NFA on the brink of missing CIAC football playoffs

Norwich Free Academy plays at defending Class M champion Killingly in the Eastern Connecticut Conference's marquee football game this weekend.

NFA must win to stay alive in the Class LL playoff race, but it may not matter.

Crazy things happen this time of the season and upsets will happen. That written, if Fairfield Prep wins at home Friday night against North Haven, NFA's playoff hopes will likely be squashed.

The Wildcats (5-3) are ranked 12th out of 19 teams that are mathematically alive in Class LL. The top eight teams qualify.

It is incredibly unlikely that NFA can catch Shelton (7-0), Darien (8-0), Southington (8-0), Newtown (8-0), Greenwich (7-0), New Britain (7-1) or East Hartford (7-1).

Darien, Southington and Newtown will all unofficially qualify with wins this weekend over winless teams (the playoff pairings aren’t official until they’re approved the day after the end of the regular season).

Greenwich (7-0) may qualify if it beats Danbury (4-4) on Friday depending on bonus points (a team receives 10 points for each victory earned by any opponent it has defeated). Regardless, NFA can’t catch the Cardinals if they beat the Hatters.

New Britain and East Hartford have winnable home games Friday against Enfield (3-5) and Newington (3-5), respectively.

Shelton needs to win one of its last three games to leave the Wildcats in the dust. The Gaels play Friday at Notre Dame-West Haven (4-3), and finish at home against West Haven (4-3, Nov. 15) and Derby (3-5, Thanksgiving).

NFA’s best hope is that No. 6 Prep (7-1), No. 8 Staples (6-2), No. 10 New Canaan (6-2) and No. 11 Fairfield Ludlowe (6-2) all get to the three-loss mark.

Chances are that New Canaan, Ludlowe and Staples will lose a third game. New Canaan and Ludlowe play each another Friday. New Canaan is the favorite, but the Rams still must play Darien on Thanksgiving.

Staples plays at Greenwich on Thanksgiving.

It likely comes down to Prep, then, for NFA. Prep can lose to North Haven. It can also lose at West Haven (4-3) on Thanksgiving Eve as upsets have happened in that rivalry, but it would be a real big upset this year.

Simply put, NFA is in dire straits.

Here’s a look at the other three divisions:

CLASS L

There are 18 teams in play. New London (4-3) is 14th, followed by Fitch (5-3), and both are in almost as bad a shape as NFA.

Neither team can catch No. 1 Naugatuck (8-0) or No. 2 Hand (8-0).

Neither can catch No. 3 Middletown (7-0), No. 4 North Haven (7-1), No. 5 Maloney (7-1), or No. 6 RHAM (7-1) once each gets its eighth win.

Middletown plays at Platt (6-2) on Friday, and Maloney plays at Conard (3-5). RHAM hosts Bloomfield (7-1) on Saturday.

Middletown, North Haven and RHAM can certainly lose this weekend, but North Haven will be favored against Amity (4-4) on Thanksgiving, as will RHAM against Bacon Academy (2-6).

Fitch can't catch No. 7 Windsor (6-2) if the Warriors win Friday against Hall (2-6). New London can catch Windsor if it beats Hall, but loses at Middletown on Thanksgiving Eve.

Fitch can't catch No. 8 Bunnell (7-1) if the Bulldogsd win Friday against Pomperaug (5-3). New London can’t catch Bunnell if it beats Pomperaug and Stratford (1-7, Thanksgiving Eve).

There are two other problems for New London — it plays at Middletown next Thursday, and NFA on Thanksgiving Day. Fitch plays its final two games at home against East Lyme (3-5, Friday) and Ledyard (2-6, Thanksgiving).

CLASS S

Valley Regional/Old Lyme (6-1) is seventh and hosts winless Lewis Mills on Friday and No. 9 Haddam-Killingworth (7-1) on Nov. 20. The Warriors most likely need to beat both to return to states.

Plainfield (7-1) is 10th. It finishes with Windham (5-2) on Friday and Griswold (5-3) on Thanksgiving. Windham is 14th and plays winless Amistad on Nov. 16 and Montville (3-5) on Thanksgiving Eve.

CLASS M

Killingly is fourth. The Redmen won't unofficially clinch by beating NFA, but will by defeating NFA and Capital Prep/Achievement (1-6, Nov. 16).

n.griffen@theday.com

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