The Clinch Is In: The Week 9 CIAC Playoff Situation (Hand, Avon, Windsor, Ansonia qualify)


Between Superstorm Sandy, Monday Night Football at Seymour, Election Night in American, and the postponing and re-postponing and rescheduling of the FCIAC, we’ve been pretty busy with local concerns here in Hearst Connecticut Football Bunker.

Meanwhile, colleagues and football friends Ned Griffen (of The Day) and Kyle Brennan (of the Republican-American and NVL Football Blog) have been diligently keeping tabs on on where we stand in the CIAC playoff picture through Week 9.

We thank them for that, saves us some trouble. But expect to see the mad scientist in action come Thanksgiving Week. For now, just look at the cool graphic above. We think it gives you a reasonably cool look at what’s what.

Kyle Brennan was the first to project that Ansonia, Hand, Avon and Windsor have all clinched state playoff spots.

Ned was the first to present a full picture through eight weeks. Here’s Ned’s full playoff breakdown. We’ll post Kyle’s when he posts his.

We’ll just deal with (unofficial) qualifiers and our local teams here:

In Class L, Hand (8-0), Windsor (8-0) and Avon (8-0) have all clinched berths.

There are five spots remaining. Locally, Masuk (7-0) and New Canaan (7-0) are in good shape heading into their final two games. Platt Tech (5-2) can get in by winning its final two games, but one of those games includes CSC power Prince Tech.

In Class S, The Ansonia Chargers (8-0) have clinched.

Seven spots remain. Locally, Trinity Catholic (7-0) will clinch a playoff spot with one more victory. They finish with Darien, St. Joseph and Wilton. Oxford (5-2) is a longshot.

Nothing has been decided in Class LL or Class M yet.

In Class LL, Staples (6-0), Greenwich (6-0) and Newtown are in good shape and will likely qualify. West Haven (7-1) will come close to clinching if it defeats Xavier on Saturday (the game was ppd. due to the Nor’easter), but might have to beat Fairfield Prep (5-2).

The Jesuits are in trouble. They have no margin for error and must win all three remaining games vs. Notre Dame-WH, Branford and West Haven to have a chance. They should win the first two, so it looks like Thanksgiving is going to be huge.

In Class M, Barlow (7-0) is in with one more victory. Even if Barlow loses to Masuk or Brookfield (5-2) the Falcons might still make it. They play Weston (6-1) on Thanksgiving. Weston will need to win at least two more games. They finish with Bethel, Masuk before playing Barlow.

Once, again Thanksgiving will be huge for both teams. (When could we ever say that about Barlow-Weston?)

Bullard-Havens (7-1) is sitting pretty at No. 5, but the Tigers will have to win out in order to secure a berth. The Tigers play Capital Prep for the CSC Championship on Saturday. They finish with Bassick.

St. Joseph (5-2) must win out to qualify. The play Bassick, Trinity Catholic and Trumbull.

Brookfield (5-2) has New Fairfield, Barlow and Bethel remaining. If they win out, the Bobcats should qualify.

Sean Patrick Bowley

42 Responses

  1. JB says:

    Right now, it doesn’t seem like we will ever get to the Rent. Another day of schools shutdown early, no practices, etc. Power out again in a number of homes and a night of wet heavy snow with high winds – great combo for another shutdown day Thursday. Two weeks since the last game up the shoreline and more delays already announced today (Greenwich and McMahon now Saturday – they hope). This blows. The CIAC may need to start thinking about contingency plans for the playoffs … who knows what is next?

    Hopefully, this year will send a message to the CIAC … your season starts way to late, your traditions jam too many games into too short of a time period at the end … there is no room for error or slippage. You need some fresh ideas.

  2. Hasbeen says:

    @JB. Right on brother!

  3. GHS1973 says:

    Good job SPB for keeping us informed, although it’s still early for the uninsured…Someone posted somewhere that Bullard Haven’s has a 15 year old QB, named McNamara…They are one win from the states..Wouldn’t that be something for a Bridgeport team…

  4. GHS1973 says:

    Ooops…Forgot they have to beat Bassick, too…My bad…

  5. GHS1973 says:

    The “Rent” is just that…”For Rent”…They can play any day they choose, other than a UCONN game…

  6. JB says:

    Yeah, but by the time the regular season ends it could be under a couple feet of snow. So remember the Rent is BYOS.

  7. Brian says:

    I’d rather the games go back to Ken Strong anyway. Don’t like the environment at the Rent. To big and no crowd noise. The bands get drowned out by the PA music and speakers. I like the Jammed pack 3-4000 HS venues or the SCSU look. I know I’m in the minority on this one.

