Playoff (and mental) breakdown, and more STORYTIME


Holy underwear — do you realize we're almost into November?


Just yesterday, the season was kicking off at Waterbury's Municipal Stadium. In four weeks, we'll be eating our Thankgrabbing turkeys and sausage stuffing.

Stupid time, moving too fast because we're old.

The only upside to time accelerating faster-and-faster through this football season is that we're starting to get a better idea about the playoffs.

There's 303 games left to be played, so it's still too early to provide any math with this forecast. Truthfully, there's never a good time for math. We have the SAT scores to prove it.

We will, however, present a list of teams that we here at Polecat HQ agree have a reasonable, or semi-reasonable, shot at making states. The number before each team represents their current division ranking.

Should your team not be listed, don't take it personally. To quote David Letterman, "Remember, this is not a competition, it is only an exhibition — please, no wagering." And we guarantee a number of upsets that will make dozens of these forecasts go KA-BOOM.

And away we go:


1. Staples (5-0)

Games remaining: Saturday at Darien (4-2), 11/2 at Fairfield Warde (1-5), 11/10 v. Westhill (4-2), 11/22 at Greenwich (5-0).

Outlook: Lock.

2. Southington (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Hall (3-3), 11/2 at Simsbury (4-2), 11/9 at Manchester (4-2), 11/22 v. Cheshire (4-2)

Outlook: Lock.

3. Greenwich (5-0)

Games remaining: Saturday at Westhill (4-2), 11/2 at McMahon (3-3), 11/9 v. Danbury (2-4), 11/22 v. Staples (5-0)

Outlook: Lock.

4. Newtown (6-0)

Games remaining:Friday at Bethel (2-4), 11/3 at Immaculate (0-6), 11/9 v. Bunnell (1-5), 11/21 v. Masuk (6-0)

Outlook: Lock.

5. Norwich Free Academy (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday at Bacon Academy (1-4), 11/2 at Griswold (3-3), 11/10 v. Waterford (2-4), 11/22 at New London (5-1).

Outlook: Lock.

6. Xavier (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Hillhouse (5-1), 11/2 at Shelton (4-2), 11/9 v. West Haven (5-1), 11/22 v. Middletown (5-1).

Outlook: Now it gets interesting. The Falcons play Friday at Hillhouse, which is trying to qualify for Class M. West Haven is 11th in the division rankings. Middletown is sixth in L.

7. Glastonbury (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. East Hartford (0-6), 11/2 v. South Windsor (1-5), 11/9 v. Hall (3-3), 11/17 at Simsbury (4-2).

Outlook: Lock.

8. Fairfield Prep (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Amity (2-4), 11/2 v. Branford (4-2), 11/9 v. Notre Dame-West Haven (1-5), 11/22 at West Haven (5-1).

Outlook: The Jesuits, like Xavier, are one of the Class LL linchpins. It should roll into West Haven with one loss and will most likely need to win to qualify.

9. Ridgefield (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday at McMahon (3-3), 11/2 v. Harding (0-6), 11/9 v. Bridgeport Central (1-5), 11/21 at Danbury (2-4).

Outlook: Excellent. The Tigers should benefit from a favorable schedule. Wilton is the only winning team they've beaten, and McMahon is (currently) the only winning team left to play. If, say, two of the SCC's trio of Prep, West Haven and Xavier have two losses, then Ridgefield should be able to edge out those two-loss teams. It's not a lock, however, as the Tigers aren't picking up a lot of bonus points.

11. West Haven (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. Cheshire (4-2), 11/2 v. Wilbur Cross (1-5), 11/9 at Xavier (5-1), 11/22 v. Fairfield Prep (5-1).

Outlook: The Westies have the division's toughest path to the playoff. The upside is that they can win their way in and not rely on others for help.


1. Hand (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday at North Haven (4-2), 11/2 at Notre Dame-West Haven (1-5), 11/9 v. Shelton (4-2), 11/21 v. Guilford (1-5).

Outlook: Lock.

