Two state champions in Connecticut with long winning streaks put it on the line Friday night when Hand (Madison) travels to Xavier (Middletown).
Xavier won the Class LL title last season for the state’s biggest schools and has won 30 games in a row, including its first four this season. Hand won the next-largest division (Class L) in 2011 and has won 17 games in a row, including its first four this season.
“We’re two very capable high school teams,” said Hand coach Steve Filippone. “It’s a matchup that people want to see, because last year both of us were undefeated.”
The teams haven’t played since 2007, but before that played 21 times in 28 years. Filippone said the game doesn’t need to be hyped.
“In Connecticut, every game is a state championship game,” Filippone said. “It’s totally feasible not to make the state playoffs with one loss, so every game is big.”
Xavier’s Falcons are led by quarterback Tim Boyle, who has thrown for 726 yards and nine touchdowns and has said he plans to sign with Boston College. Running back DeAngelo Berry has run for 763 yards and 15 touchdowns, including five touchdowns and 207 yards in a 49-6 defeat of Hamden last week. The Falcons have outscored opponents 177-32.
Hand will have to use its spread offense to neutralize Xavier’s size advantage along the front line, Filippone said.
“We have 180-pound linemen; they have 275-pound linemen,” he said. “But our system wouldn’t work as well with 275-pound linemen.”
The Tigers, who have outscored opponents 156-53, defeated Wilbur Cross (New Haven) 49-14 last week as lefty quarterback Brendan Bilcheck threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score.
“He’s a great manager in the offense,” Filippone said of the senior. “He keeps us moving the ball down the field. He can make plays with his feet. He’s not had his best game yet. We are hoping like heck he has it this week.”
Four other games worth watching outside the Super 25:
Paramus (N.J.) Catholic at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), Friday
This would be a fun matchup even if Jabrill Peppers, a major Division I recruit at cornerback who also plays running back, and running back Keyon Washington hadn’t transferred from Don Bosco (4-1) to Paramus Catholic (4-0) in the offseason. Don Bosco has won 12 in a row in this series, but Paramus Catholic has a defense nearly as stingy (13.3 points a game) as the 12.2 points a game allowed by the Ironmen.
Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at Cedar Falls (Iowa) Friday
This is the toughest test so far for the 7-0 teams. Xavier quarterback Reggie Schulte has thrown for 24 touchdowns while the Tigers’ backfield trio of Jack Buck, Nick Clark and Eli Berregaard has rushed for 1,444 yards.
Muskegon (Mich.) Catholic Central at Fruitport (Mich.) Friday
The schools are only 10 miles apart but haven’t played since 1976. This is a good year for another meeting. Fruitport is 6-0 while MCC is 5-2 and on a five-game winning streak.
First Coast (Jacksonville) at Yulee (Fla.) Friday
First Coast is off to a 5-0 start with three shutouts but will have its hands full with Derrick Henry, the record-setting back for Yulee (5-1). One fun matchup will be Bucs linebacker Reggie Northrup (58 tackles) against the Hornets’ Henry, who has rushed for at least 100 yards for a national-record 40 consecutive games.