State semifinal football capsules
Below are team capsules of Sunday's state semifinal football games between No. 1 Staples and No. 5 Norwich Free Academy in Class LL, and No. 6 Weston and No. 2 Berlin in Class M.
No. 5 Norwich Free Academy vs. No. 1 Staples
WHEN -- Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
WHERE -- Ken Strong Stadium, West Haven
RECORDS -- NFA 11-0 (Beat New London on Thanksgiving to win Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title); Staples 10-0 (Beat Greenwich on Thanksgiving to win FCIAC title)
PLAYOFF RECORDS -- NFA 3-3; Staples 12-8.
LAST ROUND -- NFA (Beat No. 4 Newtown 63-21); Staples (Beat No. 8 West Haven 42-20)
PLAYERS TO WATCH -- NFA: Sr. QB Joey Paparelli (11 passing TD, 4 INT, 871 rushing yards, 9 rushing TD); Jr. RB Marcus Outlow (1,123 rushing yards, 16 rushing TD, 4 receiving TD), Soph. RB Khaleed Exum-Strong (633 rushing yards, 10 TD), Sr. WR Ryer Caruso (6 TD catches), Sr. LB Anthony Gomes (6 sacks). Staples: Sr. RB/DB Joey Zelkowitz (1,040 rushing yards, 16 TD), Sr. WR/DB James Frusciante (819 receiving yards, 14 TD), Jr. QB Jack Massie (1,353 passing yards, 15 TD, 578 rushing yards, 9 rushing TD), Sr. DE Pieter Hoets (84 tackles, 7 sacks), Sr. LB Lance Lonergan (85 tackles, 5 INT, 1.5 sacks), Sr. DE Jared Levi (60 tackles, 7 sacks).
YOU SHOULD KNOW: NFA is averaging over 41 points a game and has scored no fewer than 27 points in its 11 wins. ... NFA has held opponents to single-digits in scoring six times, with two of those being shutouts. ... Its 34-27 win over Fitch on Sept. 29 was its lone win over a state playoff team in the regular season. ... Prior to this year, last made state playoffs in 2010 and lost to Trumbull 21-6 in LL semifinals. ... Lone appearance in state title game came in 1998 in 54-26 loss to Southington. ... Staples leads the state with 51 points a game, and has scored no fewer than 42 points in its 10 wins. ... Staples is third in state with 3,641 team rushing yards. ... Beat two state playoff teams in the regular season, St. Joseph 49-28 on Sept. 14 and Greenwich 48-30 on Thanksgiving. ... Has not trailed at any point this season. ... Scored four touchdowns on its first six plays in quarterfinal win over West Haven on Tuesday. ... Senior running back/safety Nick Kelly injured his shoulder in quarterfinals. ... Reached LL title game in 2011 and lost to two-time defending champion Xavier 42-7.
No. 6 Weston vs. No. 2 Berlin
WHEN -- Sunday, 5 p.m.
WHERE -- Bunnell High School, Stratford
RECORDS -- Weston 9-2; Berlin 10-1.
PLAYOFF RECORDS -- Weston 1-1; Berlin 5-14.
LAST ROUND -- Weston (Beat No. 3 Ellington-Somers 29-22); Berlin (Beat No. 7 Bullard-Havens 41-14)
PLAYERS TO WATCH -- Weston: Sr. QB/DB Tyler Hassett (1,694 passing yards, 17 TD, 817 rushing yards, 12 rushing TD), Sr. WR/DB Justin Schaffer (over 900 receiving yards, 8 TD), Sr. DE/OL Austin Gomar (14 sacks), Sr. DE/OL Jack Hamilton (3 sacks). Berlin: Jr. QB Mitch Williams (14 TD, 5 INT), Sr. RB Justin Gombotz (over 1,110 rushing yards, 18 TD), Sr. RB/CB Scott McLeod (15 TD).
YOU SHOULD KNOW: Weston earned its first-ever state playoff win against Ellington-Somers on Wednesday. ... Weston has four fourth-quarter comebacks this season. ... Prior to this year, last made state playoffs in 1989 and lost to Ansonia 44-0 in S final. ... Lone losses came against New Fairfield 42-21 on Oct. 19 and Masuk 49-0 on Nov. 15. ... Averaging over 27 points a game. ... Berlin's lone loss came against Platt 34-14 on Nov. 2. ... Beat one state playoff team in the regular season, Rocky Hill 25-14 on Sept. 21. ... Allowing 11 points a game and has two shutouts in its 10 wins. ... Has made six appearances in state final, the most recent in 2009 in 46-6 win over Bethel in M. ... Last state playoff appearance came in 2011 in 48-14 loss to state champion Ansonia in M semifinals.