H.S. football playoffs: Fitch on solid ground in Class L
It’s been a tough season for local Eastern Connecticut Conference football teams.
The season has just passed the halfway point, and Fitch (6-0) and East Lyme (5-1) are the only teams in the area with winning records.
Norwich Free Academy is 3-3. The rest of the region’s teams — Ledyard, New London, Montville, Stonington and Waterford — are a combined 6-22.
It sure looks like this could be one of the quietest postseasons the area has had in a while.
The CIAC’s Class L division is the one to keep an eye on because of Fitch and East Lyme. Fitch is currently fourth in the rankings and the Vikings seventh.
The top eight teams qualify in each of the CIAC’s four divisions.
The Falcons are in good shape because three of their four remaining opponents have two wins or less — vs. New London (1-5, Friday), vs. Windham (1-5, Nov. 16), and at Ledyard (2-4, Thanksgiving).
Fitch’s other game — at East Lyme on Nov. 10. That will shake up Class L.
The good news for the Vikings is that they finish with four straight home games.
The bad news for the Vikings is their schedule. They host NFA on Friday, but don’t let NFA's .500 record fool you. The Wildcats have lost once in-league (to Fitch, 46-13, Sept. 29). Their other losses were against Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 1 teams.
East Lyme hosts Guilford (3-2) on Nov. 16 (the Indians play in the SCC's lowest division, Tier 3) and finishes, of course, with Waterford on Thanksgiving.
Chances are that a two-loss team could qualify in Class L. Windsor (5-0), Masuk (6-0) and Middletown (6-0) — ranked first, second and third, respectively — are the only other unbeaten teams.
No. 5 Hand and No. 6 Maloney are 5-1. The rest of the field has two-or-more losses.
Masuk looks like the best best to go unbeaten. It returned the majority of last year’s team that gave Class L champion New Canaan fits in the quarterfinals (a 31-28 loss).
Middletown plays at Windsor on Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 22). It also takes a road trip next weekend to Jersey City, N.J., to face Hudson Catholic (4-2).
Windsor hosts NFA on Nov. 16.
Hand hosts Cheshire (4-2) next week and plays at Wilbur Cross (4-2) the week after.
Maloney hosts Conard (3-3) on Nov. 10. Maloney has the better record, but the Chieftains have played a better schedule. No one the Spartans have beaten has a winning record. It plays rival Platt (4-2) on Thanksgiving in what could be a play-in game (Platt is 13th in the Class L).
No. 8 New Canaan (4-2) has the toughest game left of any contender — at unbeaten Darien, the No. 1 team in The Day's state coaches’ poll. Darien (6-0) has beaten its Thanksgiving Day rival four years in a row on and has a 31-game winning streak.
North Haven (4-2) is another one to keep an eye on. Its two losses were to Top 10 teams (No. 3 West Haven and No. 10 Shelton). It still must deal with Xavier (3-3, Friday) and Fairfield Prep (5-1, Nov. 10).
History is unfavorable towards teams with more than two losses in this division. Just four three-loss teams have qualified since the CIAC expanded the playoffs to 32 teams in 2010.
A look at the other divisions of local interest:
CLASS LL: NFA is ranked 18th out of 35 teams and a longshot to qualify with games left against East Lyme, Windsor and ancient rival New London. Only five three-loss teams have qualified since 2010.
CLASS S: Here’s how brutal this division is right now — Valley Regional/Old Lyme is 5-1 and ranked 15th. A lot will happen between now and then, but it sure looks like having more than a loss could be trouble for any hopeful. And, oh, yeah, Valley/Old Lyme plays at unbeaten Cromwell/Portland (6-0) on Friday, ranked fifth in the division.
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