CLASS L QUARTERFINAL CAPSULE
No. 8 Bunnell at No. 1 Daniel Hand
TIME/DATE: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
PLACE: At Surf Club, Madison
TEAM RECORDS: Bunnell 9-1, Hand 10-0
LAST MEETING: Hand defeated Bunnell, 34-6, on Oct. 13, 2017 in a non-conference regular season game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bunnell—Christ N’Dabian, Sr., RB (1,112 rushing yards, 12 TDs); Bryan Carrafiello, Jr. QB (76-for-125, 1,322 yards, 12 TDs, 4 INTs); Tyreek Smith, Jr., RB (11.0 yards per carry, 6 TDs); Eli Alexandre, Sr., WR (29 catches, 572 yards, 6 TDs); James Savko, Jr., LB (8.3 tackles per game), Jovan Eggleston, Jr., RB-LB (6.3 tackles per game, 3 TDs); Andrew Geriak, Sr., OL (Captain), Josh Lisi, Sr, DB-WR (Captain); Daniel Hand—Phoneix Billings, Jr., QB (71-for-105, 1,432 yards 16 TDs, 4 INTs; 455 rushing yards, 9 TDs), Colin McCabe, Jr., RB (945 yards, 24 TDs), Jesse Lutz, Jr., RB (390 yards, 8 TDs); Chris Bartosic, Sr., WR-CB (432 receiving yards, 6 TDs), Jack Flanagan, Sr., LB (45 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss).
OUTLOOK: On paper, the top-seeded Tigers of Hand are a scary team. The junior laden squad piled up 3,700 total yards of offense this season (370 yards per game) and have done both through the air and on the ground. The offense has scored 49.4 points per game while given up just 84 points all season long. The Bulldogs are likely going going to have to control the ball and keep Hand off the field in order to keep the game close and with a running back like N’Dabian, if Bunnell is on its game it could do just that. Carrafiello, who came back off injury to help the Bulldogs top Stratford in the season finale, has a few extra practices under his belt now to find his rhythm.
BULLDOG BARKS, Part 1: “Hand is a very good team. Big, fast and physical,” Bunnell Coach Sean Mignone said. “We played them last year at the Surf Club, so it’s not new to us going there. They are one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the entire state, regardless off class.”
BULLDOG BARKS, PART 2: “First, we have to play as a team and have a lot more energy and focus than we had vs. Stratford on Wednesday night,” Mignone said. “After that, we can’t allow Hand to dictate how the game goes. We have to attack them on offense and defense, we can’t let them be the only ones attacking us. If our guys come out and let them attack us, we are in for a long night.”
TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD: “It’s huge for our program and school,” Mignone said of his program making the state tournament for the second time in three seasons “Every year Bunnell is picked to be a middle-of-the-pack SWC team and the last three seasons we are 25-5 with a co-SWC Championship last year and two state playoff appearances in 2016 and 2018. Yet we still seem to fly under the radar.”
SCHEDULE THIS: “We have no control over our schedule,” Mignone said of people putting down the Bulldogs regular season schedule. “I did not make our schedule. We play the schedule given to us each year. We finished 9-1 and I don’t think we should have to apologize for that. That being said, if one thing breaks our way–just one–last Wednesday or Thursday, we are probably the 5, 6, or 7 seed. But the CIAC doesn’t use records, it uses a point system for seeding. Nothing we can do about it now.”