For the third year in a row the Tigers will play a semi-final game at Ken Strong Stadium. In fact, they will also meet the same opponent from last year, Masuk. This year Hand and Masuk will reverse roles as Hand is now the undefeated, defending Champ with a long win streak on the line. The Tigers shocked Masuk last year 35-14 ending their hopes to repeat as Class L Champions and ending their 24 game win streak. Surely, they would like to return the favor.
The other semi-final match-up also features a repeat from 2011. Windsor and New Canaan will meet at Bunnell High School at 12:30 pm.
The Masuk Panthers were 9-0 heading into their Thanksgiving Game with Newtown and was ranked as the number one offense in the state gaining over 500 yards per game. Newtown was also 9-0 and the winner would be declared the SWC Champion. Newtown came away with the title in a 21-14 win on Thanksgiving Eve.
Masuk “hosted” Middletown in the quarter-finals in a game played at Bunnell High School. Middletown had a 14-0 halftime lead, but in the second half it was all Masuk as they came away with a 21-14 win to advance to the semi-final. The Panthers who are normally a pass first, spread offense team, changed-up at halftime and went to a power running game. The scheme worked well enough to score 21 unanswered points and seal the win.
Masuk is led by Senior all-purpose back Thomas Milone, a UConn Baseball commit, who has over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. Another Senior running back, Frank Bacarella has averaged over 9 yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns for the year. Junior quarterback, Malik Cummings has accounted for 222 yards passing and 41 rushing per game.
The Tigers won last year’s game because they were able to contain Masuk with only three defensive linemen and that allowed them to drop extra defensive backs in pass coverage to thwart the passing attack of UConn bound quarterback Casey Cochran. You can bet that Masuk’s coach, John Murphy, has been studying this for the last 12 months and will come up with something different this time around. It will be interesting to see how this chess match between the coaching staffs plays out.
An Historic Night at the Surf Club
The Tigers played the last game on grass at “the old” Strong Field Wednesday night defeating Platt of Meriden 55-26 in the quarter-final round. This was their 24th consecutive win, setting a new team record. In the off-season Strong Field will be torn up to become the new Strong Center at the Surf Club. The new artificial turf surface will be installed in a slightly different location. It will be placed closer to the golf course. The home sideline will now fall somewhere near where the home stands are now and the visitor’s sideline will now no longer run through the softball infield.
Hand scored on the opening possession, but on Platt’s first play from scrimmage Justin Potts ran 70 yards to close the gap to 7-6. Hand then scored the next five touchdowns to bring the score to 41-6 in the third quarter. After that, a wild JV game broke out and the final score was 55-26. See the full game re-cap by Dave Phillips for the New Haven Register here.
Patch Players of the Week
Offense: BRENDAN BILCHECK led the offensive charge with 164 yards passing and 142 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
Defense: It was another great team effort on defense, but it was PETER GERSON who spent most of the night chasing the quarterback around the pocket.
The Road to Rentschler
All finals will be held on the weekend of December 7-8 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. There will be one game on Friday night and three on Saturday. Time slots will be assigned after the semi-finals.
The semi-final schedule for all four divisions can be found here:
Click here for the official CIAC playoff bracket.
Around the SCC
Class LL: West Haven was blasted by Staples 42-20 in a game that was 35-0 at the half. Xavier did the same to Greenwich 55-14 and they will advance to meet Glastonbury.
Class M: Hillhouse defeated St. Joseph's of Trumbull 34-14 and they now advance to meet Montville.
In other SCC news this week, Cheshire announced that they will remove the “interim” from Head Coach Don Drust’s title. He led the Rams to a respectable 6-4 record in his first year after replacing Coach Mark Ecke in the Spring.
On the Air
If you can’t be at the game today, you can follow on radio or live streaming TV over the internet.
The game will be broadcast by Coach George DeMaio on WELI AM 960 or 960WELI.com.
CIAC Sports will also have the game on live streaming TV at http://ciac.playonsports.com/events/46844
If that link doesn’t work, go to this page and click on the green “watch live” button.