  8. Gerg F says:

    I agree the Rent is not the right place. West Haven is the best site for high school football. With the upgrades I think that CCSU would also be better than East Hartford. The Rent is too big and looks empty even with a good high school crowd. CIAC is making a mistake playing games there.

  9. Brian says:

    I understand that folks will say the players want it and deserve it and I’m not saying they don’t. Football is different than hoops or hockey. HS gyms can’t accomodate the amount of fans for a hoops final so moving it to Mohegan is a great idea so no fan gets shut out.

    Football venues are different. There are so sellouts at a football game outdoors and having 5,000 fans at a 40,000 seat venu is terrible. Plus its not even a turf field up there. I would think CCSU, Ken Strong, or even Boyle Stadium would be better. That NC/Darien game a few years back with 10,000 was an awesome atmosphere.

    Oh well there is my rant on this topic, on to the games.

    Prep over NDWH (closer though than people think)
    XAvier over West Haven
    Southington over Manchester
    TC over DArien (Hope I’m wrong here though!)
    Masuk over Barlow
    Middletown over Public
    Hand over Shelton
    Newtown over Bunnell
    Weston over Bethel
    New London over Ledyard
    Glastonbury over Hall

  10. Thecrusade says:

    Although TC has never been to the rent, I couldnt agree more with you guys. Its just way to big. High School championships are suppose to be jammed packed. I have been to basketball State finals, many times, and the environment is awesome (yeah, I know a gym and football field are two different places, but you see what I am saying)…SPB, in your opinion, what is the best place?

  11. Tony says:

    I don’t think anyone is in the minority about suggesting a smaller venue for the State Championship Games. A venue that is busting at the seams as opposed to a large stadium that only has fans between the 30yd lines is so much better. Plus I think it is a huge disadvantage for the teams that play in the 3rd game of the day / night on grass. It is torn up and dangerous for the players. Teams playing in these games all rely on speed and this hurts their offense. Boyle Stadium would be amazing because it is such a cool venue but could you imagine the fallout from that decision. If games like this were played in FCIAC territory the complaining would never stop. I don’t think much was made last year of the fact that Xavier could ride their bikes to the Rent.

  12. Brian says:


    I couldn’t agree more. It’s ok for the FCIAC faithful to ride up 91 on a Friday night or Sat PM against traffic but god forbid people from the North had to come the other way. It’s like this in EVERY SPORT too. Only 4 guys I know who wouldn’t complain:

    1) Bobby C from West Haven
    2) Lou O who is Above’s sidekick
    3) Kevin G from Cromwell
    4) George from Bloomfield

    The other 3 guys that I know live in FCIAC country Myself, Jeb, and Dave Lib and always need to haul ass vs traffic ! LOL

  13. The Dude says:

    The kids love playing at the Rent. That’s really what matters, not us that have to complain about driving there.

  14. Tony says:

    The Dude. You might want to talk to a few players because I have heard that they DON’T like playing at The Rent. The promise of really cool NCAA locker rooms is false, they field is terrible and the crowd is sparse. How would you feel if you worked your butt off for months on end to finally make a game of this magnitude and walk on to the field and see 40,000 empty seats. It sucks and they should play somewhere where it is standing room only and crazy. Has nothing to do about driving anywhere.

  15. jeb says:

    The thing I like about having the games played at the RENT is we (high school football fanatics)get a chance to see all four state championship games. When they played at West Haven, Southern and Central you get to see one game ..maybe two. If they move it back to those venues and play at different times so we can see every game then I would be in favor of that.

  16. @Tony – The many kids I’ve talked to love it. Unless they’re lying to me.

  17. Brian says:

    I agree with Jeb it is nice to see all the games not just 2. Due to the overlap in times the HS venues couldn’t handle the parking that way. Either way the Rent should turn the music off and let the students in the band be heard. They always drown them out when they start playing.

    If West haven beats Xavier and loses to Prep, Prep, WH, and Manchester are all in a dead heat for a spot. Assuming Manchester can beat Southington. (I don’t think they will). Xavier if they lose to WH would still beat out the other 3 with 2 losses with room to spare.

  18. Jack says:

    Playing the championship games at the RENT gives CT high school football a place to play on par with larger states, and an identity. Look a Michigan, Missouri,California and Wisconsin HS FB championships for example. Each of these states has a special place where the championships take place all together; not dispersed across the state at smaller (albeit perhaps nicer) venues. Ok so the RENT is not the best quality place to play, but it is large and grand and special. It’s not enough to get to states, teams want to get to the RENT and win!

