Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?
I know that’s a weird way to start this post, so let me explain: On Sunday afternoon, New Milford coach Chuck Lynch and I were having a nice little SWC football chat as he walked to the team bus following the Wave’s 28-9 win over Joel Barlow. Lynch was with his family, and his little daughter must have been doing some eavesdropping.
Lynch started listing New Milford’s upcoming opponents: “Immaculate, Newtown, Notre Dame, Masuk…”
“Masuk?,” his daughter chimed in. “Can we play someone else?”
Maybe you had to be there, but I thought it was hysterical.
In a nutshell, her comment sums up the general feeling about the Panthers, who, as of Monday, are no longer King of the Hill in Connecticut football. That’s right — Xavier, 42-20 victors over Cheshire, ended Masuk’s two-week reign at No. 1 and reclaimed the top position in the official state poll.
With all due respect to Xavier, I’m not exactly sure how Masuk can drop after winning a game 56-0, a margin of victory that isn’t even supposed to exist under CIAC rules (Masuk coach John Murphy is in the clear, by the way. No suspension).
Last Friday, the Panthers yielded one Stratford first down. They scored 42 points in an 18-minute span and the starters were out before halftime.
Through three games, the starters have played a grand total of 10 second-half snaps. Casey Cochran still leads the state with 921 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. Masuk has scored 169 points, which equates to 56.3 per game, almost a full touchdown more than it averaged last fall. The Panthers varsity defense has surrendered 14 points while the JVs, who basically see as much time as the starters, have given up two touchdowns as well.
I know, I know — Xavier plays in a tougher league. No one can disagree with that. But, as the old adage goes, Masuk can only play the teams on its schedule. You think the Panthers want to play Barlow, Immaculate, Notre Dame and New Milford in their next four games?
I’m sure they’d love Brookfield, Bunnell, Pomperaug and Newtown (the latter two are scheduled later in the season). Actually, I’m sure they’d like to play Xavier and settle this thing once and for all.
But, barring something crazy — and probably illegal — that will not happen. So we can only project what would happen. And that was my thing last year. That’s why I felt so passionately about this “debate.” I never saw Xavier live in 2010, but I watched highlight videos and read as much as I could about the Falcons. To me, and to most people I’ve talked to, it’s clear that Masuk would have beaten Xavier by at least three touchdowns. With Casey Cochran on the field for an entire game, there’s no way Masuk would have scored less than 30 points. If you saw the Panthers’ defense at all, there’s also no way it would have allowed anywhere near 30. That 2010 defense was one of the best in league history.
I look at this year’s debate the same way. Now that Graham Stewart is in Gainesville, Xavier’s not holding Cochran and company under 35. Cochran, at least from a statistical standpoint, is the best quarterback to ever play in this state. Wide receiver Thomas Milone runs a 4.3 40 (according to Murphy). Nobody is keeping these guys in check. And though the ’11 Masuk defense is a bit weaker than 2010, it’s certainly not giving up 35 points to anybody.
This, of course, is all fantasy, though. It’s not happening unless the CIAC bends some rules (or makes up some new ones). For now, Xavier will continue to beat strong opponents in the SCC and Masuk will annihilate the bottom-feeders of the SWC. Then, when Masuk destroys a ranked team, voters will be swayed.
Check back in a month for the “Masuk is No. 1″ post. And in five weeks for the “Masuk drops to No. 2 post.” And then again for the…you get the point.
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