MaxPreps 2013 Connecticut Preseason Fab 5 presented by the Army National Guard
Tom Brockett2012 finish:
14-0, CIAC Class S championTeam preview
Woe to those who play Ansonia this season. Quarterback Jai'Quan McKnight
, fullback Saiheed Sanders
and record-setting tailback Arkeel Newsome
make for a backfield on nitrous oxide. They’ll operate behind an offensive line that returns four starters. The defense has six starters back, too. Ansonia might as well make room now on the gym wall for a state-record 19th CIAC state championship banner.
“You obviously start with Arkeel Newsome and a very physical offensive line,” Brockett said. "We bring back Ryan Hovan (who missed all of last season to a broken leg), who should be one of our best offensive and defensive linemen. Our receiving corps is pretty young, but I think it’s good. We have a chance to be good on offense.”See Ned Griffen's story on the abundance of quality running backs in the state
2. Xavier (Middletown)
: Sean Marinan2012 finish:
12-1, CIAC Class LL championTeam preview
Xavier has been Connecticut football’s Death Star over three seasons, destroying nearly everything in its path while winning a state-record three straight Class LL titles. The Falcons will be vulnerable this season as they graduated eight starters on both sides of the ball, including three-year quarterback Tim Boyle, who’s now at UConn. New quarterback Joe Carbone
brings a running element to that position. The front lines won’t be jumbo-sized for a change, either. So why is Xavier ranked second? It has won 38 of its last 39 games, so it gets the benefit of the doubt.
“We’re going to have a decent amount of seniors playing, but they’re very inexperienced seniors,” Marinan said. “We’re not nearly as large as we have been in the past, so we’re going to have to really earn our coaching money this season.”See the Top 15 Connecticut football dynasties3. Norwich Free Academy
Jemal Davis2012 finish:
12-1, CIAC Class LL runner-upTeam preview
The Wildcats converted doubters into believers last season after they had an unbeaten regular season, knocked off two conference champions in the playoffs (Newtown and Staples of Westport), and reached the program’s second state title game. A very strong core of that team is back, including Boston College-bound running back Marcus Outlow
. Fellow running back Khaleed Exum-Strong
would start for most teams. The offensive line will break in three newbies, but will average 6-foot-3 and about 260 pounds, Davis said. Defensive end Tuzar Skipper
was the team’s most disruptive player last season and is joined up front by sophomore nose guard J'von Brown
(6-3, 290), who’s going to be courted by Division I schools. Calvin Green
(linebacker) and Airec Ricks
(defensive back) have all-state potential, too.
“You look at what we were able to do in 2012,” Davis said. “We feel that if we stay healthy that we’re going to have a team that can really do well in our conference (the Eastern Connecticut Conference) … We feel that in regards to the state that our talent is as good as anybody’s.”See all the 2012 NFL players who hailed from Connecticut high schools4. West Haven
Ed McCarthy2012 finish:
8-3, CIAC Class LL quarterfinalistTeam preview
McCarthy is generally guarded when talking about his team. Not this year. He said that senior tailback Ervin Philips
is the best running back he’s ever had during his 43-year coaching career. Tailback Duane Gary
moves to quarterback, and a brawny offensive line will give him and Philips lots of scoring chances. The Blue Devils are always nasty on defense, too. This is a legitimate Class LL contender, and they should make McCarthy the state’s all-time winningest coach. He needs just six more wins to pass Bill Mignault, the legendary former coach at Ledyard.
“We think we’ve got some guys to support (Philips),” McCarthy said. “We think (Gary) is a dual-threat guy. … We have a good defensive core with three linebackers — Nyrell Moore
, Jesse Ridgway
and Tayvon Gibbs
.”See the Connecticut all-league teams from last season5. Middletown
Sal Morello2012 finish:
8-3, CIAC Class L quarterfinalistTeam preview
This pick might surprise some as the Blue Dragons haven’t won a playoff game since beating Berlin for the 1992 Class M title. Middletown has returned to its winning ways during its first three seasons under Morello, who took Cromwell to the state final in its first varsity season (2003) and coached it to the 2008 Class S title. The Blue Dragons qualified for states last season and only lost to three state powers — Xavier, Class L runner-up Windsor and Masuk of Monroe. Middletown also has eight starters back on offense (including junior quarterback Dario Highsmith
), and six on defense, so it's hard not to expect big things.
“I like the pedigree of this team right now,” Morello said. “They’re a hard-working bunch.”