Welcome to the first day of the rest of your season.
Staples coach Marce Petroccio (left) visits with his players during a time out. The Wreckers (8-0) take on Trumbull (7-1) Saturday at 1:30 in Westport.
For most of us, Week 9 is the last week of the regular, regular season.
It’s the end of the idyllic Friday night football portion of our schedule. It’s the last regular season game without fanfare attached to it.
Aside from a few stragglers, next week is for conference championships. The week after that is Thanksgiving, the greatest day on the Connecticut sports calendar, the day where most teams play the biggest game of their season. The weeks after that are the state playoffs, and only 32 lucky teams get to participate.
This week, we set the stage for the final act of the 2010 season.
Years from now, when we look back at the records and results, when the players have moved on and the memories have faded, all we’ll have are the records.
What will the numbers next to your team tell us? How many games did you win? Were you a playoff team? Did you have a winning record? A .500 record? A losing record? Did you win any games at all?
You have two weeks left to improve your story — two weeks to turn 1-7 into a 3-7, or turn a 4-4 into a 6-4. Two weeks to turn a 7-1 into a 9-1, and get a chance to add a title next to it.
And it starts tonight.
The Week 9 primer.
THE ELITE 8
GUIDE TO THE GAMES
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PAGE
CIAC PLAYOFF POINTS
If the playoffs began today (and, once again, thank God they don’t), here’s what we’d have:
CLASS LL – No. 8 West Haven (7-1) at No. 1 NFA (8-0); No. 5 Trumbull (7-1) at No. 4 Staples (8-0) // No. 6 Glastonbury (7-1) at No. 3 Hall (8-0); No. 7 Newtown (7-1) at No. 2 Xavier (8-0). Out — Southington 7-1, Conard 6-2, Pomperaug 6-2, Stamford 5-3, Greenwich 5-3, Ridgefield 5-3, Shelton 5-3…
CLASS L – No. 8 Bristol Eastern (7-1) at No. 1 Masuk (8-0); No. 5 Naugatuck (7-1) at No. 4 Wethersfield (7-1) // No. 6 Maloney (7-1) at No. 3 Hand (7-1); No. 7 Avon (7-1) at No. 2 Darien (8-0). Out — New Canaan 7-1, Windsor 6-2, Fitch 5-2, Middletown 6-2…
CLASS M – No. 8 Enfield (5-2) at No. 1 Berlin (8-0); No. 5 Coventry/Windham Tech (6-1) at No. 4 Lyman Hall (7-1) // No. 6 Brookfield (6-2) at No. 3 No. 7 Cheney Tech (5-2) at No. 2 New London (7-1). Out: Platt 6-2, Bullard-Havens 6-2, Hillhouse 5-3, Gilbert/Northwestern 5-2, Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech 5-2, Waterford 5-3, Bethel 5-3 …
CLASS S — No. 8 Sacred Heart (6-3) at No. 1 Ansonia (9-0); No. 5 St. Joseph (6-2) at No. 4 Montville (7-1) // No. 6 Coginchaug (6-1) at No. 3 Hyde (7-0); No. 7 Woodland (6-3) at No. 2 Valley Regional/Old Lyme (8-0). Out — Cromwell 5-2, Holy Cross 5-3, Capital Prep/Classical 4-3, Oxford 5-3, North Branford 4-4…
Still plenty of football left to change these pairing dramatically. The Mad Playoff Scientist — His Madness — has been itching to get out of his cage. We’ll unleash the beast on Sunday.
Here’s what to look for …
THE BIG GAMES
West Haven at Xavier, tonight, 7 — The Westies, fighting for their playoff lives at 7-1, head right into a hornets nest at Middletown’s Palmer Field. Xavier 8-0 is pretty much a lock for the Class LL, even with one loss at this point. While critical for West Haven, the state’s eyes are on this game to see just how Xavier, the state’s No. 1-ranked team does against another first-class foe on its way to the playoffs.
Central at New Canaan, tonight, 7 — Amazing that one 2-point conversion try has put highly ranked and regarded New Canaan’s Class L hopes in jeopardy. The real culprit is NC’s schedule. Six of its seven victories have come against teams with a combined 8-40 record. The other is Greenwich (5-3) which makes New Canaan’s opponents 13-43. Three of NC’s opponents are still winless (Bassick, Seymour, Ludlowe). So NC is put in the unenviable position of needing to win out and hope it’s enough. Luckily, Central and Darien will be worth a potential 350 points. Central, meanwhile, is in a tailspin. Do the Hilltoppers have anything left to knock NC out of the race for good?
