NORWALK — This was almost going to be Notre Dame-West Haven. It was close, but we bumped Norwalk back into the Elite 8 after a one-week respite. Though Notre Dame-WH has faced an undefeated team every week of the season to this point and have a fabulous defense. The offense remains slightly one-dimensional. Norwalk plays good defense and has a little more offensive diversity. Beating Ridgefield has the Bears in prime position for the school’s first playoff berth since 1998. All they’ll have to do is beat arch-rival McMahon on Thanksgiving (no sweat, right?) Up Next: vs. Harding, Saturday.
RIDGEFIELD – The Tigers become the second straight team to lose after breaking into the Elite 8. Faced with yet another good defense, the Tigers just couldn’t make anything happen late in their 27-12 loss to the Bears. Still, Ridgefield has a good shot to finish the season strong and see where they land in Class LL. This next test figures to be the toughest until Thanksgiving. Up Next: vs. McMahon, Friday.
SHELTON — The Gaels defense is one of the region’s best. They proved that much throughout a contentious first-half with No. 1 Xavier. But with virtually no help on the offensive side, Shelton drops out of the ‘missed’ category despite a 4-2 record. The Gaels have been outscored 97-110 this season. Yipes. Up Next: at Amity, Friday.
Masuk (No. 1, last week 1) wiped out its latest SWC “Patriot Division” team. Now they finally start playing some of the bigger teams in the SWC. First up is New Milford. (Sorry, Miss Lynch, dad’s team has to play them.) After that, Masuk will face its first winning team of the season in Pomperaug. …Ansonia (No. 2, lw 2) wrapped up its Traditions television taping by wiping out Watertown, which should get a medal for keeping Arkeel Newsome from breaking any long runs. Still, the kid finished with three touchdowns. When’s the NVL title game? …Congratulations to New Canaan (No. 3, LW 3) coach Lou Marinelli for win No. 250 at the school. Awesome job to Matt Milano, who broke the venerable touchdown record held by legend Kurt Horton. Get by scrappy Wilton this week and you can probably start selling tickets to the FCIAC title game. …Bunnell (No. 4, LW 4), as always, scraped and clawed to hold off Brookfield and stayed unbeaten. If the Bobcats can turn around and knock off Newtown this week, you can start selling SWC title game tickets, too. …Staples (No. 5, LW 5) got contributions from just about everyone to dismantle reeling Trumbull. Now comes the first true big game of the 2011 FCIAC football season. …Ready or not, Staples, here comes Darien (No. 6, LW 6), which hung on for dear life to stop Wilton last week. Once again, the Blue Wave just find ways to win football games. A victory here would give them the inside track on Greenwich for the FCIAC title game. …Greenwich (No. 7, LW 7) is quietly going about its business using Shane Nastahowski as a battering ram. They’re a good bet to win their next three games, but will that be enough to qualify for the FCIAC championship? Might need the winner of the Staples-Darien game to lose.
JUST MISSED: As discussed, Notre Dame-West Haven is tantalizingly close to breaking the Top Eight. Two fumble recoveries are what separated the Green Knights from North Haven. They’ll have an outside shot at reaching Class L but they desperately need a pass offense to keep teams honest and free up their deep stable of tailbacks. …West Haven needed to hang on to beat Cheshire in a wild, 46-42 victory at Ken Strong Stadium. The Westies can score. Their defense leaves something to be desired. But, hey, they’re still in the hunt. …Pomperaug followed up its tough loss at Bunnell with another toughie vs. New Fairfield. Thankfully, Andrew Reel was able to run the ball. The Panthers’ SWC hops are fading fast with each Bunnell victory. But their greater concerns are qualifying in Class LL snf Masuk looming next week. …Newtown completely dismantled Stratford last week behind another 200-yard performance from Lou Fenaroli and three interceptions from Jack Kearney. They have a shot at returning to the SWC title game. The remaining road is tough: Brookfield, Bethel and Bunnell.