High-SchoolConnecticut: Colin Markus

As we get set for the start of the state playoffs, let's pick the final regular season games.

Newtown (8-1) at No. 1 Masuk (9-0)
Newtown is coming off a shootout win over Bunnell (54-48), so they're not afraid of getting into a high-scoring game with Masuk. Still, I'm picking the Panthers until someone beats them. That's how much faith I have in Casey Cochran, Colin Markus and friends.
MASUK 45, NEWTOWN 31

No. 2 Xavier (9-0) at Middletown (6-3)
I would have been tempted to go with Middletown as an upset pick until they lost to Farmington last week.
XAVIER 34, MIDDLETOWN 14

No. 3 Daniel Hand (9-0) at Guilford (4-5)
Hand is too quick and too big up front.
DANIEL HAND 38, GUILFORD 7

No. 5 Ansonia (10-0) at Naugatuck (6-3)
Arkeel Newsome's first Thanksgiving Day game should be a special one.
ANSONIA 42, NAUGATUCK 14

No. 9 Darien (8-1) at No. 7 New Canaan (8-1)
This is one of the biggest matchups of the week. The once-great Darien defense has given up 26.3 points in the last three games, which makes me lean toward New Canaan.
NEW CANAAN 30, DARIEN 20

Greenwich (8-1) at No. 10 Staples (8-0)
Staples has beaten every team on the schedule this season, and there have been some tough opponents along the way. I'm sticking with the Wreckers.
STAPLES 24, GREENWICH 10

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).
Thanks to the Nor'easter that miserably dropped approximately 80 inches of snow (my approximation) in Connecticut, the football game between Pomperaug and No. 1 Masuk had to be rescheduled from Friday to Saturday and moved from Masuk to Pomperaug's turf field. Will any of this swing the game in a tangible way? I'm not sure, but let's jump in and discuss it in this week's preview.

Week 8 Preview

The Game:
No. 1 Masuk (7-0) at Pomperaug (6-1)
Saturday, 7 p.m.

The Players:
Masuk — You should know all the key players for Masuk at this point. Senior quarterback Casey Cochran (1,846 yards, 27 TDs) inflicts more damage than an October snowstorm, and senior running back Colin Markus (914 yards, 12 TDs) is more elusive than electricity after an October snowstorm. The Panthers are scoring almost 57 points per game, so you probably don't want to get into a shootout against Masuk — it's more futile than searching for a hotel vacancy after an October snowstorm.

Pomperaug —Senior linebacker Tyler Valenti has already racked up more than 100 tackles on the season, but he'll need to contribute more than his physical abilities on Saturday night. Masuk's passing attack is more complicated than a power company's service restoration map after an October snowstorm, so Valenti will have to keep his crew up to speed by communicating and leading on the field. Senior linebacker/defensive back Andrew Reel is another coverage guy who will have to come up huge; Reel is also Pomperaug's leading rusher.

The Stakes:
This is the toughest game Masuk has played this season, and it may end up being their most challenging regular-season contest. For Pomperaug, it's a chance to knock off the No. 1 team in the state and jump back into the discussion themselves. That should be motivation enough.

The Prediction:
Pomperaug has held opponents to 12.5 points per game this season, so the defense is legit. But in the team's one loss, they got picked apart by Bunnell, a team that uses a spread passing offense. That leads me to think Cochran will be able to put points on the board, and as we discussed earlier, getting into a shootout with Masuk is like an October snowstorm — they're both just awful, awful concepts that should never come to pass under any circumstances. That's why I'm going with Masuk.
MASUK 45, POMPERAUG 21

For the rest of the Week 8 picks, click here.

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Week 1 fantasy: Start Croce, Markus

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
2:57
PM ET
As part of our football coverage here, I offer up my hypothetical fantasy football picks every week. Note: This league is completely made up. If you are in a high school fantasy football league, please seek professional help.

START 'EM

RB — Colin Markus, Masuk
Most of the preseason hype surrounding No. 1 Masuk has been centered on QB Casey Cochran, and rightfully so. Cochran is the best player in the state. But Markus has been hugely productive in the Panthers' offense — last year, he rushed for 1,535 yards and 25 touchdowns, and he also finished third on the team with 32 receptions (303 yards, six TDs). So whether Masuk is running or throwing, Markus is usually involved. The Week 1 matchup against Oxford is favorable, too. Last year, Masuk hung 69 points on Oxford.
Projection: 16 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs; 4 catches, 44 yards, 1 TD

QB — Kellen Croce, Pomperaug
Croce started slowly last year, but in the final eight games he completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,730 yards (with a 13-6 TD-INT ratio). Pomperaug has a strong group of experienced receivers returning, so Croce will be able to air it out even more this season. I think he's good for 20-plus touchdown passes and could possibly approach 30. One of his worst games of 2010 came against tonight's opponent, Brookfield, but I still think Croce will put up big numbers.
Projection: 22 of 32, 260 yards, 3 TDs

WR — Aaron Berardino, Windsor
Berardino was one of the state's top scorers at the WR position last year, putting up 850 yards and an impressive 10 touchdowns. And with junior QB Robert Fleeting back for another season under center, Berardino should see a bump in his numbers. Against Wethersfield tonight, I expect the Warriors to lean on him early. 10-plus targets seems like a lock.
Projection: 8 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD

BENCH CITY

RB — Amihr Bess, Notre Dame-West Haven
Coming off a 1,000-yard season in which he scored 11 touchdowns, you might think Bess is a good option to plug into your starting lineup this week. But look at the Week 1 opponent — Xavier. The Falcons are ranked No. 2 in the state, in large part thanks to their defense, which held Bess under 100 yards last season. If he gets more than 15 carries or over 90 yards, I'll be shocked. Stash Bess for now and start him against a better matchup next week.
Projection: 12 carries, 68 yards, 0 TDs

* Projections based on 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR format; No PPR

Want to join my (nonexistent) fantasy football league? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

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