Written by Dave Stewart
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 00:00
Updated, Tues., Nov. 27, 11:30 a.m.: As of Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m., three of the five quarterfinal games involving FCIAC football teams have been postponed to Wednesday, Nov. 28. Those are Greenwich vs. Xavier in Middletown; New Canaan vs. Avon in Simsbury; and Trinity Catholic vs. North Branford at Guilford. Games will kick off at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The CIAC has also moved its tournament semifinal games from Saturday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 2. Times will be announced after the completion of the quarterfinal round.
Monday, Nov. 26, 8 p.m. — Five FCIAC teams will be in the running for four State championships as the CIAC football playoffs gets underway on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The FCIAC will be represented in all four classes, with Staples and Greenwich in Class LL, New Canaan in Class L, St. Joseph in Class M, and Trinity Catholic in Class S.
The updated schedule is as follows:
Class LL: No. 8 West Haven (8-2) at No. 1 Staples (9-0), Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m.
The Staples Wreckers topped the Greenwich Cardinals, 48-30, for their second consecutive FCIAC championship just five days ago and will be looking to remain unbeaten when they take on the Westies in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
West Haven, which is led by running back Ervin Philips, has lost just twice this season — to Class L No. 1 seed Daniel Hand and Class LL No. 3 seed Xavier, who are a combined 19-1 this year. Phillips, a senior, has 957 rushing yards and a team-high 22 TDs, while senior FB Eddy Williams has rushed for 850 yards and 15 TDs.
For Staples, senior RB Joey Zelkowitz is coming off an MVP performance in the FCIAC championship game, as he rushed for a title game record 317 yards in the win over Greenwich. He has 954 yards on 72 carries with 13 TDs this season.
Junior QB Jack Massie has 1,189 yards passing for 12 TDs with just three interceptions, and senior Jack Frusciante leads the receiving corps with 35 catches for 658 yards and nine TDs.
Class LL: No. 6 Greenwich (8-1) vs. No. 3 Xavier (9-1) at Palmer Field, Middletown, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m.
Greenwich suffered its first loss of the season when it dropped an 18-point decision to Staples on Thanksgiving Day, and the next opponent isn’t any easier, as the Xavier Falcons own a 9-1 mark.
Xavier is the two-time defending Class LL champion, and defeated Staples, 42-7, in last year’s title tilt. The Falcons are 22-1 in their last 23 games and have racked up 441 points this year.
Xavier is led by senior RB DeAngelo Berry, who has rushed 166 times for 1,275 yards and 27 TDs, and senior QB Tim Boyle, who has passed for 1,612 yards and 15 TDs with 93 completions on 163 attempts.
Leading Greenwich are senior RB Alex McMurray with 103 rushes for 546 yards and 13 TDs, and senior QB Liam O’Neil, who is 59-of-77 passing for 1,079 yards and 14 TDs with just one pick.
Class L: No. 6 New Canaan (8-2) vs. No. 3 Avon (10-0) at Simsbury HS, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m.
The New Canaan Rams were shocked by their rivals, the Darien Blue Wave, during a 36-23 loss on Thanksgiving, as the Wave beat the Rams for the first time since 2001. While Darien headed home with that victory, New Canaan will get a chance to rebound when it plays Avon in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Avon, which is undefeated this fall, gets the bulk of its offense from senior tailback Colin Moore, who has more than 2,000 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons. Moore has carried 242 times for 2,033 yards — an 8.4 average — and has scored 29 of the Falcons’ 42 TDs.
The Falcons have not faced an FCIAC opponent in 50 years.
New Canaan features two junior quarterbacks with Nick Cascione and Teddy Bossidy. Cascione has completed 103-of-171 passes for 1,093 yards and 15 TDs, while rushing 107 times for 712 yards and eight TDs. Bossidy is 51-of-85 passing for 619 yards and seven TDs, while rushing 69 times for 358 yards and three TDs.
The Rams are making their eighth straight appearance in the State playoffs.
Class M: No. 5 St. Joseph (8-2) vs. No. 4 Hillhouse (8-2) at East Haven HS, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m.
The St. Joseph Cadets are making a return to the State tournament after missing the playoffs last season. The Cadets won back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011.
The Cadets are led by junior QB Jordan Vazzano, who has 2,017 passing yards and 27 TDs with nine interceptions. His top target is senior Jake Pelletier, who has 44 catches for 855 receiving yards for 14 TDs. A jack-of-all trades, Pelletier also plays in the secondary and is the team’s kicker.
Hillhouse boasts a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in junior Harold Cooper and senior Andre Anderson, who have combined for more than 2,400 yards and 31 TDs.
St. Joe’s enters the playoffs on a high note, as the Cadets crushed town rival Trumbull 55-20 on Thanksgiving eve for their fourth straight victory.
Class S: No. 6 Trinity Catholic (8-2) vs. No. 3 North Branford (10-0) at Guilford, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m.
The Trinity Catholic Crusaders began the season with seven straight wins, including a stirring 31-28 overtime decision against perennial power New Canaan. It was the Crusaders’ first win over the Rams since 1985.
Back-to-back losses to St. Joseph and Darien knocked Trinity from the FCIAC title hunt, but the Crusaders defeated Wilton, 42-32, on Thanksgiving to earn their first State playoff bid since 1993.
Trinity’s Shaquan Howsie, a three-year standout, leads the offense with 890 rushing yards and 16 TDs on 154 carries, while senior Shawn Brown has 491 yards and five TDs on 47 carries. Sophomore Randy Polonia is also strong in the running game, with 62 carries for 465 yards and six TDs.
For North Branford, senior QB Brandon Basil plays the starring role, having completed 138-of-227 passes for 2,413 yards and 36 touchdowns with only four picks. His top target is senior Chris Caron, who has 40 catches for 862 yards and 14 TDs.
Senior Dale Hausman has rushed 91 times for 973 yards and nine TDs to lead the ground game.
The Thunderbirds are coming into the playoffs on the heels of a big victory, as they beat Hyde Leadership, the No. 5 seed in Class S, 32-28 on Thanksgiving Day.