We don’t root for teams here at Hearst Football HQ. We root for stories.
And late in this nutty 2012 high school football season, we were really pulling for New Fairfield to reach the state playoffs.
Why? Because the Rebels’ sterling back Joe Pacheco is a great story.
We won’t get into the specifics, we’ll save it for later. Let’s just say we love to see young men rise above their challenges. Pacheco is one of those players.
Alas, the road to redemption remains fraught with disappointments and Pacheco, who came out of nowhere to establish himself as one of the state’s best tailbacks, and New Fairfield won’t be making postseason plans this year.
This time it was Pomperaug which came out of nowhere.
The Panthers, who have struggled all season, rode a pair of touchdown runs by Dylan McAllister to take down New Fairfield with a thorough 18-6 victory at Arum Field in Southbury.
New Fairfield was felled, not just by McAllister, but by its own doing: five turnovers in all.
“I’m sure when we look at the film it’s going to make us sick, but we have to bounce back,” New Fairfield coach Anthony Fata said. “The kids have played too darn tough all year to let this one bother them but it’s going to, because we knew what we had riding on this game.”
So while we bid farewell to Pacheco (we hardly knew ye), we give a hardy ‘Welcome Back’ to Pomperaug. Despite all of its trials, including a nightmarish start vs. SWC championship participants, Masuk and Newtown, Pomperaug is one victory over Oxford away from finishing the season 5-5.
“It feels great. And we want to keep the momentum going into next week and hopefully take it to Oxford as well,” McAllister said.
One story ends, now will another begin?
Crazy eight for New Canaan
Here’s a story that never seems to end: New Canaan’s run of state playoff excellence.
We used to marvel at the Rams’ run of four-straight state championships. Then we stood agape at their six-consecutive appearances as a finalist, even in the new and improved, four-class state playoff format.
Will we stand in awe again?It’s a distinct possibility.
In a game and a place that typically gives them trouble, New Canaan hammered Trumbull 49-7 to clinch a spot the state playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.
In the upper CIAC divisions, that’s rare.
It looked like New Canaan of playoffs past against Trumbull. With quarterback Nick Cascone leading the way, New Canaan amassed 565 total yards, 333 on the ground, and 28 first downs. The defense held Trumbull to just over a C-note.
“I never expected this,” coach Lou Marinelli said.
“We heard that Trumbull said they looking forward to playing us up here. They were happy we were coming. I guess they’re happy we’re leaving now.”
Now they’re Class L’s problem.
The way things are shaking out in that division, the Rams probably won’t have enough to get a home playoff game. They will likely get a No. 5 seed with a victory over Darien. A Masuk win over Newtown would reward New Canaan with a trip to Avon or (slightly less likely) Masuk.
Only if Middletown beats Xavier would the Rams really fall to No. 6. Either way, Hand would likely loom in the semifinals. A loss to Darien would likely send them to see Windsor, their buddies from last year’s wild semifinal won by New Canaan on a field goal.
Wrapping the Region
We’ve just about wrapped up Week 10. Just two games on the docket today. Stratford hosts New Milford at BRAND NEW PENDERS FIELD. And Oxford plays Bunnell.
McMahon whupped up on Stamford thanks to a 281-yard, 4 touchdown rushing day. McMahon is 5-4 heading into Thanksgiving, looking for a winning season. …Darien beat Bassick to keep its slim, slim playoff hopes alive. …Much was made of Wilton being down to 27 players, but the Warriors still defeated Warde 14-0.
Then it’s Turkey time.
The Redcoats are coming, and other playoff musings
CLASS LL boils down to this: Glastonbury’s a lock to join the field if Hartford Public loses to Windsor, or if it just wins. That leaves one spot, which West Haven will corral by beating Fairfield Prep on Thanksgiving.
The only way Ridgefield can swipe the spot is if Fairfield Prep beats West Haven. That would put the Tigers in direct competition with Fairfield Prep.
Conservatively, Ridgefield will get to at least 1,000 points, meaning Prep will need most of its four bonus games. They’ll be rooting for Cheshire, Hamden, Shelton and Wilbur Cross.
If everything goes according to conservative estimates, you’re looking at a possible field of: 8. West Haven at No. 1 Staples; No. 7 Newtown at Southington; No. 6 Glastonbury at No. 3 Xavier; No. 5 Greenwich at No. 4 NFA.
As discussed, CLASS L is set except for the final spot. Platt can clinch that by beating Maloney on Thanksgiving. If there’s an upset in Meriden, Farmington’s in line to grab it. Darien and North Haven are longshots.
Conservatively, that field will look like this: No. 8 Platt at No. 1 Hand; No. 7 Middletown at No. 2 Windsor; No. 6 Fitch at No. 3 Masuk; No. 5 New Canaan at No. 4 Avon.
CLASS M (as always) stands for ‘Mess.’ But not as much this year if the top teams keep winning.
Berlin and Wolcott are in. Ellington/Somers (two games remaining), Barlow, Hillhouse, St. Joseph and New London are all in with victories. Ellington should fulfill that destiny. So should Hillhouse (unless Wilbur Cross shows up, as it usually does, in the Elm City Bowl). So should St. Joseph, but, again despite Trumbull’s struggles, that game isn’t a gimme.
New London plays unbeaten NFA, so that’s uncertain at this point. Barlow faces Weston in a virtual win-or-go-home clash, and the odds increased in Weston’s favor with shifty Barlow QB Jack Shaban out due to a shoulder injury.
Waiting in line is Montville, Bullard-Havens, Weston, Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton and Ledyard. All of these teams will be in a good place with victories and losses by those further up the leaderboard.
We won’t even begin to make predictions for this class, it’s too close to call.
And, finally, CLASS S, as we’ve outline hinges on a couple of key games.
First, Ansonia is in and will get the top seed by beating Naugatuck. Capital Prep/Classical will get a home game by beating Prince Tech. Hyde must beat 1-7 Nonnewaug Saturday to get in. Thanksgiving rival North Branford must beat winless Lewis Mills (done and done). Their Thanksgiving game is for a home playoff game somewhere else.
Rocky Hill is in with a victory over Northwest Catholic. It’ll probably still get in with a loss. Prince Tech has enough points that it could lose and still qualify.
Trinity Catholic will get in with a victory over Wilton.
That would leave one spot open for Woodland to clinch with a victory over Seymour. A Northwest Catholic victory over Rocky Hill would complicate things.
The Hawks would be in a footrace for bonus points with both schools for the last possible spot.
Stonington will need to win and get help, like NWC and/or Woodland and/or Trinity Catholic to lose.
The rest of the teams, Derby, Oxford, Holy Cross and Canton are begging for all of those teams to lose.
Again, not going to predict an order. The race is too close to call.