If Whalers can beat Wildcats, they're in Class M playoffs

The nation's oldest high school football rivalry is also going to be one of the most important Thanksgiving Day games in the state especially for New London High School.

The Whalers play host to old friend Norwich Free Academy in the 151st meeting between the rivals. ... And they can Class M playoff berth with a win.

The Wildcats (9-0), who remain the only local school to unofficially qualfying for the postseason, could ruin New London's holiday and playoff dreams with a win of its own.

Fitch, like New London, also needs one more to win to clinch a berth, but they've got two games remaining.

Montville and Stonington also need one more win. and some help.

The pairings aren't official until they're approved by the CIAC football committee the day after the regular season ends.

New London (7-2) would qualify for states for the sixth straight season with a win. The odds are favorable that the Whalers would host a home quarterfinal, too.

NFA is playing for a home berth in Class LL. The Wildcats earn that with a win, but would have to play at a neutral site because the CIAC now requires all home quarterfinalists to have permanent lights.

A loss sends them on the road.

Fitch (7-1) needs to beat either Bacon Academy or Ledyard to qualify in Class L. The Falcons play at Bacon (2-6) on Thursday and plays host to Ledyard (6-3) on Thanksgiving.

The Falcons would likely play a road quarterfinal, provided that none of the the higher ranked teams win out. Those teams are Hand of Madison (8-0) Windsor (8-0), Avon (9-0), Masuk of Monroe (8-0) and Middletown (8-1), which have all qualified.

Montville (7-2) is ranked ninth in Class M and needs a little help. Its point total is lower than other two-loss teams because it hasn't beaten enough winning teams. It would earn either 110 or 120 points if it beat St. Bernard/Norwich Tech, depending on whether or not the Saints are winless or have one win.

The Indians need two of three things to happen a New London loss, one loss by St. Joseph of Trumbull, and/or two losses by either Barlow of Redding or Weston.

St. Joseph, seeded 10th, plays Trinity Catholic (7-1) Thursday. It concludes its season at Trumbull (4-4) on Nov. 21.

No. 4 Weston (7-1) plays host to unbeaten Masuk Thursday. No. 5 Barlow (7-1) plays at Brookfield (5-3).

Weston plays at Barlow on Thanksgiving.

It would be almost impossible for Weston to fall behind Montville if it beat either Masuk or Barlow.

There's a chance that Montville could pass Barlow if both finished 8-2, but that's not a certainty.

Stonington (7-2) needs more help than Montville as a Thanksgiving win over Westerly won't be enough to clinch a spot in Class S. The Bears are going to need a few teams in front of it to flop, and realistically, it might be too much to expect.

n.griffen@theday.com

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