Through rain, snow, gale-force winds, hurricanes/superstorms, Nor’easters, you name it we’ve been through it this high school football season. We’ve also seen the attack of the creatures from the pits, those typically downtrodden clubs who suddenly rose from the wreckage of it all to produce some memorable moments this year.
Barlow, Trinity Catholic, Weston, Westhill, Derby, Oxford, New Fairfield…
But in the end, the more things changed around here, they all wound up the same.
It’s Masuk vs. Newtown for the SWC title.
Ansonia won the NVL championship behind some guy named Arkeel Newsome.
Anybody remember how we fretted about how our poor local leagues would somehow fit in enough games on the off-chance Trinity Catholic or Barlow earned the right to play for league titles.
How naive we all were.
Not only are the same teams lining up for league championships, they’ve all clinched playoff berths as well.
Greenwich flirted with ‘Score Management’ while hammering Danbury, 53-8.
Like Newtown and Masuk before them, Greenwich and Staples have both clinched playoff berths. The FCIAC and SWC title games are for seeding purposes only.
[Here's the latest from Matt Fischer's H.A.L. Supercomputer playoff calculations] In addition to Greenwich and Staples in Class LL, Fitch (8-1) clinched a Class L playoff berth, leaving two spots in both playoff classes. See ‘The Clinch’ graphic, below.
Meanwhile, our small-school underdogs and heroes are fading fast.
Trinity Catholic has now lost two straight since beginning the season 7-0. The Crusaders were hammered by determined St. Joseph, 49-14, and now must (m-u-s-t) beat Wilton to reach the state playoffs for the first time since the 1993 championship season.
St. Joseph, meanwhile, stayed in the Class M playoff race with this eye-opening effort (600 yard of offense!). The Hogs must beat Trumbull to qualify in a Class M field that would be pretty upset to see them there. (Unless I’m Hillhouse, I wouldn’t want to play the Hogs).
Weston was no match for determined Masuk, losing 49-0 and dropping below the fold of Class M.
Barlow, the Trojans’ Thanksgiving Day rival, fared better Thursday night. Alex Lockwood ran for 175 yards and a pair of scores as Barlow knocked off Brookfield 29-22 to keep its dreams of a first state playoff berth alive.
But the Falcons (8-1) remain in a precarious spot, especially now that we understand sterling junior quarterback Jack Shaban is lost for the remainder of the season thanks to a shoulder injury suffered in last week’s loss to Masuk.
Both teams must win on Thanksgiving Day or their playoff goose is cooked.
Two teams enter. One team leaves.
Forget Greenwich-Staples. Masuk-Newtown.
Barl0w-Weston IS the biggest Thanksgiving Day game in Shangri-La.
(Does this game have a name? Somebody come up with one quick.)
Beyond the region, Platt Tech couldn’t do a favor for teams like Woodland, Derby, Oxford, even Trinity or themselves. They had a 14-12 lead, but lost to Prince Tech, further tightening the Class S playoff race.
Fairfield Prep set up a big Thanksgiving Day showdown with West Haven by beating up on Branford. The Jesuits snapped a 2-game skid. …Ludlowe (Ludlowe!) won its third straight game by nipping Norwalk 21-20. The Falcons haven’t lost since coach Matt McCloskey announced he’d be resigning at the end of the season. Master Motivator. …McCloskey’s old haunt, Jonathan Law, buried Plainville 60-27.
Oh, by the way New Fairfield fans! Your Rebels, who play Pomperaug tonight and finishe with New Milford, remains very much alive and kicking in Class M. Could we possibly see Joe Pacheco in the playoffs? Two wins, and enough help from above (the standings, and the clouds) could make that a reality.
Finally, we leave you with the NVL Championship. Arkeel Newsome is back, baby, and the Chargers warmed up for their Thanksgiving Day clash with Naugatuck with a 56-26 victory over Woodland. Newsome, who’s been injured for a majority of the year, looked like his old self, chugging 222 yards and scoring four times to win the MVP award and Ansonia the title for the second straight season.
With Newsome back and the rest of the gang making their usual plays, Ansonia is just chugging along as normal.
It is the first and only team to reach 10-0 (this doesn’t count in the playoff standings, though, kids). They’ll host a state quarterfinal game. They’re the favorites to win it all in Class S.
Life’s pretty good in Ansonia, eh?