2. Windsor (5-0)

Games remaining: Friday v. Farmington (6-0), 11/2 at Maloney (2-4), 11/9 v. RHAM (1-5), 11/17 at Hartford Public (4-1).

Outlook: Lock.

3. Avon (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Housatonic/Wamogo (0-5), 11/2 at Enfield (4-2), 11/10 v. Ellington/Somers (6-0), 11/17 at Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (1-4).

Outlook: Lock.

4. Masuk (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday at Notre Dame-Fairfield (0-6), 11/3 at Weston (5-1), 11/9 v. Barlow (6-0), 11/21 at Newtown (6-0).

Outlook: Lock.

5. Farmington (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday at Windsor (5-0), 11/2 v. Middletown (5-1), 11/9 at Bulkeley (2-4), 11/22 v. Plainville (1-5).

Outlook: Uncertain. Farmington faces its two toughest opponents of the season and could lose both. Two losses doesn't automatically doom teams in this division because there's a few contenders that may finish 8-2. Which 8-2 teams would qualify? Beats us.

6. Middletown (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. Bristol Central (2-4), 11/2 at Farmington (6-0), 11/9 v. Hartford Public (4-1), 11/22 at Xavier (5-1).

Outlook: Uncertain. Beating Farmington and Xavier ain't easy.

7. New Canaan (5-1)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Wilton (3-3), 11/2 v. Stamford (2-4), 11/9 at Trumbull (2-4), 11/22 at Darien (4-2).

Outlook: Good. Darien is a rivalry game, but the Rams have earned everyone's trust the last several years.

8. Fitch (4-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Windham (4-2), 11/2 at New London (5-1), 11/9 at St. Bernard/Norwich Tech (0-5), 11/15 at Bacon Academy (1-4), 11/22 v. Ledyard (4-2).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Falcons still have to play three of the ECC's better teams and must beat two of them.

9. Platt Tech (4-1)

Games remaining: Saturday at Bullard-Havens (5-1), 11/3 at Wilcox Tech (1-4), 11/10 at Abbott Tech (2-4), 11/15 v. Prince Tech (5-0), 11/22 v. O'Brien Tech (0-5).

Outlook: Uncertain. Honestly, no one here has a good grasp of the Constitution State Conference.


1. Wolcott (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday v. Watertown (1-5), 11/2 at Ansonia (6-0), 11/9 v. Woodland (4-2), 11/22 at Holy Cross (4-2).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Eagles' forecast has improved, however, after they abused Derby last Friday. They still have to run the NVL gauntlet starting next week, so their playoff status won't be elevated until they can beat at least one of those three

2. Berlin (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday v. Plainville (1-5), 11/2 v. Platt (4-2), 11/9 at Bloomfield (5-1), 11/21 at New Britain (2-4).

Outlook: Lock.

3. Ellington/Somers (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Enfield (4-2), 11/10 at Avon (6-0), 11/17 v. Housatonic/Wamogo (0-5), 11/22 v. Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (3-2).

Outlook: Lock.

4. Barlow (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. New Milford (0-6), 11/2 at Brookfield (4-2), 11/9 at Masuk (6-0), 11/22 v. Weston (5-1).

Outlook: Fair. The Falcons have a better record than Brookfield, but that's because the latter played South-West Conference heavies Masuk and Newtown. Masuk has beaten opponents by an average of 36 points. Weston got thumped last week by New Fairfield, a team that Barlow beat 34-14 to start the season. On paper, that gives the Falcons the edge, but Thanksgrabbing week is all about the wacky.

5. Hillhouse (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. Xavier (5-1), 11/2 at Lyman Hall (0-6), 11/9 v. Sheehan (1-5), 11/22 at Wilbur Cross (1-5).

Outlook: Lock. The Academics' odds aren't favorable Friday, but the rest of their schedule is.

6. New London (5-1)

Games remaining: Saturday at Woodstock Academy (0-6), 11/2 v. Fitch (4-1), 11/10 at Ledyard (4-2), 11/22 v. Norwich Free Academy (6-0).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Whalers have quite the finishing stretch.

