High-SchoolConnecticut: Matt Milano

Football: State championship picks

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
12:06
PM ET
CLASS S

The Game:
Holy Cross-Waterbury (11-1) vs. Cromwell (10-2)
Friday, 6:30 p.m.

The Players:
This is a classic matchup between a dominant running team and an unstoppable passing attack. Holy Cross loves to pound it, with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Dave DiGiorgi and Adrian Brown, while Cromwell features the most prolific quarterback in the state in Anthony Morales (42 TD passes).

The Prediction:
Holy Cross has the personnel up front to dominate the line of scrimmage and possess the ball. If the Crusaders can control the clock, I can see them winning a fairly low-scoring game.
HOLY CROSS 21, CROMWELL 20

CLASS M

The Game:
Ansonia (13-0) vs. Ledyard (11-1)
Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

The Players:
Understatement alert: Ansonia will lean on running back Arkeel Newsome in this game. The sophomore running back has already run for more than 3,300 yards on the season, and he's scored 54 touchdowns. So yeah, expect Newsome to get a few carries. For Ledyard, it will be about defense. The Colonels haven't allowed a single point in their past two games, so Newsome will have his work cut out. Also, Ledyard has a stud running back of its own in Alex Manwaring (more than 2,000 yards this year).

The Prediction:
This game turns into a land war between Manwaring and Newsome, with both approaching 200 yards for the game. But Newsome's breakaway ability (and dominant offensive line) wear down the Colonels and Ansonia pulls away in the fourth quarter.
ANSONIA 28, LEDYARD 14

CLASS L

The Game:
Daniel Hand (12-0) vs. New Canaan (11-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m.

The Players:
New Canaan looked dead in the water last week, trailing undefeated Windsor 24-7 in the second quarter. But quarterback Matt Milano led the Rams all the way back for a last-second victory. Daniel Hand also scored style points for its win last week, as the Tigers took down the top team in the state in routing Masuk, 35-14. Nick Vitale caught 12 passes for 148 yards in the win.

The Prediction:
Hand has played great defense all season, especially last week in holding the state's most explosive offense to just 14 points. But New Canaan proved it can light up the scoreboard in a hurry by storming back to beat Windsor. I think the Rams ride the hot hand of Milano and spoil another perfect season, making up for last year's loss in the Class L title game.
NEW CANAAN 35, DANIEL HAND 21

CLASS LL

The Game:
Xavier (12-0) vs. Staples (11-0)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

The Players:
Staples has a stable of backs who can carry the load (Joey Zelkowitz, Jon Heil, Nick Kelly), but NO ONE moves the ball against Xavier. The Falcons have an historic defense that allowed just eight points per game on the season, including three shutouts. Senior linebacker Jovan Santos is legitimately terrifying, racking up a team-high seven sacks, while senior defensive back Ryan Jacobucci has seven interceptions (one returned for a TD).

The Prediction:
With two quality defenses on the field, I see this one staying close for most of the night. But Staples isn't diverse enough on offense to have success against the Xavier D. Look for the Falcons to crack it open in the second half, with Jacobucci making a big play to change the game, either an INT or a big reception.
XAVIER 17, STAPLES 7

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know about it.

Football picks: State semifinals

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
12:16
PM ET
State football playoffs
Semifinal picks

Class LL

Xavier (11-0) vs. Norwalk (9-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at West Haven
If Norwalk scores two touchdowns, I would be a bit surprised. That's how well Xavier's defense is playing right now.
XAVIER 32, NORWALK 10

Staples (10-0) vs. Newtown (9-2)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at Bunnell
I feel an upset here. Newtown has proven it can score big points against good teams, and bruising senior running back Louis Fenaroli can control a game.
NEWTOWN 21, STAPLES 20

Class L

Masuk (11-0) vs. Daniel Hand (11-0)
Saturday, 7 p.m., at West Haven
Masuk has so many offensive weapons that the Panthers' defense tends to get overlooked. But the D can play, and I think they'll come up big in this game.
MASUK 28, DANIEL HAND 14

