By NED X. GRIFFEN
Norwich Free Academy has been the state's "it" team this week, but it's not the only one that's gotten folks' gums flapping.
North Branford has made some new believers during the state tournament. The Pequot Sassacus champions have blitzed Trinity Catholic and Woodland on its way to Saturday's Class S final against Ansonia.
"To go up against an FCIAC team in Trinity — that's a quality football program and a quality league — I think there was a lot of desire and want to advance," Thunderbirds coach Mark Basil said. "We had this little curse where we've been (to the tournament) four times (since 2006) and hadn't won in the first round.
"We got by (the quarterfinals), and I think momentum started to build off of that; to be able to go up against Woodland and put up quite a few points (a 62-27 win)."
North Branford's 62 points were the fifth-most in a state playoff game. That rout was a good representation of what its done to opponents all season.
The Thunderbirds (12-0) have beaten foes by an average of 35 points. They've done so with a very balanced offense — they've averaged 234 yards passing and 227 yards rushing.
"Passing is important and running is important," Basil said. "If you don't have one or the other, you could be in trouble. Fortunately, we have both. We use that, and then take what the defense is going to give us."
Quarterback Brandan Basil has completed 62-percent of his passes for 2,793 yards with 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Dale Hausman had rushed for 1,311 yards and 13 touchdowns.
North Branford's top receivers have been Chris Caron (48 catches, 993 yards, 15 TDs), Joe Delucia (42 catches, 702 yards, 13 TDs), and Alex McGuigan (35 catches, 545 yards, 7 TDs).
Ansonia (13-0) is one of the few teams that have scored more than the Thunderbirds. Some of its players took part in last season's Class M title win, too.
"They're tough kids," Basil said. "They have skill. They have speed. They have a great coaching staff that is going to have those kids prepared.
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Xavier spent the past two seasons using the run to mow down foes with an occasional pass thrown in.
The Falcons decided to pass more this season, much to their opponents' dismay.
"We only (passed) about 25-percent last year, which shocked me a little bit" Xavier coach Sean Marinan said. "And any offensive coordinator in this day and age wants to throw the ball more than he runs."
The strategy made sense as given the talent of quarterback Tim Boyle (he's given Boston College a verbal commitment). Boyle has thrown for over 2,500 yards with 23 touchdowns. Kris Luster has been his top target (72 catches, 1,218 yards, 12 TDs).
"Over the last two weeks, I don't know exactly the number, but we're pretty close to a 50-50 (run-pass ratio)," Marinan said, "which is really where you'd like it to be because it puts a lot of stress on a defense."
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State football sage Bob Barton passed along some information on female players. It is believed that NFA kicker Elisa Formiglio would be the first female to play in a CIAC state final should her team attempt an extra point or field goal in Friday's Class LL final against Xavier.
Barton's records do not list a female ever scoring in a state final.
Brianna Valente was New Canaan's backup place-kicker in 2009 and 2010 (14 of 20 for her career). She didn't score in the state final either year.
Ashley McKenna of Ledyard caught a touchdown in a 40-0 rout of Bacon Academy in 2003. The Colonels lost to Hand, 28-0, in the Class M final. There's no record if she participated in that game.
Michelle Hypolite kicked five points for Bloomfield during the 1997 regular season but none in the state semifinal or final.
The first female to score a point in Connecticut was Andrea Lund from Kennedy of Waterbury. She kicked an extra point in a 56-7 loss at Seymour on Nov. 12, 1994. She made 2 of 3 PATs that season.
"There have been a few other girls who played and scored, including Veronica Roman of Wilcox Tech with a rushing TD in 2007," Barton wrote. "The only other I am aware of this season is Alexis Nagle, a senior at South Windsor, who was 9 for 11 on PATs this fall including 6 of 6 vs. Rockville. This was her only year of football."
Formiglio has made 59 of 69 PATs this season and kicked a 24-yard field goal.
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Ardor for Addazio, TEAM DAY: Why was UConn so late to Outlow's party?
Mary Albi, JRC Amalgamated: Ansonia defense vs. North Branford offense — something's got to give.
Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin: NFA players trying to enjoy week, and, Bacon Academy re-opens football coaching position.
Gentleman Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press: Xavier's O-line filled with unsung heroes, and, Different year for Falcons, same destination.
Matthew Conyers, Hartford Courant: Elisa Formiglio could make history kicking v. Xavier on Friday.
Carl Josephson, New Britain Herald: Playoff experience huge for Berlin football team heading into final, and, Redcoats ready for emotionally charged championship game.
Polecat Enterprises own Ralph Wiggum, MaxPreps: Windsor relishes trip to state final.
Vaya con dios, Dave Brubeck….