Okay, to get to Ansonia's Nolan Field tonight, take I-95 to Exit 38 towards the Merritt (yeah, you could go through New Haven), take a….
…. oh, yea-aaaah. We need to tell you why you must go to Ansonia tonight. Or Farmington, North Branford, West Haven or Wolcott manana.
Here it goes:
Masuk (4-1) at No. 1 Ansonia (5-0), today, 6:30 p.m.: The two most successful programs in their respective leagues the past two years highlight the inaugural NVL v. SWC Challenge (and HATS OFF to both leagues for agreeing to battle one another). Masuk (SWC) ought to be ornery after wasting a 14-point lead last week and losing to underdog Pomperaug, 35-32. Masuk QB Malik Cummings has thrown for 175 yards a game with seven TDs. He's also averaged a team-high 95 rushing yards. Jake Damota has run for 379 yards and four TDs. Receiver P.J. Kokkoros (18 catches, 485 yards, three TDs) is a versatile guy. The Chargers' Arkeel Newsome has already run for 1,184 yards and 19 TDs. He needs 278 more yards to set the state career-record rushing record held by former Ansonia great Alex Thomas. QB Jai'Quan McKnight is a dual threat that keeps teams from focusing on Newsome. He's averaged 95 yards passing a game with four TDs and no interceptions, and averaged 53 yards a game with five TDs.
Valley/Old Lyme (4-0, 2-0 Pequot South) at North Branford (4-1, 2-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Xavier v. West Haven is going to get the most attention around New Haven County, but this game will be just as good. Veteran V/OL has lived up to its preseason billing. Phil Cohen has completed 73-percent of his passes for 442 yards with eight TDs with David Peck being his leading receiver (three TDs). Running back Justin Cheverier (82 yards per game, seven TDs) is tough to corral. He's also been the team's leading tackler at linebacker (48) while fellow linebacker Tyler Cheverier has 39 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The Thunderbirds were stunned by Avon last Saturday (42-39) as the latter scored 14 points in the final 26 seconds. North Branford graduated almost all it's scoring from last season's Class S runner-up, but has still thrived thanks to a veteran offensive line. It's run much more this season, led by Josh Melaccio (81 yards per game, four TDs) and Eddie Miller (77 yards per game, four TDs). Miller has also averaged 163 yards passing with nine TDs. Defensive tackle Mike Kasier has a team-high 48 tackles, including a whopping 41 solo.
Derby (4-1) at Bethel (4-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: THE VOICES continue to tell us that this will be the best game in the NVL v. SWC throwdown. Derby (NVL) has been remarkably balanced, averaging 235 yards rushing and 212 yards passing a game. It hung with Ansonia for one half last Friday before losing, 62-28. Michael Kreiger has thrown11 TDs and rushed for 88 yards a game with three TDs. Running back Tyrae Small (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) is a handful and run for 139 yards per game with six TDs. The leading receiver has been Tyler Dobek (20 catches, 308 yards, five TDs). The Wildcats run the way cool triple option, piloted by QB Joseph Piatnik. He's run for a team-high 601 yards and eight TDs and thrown for 326 yards and a TD. Zach Farrell has averaged 110 yards rushing with four TDs. Defensive back Nick Silva (41) and linemen Ethan Draper (40) are the team's top tacklers.
Fairfield Prep (4-1) at Hand (4-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: Hand fans will take one look at Prep's mammoth offensive line and fear that a brood of Kraken's have risen from the depths of Long Island Sound to come trample them and the Surf Club. Jesuits' QB Colton Smith ran for 208 yards and four touchdowns and threw for another in last week's big win over then No. 7 Shelton (38-28). Linebacker Maxwell Trudeau leads the team in tackles (41) and sacks (four). Tigers' soph Nick van Dell has thrown for 176 yards a game with nine TDs. He's also run for five TDs. Conor Dowd has rushed for 94 yards a game with four TDs, and Tom Wilson has been the leading receiver (22 catches, 253 yards, four TDs). Linebacker Dan Rogers has Wilson (safety) have both averaged 11 tackles.
