By NED X. GRIFFEN
Well then, we hope that today's CIAC finals aren't a bludgeoning like Friday's Class LL title game.
Xavier coach Sean Marinan said that the team wanted to have a better run-pass balance this season and had thrown more in its first two playoff games.
The Falcons reverted back to their old hulk ways and smashed NFA, 48-14, with good ol' fashioned power running.
Xavier (12-1), ranked fifth in The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll, ran 52 times for 408 yards.
Do the math — that's 7.8 yards a carry.
Chuck Banning, Cyrus of TEAM DAY, said it best: "It must be nice to have a Division I quarterback (Tim Boyle) throw just five times and still beat a team 48-14."
The Falcons' defense was just as imposing. They stuffed the Wildcats in the third quarter and limited them to minus-1 yard.
Remember, folks — this was the same Xavier team that lost at home to Hand, 40-20, on Oct. 12.
No one likes to lose, but that game gave the Falcons a good, swift kick in the butt. Ditto their 28-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Class M finalist Hillhouse on Oct. 26.
As you know by now, Xavier scored 29 points in 10 minutes and beat the Academics, 50-49, tying the state record for the largest comeback.
One last bit of numerologies — the Falcons outscored their final six opponents, 275-79. That included two regular season games against playoff teams (West Haven and Middletown).
Please let today's games be more competitive, even if it's just one.
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One last, last time with feeling — we recommend that you follow today's finals in these easy ways:
We recommend (for one last time this season) that you follow all the games in these simple ways:
■ Go to the Twitter at #cthsfb.
■ Tune in to CPTV, ESPN3.com, or CIAC.tv.
■ Listen to the fatherly George DeMaio at WELI-960 AM.
■ Follow in RealTime at CIACSports.com: Class L, Class M, and, Class S.
■ GO TO RENTSCHLER FIELD.
Tickets are $10 for the whole day.
Yes, $10 gets you THREE games. Or 12 quarters.
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Class LL gamers
Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin.
Sean Bowley, Hearst Inc.
Gentleman Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press.
Brian Girasoli, Norwich Bulletin.
Mike DiMauro, TEAM DAY.
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant.
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated.
Ken Shabby, TEAM DAY.
Reading material on TODAY'S games.
Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: "Why so good. Ansonia's football dominance carries through generations", and, "Moving up in class? Possiblity remains for Ansonia to upgrade".
Beacon Falls favorite hinterlander also has the Woodland coaches break down Ansonia v. North Branford. The Hawks were mowed down twice this season by the Chargers and once by the Thunderbirds.
Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American: "Ansonia dynasty built on doing the little things." He also dissects Class S.
Chris McLaughlin, New Britain Herald: "Redcoats football ready to play for state title against Hillhouse", and, "Berlin's Capodice enlists former players to spark team."
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: "Hillhouse looking for second state championship in three years", and, he previews today's Class L, M and S finals.
JI-MMY Zanor, JRC Amalgamated: "Hand ready to defend title against Windsor".
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Playoff previews for YOU.
NO. 1 ANSONIA (13-0) v. NO. 3 NORTH BRANFORD (12-0)
WHEN: Today, 10:30 a.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD: Ansonia 17-8; North Branford 1-1.
DAY COACHES POLL RANKING: Ansonia No. 3; North Branford unranked.
CALPREPS.COM COMPUTER RANKING: Ansonia No. 5; North Branford No. 8.
ANSONIA PLAYMAKERS: Sr. LB Hezekiah Duncan; Sr. WR-DE Raeshaun Finney (9 catches, 229 yards, 4 TDs; 3 INTs); Sr. WR-LB Andrew Matos (38 catches, 975 yards, 13 TDs); So. QB-DB JaiQuan McKnight (1,300 yards passing, 23 TDs; 396 yards, 7 TDs; 3 INTs); Jr. RB Arkeel Newsome (2,008 yards, 35 TDs); Sr. RB-LB Saiheed Sanders (590 yards rushing, 6 TDs).
NORTH BRANFORD PLAYMAKERS: Sr. QB Brandan Basil (2,793 yards passing, 40 TDs; 390 yards rushing, 6 TDs); Sr. RB-LB Chris Caron (48 catches, 993 yards, 15 TDs); Sr. RB-DB Joe Delucia (42 catches, 702 yards, 13 TDs; 4 INTs); Sr. RB-LB Gary Falanga (101 tackles, 4 sacks); Sr. RB-LB Dale Hausman (1,311 yards, 13 TDs); Jr. RB-LB Josh Melaccio (91 tackles, 4 sacks).
