One interesting subplot that's developed during the Connecticut high school football season is the competition for the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Through eight weeks the prime contenders are a pair of senior quarterbacks: Masuk's Casey Cochran and Cromwell's Anthony Morales.
Cochran, who won the award last year, has directed Masuk to 21 consecutive victories and may play for the best team in the state. He's completed 88 of 111 passes for 2,123 yards this season. Cochran has thrown 27 touchdown passes and has been intercepted three times.
Despite Cochran's gaudy numbers, it's Morales who leads the state in touchdown passes (30) and passing yardage (2,376). Morales, who is playing for his third coach in as many years, has completed 105 of 147 passes and has been intercepted four times. He has thrown for at least four touchdowns in five of Cromwell's eight games.
It's a race that will likely remain close until the finish.
Statewide individual leaders:
Passing: Morales/Cromwell (2,376)
Rushing: Arkeel Newsome/Ansonia (156-2,094)
Receiving: Justin Gonzalez/St. Paul Catholic (54-1,026)
Tackles: Tyler Valenti/Pomperaug (126)
Sacks: Michael Sullivan/Cromwell (15)
Interceptions: Adam Salafia/East Lyme (10)
Field Goals: Matt Paola/Pomperaug (7)
DARIEN'S STREAK ENDS
The Darien field hockey team's 93-game unbeaten streak came to an end last Thursday, when Misha Strage scored a second-half goal that held up as Staples defeated Darien 1-0 in the FCIAC semifinals.
Strage scored with 24:14 to play. The loss also ended Darien's 82-game winning streak and its bid for a fifth consecutive conference championship.
Chris Lueb made 11 saves for Staples, which dropped a 3-2 decision to Darien during the regular season.
“Our mentality was to take it one play at a time,” Staples coach Cecily Anderson told the Stamford Advocate. “We tried to focus on each play and do the best we can. [Lueb] stepped up big time. It was a real team effort.”
Darien is the top seed for the Class M tournament, which will begin Friday. Darien has won the last five Class M titles.
Cheshire (Class L) and North Branford (Class S) are the top-seeded teams in the other field hockey state tournaments.
New London's Kris Dunn signed a letter of intent Wednesday and will play basketball at Providence College.
Dunn, considered to be one of the top point guards in the country, led New London to a 27-0 record and the Class L state championship last season. He averaged 26.5 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game.
“Kris Dunn is an important piece to building our program," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "He is a versatile player and a natural leader. He has the ability to score and create opportunities for his teammates. His stock really rose over the summer as he continued to improve and his play with his AAU team demonstrated why he is one of the top-rated guards in the country."
Fairfield Prep small forward Terry Tarpey also signed a national letter of intent Wednesday and will play basketball at William & Mary next year.
Tarpey, a senior, helped Fairfield Prep reach the Class LL championship game last season, when he averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game.
“Terry Tarpey has always impressed our staff with his toughness and his high motor as a player,” William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said. “Terry is very versatile and has shown the ability to score on the break, penetrate to the hole in the half court offense and score from the perimeter. Terry is also extremely explosive and athletic and joins our program as a proven winner.
“He has competed at a high level at Fairfield Prep for coach Leo Redgate and on the AAU circuit for Tony Hargraves and the Riverside Hawks. Terry has been very successful competing at a high level."
ROG SETS RECORD
Fairfield Prep's Connor Rog won the State Open cross country championship by completing the course at Hammonasset State Park in 15 minutes, 22 seconds. His time set a course record.
Rog, who will run at the University of North Carolina next year, also helped Fairfield Prep win the team competition. Fairfield Prep won the event with 120 points. Xavier was second with 165.
Rog is among the runners who will compete in Saturday's New England Regional in Rhode Island.
THEY'RE NO. 1
Top-seeded teams for the Class LL, L, M and S soccer tournaments, which begin Friday:
Class LL boys: Pomperaug
Class L boys: Weathersfield
Class M boys: Woodland-Beacon Falls
Class S boys: East Hampton
Class LL girls: Glastonbury
Class L girls: Sacred Heart
Class M girls: Northwest Catholic
Class S: Classical Magnet
Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.