Eight of the nine regional playoff teams (Clockwise from top left): Bethel's Brandon Schmidt; Masuk's Colin Markus; Newtown's Lou Fenaroli; Staples' Nick Kelly; Norwalk's Gil Arujo; Ridgefield's Connor Rowe; Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome; New Canaan's Matt Milano.
The Live Blog
NORTH vs. SOUTH
The early part of the last decade was good to the Central Connecticut Conference. Bloomfield and New Britain dominated (mostly under the tutelage of coach Jack Cochran), won six state championships from 2000-2005. By no means was it boss, but it was respectable.
But since 2004, pickings have been slim. Teams waving the CCC banner have gone 2-7 in state championship games and have done even worse in the earlier rounds.
In 2008, while Glastonbury was capping off a 13-0 championship season, Masuk crushed two CCC teams by a combined score of 106-35 and the league went 3-4.
In 2009, it got worse. The CCC sent six teams to the playoffs and went 3-5 even as new member Berlin, fresh over from the defunct Nutmeg league, won the Class M title. Simsbury and Conard were hammered by Pomperaug and Notre Dame-WH in Class L.
This play, Glastonbury’s 2-point conversion stop in a 7-6 win over Staples in the Class LL quarterfinals, was all that kept the CCC from going winless in the 2010 state playoffs.
Despite expansion to 32 teams, the league bottomed out in the new playoff format in 2010. Glastonbury broke through to the semifinals with a 7-6 win over Staples, prompting then-Glastonbury coach Peter Pfeffer to famously state, “I don’t think they know anything about us. …We have football up here. So what ever happens down in Fairfield County should stay down in Fairfield county. That’s all I have to say.”
Meanwhile, Pfeffer’s league was collapsing around him. The CCC went 1-7 that quarterfinal night. No. 1 M seed Berlin was upset by Hillhouse 33-30. The other six teams lost by a combined score of 39-12. Glastonbury fell to Xavier 24-13 the following Saturday, eliminating the conference from title contention.
This year the CCC brings seven teams to the table, including high-flying Windsor in Class L, returners Glastonbury, Hall and Conard in Class LL and Berlin in M, Rocky Hill and Northwest Catholic in Class S.
Many of the large schools’ opponents once again go head-to-head with Southern Connecticut (a.k.a. Shangri-La): Top-seeded and 10-0 Windsor takes on No. 8 seed Notre Dame-WH of the SCC and everybody (NHR, The Day, us) seems to be picking ND to win; Hall hosts SWC runner-up Newtown; Conard hosts Norwalk of the FCIAC. Glastonbury faces the freight train we call Xavier, a northern team playing in a southern conference (we won’t count that one).
The smaller CCC teams face off against the Pequot and CSC. Berlin plays Cheney Tech; Northwest Catholic plays North Branford; Rocky Hill travels to Valley Regional/Old Lyme.
Suffice it to say, the games against NDWH, Newtown and Norwalk will be watched closely tonight. Will this be a big bounce-back year for the embattled CCC? Or will it be more of the same? Most observers are picking against them, this is their shot to turn it around.
Conversely, commissioner Al Carbone and the rest of the SCC mavens have a chance to make a big statement about their rule as the state’s best league. “S-C-C! …S-C-C! …S-C-C!” You hear it all the time, like a pie to the face for most regions.
With Xavier heavily favored in Class LL, NDWH, North Haven and Hand all in the Class L field alongside Masuk, Windsor, New Canaan and New London, the league has a great opportunity to plant its flag high above the mountain.
Your quarterfinal preview pages:
Class LL and Class L preview capsules | Class M and Class S preview capsules |
Ned Says: Xavier, Masuk, Ansonia, Holy Cross
Nine regional teams are involved in six games tonight.