WORDS: "Defense wins championships" is a cliche and also not exactly true given the number of high-scoring offenses that have blazed their team to titles. Defense will be huge in this game, though, as both teams average 49 points. Ansonia's offense isn't as balanced as the Thunderbirds'. It doesn't need to be with Newsome running behind a strong offensive line. It can throw when it wants and has an elite receiver in Matos. North Branford averages 234 yards passing and 227 rushing. The Chargers have the edge in experience having won Class M last season. Weaver set a state-record for most points in a final when it burned through Darien, 69-26, in the 1999 Class M final. Let's see if either Ansonia and/or North Branford can top that.
COMPUTER PICK: Ansonia 42, North Branford 27.
THE PICK: Ansonia.
NO. 2 BERLIN (11-1) v. NO. 4 HILLHOUSE (10-2)
WHEN: Today, 2 p.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD: Berlin 1-5; Hillhouse 4-1.
DAY COACHES POLL RANKING: Both are unranked.
CALPREPS.COM COMPUTER RANKING: Berlin No. 28; Hillhouse No. 6.
BERLIN PLAYMAKERS: Sr. Tyler Bouchard (30 catches, 450 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. RB Justin Gombotz (1,159 yards, 16 TDs; 15 catches, 263 yards, 2 TDs; 3 INTs); Sr. DB-RB Kevin Main (330 yards rushing, 7 TDs; 91 tackles); Sr. RB Scott McLeod (954 yards rushing, 10 TDs; 20 catches, 345 yards, 6 TDs); Jr. LB Dante Vasi (68 tackles); Jr. QB Mitch Williams (1,400 yards passing, 16 TDs).
HILLHOUSE PLAYMAKERS: Sr. RB-DB Andre Anderson (1,270 yards, 14 TDs; 82 tackles); Jr. RB-LB Harold Cooper (1,550 yards, 21 TDs; 14 catches, 248 yards, 3 TDs); Sr. LB Terell Fairweather (111 tackles, 5.5 sacks); Sr. DL Teno Simpson (78 tackles, 5 sacks); Sr. QB-DB Je'Vaughn Moore (809 yards passing, 8 TDs; 850 yards rushing, 7 TDs; 4 INTs).
WORDS: Hillhouse's losses were to state finalists Hand and Xavier. The Redcoats only loss was to Platt (34-14). Platt ran on all but nine plays with quarterback Andrew McBride and Justin Potts combining to run 56 times for 388 yards and five touchdowns. Berlin is facing an even bigger rushing threat in the Academics. They lead the state in offensive yardage (5,620) and average 401 yards rushing. Cooper is also the state's fastest player. Anderson, Cooper and Moore all helped Hillhouse win the 2010 state title. Gombotz (ankle) didn't play in Sunday's semifinal win over Weston and will be a game-time decision. Berlin needs him. The Academics better not get overconfident, though. It took Guilford lightly in Week 6 and miraculously escaped with a 20-18 win (Cooper sat out that game to rest his injuries).
COMPUTER PICK: Hillhouse 35, Berlin 19.
POLECAT PICK: Hillhouse.
NO. 1 HAND (12-0) v. NO. 2 WINDSOR (11-0)
CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD: Hand 10-6; Windsor 0-1.
WHEN: Today, 5:30 p.m.
DAY COACHES POLL RANKING: Hand No. 1; Windsor No. 4.
CALPREPS.COM COMPUTER RANKING: Hand No. 1; Windsor No. 7.
HAND PLAYMAKERS: Sr. WR Kyle Anderson (33 catches, 504 yards, 4 TDs); Sr. QB Brendan Bilcheck (2,125 yards passing, 17 TDs; 696 yards, 10 TDs); Sr. WR Caleb Ewald (57 catches, 936 yards, 9 TDs); Sr. DE Peter Gerson (6-4, 230); Sr. RB Ian O'Toole (858 yards rushing, 15 TDs); Sr. FB-LB Matthew Walsh (10 rushing TDs).
WINDSOR PLAYMAKERS: Sr. RB-DB Devonte Dillon (674 yards rushing, 5 TDs); Sr. QB Robert Quinn Fleeting (2,555 yards passing; 32 TDs; 655 yards rushing, 10 TDs); Sr. WR-DB Ryhieme Moore (49 catches, 962 yards, 10 TDs); Sr. DE Cole Ormsby (6-4, 230); Sr. DE Lance Ormsby (6-2, 185).
WORDS: Windsor has a great offense. It's among the state leaders, averaging 464 yards, and Fleeting is a dynamic and dangerous force. The Tigers defense is scary, though. It's painful watching the way they paste opposing players. Given the choice of getting hit by Walsh, or shaving with a cheese grater and using tabasco as aftershave lotion. .... please pass the sauce. Hand is also, um, an old hand in big games. It won last season's state title. It's beaten Hillhouse, Xavier and West Haven this season. And it's taken every team's best shot since being ranked No. 1 after its midseason win over Xavier.
COMPUTER PICK: Hand 31, Windsor 21.
POLECAT PICK: Hand.
Vaya con dios….