7. Bullard-Havens (5-1)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Platt Tech (4-1), 11/3 at O'Brien Tech (0-5), 11/10 at Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (6-0), 11/20 at Bassick (1-5).

Outlook: Not good. Saturday is a must-win game as HCCA has ripped through the CSC.

8. Weston (5-1)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Stratford (2-4), 11/3 v. Masuk (6-0), 11/10 v. Bethel (2-4), 11/22 at Barlow (6-0).

Outlook: Not good. The 21-point loss to New Fairfield put a damper on the Trojans' forecast. Figure they go into the Barlow game with two losses, which means that they better win it.

9. Montville (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. Ledyard (4-2), 11/2 at Stonington (5-1), 11/9 v. East Lyme (0-6), 11/21 at St. Bernard/Norwich Tech (0-6).

Outlook: Good. The Indians would clinch the ECC Medium with a win Friday, and also allow them to start thinking about states.

10. St. Joseph (4-2)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Fairfield Warde (1-5), 11/2 v. Bassick (1-5), 11/10 v. Trinity Catholic (6-0), 11/21 at Trumbull (2-4).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Cadets looked like a lock when they led New Canaan by 10 points at halftime last Saturday. Then they're offense went flat, and quarterback Jordan Vazzano was knocked out of the game. Now their margin of error is waif thin.

11. New Fairfield (4-2)

Games remaining: Saturday at Oxford (4-2), 11/2 at Pomperaug (2-4), 11/9 at Brookfield (4-2), 11/22 v. New Milford (0-6).

Outlook: Uncertain. Saturday's game at Oxford is a playoff eliminator. Playing at Brookfield isn't fun, either.

12. Windham (4-2)

Games remaining: Friday v. Fitch (4-1), 11/2 v. Waterford (2-4), 11/15 at Killingly (1-4), 11/22 at Woodstock Academy (0-6).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Whippets need to run the table.

13. Ledyard (4-2)

Games remaining: Friday at Montville (5-1), 11/2 v. Bacon Academy (1-4), 11/10 v. New London (5-1), 11/22 at Fitch (4-1).

Outlook: Not good. It's not clear yet if three losses will jeopardize a division contender, but it's not advisable. The Colonels also have to deal with three playoff hopefuls.

14. Brookfield (4-2)

Games remaining: Friday at Pomperaug (2-4), 11/2 v. Barlow (6-0), 11/9 v. New Fairfield (4-2), 11/22 v. Bethel (2-4).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Bobcats can breathe a collective sigh of relief if it gets past Barlow and New Fairfield.


1. Trinity Catholic (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday at Bassick (1-5), 11/3 v. Darien (4-2), 11/10 at St. Joseph (4-2), 11/22 at Wilton (3-3).

Outlook: Lock. The Crusaders could lose three of their last four and still be in good shape thanks to playing so many Class LL and L schools. They earned an extra 120 points for beating six teams in those two classes. Bassick, Darien and Wilton are all Class L programs, and a win over Class M St. Joseph would earn Trinity an extra 10 points.

2. Ansonia (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday at Crosby (1-5), 11/2 v. Wolcott (6-0), 11/9 at Wilby (3-3), 11/22 v. Naugatuck (4-2).

Outlook: Lock.

3. Hyde (6-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Old Saybrook/Westbrook (3-2), 11/2 at East Hampton/Vinal Tech (0-6), 11/17 v. Nonnewaug (1-5), 11/21 at North Branford (5-0).

Outlook: Lock.

4. Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (6-0)

Games remaining: Friday v. Wilcox Tech (1-4), 11/2 v. Cheney Tech (3-3), 11/10 v. Bullard-Havens (5-1), 11/20 v. Prince Tech (5-0).

Outlook: Lock.

5. Prince Tech (5-0)

Games remaining: Saturday v. Abbott Tech (2-4), 11/2 at Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech (3-3), 11/9 at Cheney Tech (3-3), 11/15 at Platt Tech (4-1), 11/20 at Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (6-0).

Outlook: Lock. The Falcons took out unbeaten Bullard-Havens last Saturday, 34-14. That's a good sign that they can be unbeaten headed into their last game.

