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It's the last full Friday worth of games this season, and it's an playoff elimination weekend for dozens and dozens of teams.
Less talk. More rock:
■ Bullard-Havens (6-3, 6-3 CSC) at Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech (7-2, 7-2), today, 6:30 p.m.: It's a Constitution State Conference game and a must-have for both team's CIAC Class M playoff chances. P/T/E is ranked ninth, B-H is 11th.
■ Derby (5-4) at Woodland (8-1), today, 6:30 p.m.: Derby is mathematically alive in Class S. A win gets the Hawks close to qualifying for Class S, as well as a berth in next week's NVL title game against Ansonia.
■ Coginchaug (6-2, 2-2 Pequot South) at North Branford (5-3, 2-2), today, 6:30 p.m.: The winner remains a Class S hopeful, and the loser becomes an also-ran. Coginchaug is eighth in the division rankings, and North Branford is 10th.
■ Brookfield (8-1, 2-0 SWC Yankee) at Barlow (8-1, 3-0), today, 7 p.m.: One of the weekend's most important games because the winner earns berths in both the South-West Conference championship and Class M playoffs. KA-CHING.
■ Darien (8-1) at No. 10 North Haven (8-1), today, 7 p.m.: The second of the weekend's big three. Darien is sixth in the Class L rankings. North Haven is seventh. The winner gets a big boost in the division. The loser will be sweating it out on Thanksgrabbing Day.
■ Foran (6-3) at Guilford (5-4), today, 7 p.m: Both have the slimmest of playoff hopes.
■ No. 5 Glastonbury (8-1) at Windsor (6-2), today, 7 p.m.: A win gets Glastonbury its sixth successive Class LL berth. Windsor is on the brink in Class L.
■ No. 6 St. Joseph (8-1) at McMahon (7-1), today, 7 p.m.: A win gets St. Joseph into Class M and close to a home quarterfinal. McMahon must win its final two games to make it to the LL playoffs.
■ Shelton at No. 3 West Haven (8-1), today, 7 p.m.: Shelton is all but finished in the Class LL race, but it can sure mess up West Haven's chances.
■ No. 7 Platt (9-0) at Northwest Catholic (7-2), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Platt would qualify for Class L with a win and a Windsor loss. Northwest is ninth in Class S and must win its final two games.
■ No. 8 Xavier (7-2, 3-0 SCC D-1 West) at Fairfield Prep (7-2, 3-0), Saturday, 7 p.m.: The third and final big game of the weekend. The winner earns the division title. Xavier is seventh in the Class LL rankings, and this is its final game of the regular season. A win gets it close to qualifying for a Class LL berth. Prep is 12th in LL and must win its final two games.
• • • •
Breaking down the playoffs used to be very time-consuming and mind-melting process fraught with paperwork, bad math, and much gnashing of teeth.
Praise Buddha that CIAC's Matt Fischer created the ROBOABACUS a few years ago. We don't know how he managed to do it — perhaps he rubbed together two 10001001001s and it sparked the program — but we're grateful that he did. It updates itself in Real Time, so YOU can always know where your team stands.
1. These are not to be taken as gospel. The forecast was done in less than 30 minutes.
2. Just because we didn't pick your team to qualify doesn't mean we hate you. Hell, we don't even KNOW you. Should you choose to believe that this is the worst insult you've ever suffered, use it as motivation, and go on to win a state title, then we expect a free meal at your year-end banquet for providing the extra incentive you needed.
3. We plan on being wrong about half of these and, in fact, look forward to it. To err is human. To laugh at one's self is divine.
Quote David Letterman, "this is an exhibition, not a competition. Please, no wagering."
Before we proceed, a quick explanation what "bonuses" mean:
■ A team receives 10 points for every win and five points for each tie earned by any opponent it beat.
■ A team receives five points for each victory and 2.5 points for each tie earned by an opponent it tied.
Remember, kids — the top eight teams in each division qualify.
IN: Newtown (10-0, earned a home quarterfinal).
WIN-AND-IN: West Haven (8-1), NFA (7-1), Glastonbury (8-1), and Fairfield Prep (7-2).
West Haven would qualify if it beats Shelton (6-3) tonight, and Hand, Hillhouse and Fairfield Ludlowe all win. Two wins earn it a home quarterfinal.
NFA would earn a home quarterfinal with wins over Stonington (6-2) on Saturday and New London (6-2) on Thanksgrabbing.
Glastonbury would earn a berth with a win over Windsor (6-2) today, and if Conard, Hall and NFA won on Saturday.
Fairfield Prep is 12th in the rankings, but would lock up a berth with a home wins over Xavier (Saturday) and West Haven.
ALMOST THERE: Southington (7-1), Hall (7-1), and Xavier (7-2).
Southington qualifies by beating winless South Windsor on today and Cheshire on Thanksgiving, and with either a Xavier win over Fairfield Prep on Saturday, or, if Fairfield Prep wins out, by earning four bonuses.
