offer of sending us the video here, but the emailer did suggest replay review be considered for high school games!

3 Games We’ll Be Watching

We’ll be watching all 12 of course, but these 3 jump out

Cheshire at Glastonbury  Class LL Semifinal Tuesday 6:30pm

A rematch of last year’s LL final, won by Glastonbury. One of these teams will return to Championship Saturday and after heavy graduation losses for both (including Cheshire’s Billy Ragone and Glastonbury’s Jordan Brown) – who would have figured on that?

Xavier at Staples Class LL Semifinal Tuesday 6:30pm

The game will be played at Wilton because there are no lights in Westport. In my mind, the winner of this game goes on to win it all and finish ranked #1 in the state polls.

Berlin at Avon Class M Semifinal Tuesday 6:30pm

Avon is the home team but without lights the game gets played at Muzzy Field in Bristol.  This will be the high scoring game of the night.  Both teams have all state caliber running backs; Max Delorenzo for the Redcoats and Ross McDonald for the Falcons.

Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

The Bulkeley vs. Buckley equivalent of the holiday pronunciation season?

Poinsettia.

Is it point-set-ee-ah or point-set-ah?

To me it’s point-set-ah.

Hope you take-a-seat-ah and watch us for the FNF State Semifinal special tonight at 11:15pm on Channel 3.

John