6. North Branford (5-0)

Games remaining: Saturday at Cromwell (5-1), 11/3 at Coginchaug (3-2), 11/9 v. Nonnewaug (1-5), 11/17 at Lewis Mills (0-5), 11/21 v. Hyde (6-0).

Outlook: Lock. Perhaps its presumptuous to rate the Thuderbirds a lock as Cromwell is no slouch, Hyde is unbeaten, and Coginchaug lost to Hyde, 7-0. We're confident in the purple and black, though.

7. Rocky Hill (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday v. Weaver (0-6), 11/2 at Bristol Central (2-4), 11/9 v. Tolland (2-4), 11/22 v. Northwest Catholic (4-2).

Outlook: Good. The Terriers cleared a big obstacle when it ransacked Bloomfield Monday. The Thanksgrabbing Day game against Northwest could be a division eliminator as Northwest should be 7-1 and, at this time, is still in the race.

8. Bloomfield (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Platt (4-2), 11/3 at Weaver (0-6), 11/9 v. Berlin (6-0), 11/16 v. Fermi (0-6).

Outlook: Uncertain. Platt can scores in bunches. Berlin is the only team to beat Rocky Hill, which just beat the Warhawks, 41-7.

9. Stonington (5-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Griswold (3-3), 11/2 v. Montville (5-1), 11/9 v. Plainfield (4-2), 11/22 at Westerly (R.I.) (4-3).

Outlook: Uncertain. None of the Bears final games are gimmees.

10. Woodland (4-1)

Games remaining: Friday at Naugatuck (4-2), 11/2 v. Holy Cross (4-2), 11/9 at Wolcott (6-0), 11/21 v. Seymour (4-2).

Outlook: Fair. The Hawks' forecast may sound odd given its remaining schedule, but it has one of the NVL's top offenses. We'll know more after Friday.

11. Cromwell (5-1)

Games remaining: Saturday v. North Branford (5-0), 11/3 at Old Saybrook/Westbrook (3-2), 11/9 at Valley Regional/Old Lyme (3-2), 11/22 at Coginchaug (3-2).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Panthers need to beat the Thunderbirds Saturday.

12. Holy Cross (4-2)

Games remaining: Friday v. Sacred Heart (3-3), 11/2 at Woodland (4-2), 11/10 v. St. Paul (0-6), 11/22 v. Wolcott (6-0).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Woodland game will be the perfect barometer.

14. Canton (4-2)

Games remaining: Saturday at Gilbert/NW Regional (2-3), 11/2 at Stafford/East Windsor (1-5), 11/16 at SMSA/University (1-4), 11/22 v. Granby (2-3).

Outlook: Not good. The Warriors have quietly been one of the season's better success stories. Their playoff chances aren't as good as some of the others listed here as they don't have the opportunity to earn extra points by beating larger schools.

15. Northwest Catholic (4-2)

Games remaining: Saturday v. East Catholic (1-5), 11/3 v. Bristol Eastern (3-3), 11/9 at Rockville (2-4), 11/22 at Rocky Hill (5-1).

Outlook: Uncertain. Let's wait a week or two before declaring Northwest alive or kaput in the race.

18. Oxford (4-2)

Games remaining: Saturday v. New Fairfield (4-2), 11/3 v. Bunnell (1-5), 11/10 v. Stratford (2-4), 11/21 at Pomperaug (2-4).

Outlook: Uncertain. The Wolverines need to beat New Fairfield, and they have a lot of ground to make up in playoff points

■ ■ ■ ■

Recommended reading — "Football With Franny", written by Dave Ruden of the Stamford Advocate.

"Franny" is Fran Marinelli, wife of New Canaan head coach Lou Marinelli. Fran, for the last four years, has held meetings with player's mothers to give them a football education.

Susie Repko, mother of receiver Duke, said, "I used to watch games on Sunday afternoons with the family and didn't know a lot of the plays. I can watch a college game now and say I know what the X, Y and Z are doing."


Vaya con dios

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