Hall needs to beat Hartford Public (5-4) today and Conard (3-6) next today, and get either a Xavier win over Fairfield Prep, or, if Prep wins out, earn four bonuses.
Xavier finishes its season at Fairfield Prep. It must win and earn two of its nine bonuses.
MAD SCRAMBLE: McMahon (7-1), Ridgefield (7-2), Staples (7-2), and Trumbull (7-2).
McMahon must win tonight against St. Joseph, ranked sixth in The Day's Top 10 coaches' poll. It must also beat Norwalk on Thanksgrabbing, too.
Ridgefield (1,000 points), Staples (970) and Trumbull (960) are all bunched up together. It would come down to bonus points if all three won out.
Ridgefield is in the best shape of the three as it finishes up with two three-win teams — Wilton (today) and Danbury (Thanksgrabbing Eve). That would get it to a 114.54 average.
Staples plays host to Norwalk today and Greenwich (6-3) on Thanksgiving. Two wins would net it a 116.36 average.
Trumbull would have a 112.73-point average if it beats Bridgeport Central (today) and St. Joseph on Thanksgrabbing.
SEND HELP: Shelton, Greenwich (6-3), and Manchester (5-4).
FORECAST: No. 1 Newtown vs. Staples; No. 2 NFA vs. No. 7 Ridgefield; No. 3 West Haven vs. No. 6 Southington; No. 4 Glastonbury vs. No. 5 Hall.
• • • •
WIN-AND-IN: New Canaan (9-0), Platt (9-0), Middletown (8-1), and Farmington (8-1).
All New Canaan must do is beat winless Trinity Catholic today, or Darien (8-1) on Thanksgrabbing.
Platt would qualify Saturday with a win over Northwest Catholic, and if Windsor lost tonight to Glastonbury.
ALMOST THERE: Middletown (8-1), Farmington (8-1), and Bristol Eastern (7-2).
The CCC D-2 West trio and Hand would all qualify if they win their final two games.
Middletown plays at Simsbury today and at Windsor (6-2) on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
Farmington plays host to Manchester today, and at Plainville (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing Day.
Bristol Eastern plays at E.O. Smith (4-5) today. It closes with its Bristol Central buddies (3-5) on Thanksgrabbing.
Hand (6-3) is presently ranked 10th and plays host to Notre Dame-W.H. (4-5) today, and plays at Guilford (5-4) on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
Eastern and Hand aren't shoo-ins to qualify with two wins, but they are both helped by games involving other L hopefuls — Middletown vs. Windsor, Darien vs. North Haven, and Darien vs. New Canaan. That, and bonuses, will sneak both the Lancers and Tigers in to the tourney.
MAD SCRAMBLE: Naugatuck (8-1), Darien (8-1), North Haven (8-1), New London (6-2), and Windsor (6-2).
All these teams would qualify if they win their remaining games.
All these teams have at least one brutal game remaining, too.
Naugatuck plays Kennedy this weekend. It plays host to old rival Ansonia (9-0) on Thanksgrabbing.
Darien has one of the roughest finishes to the season. It plays at North Haven today, and at New Canaan on Thanksgrabbing. Eep. It could survive with one win, though.
North Haven plays Darien and closes at Amity (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing. Much like Darien, it could still sneak in at 8-2 with bonuses.
New London has three games left — Waterford (4-4) today, East Lyme (5-3) next Thursday, and at NFA on Thanksgrabbing. That last game is a doozy.
Windsor plays host to Glastonbury today. Not good. And it closes with Middletown.
SEND HELP: Cheney Tech (7-2), Wethersfield (6-3), Masuk (6-3), Avon (6-3), Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (5-3), East Lyme (5-3), and Guilford (5-4).
FORECAST: No. 1. New Canaan vs. No. 8 Bristol Eastern; No. 2 Platt vs. No. 7 North Haven; No. 3 Middletown vs. No. 6 Hand; No. 4. Farmington vs. No. 5 Darien.
• • • •
WIN-AND-IN: Valley Regional/Old Lyme (8-0), St. Joseph (8-1), Barlow (8-1), and Brookfield (8-1).
VR/OL qualifies with one win in its final three games — Old Saybrook (Saturday), Gilbert/Northwestern Regional (Nov. 22), or Haddam-Killingworth (Thanksgrabbing Eve). It would earn a home quarterfinal with two wins.
St. Joseph punches its ticket with a win at McMahon today. There's a strong chance that it would earn a home quarterfinal, too. Should it lose to McMahon, it would still earn a berth with a win over Trumbull on Thanksgrabbing.
The Barlow-Brookfield winner wins a berth and another shot at Newtown in next week's South-West Conference final. The loser isn't toast as this division is friendly to the three-loss team.
ALMOST THERE: Gilbert/Northwestern Regional (7-1), and Bethel (7-2)
G/NR is in ridiculously great shape. It will earn a berth with a win Saturday at Nonnewaug (2-6), and a Bullard-Havens win over Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech tonight. It would definitely qualify with a win this week and next. Its final game is against Housatonic/Wamogo, which has forfeited its last four games. At worst, wins over Nonnewaug and H/W and two bonuses will clinch it a berth.
