New London beginning its playoff push early
New London High School, your playoff season starts now.
The Whalers play host to unbeaten Middletown on Friday night. The Blue Dragons are ranked third in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll and, more importantly, are a fellow Class L playoff contender.
New London would give itself a huge boost with a win over the Blue Dragons and, in the process, hurt the latter.
A loss likely means the Whalers would finish the season only playing for pride and the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title.
Friday's game will be streamed live at theday.com. Pregame starts at 6:15 p.m., and kickoff is at 6:30.
New London (5-2) is back on track after a shaky start to the season. The Whalers have won four straight games and are ranked 11th in Class L.
Middletown (8-0) is second in Class L. The top eight teams in each division qualify for states.
A win over the Blue Dragons would give the Whalers a robust 180 points — 100 for the win, and 10 points for each Middletown win.
The odds are against a three-loss team qualifying for Class L. Top-ranked New Canaan and No. 3 Platt are both unbeaten and, barring an upset, should win out. There are also five one-loss teams and four two-loss teams.
A three-loss team hasn't qualified for Class L since the CIAC went to a four-division, eight-team playoff format in 2010.
New London's final three games are against Waterford (3-4), East Lyme (4-3) and Norwich Free Academy (6-1).
A look at the other divisions:
Class LL: NFA is rated fourth with three games left — Killingly (4-4), Stonington (5-2) and New London.
The Thanksgiving Day game against the rival Whalers could have huge playoff implications for both teams, especially if New London upsets Middletown on Friday night.
It's conceivable that NFA could withstand a second loss, but it's dicey. There are presently two unbeaten teams, five one-loss teams and six two-loss teams.
Some of the other Class LL contenders will be picking off one another. Second-ranked McMahon (7-0) plays at No. 13 Ridgefield (6-2) on Friday, as does No. 8 Shelton (6-2) at No. 9 Xavier (6-2).
The final two games for No. 3 West Haven (7-1) are against Shelton and at No. 12 Fairfield Prep (6-2).
Fairfield Prep also plays host to Xavier next Saturday.
Class M: The biggest game in the division this week is No. 9 Stonington (5-2) at No. 6 Ledyard (7-1).
A loss would likely sink Stonington as it plays at NFA the following Saturday. Its final two games are against Killingly and Westerly (3-3).
The Bears are the last team with a winning schedule left on Ledyard's schedule.
The Colonels plays at Waterford next week, and play host to Fitch (2-6) on Thanksgiving.
Ledyard, which is still battling to finish in the top four in order to secure a home game in the quarterfinals, would also clinch the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division title with a win over Stonington.
The Valley Regional/Old Lyme co-op is ranked first and the only unbeaten team left in the division.
The Warriors (7-0) have four games left, and Cromwell (4-3) and Gilbert/Northwestern Regional (6-1) are their only opponents left with winning records.
Both Valley/OL and Ledyard would like nothing better than to position themselves in the bracket opposite of powerful St. Joseph, which is considered the class of the division, despite its loss to New Canaan on Saturday.
Class S: The ECC will not be represented in this division as No. 19 Montville (4-4) is the highest rated team.
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