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    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Ledyard, Valley/Old Lyme in Class SS playoff hunt

    Quarterback Jackson Poulton (11) and the Ledyard Colonels can clinch a Class SS playoff bid with a win over rival Fitch on Thanksgiving Day in Groton. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Di’Angelo Jean-Pierre (6) and the Valley Regional/Old Lyme cooperative football team must beat rival Haddam-Killingworth on Tuesday night to keep its Class SS playoff hopes alive. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    It has been quite the chaotic football season.

    Exhibit A: five teams have being ranked No. 1 over eight weeks in The Day’s Top 10 state high school coaches’ poll.

    Last Friday added to the craziness when the following happening over a 12-hour period and threw the CIAC playoff races out-of-whack — all of which involved Hartford Public — and most of which affected local teams:

    • Public earned a win (and 120 playoff points) after Northwest Catholic officially forfeited a Nov. 5 game that had previous been postponed.

    • The Owls later forfeited a Week 1 win to Rocky Hill, reportedly for the use of an ineligible player. That resulted in the Terriers gaining enough points to jump from No. 9 to 7 in Class S over Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic and Valley Regional/Old Lyme, pushing both down a spot and the Warriors falling outside of the top eight.

    • Public then won at New Britain that night, 28-26, narrowing East Lyme’s odds at qualifying in Class M.

    Three eastern Connecticut teams — Killingly, Windham and Thames River — have all unofficially qualified for states.

    East Lyme, Ledyard and Valley/Old Lyme all have a chance to go to play in the postseason, too.

    The top eight teams in each of the CIAC’s six divisions qualify. None officially qualify until the CIAC’s football committee approve the pairings the day after the end of the regular season.

    The higher seeds host quarterfinal (Tuesday, Nov. 29) and semifinals games (Sunday, Dec. 4). Arute Field at Central Connecticut State University and Rentschler Field in East Hartford will each host three finals on Saturday, Dec. 10.

    Thirty-five teams have unofficially qualified with 13 more spots to be claimed.

    The region could have three teams in Class SS as Ledyard and Valley/Old Lyme could join Windham. All are 8-1.

    Windham will clinch a home quarterfinal if it beats Montville (1-8) on Tuesday.

    Ledyard (8-1) will clinch if it beats Fitch (5-4) on Thanksgiving. It will also have a chance to earn a home quarterfinal.

    Valley/Old Lyme no longer has control over its playoff chances, though. It must beat Haddam-Killingworth (6-3) on Tuesday and then hope that one of four teams lose — Barlow (7-2), Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic (7-2), Ledyard or Rocky Hill (7-2).

    The Warriors will have a harder time catching Ledyard than the other three teams once bonuses are counted, however. A team receives 10 bonus points for every win by an opponent it beat, and five points for every win by an opponent, even if it lost to said opponent.

    Valley/Old Lyme’s best chance, then, is for either Barlow, Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic or Rocky Hill to lose.

    Barlow plays at Weston (4-5) on Wednesday while Rocky Hill plays at Cromwell/Portland (8-1).

    Cromwell/Portland beat the Warriors on Oct. 28 (28-27), but now could use another Cromwell/Portland win to help them qualify.

    Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic hosts St. Paul (3-6) on Thanksgiving.

    Foran (9-0), Cromwell/Portland and Granby/Canton are the other teams that have unofficially qualified:

    Here’s a look at the other division races:

    Class M

    East Lyme (4-5) had a solid chance to qualify prior to Friday’s games even though it was ranked ninth. That all changed once Public (5-4) received two wins in one day.

    In order to qualify, the Vikings must beat Waterford (5-4) on Thanksgiving. They will then greatly benefit them if two of the three following teams lose — Branford (4-5), Woodstock (4-5) or Public.

    Branford hosts East Haven (2-7), Woodstock plays Killingly (8-1) at Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., and Public plays Weaver (2-7).

    Should Branford, East Lyme, Public and Woodstock all win, then the final two qualifiers will come down to bonuses.

    The Vikings would struggle to catch Public and it could be a close race against Branford. They’d likely beat Woodstock on points, too, but that’s no guarantee.

    Class MM

    Killingly and Thames River (9-0) have unofficially qualified as has Sport and Medical Sciences (10-0 and the top seed), Northwest United (9-0) and Wethersfield (8-1).

    Killingly will host a home quarterfinal with a win over Woodstock.

    Class LL

    The field is filled as Greenwich (8-1), West Haven (9-0), Southington (8-1), Staples (8-1), Hamden (8-1), Trumbull (7-2), Fairfield Prep (6-3) and Glastonbury (7-2) have unofficially qualified.

    Class L

    St. Joseph, Naugatuck, Newtown, New Canaan and Maloney have unofficially qualified. All are 8-1.

    Class S

    Ansonia (9-0) has earned the top seed. Holy Cross (7-2), Bloomfield (7-2), Woodland (6-3), East Catholic (6-3) and Seymour (6-3) have also unofficially qualified.

    n.griffen@theday.com

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