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So everyone here at Polecat HQ were feeling a little lazy by not blogging in, oh, two daze. The playoff races keep evolving. Two conference finals have been played. And there's always stories out there that YOU should read.
It all got us to thinking that we should blog something, so we put it to a vote.
And that is why YOU, good reader, get THIS.
The plan is to keep up with the playoff races by blogging after tonight and Saturday's games. That plan will be adhered to, barring the staff getting mauled by a moose or something like that.
Let's do this….
• • • •
There were two games involving Top 10 teams over the past two daze, and that's a lot of numbers to fit into one sentence:
No. 2 Ansonia beat Woodland on Wednesday, 48-7, to win its third-straight NVL title
The Chargers put on a command performance in winning their 39th straight game. Arkeel Newsome ran 22 times for 222 yards and four touchdowns and scored on a 29-yard catch to earn MVP honors. The defense held Hawks' record-setting QB Tanner Kingsley to 76 yards on 10 of 27 passing with three interceptions and no TDs. And sophomore Tajik Bagley ran for a 62-yard touchdown, had an interception and recovered a fumble. The latter ought to depress opposing NVL coaches. Kountry Kyle Brennan of the NVL Blog, Doug Bonjour of Hearst Inc., Mark Jaffee of the Waterbury Republican-American, and Pooch Diggity Dog of JRC Amalgamated all reporting.
No. 4 Newtown beat Brookfield, 28-7, to win the SWC championship on Thursday
Cooper Gold ran 27 times for 165 yards and two scores to earn MVP honors. Rich Gregory of Hearst Inc., and Sean Patrick Starfish of JRC Amalgamated both reporting. SIDEBAR — no matter how many times we see them, Brookfield's jersey color scheme still makes us go WHAT. Don't know why.
• • • •
Gilbert/Northwestern Regional and Barlow didn't play Thursday night — and they both qualified for the CIAC Class M playoffs.
CIAC playoff points are mysterious.
SIXTEEN spots have been (unofficially) clinched for the CIAC state playoffs. That leaves SIXTEEN berths available.
We're going to (attempt to) break down the four races as simply as possible.
You're encouraged to follow Matt Fischer's wondrously magical ROBOABACUS, which details every team's potential playoff points as well as updates in real time.
1. These are not to be taken as gospel. The predictions were done in 16 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 on 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, "Let me caution you — this is an exhibition, not a competition. Please, no wagering."
Note that we've gone with the chalk in next week's games. We'll have to fix that as Thanksgrabbing week is always about the unexpected and THE CRAZY.
Before we proceed, a quick explanation about "bonuses":
■ 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 (11-0), West Haven (9-1), Norwich Free Academy (8-1) and Glastonbury (9-1).
Newtown has earned a home quarterfinal. It will be the top seed if it wins at Masuk (7-3) on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
The other three teams would earn home quarterfinals with a win.
West Haven goes on the road to tangle with Fairfield Prep (8-2) on Thanksgrabbing. It's the biggest dang game in the state next week. A Westies' win might set off a wacky chain of events, too. We'll shatter your brain with that later.
NFA would earn a pseudo-home quarterfinal if it beat rival New London (8-2) on Thanksgiving. It will have someplace nearby to play as it doesn't have the permanent lighting required for CIAC playoff games.
Glastonbury plays host to Simsbury (2-8) on Saturday.
WIN-AND-IN: Hall (8-1), Southington (8-1).
Hall plays at Conard (4-6) tonight.
Southington plays at Cheshire (4-6) in the Apple Bowl on Thanksgrabbing. Such a quaint name for a rivalry game.
MAD SCRAMBLE: Fairfield Prep, Ridgefield (8-2), Staples (8-2), Xavier (7-3), and Trumbull (8-2).
It's a FREE FOR ALL.
Ridgefield plays host to Danbury (3-7) on Thanksgrabbing Eve. A win gives it a 114.54 average.
Fairfield Prep would have a 119.09-point average if it beat West Haven.
Staples plays host to Greenwich (7-3) on Thanksgrabbing. A win gives it a 117.27 average.
Trumbull plays at St. Joseph (9-1) on Thanksgrabbing. A win gives 115.45 average.
Okay, say all four teams win. BONUS POINTS would decide who's in and who'll be too sick to eat all that yummy stuffing with sausage.
All four of the aforementioned teams have six potential bonuses.
Prep's maximum average is 124.55. Four of its bonuses don't look good.
Staples' max average is 122.73. It, too, has four bonuses that don't look promising. One of its bonuses is Danbury, too. You know, that team that's playing Ridgefield.
Trumbull's max average is 120.91. The odds are against it getting four of its bonuses. One of them is Greenwich, too.
Ridgefield's max average 120. Unlike the rest, the Tigers have four GOOD bonuses.
All four are also relying on some of the same bonus games. To wit:
■ Fairfield Warde (3-7) at Fairfield Ludlowe (6-4): Ridgefield and Staples both need Ludlowe. Trumbull needs Warde.
