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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