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    Thursday, April 18, 2024

    H.S. football notes: An early look at the state playoff picture ... and an honor for Buonocore

    Legendary New London football coach Good Jim Buonocore was inducted into the University of West Alabama Hall of Fame last weekend. Buonocore, a 1960 graduate, is pictured with fellow inductee Deon Lacy (2009-2012), who went on to play in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The ceremonies (induction and on field recognition) took place on Sept. 30 during the West Alabama-Delta State game. (Photo courtesy of Buonocore family)
    Among the items on display when former New London football coach was inducted into the University of West Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame was his 1960 letterman's jacket. (Photo courtesy of Buonocore family)
    Here is the induction plaque legendary New London football coach Jim Buonocore received on Saturday when he was inducted into the University of West Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of Buonocore family)

    The state-mandated bye week left the entire Eastern Connecticut Conference dark this week. It’s almost hard to fathom that only six games remain before the playoffs begin.

    The state playoff format allows for eight teams in six divisions to qualify. There are quarterfinal (Nov. 28) and semifinal (Dec. 3) rounds, both hosted by the higher seeds, followed by the state championship games (Dec. 9).

    Here is an early look at some contending ECC schools through four regular season games:

    Class L: Killingly (2-2) began the season with losses to Masuk and Notre Dame of West Haven. There have been two wins since, moving Killingly to No. 13 overall. There is work to be done with a schedule that still includes Fitch and New London, among others.

    Class MM: Fitch (3-1) lost convincingly to North Haven two weeks ago, but sits ninth in the division. The Falcons have a decent chance to qualify with a manageable schedule, but nonetheless in a competitive division. The game versus Killingly Oct. 20 could be a must win for both. Thames River (2-2) cannot afford a third loss and plays Killingly Oct. 13.

    Class M: East Lyme (2-2) is No. 13 and New London (2-2) is No. 18. Both must likely win out to qualify — and play each other Oct. 13. There is a path for both schools, however, if they win their remaining games.

    Class SS: Windham (2-1) is third in a wide open division. There are already three two-loss schools who would qualify today, meaning this is the most forgiving division. Even Waterford (1-3) isn’t out of it, although the Lancers must finish 7-3.

    Class S: Stonington (4-0) has the best chance at the postseason (to date anyway) among all other ECC schools. The Bears are fifth in the division with a schedule featuring Montville, Weaver, Windham, Griswold/Wheeler, Ledyard and Westerly remaining. If the Bears get to 9-1, they will be a lock. Eight wins may get them in as well.

    Buonocore: Hall of Famer

    Former New London coach Jim Buonocore was inducted into the University of West Alabama Hall of Fame last weekend. Buonocore, a 1960 graduate, attended the ceremony with fellow inductee Deon Lacy (2009-2012) who played in the NFL with the Bills and Dolphins. The ceremonies (induction and on field recognition) took place last Saturday when West Alabama played Delta State).

    Buonocore also shares Hall of Fame honors with Tyreek Hill, who also plays for the Dolphins. Hill was unable to attend because he was playing for the Dolphins in Buffalo.

    Buonocore led the Whalers to four state titles.

    This and that

    There is a limited schedule across Connecticut this weekend as many other leagues have schools using bye weeks as well. Among the best games: No. 2 West Haven at Hamden, Fairfield Prep at North Haven and Northwest United, the leader of the Connecticut Technical Conference, playing at winless Stratford, a school that still could pose a major challenge. … Killingly’s Soren Rief and Waterford’s Brady Sutman both had touchdown runs featured on GameDay’s “Great Eight” plays of the week, available on theday.com and across GameDay’s social media platforms.

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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