Windsor (11-0) vs. New Canaan (10-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at East Haven
New Canaan's only loss this season came to Stamford, when senior quarterback Matt Milano was knocked out of the game early. Milano's back at 100 percent now, and the offense has averaged 39.3 points in the last three contests. I think New Canaan wins a shootout to set up a rematch of last year's Class L title game.
NEW CANAAN 34, WINDSOR 30

Class M

Ansonia (11-0) vs. Berlin (10-1)
Saturday, 2 pm. at Sheehan
Berlin will need a huge game from senior running back Tom Undercuffler to hang in this one, and even that might not be enough. Ansonia's running game is absolutely rolling right now.
ANSONIA 40, BERLIN 24

Ledyard (10-1) vs. Wolcott (8-3)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at Middletown
Wolcott junior quarterback Mike Nicol is one of the most dangerous dual threats left in the tournament (1,652 pass yards, 17 TDs; 911 rush yards, 14 TDs), but I think Ledyard can contain him. Look for Ledyard senior RB Alex Manwaring to out-produce Nicol and help the Colonels control the clock.
LEDYARD 20, WOLCOTT 10

Class S

Northwest Catholic (9-2) vs. Cromwell (9-2)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at Cheshire
After knocking off top-seeded Capital Prep on Tuesday, Cromwell is rolling. The trio of senior QB Anthony Morales, junior RB Derrick Villard and senior WR Michael Antonio will be too much for Northwest Catholic.
CROMWELL 32, NORTHWEST CATHOLIC 21

Holy Cross (10-1) vs. Valley Regional (10-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m., at Meriden
The Crusaders will need a huge game from senior linebacker Anthony Jamele (6.5 sacks this season) in order to advance.
HOLY CROSS 14, VALLEY REGIONAL 7

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know what I got wrong.

Week 9 football picks

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
3:11
PM ET
With just one week left before Thanksgiving, postseason storylines are starting to shape up. Let's jump right into the picks.

Week 9 picks

Weston (6-2) at No. 1 Masuk (8-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Weston can put up points (30-plus in three of its last four games), but not enough to keep up with the state's best offense.
MASUK 49, WESTON 24

No. 2 Xavier (8-0) at West Haven (6-2)
Friday, 7 p.m.
West Haven has won some big games and lost to some good competition. Xavier will be the biggest test yet, and I don't see the Blue Devils passing it.
XAVIER 35, WEST HAVEN 14

Hamden (1-7) at No. 3 Daniel Hand (8-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Hand quarterback Henry Foye has thrown three TD passes in each of the last two games, a streak that could easily continue tonight.
DANIEL HAND 40, HAMDEN 17

Trumbull (2-5) at No. 7 New Canaan (7-1)
Friday, 7 p.m.
With senior quarterback Matt Milano expected to go for New Canaan after getting knocked out of last week's loss, this seems like an easy pick.
NEW CANAAN 38, TRUMBULL 21

No. 10 Staples (7-0) at Westhill (0-8)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Junior running back Joey Zelkowitz has two more games to break the 1,000-yard mark for Staples. He's got 800 as of now. I think he gets there.
STAPLES 31, WESTHILL 12

Newington (2-6) at No. 4 Conard (7-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Conard is on short rest after beating East Hartford on Tuesday, but the Chieftans should be able to handle it.
CONARD 20, NEWINGTON 10
With No. 1 Masuk and No. 2 Xavier rolling, the biggest story to emerge this weekend was the health of New Canaan quarterback Matt Milano. The senior All-State slinger suffered a head injury in the first half of Saturday's game against Stamford, forcing him out of action. He had to watch as Stamford upended the previously undefeated Rams for the first time in 40 years, seriously hampering New Canaan's FCIAC title hopes.

Post-game reports had Milano feeling ok, but there's never an easy timetable to return from head injuries. New Canaan drops to No. 7 in this week's POWERADE state rankings, but the Rams are undoubtedly more concerned with getting their QB back in time for the postseason. Milano has passed for 1,903 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season with just three interceptions.


  1. Masuk (8-0) — Defeated Pomperaug, 49-3 (last week: No. 1)
  2. Xavier (8-0) — Defeated Hamden, 56-7 (last week: No. 2)
  3. Daniel Hand (8-0) — Defeated East Haven, 42-0 (last week: No. 4)
Click here for complete POWERADE state rankings.

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