Class L quarterfinals, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
No. 5 New Canaan (9-1) at No. 4 New London (9-1)
Overview: This classic matchup between perennial state powerhouses promises to be an explosive affair with New Canaan averaging 38 points per game and New London 36 per contest.
The Rams, who qualified with a 42-21 win against Darien on Thanksgiving, are aiming for their sixth straight appearance in a state championship game. New Canaan won four straight MM titles before losing to Masuk 50-20 in last year’s Class L championship.
The Whalers, who play out of the Eastern Connecticut Conference, have appeared in four state championship games since 2005. Like New Canaan, New London enters the playoffs with redemption on its mind after suffering a 7-0 loss to Hillhouse in last season’s Class M championship.
New Canaan’s only loss came against Stamford (36-29) after standout senior quarterback Matt Milano left the game in the first half with an injury. New London’s only loss came against Fitch, 14-0.
The Whalers did take apart FCIAC powerhouse Greenwich 51-33 in Week 2, so this one should be interesting.
When New Canaan has the ball: The Rams will go as far as Milano takes them. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior has thrown for 2,362 yards and 30 touchdowns this season in New Canaan’s no-huddle, spread offense.
With solid receivers all over the field, including wideouts Patrick Newton (37 catches, 473 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Peter Kraus (48 catches, 678 yards, 9 touchdowns) and tight end Connor Kilbane (47 catches, 545 yards, 7 touchdowns), the Whalers can expect to see the ball in the air quite often.
New Canaan does have a committee of capable runners in Louis Hagopian (336 yards, 3 touchdowns), Bobby Distler (217 yards, 1 touchdown) and Kevin McDonough (198 yards, four touchdowns) and is more balanced than it might appear. The Rams rushed for nearly 250 yards in the win against Darien on Thanksgiving.
Milano has also developed into a running threat, rushing for 243 yards and five touchdowns while doing a little option late in the season.
When New London has the ball: Like New Canaan, the Whalers have a clear-cut leader in Kyle McKinnon, one of the top running backs in the state. The 6-foot, 198-poiund senior has rushed for 929 yards and 18 touchdowns, so the Rams will have to stop him if they expect to advance.
The Whalers can also throw the ball behind senior quarterback Robert Key (1,010 yards, 10 touchdowns) and receivers Khaleed Fields and Jevon Elmore.
Prediction: New Canaan 35, New London 28