Well … so much for that.
Neither wind nor rain nor fired-up Bulldogs could stop the Masuk train Friday night.
The Monroe Express to Brookfield (site of the SWC championship game) plowed through the Bulldogs with a somewhat deceptive, yet convincing 45-0 victory. Instead of a sterling finish to an uplifting upset, we got seven consecutive kneel-downs by the junior varsity while the Masuk student section cheered “Coch-ran! Coch-ran! Coch-ran!” over and over in the gloomy night.
And, no, they weren’t referring to the quarterback.
Regardless of the final, Bunnell came to play. It moved the ball on offense and got within the shadow of the Masuk goal line several times. But turnovers doomed the Dawgs early, midway and late in the game. What good things Bunnell accomplished were wiped away almost immediately, however A Joe Diaz pickoff TD here, Colin Markus a 60-yard run and TD there. Masuk just kind of bled Bunnell to death.
It wasn’t a vintage Masuk performance, but it barely broke a sweat in taking a 21-0 lead. Bunnell attempted to flood the passing lanes, which gave QB Casey Cochran some trouble (he was picked off three times and threw for 155 yards).
But no worries, Masuk merely picked its spots and punched back with Markus, who broke free for several long runs to set up easy touchdowns. It was 21-0 at halftime. Hardly a wipeout. But the casual fans had already seen enough, and fled the field and the rain.
Then Diaz returned the second half kickoff for a TD. That was pretty much ballgame, although there would be more Markus to come.
We took the show to Weston on Saturday morning (Pomperaug 38, Weston 7) and the general consensus among SWC coaches in attendance was that nobody was touching Masuk (hardly new news). We drifted to other topics, such as who might be Masuk’s unfortunate opponent in an SWC title game, a potential Pomperaug-Brookfield showdown for that spot next month, a Bunnell-Newtown showdown this week, and, of course CIAC playoff possibilities for everyone. (It’s getting to be that time of year. Some of Xavier’s coaching staff was in attendance checking out Pomperaug, which stands to qualify in Class LL if it wins out.)
Oxford’s 14-7 loss to New Milford might have taken the Wolverines out of the race permanently. We also learned that Oxford QB Alex Miller broke the pinky finger on his non-throwing hand during practice before the game. He had surgery and will miss significant time, if not the rest of the year.
Elsewhere, Trumbull affirmed its second-half mission by rallying to beat Greenwich 18-13. The Eagles are flying high at 5-0. Darien toppled Trinity Catholic 32-14 to improve to 5-0 and assure everyone that it will be unbeaten in the FCIAC when it’s time to tally playoff points in Week 9. (Their next game against Red Lion Christian of Delaware is another matter, but it doesn’t count toward FCIAC playoffs).
Not only did Staples struggle to take out McMahon, the Wreckers learned that outstanding sophomore Nick Kelly might have seriously damaged his knee in the process. The injury has yet to be sufficiently diagnosed. We should learn more soon.
So that leaves four undefeated teams left in the FCIAC. Darien’s schedule seems to give the Blue Wave an inside track to the FCIAC Championship game at McDougall Stadium on Nov. 19. Staples’ schedule looks manageable until if faces Trumbull in decisive Week 9. Trumbull’s schedule is tough, with both Staples and Ridgefield remaining.
As for New Canaan, the Rams are back from their first-half cruise and join the race this week. First up, a massive grudgematch with wounded St. Joseph at Dalling Field — will Tyler Matakevich, who has been testing his injured foot on the sidelines during games, make a triumphant return?
The Rams then comes home to Dunning Stadium to face, in order: Wilton, Greenwich and Central. Undefeated should get them close to an FCIAC berth. Whether they play Darien for the championship on Thanksgiving or somebody else at Trumbull on Nov. 19 remains a question.
Here are the FCIAC playoff points through Week 5:
In the NVL, Ansonia shocked everybody by running roughshod over preseason favorite Wolcott in a crucial Copper Division battle at rainy Jarvis Stadium. Montrell Dobbs ran for 305 yards and freshman Arkeel Newsome continued to impress with a 72-yard kickoff touchdown. So Ansonia holds serve in the Copper, with only Watertown (this week) and Derby/O’Brien Tech (next) and Seymour (Week 9) standing it its way of an NVL title game berth.
On the other side, it’s Naugy in front, Woodland and Torrington nipping on their heels. Both Woodland (2-0 Brass) and Torrington (2-1) face off this week in a key division game. Woodland controls its own destiny (it faces Naugatuck in three weeks).
In the SCC, Notre Dame-West Haven kept its playoff hopes alive by crushing Hand. Cheshire all but dropped out of the Class LL race with an 18-14 loss to Wilbur Cross. ND and Cross play in two weeks. West Haven is 5-0 and in decent shape in Class LL, but begins a brutal stretch of games beginning this week — at Cheshire, vs. Hand, at Wilbur Cross, at Xavier then vs. Fairfield Prep.
Xavier dominated Fairfield Prep and continued its inexorable march toward that West Haven showdown in Week 9. …The rest of the league has its eyes on Lyman Hall, now a surprising 4-1, and in the thick of the Class M race; North Haven, 4-1 and in the mix in Class L; and Hand, which is also 4-1 and in the Class L playoff race with West Haven and Wilbur Cross among its remaining games.
Here are ALL of the State Playoff Standings, which we’ll cover in-depth a tad more in the coming weeks.
But if the season ended today (and thank God it doesn’t)…
Class LL – 8. Southington at 1. Trumbull; 7. Glastonbury at 2. NFA; 6. Hall at 3. Xavier; 5. West Haven at 4. Staples
Class L – 8. Hand at 1. Masuk; 7. New Canaan at 2. Darien; 6. Naugatuck at 3. Wethersfield; 5. Bristol Eastern at 4. Fitch
Class M – 8. Wolcott at 1. Berlin; 7. Cheney Tech at 2. New London; 6. Platt at 3. Waterford; 5. Enfield at 4. Plainville
Class S – 8. Woodland at 1. Ansonia; 7. North Branford at 2. Valley Regional/Old Lyme; 6. Montville at 3. Hyde; 5. Sacred Heart at 4. Coginchaug.
Resist the urge to go bonkers over these midseason pairings. Lots of season left.
We’ll have the State Polls, the Elite 8 tonight and, tomorrow, video of Bunnell-Masuk and Pomperaug-Weston.
Also, we will be publishing a Midseason Report Friday both in our papers and in this space.
If all goes well, we’ll have a first-half video collage of all the first-half 2010 action.
So stick around.