Bunnell at Brookfield, tonight, 7 — Brookfield is in decent shape in a pretty weak Class M field. Beating Bunnell and collecting its 170 points will pretty much put this group into the playoffs. Bunnell, at 6-2 is in rough shape in Class L but that’s out of their hands. This game has some SWC title game implications for Brookfield if Stratford somehow rises from the dead to beat Newtown.
Darien at Norwalk, tonight, 7 — Darien is 8-0 and one victory away from its second FCIAC championship game appearance in two years under Rob Trifone. The Blue Wave take on Norwalk, which was noisy early but quickly faded out of the limelight. Do the Bears have another upset in them? Darien has one of the region’s top defenses and a no-frills offense that just gets the job done in crunch time. FCIACs aside, the Wave must also win this game to clinch a Class L playoff berth.
Lyman Hall at North Haven, tonight, 7 – Not a game in our area, but a huge one that affects area teams. North Haven is fighting for a spot in the crowded Class L field and a victory over the 7-1 Trojans just might do the trick of putting Joe Schwab and the Indians into position for Thanksgiving. Joe and John DeSandre and Lyman Hall could use one more victory to solidify their spot in Class M. A game worth keeping an eye on.
ADD: As is this one … Holy Cross at Naugatuck, tonight 7 — The Greyhounds are 7-1 and trying to stay in the thick of said Class L race (who isn’t?). A victory also makes the NVL title game a Thanksgiving affair at Jarvis Stadium. NVL fans will be out in force for this one.
Newtown at Stratford, tonight, 7 – The 7-1 Nighthawks have gamely been hanging onto playoff hopes with a patchwork squad. Beat Stratford, and they’ll host a winner-take-all SWC title game vs. Masuk at newly renovated Blue and Gold Stadium on Thanksgiving.
Greenwich at St. Joseph, Saturday, 1:30 — A year ago, St. Joseph needed to sweat through its entire Thanksgiving week to see if enough broke its way to qualify for the state playoffs. This year, it’s almost no sweat at all. The Hogs, even at 6-2, are in great shape in an unsteady Class S field. They’ll improve their chances considerably by beating Greenwich for the first time in school history.
Trumbull at Staples, Saturday, 1:30 – This is the biggest FCIAC game since… um… Trumbull-Central in Week 4. It’s actually the biggest FCIAC game of the season. Until next week.
In the northeast corner, wearing the black and metallic gold pants, featuring playmaker Phil Terio, dual quarterbacks Ian Milne and Brian Gallo and a physical offensive line, are the 7-1 Trumbull Eagles. A heavyweight contender for its first FCIAC title since 2005, Trumbull looks healthy and ready for the stretch run. Trumbull has to win to get in the FCIAC game. It’s Class LL playoff hopes also depend mightily on a victory here.
In the southwest corner, wearing the blue and silver pants, featuring a physical defensive front seven of Rob Gau, Greg Lewis, Pat Murray and Chris Coyne and playmaker Tyler Jacobs, are the defending league champion, 8-0 Staples Wreckers. They’ve suffered more than their share of debilitating injuries — running back Ryan Burke in the spring, back Nick Kelly a few weeks ago, and then QB Chet Pajolek right after. A year ago, Staples slotted in a senior and reached the state title game. This year, they’re counting on a freshman, Jack Massie, Jacobs … and even Kelly — who may return from a dislocated kneecap to play this game. Staples must win to defend its FCIAC title. It can afford maybe one loss in Class LL.
Apollo, you wanna ring the bell?
ON THE AIR
Lyman Hall at North Haven, 7 – WELI 960-AM
Notre Dame-WH at Fairfield Prep, 6 – Sportingnewsct.com or Gogreenknights.com
Holy Cross at Naugatuck, 7 – WATR 1320-AM
Central at New Canaan, 7 — WSTC 1400-AM/WNLK 1350-AM
Trumbull at Staples, — WWPT 90.3-FM
Greenwich at St. Joseph – WGCH 1490-AM
LIVE SCORING BLOG
As always, there’s no magic to this, the updates you see come from people using Twitter on their mobile phones. If you want to know how that’s done, check here (we can always use more citizen journalists, especially from people in the SWC).