CIAC Class L Semifinals, Saturday 2 p.m. at East Haven
No. 1 Windsor (11-0) vs. No. 5 New Canaan (10-1)
MSGVarsity.com will be livecasting this game.
Overview: Faces may change at New Canaan, but its history of success does not.
One more win will put veteran head coach Lou Marinelli’s Rams in a state championship game for the sixth straight season. New Canaan won four consecutive Class MM titles before suffering a 50-20 setback against Masuk in the Class L championship last season.
The Rams are seeking their 11th trip to the finals.
Windsor, which defeated Notre Dame of West Haven 14-7 in the quarterfinals, is seeking its second trip to a state championship game and first since 2002 when the Warriors lost to Ridgefield 14-13.
This one has the makings of an explosive affair with New Canaan averaging 36.4 points per game behind the passing of prolific senior quarterback Matt Milano and Windsor 37.4 points led by dynamic quarterback Rob Fleeting Jr., whose father is the head coach.
New Canaan advanced with a thrilling 27-26 victory over No. 4 New London when Dylan Leeming stopped standout running back Kyle McKinnon on a potential game-winning two-point conversion run in the final minutes.
When New Canaan has the ball: The Rams love to sling it behind Milano, one of the top passers in the state who has thrown for 2,444 yards, 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Milano has a number of talented receivers to work with, including reliable tight end Connor Kilbane (51 catches, 576 yards, 7 touchdowns) and speedy wideouts Patrick Newton (49 catches, 696 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Peter Kraus (39 catches, 510 yards, 10 touchdowns).
However, the Rams are proving they can run if needed. Milano threw for a season-low 86 yards in a driving rainstorm against New London, but scored the game-winning touchdown on a 32-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Kevin McDonough led the Rams with close to 200 yards rushing and scored the all-important two-point conversion that ended up being the margin of victory.
McDonough (428 yards, 5 touchdowns), Louis Hagopian (392 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Bobby Distler (240 yards, 1 touchdown) make up a solid committee of running backs. Milano has gained 255 yards and scored 7 touchdowns on the ground this year with New Canaan adding in some option late in the season.
New Canaan should be pressed by a Windsor defense which has allowed just 86 points this season. The Warriors, led by linebacker Kamahl Valentine (103 tackles) and defensive end Cole Ormsby (12 sacks), have allowed seven points or less seven times.
When Windsor has the ball: In order to stop the Warriors, the Rams must contain Fleeting Jr., who has thrown for 2,652 yards and 29 touchdowns while rushing for 500 yards and four more scores.
Fleeting’s favorite target is senior Aaron Berardino, who has caught 57 passes for 1,239 yards and 17 touchdowns. Barardino is also a threat in the backfield having scored seven times on the ground, and leads the team with six interceptions at defensive back.
The rushing attack is led by Kymm Gordon (733 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Prediction: New Canaan 28, Windsor 21