H.S. football playoffs: Ledyard, NFA, Valley/OL on solid ground

It's a safe bet that Ledyard, Norwich Free Academy and the Valley Regional/Old Lyme co-op will represent southeastern Connecticut in this year's CIAC football playoffs.

It doesn't look good for the rest of the local teams based on their respective schedules and current CIAC playoff rankings.

Most teams have played six games in this 11-game season, so now is a good time to take a look at the playoff races:

CLASS LL: NFA (4-1) is ranked fifth and will be favored in all of its remaining ECC games - East Lyme (4-1), Killingly (3-3), Stonington (3-2), and New London (3-2).

The Wildcats' game this week is. … curious. They travel to play Cranston West, R.I., which is 2-4 having played a brutal schedule. They've lost to four of the state's top teams - unbeaten Bishop Hendricken and Barrington, Portsmouth (5-1) and LaSalle Academy (4-2). All four are ranked in the top seven by Ned Freeman's computer ratings for CalPreps.com and MaxPreps.com.

NFA has only 10 games, so it may not be able to withstand another loss because most of teams play 11. It does two things going for it, however - the LL teams in both the FCIAC and SCC will beat up on each other.

No. 2 Shelton (5-1) plays host to resurgence Hand (5-1), a Class L team. It plays back-to-back road games at No. 4 West Haven (5-1) and No. 12 Xavier (4-2) in November.

West Haven ends its season vs. Hand and Shelton and at No. 13 Fairfield Prep (4-2).

No. 3 McMahon has won all six of its games, but has beaten just one winning team. It will have difficult games in November at No. 9 Ridgefield (5-1) and vs. unbeaten St. Joseph.

Eighth-ranked Staples (5-1) plays at unbeaten New Canaan on Friday. It also plays at No. 10 Trumbull (5-1) next Friday.

No. 1 Newtown (6-0), No. 6 Southington (4-1) and No. 7 Glastonbury (5-1) all look like safe bets to qualify based on their respective schedules.

CLASS L: East Lyme (4-1) is rated 12th in the division. It would be premature to discuss its chances as three of its next five games are against NFA, Montville and New London.

No. 15 New London (3-2) also has a hard road. It plays host to Middletown (6-0), ranked fourth in The Day Top 10 state coaches poll, on Nov. 8. There's also that game at NFA on Thanksgiving.

CLASS M: Valley Regional/Old Lyme (5-0) is rated second behind St. Joseph and has already beaten many of the tougher teams on its schedule.

The Warriors will continue to play one of the most difficult schedules in the Pequot Football Conference as their next three games are at Morgan (5-0), vs. Ellington/Somers (3-3), and at Cromwell (4-2). They also play host to No. 6 Gilbert/NW Regional (4-1) late in the season.

Ledyard (5-1) is ranked fifth and looks to be in good standing. Three of its remaining five foes have two wins or less. It'll be favored against Stonington (3-2) and Montville (4-2), too.

A second loss might not crush the Colonels' playoff chances as thirty of the 36 teams in the division already have at least two losses. Some of those teams will also play one another. No. 4 Brookfield (5-1) plays at No. 3 Barlow (5-1) in Week 10. It finishes the season at No. 7 Bethel (4-2).

CLASS S: Montville (4-2) is ranked 12th. It isn't out of the picture, but it must win out. It plays at Ledyard next Friday, and plays host to East Lyme on Nov. 15. Its other three opponents have three losses or more.

n.griffen@theday.com

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