Bethel would qualify with wins over winless Notre Dame of Fairfield today, and Brookfield on Thanksgrabbing.
MAD SCRAMBLE: Ledyard (7-2), Stonington (6-2), Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech (7-2), Wolcott (6-3), Bullard-Havens (6-3), Foran (6-3), and New Fairfield (6-3).
All these teams are in MUST-WIN mode.
Ledyard must win at Waterford (4-4) next Thursday, at home vs. Fitch (3-6), and get bonus help.
Stonington must beat NFA, Killingly (4-5) next Thursday, and Westerly on Thanksgrabbing.
Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech needs wins over Bullard-Havens and Killingly (Thanksgrabbing), and a loss by either Bethel, Ledyard or Stonington.
Wolcott must beat Watertown (1-8) on today and Holy Cross (6-3) on Thanksgrabbing, and losses by two of the four — Bethel, Ledyard, Stonington, and P/T/E.
Bullard-Havens has to beat P/T/E and Bassick (2-7) on Thanksgrabbing Day, and a bunch of losses by the two-loss teams ahead of it.
Foran needs to beat Guilford on today and Law (2-6) on Thanksgiving and get bonuses and losses by teams ahead of it in the rankings.
New Fairfield. Beat Pomperaug today and New Milford on Thanksgrabbing. Get lots-and-lots of help.
SEND HELP: Ellington/Somers (5-4), Waterford (4-4), Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (4-4), and Killingly (4-5).
FORECAST: No 1. Valley Regional/Old Lyme vs. No. 8 Brookfield; No. 2 St. Joseph vs. No. 7 Stonington; No. 3 Barlow vs. No. 6 Gilbert/Northwestern Regional; No. 4 Bethel vs. No. 5 Ledyard.
• • • •
IN: Capital/Classical/Achievement (9-0); and Ansonia (10-0).
C/C/A will earn a home quarterfinal with a win over Cheney Tech (7-2) today and earn a bonus.
Ansonia is close to clinching a home quarterfinal. A Thanksgrabbing win at Naugatuck would do the trick.
WIN-AND-IN: Prince Tech (8-1), Rocky Hill (8-1), Woodland (8-1), and Morgan (7-1).
Prince Tech qualifies with a win over Abbott Tech (3-6) on Saturday, and a Platt win over Northwest Catholic tonight. It plays C/C/A next Saturday, too.
Rocky Hill has a shot to qualify this weekend if it beats winless Rockville, Platt wins, and it earns a few bonuses. It finishes the season at Northwest Catholic on Thanksgrabbing
Woodland will qualify with a win over Derby (5-4) tonight and a Northwest loss.
ALMOST THERE: Morgan (7-1).
Right now, the Huskies need to win their final three games — Hyde (5-4) on today, Sports/University (4-4) next Friday, and Old Saybrook/Westbrook (4-4) on Thanksgrabbing Eve. They'll be favored in all three games.
MAD SCRAMBLE: Bloomfield (7-2), Coginchaug (6-2), Northwest Catholic (7-2), North Branford (5-3), and Holy Cross (6-3).
All four of these teams must win out and get some help.
Bloomfield plays Plainville today and finishes at winless Fermi next Friday.
Coginchaug plays at North Branford today, at home against winless Haddam-Killingworth next Saturday, and at Cromwell (4-4) on Thanksgrabbing.
Northwest has the toughest gig with games against Platt and Rocky Hill.
North Branford has a lot of ground to make up, but it will earn oodles of points with wins along the way. Ditto Holy Cross with games at St. Paul (6-3) on Saturday and Wolcott.
SEND HELP (takes deep breath): Derby (5-4), Montville (5-4), Windham (5-4), St. Paul (6-3), Canton (5-3), Hyde, Cromwell (4-4), Seymour (5-4), Griswold (5-4), Enfield (4-4), Plainfield (4-4), Sports/University, Plainville, and Old Saybrook/Westbrook.
Yes, all but 12 teams in this division have a mathematical shot to make states.
FORECAST: No. 1. Capital/Classical/Achievement vs. No. 8 North Branford; No. 2. Ansonia vs. No. 7 Bloomfield; No. 3. Rocky Hill vs. No. 6 Prince Tech; No. 4. Woodland vs. No. 5 Morgan.
• • • •
Doug Bonjour, Hearst Inc.: Prep has no room for error against Xavier.
Gentleman Jim Bransfield, Middletown Press: "Xavier, Middletown, Coginchaug fight for football playoff berths.
Jon Chik, Hearst Inc.: Darien faces North Haven in critical Class L football game.
Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American: Naugy Twins Share a Desire To Lead.
Dave Ruden, The Ruden Report: Guide to FCIAC games.
Jason Sonski, Hearst Inc.: Plenty on the line when Brookfield, Barlow meet Friday night.
Thanks for reading. More later.
Vaya con dios….