No. 7 Windsor (5-0, 1-0 CCC D-II West) at Farmington (5-0, 1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.: Windsor's Jaylen Berry has averaged 12.23 yards a carry and run for eight TDs. First-year QB Jedidiah Haynes has thrown for 455 yards with six TDs, and Tynique Woods-Culver already has 506 receiving yards and three TDs. Best wishes to Farmington trying to block Warriors' defensive linemen Charles Baldwin (6-5, 280) and Keith Benjamin (6-2, 285). Farmington has finished ninth in the CIAC Class L ratings the last two seasons and fallen short of qualifying because it hasn't been able to beat Windsor. Ivan Guadalupe (627 yards rushing, four TDs), Jeremy Buck (584 yards passing, seven TDs), and defensive end Jayson Martin (45 tackles) want to snap the team losing streak.
No. 6 Newtown (5-0) at Wolcott (4-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: The third and final game we'll highlight from the NVL v. SWC battle royal. Both are experienced and feature offenses that can score in bunches. Newtown (SWC) has preferred to throw as QB Drew Tarantino starts his third season. He's averaged 262 yards passing with 17 TDs. Yes. Receiver Julian Dunn is doing all he can to earn all-state honors (23 catches, 583 yards, 11 TDs). Cooper Gold has rushed for 536 yards and five TDs. Junior linebacker Tim Krapf (35 solo tackles) is yet another Nighthawk gunning for all-state. Eagles' QB Vincent Gambino has averaged 240 yards passing a game with 16 TDs. Joe Lynch handles the running (106 yards a game, nine TDs). Jayson Matos (27 catches, 464 yards, five TDs) and Adam Santopietro (21 catches, 364 yards, seven TDs) have been the top two receivers.
No. 10 Xavier (4-1) at West Haven (4-1), Friday, 7 p.m.: The weekend's main event. It's a crucial game for the Class LL rankings, too. The names have changed, but Xavier still wants to run people over. Andrew Meoli has rushed for 174 yards a game with 12 TD while QB Joe Carbone has run for six TDs. Defensive back Nate Gonzalez (47 tackles) and linebackers Derek Jones (37 tackles) and William Garrity (28 tackles) lead the defensive charge. The Blue Devils are another run-heavy team (347 yards per game). Ervin Philips is a blur (148 yards a game, 10 TDs). FB Marshont Little has run for 445 yards and eight TDs while QB Duane Gary has 388 yards rushing with seven TDs. Linebacker Nyrell Moore has a team-high 52 tackles.
No. 4 Southington (4-0, 2-0 CCC D-I West) at Hall (3-1, 1-0), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Southington has played exceptional defense as it's allowed just six points a game. Linebacker Zak Jamele and end Zach Maxwell have been their team's most disruptive defenders. Yale-bound Stephen Barmore is among the state's best QBs and big enough to truck defenders. The Warriors gave No. 9 Glastonbury fits in their season-opener before falling, 35-28. Tom Honyotski has thrown for 781 yards with eight TDs. Neil Kelley has been his top target (13 catches, 283 yards, three TDs). Jordan Bell has run for 119 yards a game with six TDs. Middle linebacker Joe Farrah has averaged a team-best 7.3 tackles.
• • • •
Doug Bonjour, Hearst Inc.: Ansonia has more to offer than Arkeel.
Kountry Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: NVL vs. SWC challenge has arrived; NVL vs. SWC Challenge previews; and, Gimme 5.
Kountry Kyle and Remmington, NVL Blog: NVL vs. SWC Game of the Week; and, NVL vs. SWC Challenge top flight games.
Chris Brodeur, Hearst Inc.: Emotional Bruno ready to face old team.
Hearst Inc.: Elite 8.
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: Arkeel Newsome chases history; and, Pooch's Predictions.
Sean Patrick Starfish, JRC Amalgamated: NVL v. SWC Challenge previews; FCIAC notes; and, Plays of the Week.
Thanks for reading. More later
Vaya con dios…