    Go Lavender! Go Blue! Go Chargers!

  19. GHS1973 says:

    Take a poll amongst the kids where they’d rather play…The Rent or 4 different smaller venues with more filled stands…I could be wrong, but I’d bet the Rent wins big with the players from the best teams who get there…It’s a big deal to them to be playing in a D-1 college venue, despite the empty seats…And, I agree, let the high school bands play & be heard…Pumped in noise is just that, annoying noise…

  20. GHS1973 says:

    P.S. If you don’t like the Rent, how about the old Yale Bowl in New Haven…I used to watch NY Giant games there in ’74-’75…Not bad, just bring a seat cushion…

  21. John L says:

    AT Brian West Haven aint losing tp Prep.They kill them every year!!

  22. Brian says:

    I don’t think WH is losing to Prep, I’m just throwing what if scenarios out there for everyone. I’m good at these playoff points :)

  23. Ansonia says:

    Is there a reason for not using Yale Bowl? Was there ever real conversation regarding the use of it? I agree that it would be a great place to play.

  24. MXR says:

    I agree with GHS and Brian (at least #18) about the Rent. Brian, in doing your projections keep in mind Xavier still has a tough game after West Haven, neutral site with a very good Middletown team. There is nothing the Blue Dragons would like better than to wrap up their own play-off berth and knock X out on Thanksgiving Day.

  25. Ryan says:

    @Ansonia, if your complaint about playing at the Rent is that its to big and feels empty then realize that it would be worse at the Yale Bowl since it has 20,000 more seats then the Rent does.

  26. Brian says:


    I’m a big cardinal fan and I would love to see both West Haven and Middletown beat Xavier and knock them out. If Xavier wins out along with Staples and Southington its going to put X at 3 seed and Greenwich with a loss could be 5-7 depending. I would prefer to play someone else in the 1st round then at Palmer. In that case I would rather see GHS as the 7 seed and go to Southington who they own.

  27. Dave Lib says:

    I DO believe the kids like playing at The Rent.
    However, it’s not very fan-friendly. The security is way too tight for a high school football game. (The staff there act like it’s a college game, or, even worse, and NFL game)
    The prices for food and drinks are ridiculous. The people in charge of parking do NOTHING but just stand there. The site is NOT in the middle of the state.
    Once the ball crosses the goal line, the speakers BLARE with juiced-up rap music or hard rock….making the bands irrelevant. It’s like a damn NBA game! Even during timeouts they blast music. It’s hard to even hear the person sitting next to you.
    On the positive side, you can hang out in the bathroom to keep warm, because it’s always freezing up there.
    But the kids like it, and that’s what it’s about.

  28. Steve Sanders says:

    Here’s the problem with the Rent, let’s say the final in S is Ansonia vs Trinity. Why not play that game at Trumbull or Shelton where the most can go? Then Rent tends to be in bad shape by the time these games are played, why not play on the best surface? I know the kids like it, but when has the any league or the CIAC put the kids first. I assume the use the Rent and Mohegan because they gain 100% of the profit.

  29. MXR says:

    Brian, as an X fan I hope you are right, though I am concerned looking at two very tough games to close the regular season. Note that if Greenwich loses to Staples and winds up as #7, it might just wind up with Staples again, since Southington by winning out has a pretty good shot at being #1. It is very hard to project at this point with all of the make-up games, plus Staples and Greenwich having only 9 game schedules.

  30. JB says:

    The kids like playing at the Rent for what it symbolizes. And I think that is really cool. However, no one really likes the venue in mid-December after a long UConn season. The field is torn up and then hard as concrete that time of year. The place is too big and it makes it seem like your team doesn’t have very many fans at the game. Plus, your fans sit like a mile away from the players and your band/fans get drowned out by that overwhelming PA system.

    Sean, you have pull with CIAC brass. Can you get them to stop the loud rock music / cannon blasts during the game? The stadium is just too empty for that to work. It is OK (toned-down) in warm-ups and at halftime, but let’s hear the fans and the school bands at kickoff and during the game. This isn’t UConn vs Temple in a packed house.

  31. Rob says:

    “The kids like it” argument is very weak, in my opinion.

    They bring the captains up to the Rent a couple days before the game, they have the press conference, they put out a spread of food, they bring them into the luxury boxes and they interview and ask them how they like playing at The Rent. What do you think these kids are going to say?

    Of course its a great experience for them, but the experience would be just as good if held at another respectable venue.

    As for the game itself, playing in front of a packed house that is more centrally located for the teams involved makes a lot more sense and contributes to a better atmospshere for a high school game.