■ Harding (3-7) at Bridgeport Central (0-10): Staples and Trumbull both need Central to win. Ridgefield needs Harding.
■ Norwalk (4-6) at McMahon (7-2): Staples and Trumbull both need Norwalk.
■ Stamford (5-5) at Westhill (2-8): Prep and Ridgefield both need Stamford.
■ Wilton (3-7) at Trinity Catholic (0-10): Ridgefield, Staples and Trumbull all need Wilton.
Did your brain melt yet?
Okay, then check this out — Xavier could qualify for states over Fairfield Prep even though Prep smacked the Falcons last Saturday (46-27), and even though Prep would finish with one more win (the Falcons' regular season is over).
Xavier has 1,080 points and needs three of the four to lose — Prep, Ridgefield, Staples or Trumbull. Five bonuses would give it a 113-point average. Reckon it could earn two or three of said bonuses.
SEND HELP: McMahon (7-2), and Greenwich.
FORECAST: No. 1 Newtown vs. No. 8 Ridgefield; No. 2 NFA vs. No. 7 Staples; No. 3 West Haven vs. No. 6 Southington; No. 4 Glastonbury vs. No. 5 Hall.
• • • •
IN: New Canaan (10-0) and Platt (10-0).
WIN-AND-IN: Middletown (9-1), Darien (9-1), Naugatuck (9-1), and New London.
Three of these four have to play a really, really tough foe. Try to guess which three.
Middletown plays at Windsor (6-3) on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
Naugatuck plays host to ancient rival Ansonia (11-0) on Thanksgrabbing
Darien plays at New Canaan on Thanksgrabbing.
New London journeys to NFA on Thanksgrabbing.
All four could still qualify with a loss, but why would they want to do that?
MAD SCRAMBLE: Farmington (8-2), Bristol Eastern (8-2), Hand (7-3) and North Haven (8-2).
Farmington plays at Plainville (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing Day. It could finish as low as 106.36 with a loss, and as high as 124.55 with a win.
Bristol Eastern closes with its buddies from Bristol Central (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing. It would finish as low as 103.64 with a loss, and as high as 122.73 with a win.
Hand plays at Guilford (5-5) on Thanksgrabbing Eve. It would finish as low as 101.82 with a loss, and as high as 120 with a win.
North Haven visits Amity (5-5) on Thanksgrabbing. It would finish as low as 101.82 with a loss, and as high as 120.91 with a win.
Bet on bonuses coming into play. Eastern has seven, Farmington six, and Hand and North Haven both have five.
SEND HELP: Windsor, Wethersfield (7-3), Masuk, and Avon (7-3).
Windsor's maximum with a win over Middletown and five bonuses would give it a 110 average. That's not good enough to catch Middletown, Darien, Naugatuck, or New London, even if all four lost.
Wethersfield's max average is 104.55 with a win over Newington (5-5) and six bonuses. The best it could hope for is the eighth seed as it cannot catch Middletown, Darien, Naugy, New London or Farmington. It would also need Eastern, Hand, and North Haven to lose and hope none of them earn bonuses.
Masuk max average is 104.55, too.
Avon. …. Sorry, even if you beat Ellington/Somers this weekend, you still need four lifetimes worth of good fortune to qualify.
FORECAST: No. 1. New Canaan vs. No. 8 Naugatuck (edges out North Haven on tiebreaker points); No. 2 Platt vs. No. 7 Hand; No. 3 Middletown vs. No. 6 Bristol Eastern; No. 4. Darien vs. No. 5 Farmington.
• • • •
IN: Valley Regional/Old Lyme (9-0), St. Joseph (9-1) and Brookfield (9-2), Gilbert/Northwestern Regional (8-2), and Barlow (8-2).
VR/OL has earned a home quarterfinal. It would be the top seed with wins over Gilbert/Northwestern Regional (8-1) tonight, and at winless Haddam-Killingworth on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
St. Joseph also earned itself a home quarterfinal, no matter what happens against Trumbull.
Brookfield gets itself a home quarterfinal with a win at Bethel (8-2) on Thanksgrabbing.
G/NR would earn a home quarterfinal if it beat VR/OL and winless Housatonic Regional/Wamogo on Thanksgrabbing. Note that the latter has forfeited its last five games, but has said it'll play next week.
Barlow plays at Weston (3-7) on Thanksgrabbing. Its best chance to earn a home quarterfinal is with a win, AND one G/NR loss.
WIN-AND-IN: Ledyard (8-2), Bethel (8-2), and Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech (8-2).
Ledyard is oh, so close to qualifying. It plays host to Fitch (4-6) on Thanskgrabbing. It would qualify with a win, or if Stonington AND Wolcott both lost on Thanksgrabbing. And even if it lost, a lot would have to go wrong for it NOT to qualify. Ditto Bethel.
Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech plays host to Killingly (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing. In with a win, or losses by both Stonington and Wolcott. Mathematically, Foran could catch it IF it beat Law (4-6) on Thanksgrabbing, collected all six of its bonuses, and if P/T/E didn't get either of its two bonuses.
MAD SCRAMBLE: Stonington (7-2), Wolcott (7-3).
Stonington must beat Killingly on Thursday and Westerly (3-7) on Thanksgrabbing, AND have either Bethel or P/T/E lose. It could catch Ledyard if it lost to Fitch, but it wouldn't be easy. Mathematically, Wolcott could catch it with a win over Holy Cross (6-3). Both would have 1,130 points without bonuses. Stonington has a maximum of six bonuses. Wolcott has three. Edge to Stonington.
Wolcott's most realistic chance to qualify is to win and hope that P/T/E AND Stonington lose.
SEND HELP: Foran (7-3), and Ellington/Somers (5-4).
Foran needs to beat Law, collect all of its bonuses, have P/T/E, Stonington AND Wolcott lose, and hope that P/T/E doesn't collect its two bonuses.
Imagine everything happens listed in the last paragraph — E/S COULD pass Foran, but only if it beats Avon this Saturday and Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (5-4) next Wednesday, AND collects at least two of its five bonuses.
FORECAST: No 1. Valley Regional/Old Lyme vs. No. 8 Stonington; No. 2 St. Joseph vs. No. 7 Bethel; No. 3 Brookfield vs. No. 6 Gilbert/Northwestern Regional; No. 4 Barlow vs. No. 5 Ledyard.
• • • •
IN: Capital/Classical/Achievement (10-0), Ansonia, Prince Tech (9-1), Woodland (9-2), and Rocky Hill (9-1).
C/C/A has earned a home quarterfinal. It'll be the top seed if it wins at Prince Tech (9-1) on Saturday.
Ansonia gets to host a home quarterfinal if it beats Naugy.
The other two home quarterfinalists would likely come down to Prince Tech, Woodland and Rocky Hill.
Prince Tech must beat C/C/A. It's maximum average is 147.27.
Woodland plays at Seymour (6-4) on Thanksgrabbing Eve. It's maximum is 142.73.
Rocky Hill plays at Northwest Catholic (7-3) on Thanksgrabbing. It's maximum is 143.64.
WIN-AND-IN: Morgan (8-1), Bloomfield (7-2), and Coginchaug (7-2).
All the teams piled up outside the top eight are sort of hosed as Bloomfield, Coginchaug and Morgan will all be favored to win out.
The Huskies play host to both Sports/University (5-4) tonight, and Old Saybrook/Westbrook (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
Bloomfield plays at winless Fermi tonight.
Coginchaug plays at home against winless Haddam-Killingworth on Saturday, and at Cromwell (4-5) on Thanksgrabbing.
SEND HELP: Holy Cross, Canton (7-3), Montville (6-4), Northwest Catholic (7-3), Windham (5-4), North Branford (5-4), Seymour (6-4), and Sports/University.
FORECAST: No. 1. Capital/Classical/Achievement vs. No. 8 Bloomfield; No. 2. Ansonia vs. No. 7 Coginchaug; No. 3. Rocky Hill vs. No. 6 Prince Tech; No. 4. Woodland vs. No. 5 Morgan.
• • • •
Kountry Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: It's time to end the NVL title game. YES, and for all the reasons Kyle and Ansonia coach Tom Brockett mention. There's a quote in this column from Woodland AD Brian Fell that nearly made our heads implode. You'll know it when you read it.
Kyle also handicaps all four playoff races. The dude is able to dissect things more accurately than any of the state's other muckrakers because he knows math.
Hey — not everyone is lucky enough to get a Quinnipiac eddumikation. Some of us have to matriculate at a college that was everyone else's safety school. At least our FIVE years of college was cheaper than one year at the university all you opulent, silk-stocking-wearing fra-fras attended. AND we ranked higher in Playboy's Top party school rankings, too. So choke on that.
Wait, how did we get here? Where are we?
Bryant Carpenter, Meriden Record-Journal: Leatherwood, Cogdell: Four legs, four figures.
Mike DiMauro, TEAM DAY: Garcia's return policy profits Whalers.
Scott Ericson, Hearst Inc.: New Canaan meets St. Joseph again, this time in FCIAC final.
Sean Patrick Starfish, JRC Amalgamated: St. Joseph-New Canaan II hinges on Rams' QB.
Tom Evans, Norwalk Hour: New Canaan, St. Joseph ready to battle for 48th FCIAC crown.
Dave Ruden, The Ruden Report: FCIAC No Secondary Football Title for New Canaan and St. Joseph.
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant: Area notebook.
Some dude, TEAM DAY: Ledyard one step from a playoff berth. Also features video from EMMY AWARD-WINNING Peter Huoppi. He's our Ed Wood.
• • • •
That's all for now. Thanks for reading.
East Lyme returned just five players with any varsity experience and lost its first four games. It's made gradual improvement and downed Woodstock Academy last Friday, 42-7, its second-straight victory.