This is big. The game that everyone wanted to see last year is being played tonight.
Xavier is ranked number one in the State. They have won the last two Class LL State Championships and have not lost any game since the 2009 season. The last team that anyone thought had a chance to derail Xavier was Staples in last years’ LL final. Xavier won that game 42-7.
Hand is ranked number two in the Hartford Courant poll and either three or four in the other polls. Their last loss was to New Canaan in the 2010 Class L semi-final. Xavier became the owners of the state’s longest win streak when Hand stopped Masuk’s streak at 24 in last year’s Class L semi-final. Hand then went on to defeat New Canaan for the 2011 Class L Championship.
Hand and Xavier are both Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) teams but are in different divisions. They have not been scheduled to play since the opening game of 2007. Hand won that one 31-16. Hand also holds the advantage in the all time series record 14-6.
The pre-game hype for this one in the Connecticut high school football blogosphere is “off the charts.” They are expecting up to 6,000 people to attend this one which is unheard of in Connecticut during the regular season. The game will be broadcast live on CPTV Sports (DVR ALERT! Ch: 185 on Comcast) and on 960 WELI AM radio with Coach George DeMaio.
In theory, the game should not have that great of an impact on either team’s season. One loss would probably not derail anyone's playoff chances. The only things up for grabs are pride, win streaks and the mid-season number one ranking.
But pride will be enough of a reason for both teams to feel the pressure. This will be a opportunity for one of these teams to leave their mark with a signature win.
For Hand to have a chance in this one they’ll have to find a way to corral six foot four, rocket armed, BC bound Xavier quarterback, Tim Boyle and running back DeAngelo Berry. Two weeks ago Berry scored the first two times he touched the ball against Fairfield Prep on his way to 191 yards rushing for the game.
Although they have averaged 39 points a game, the Hand offense has struggled to find its identity. They want to be a spread passing team, but it has been the running game that has led the way. Hand will need to be more balanced against a disciplined team like Xavier. To be successful the passing game does not have to be perfect, just good enough to keep the defense honest.
It should be a great one. Plan on arriving early if you can.
PATCH PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offense: Against Cross Hand scored six offensive touchdowns with six different players. It’s a hard choice but I’ll give the nod to CALEB EWALD for his over the shoulder catch and ability to outrun the Cross defense for a 77 yard touchdown.
Defense: JOHN CASTALDO had two monster QB sacks that forced fumbles. One of them was picked up by Pat Rogers for a score.
AROUND THE SCC
There are two other big games going on where the loser may find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. Fairfield Prep (3-1) at Cheshire (3-1) and Hillhouse (3-1) at North Haven (3-1).
West Haven (4-0) will host Amity (2-2) looking to bring a 5-0 record into the Surf Club next week.