  32. The Dude says:

    Massachusetts plays their title games in Foxboro. New York plays theirs at the Carrier Dome. New Jersey plays their’s at Metlife. Pennsylvania holds their’s in Hershey Park. Which holds about 30,000. Maryland holds theirs the stadium the Ravens play in and so on.

    If you think Rentschler is empty find a video online of some of these states. I’m sure those kids don’t care.

  33. MXR says:

    “The kids like it” argument trumps the “I don’t like to drive there from _____” argument. The Rent is easily accessible and has more than ample parking to deal with people coming and going during the day. The real tension is the packed crowd intensity vs. the cavernous stadium. But that gets back to having one location for all the games vs. multiple locations. I can’t think of a smaller venue that could realistically host all of the games the same day, and certainly not one with the Interstate and parking accessibility of the Rent. I like the one location idea, with the whole state football community gathered. But they should turn down the music.

  34. Master Legend says:

    Here’s a list of other things that “the kids like”:

    -Wearing their pants around their knees.
    -Driving cars recklessly
    -2 Chainz

    Bottom line- just because kids like something, it doesn’t mean it’s the best for them

  35. John Q says:

    @Master Legend – Right on.

  36. @Master Legend – I don’t think you can equate the examples with playing at Rentschler vs. West Haven. Glad you guys are so passionate, but I don’t think it matters.

  37. jgator says:

    Can we not complain and just enjoy the fact that the kids get to play high school football which they love and we get to enjoy it! I think the RENT is a fantastic place to play. It’s exciting for the players. And as high school football grows slowly in CT there is plenty of seats at the RENT for future attendees. The music rocks, the school bands should rock also! And to Brian and others, you should want your favorite teams to play the states best whenever and wherever. It would be a shame to not see some of the best teams even get in (WH?). The question for the FCIAC teams (Greenwich, Staples)is can they beat 3 good teams in a row?? Hopefully having to get past 2 SCC teams. Because it appears the Greenwich vs Staples winner is the favorite! Some saying Staples is the best ever (Trifone)…

  38. jgator says:

    With that being said its really great to see the passion and knowledge all the above have for ct hs football. SPB does such a great job keeping us informed and excited every week on the updates and stories and polls. As far as the playoffs, I’m glad its 8 teams in each division now and it appears to be a great playoff picture ahead. Typically in hs football the teams with the best line play who are balanced offensively in their game plan and play well against the run win…It could be argued that Staples is that this year, along with Greenwich, X, WH in LL. I’m not yet making predictions, but I’m impressed with Windsor and Middletown in L, however Hand is the favorite because they are well balanced, play good D, and depth is important. Hillhouse could upset in M if they get in, and Ansonia in S. Wouldn’t it be great to see Ansonia play the LL winner? Start the season 2 weeks earlier! And add a game or 2!! LOL

  39. GHS1973 says:

    Yale Bowl…It’s more centrally located, plenty of parking, so what if it’s bigger?…Hug the good seats near the field of action…Great venue..Somehow overlooked or never given a chance in the equation…Money/Greed still rules I guess, even in High School Football..

    Yeah, extend the season…LL vrs M…L vrs S…With the winners playing out…Just to see how good Ansonia really is…

  40. Fact Check says:

    I have no idea what players have been asked, but the Rent is a Dump, Its a Sand Trap with the occasional patch of dead grass on the field.
    As someone who played a state game there, I’d much rather play a game with the atmosphere of those past NC-Darien games in 2008 @ Boyle and Trumbull.
    going into the endzone with fans there cheering is so much better than seeing crappy cement stands.
    And for a BCS program, UConn probably has the most bland/boring/worst locker rooms i’ve ever seen.

  41. Northern CT Fan says:

    First off, starting the season earlier is a must. If the weather of the past two seasons is the new normal, then we need more flexibilty at the backend to make adjustments if necessary. Second, they should do away with the Fri. Night game and go with 2 on sat. and 2 on Sun. for championship weekend. This eliminates the whining about having to get through Fri. night traffic. I love Ken Strong Stadium but the parking situation there is a disaster. CCSU is a good venue, decent sized an convenient in that it is just off highway and there is plenty of parking. Play 2 there on Sat. Use SCSU, Ken Strong if we must, or even UNH’s Blue turf field if we must (the kids would probably get a kickmout of that) for the other 2 on Sun.
    Lastly, can we limit that tech school league to one state tournament participant in each class, or at least in class S? The prospect of both Cap Prep (blown out last yr as #1 seed) AND Prince Tech taking up 2 slots in class S this year is disheartening.