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Thanksgiving football preview

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but in all likelihood, a Fairfield Prep win and the Jesuits will be state playoff-bound.

Fairifeld Prep quarterback Strecker Backe-- and the rest of the Jesuits-- can reach the state playoffs with a win Thursday and some help.

I said likely.

But still, the fact that Prep has a chance at the states, to me, is baffling. The Jesuits have lost two of their last three– after a 5-1 start– and finally re-gained some swagger, beating Branford 48-6 on Thursday night in Fairfield.

If West Haven beats Prep, the Blue Devils will be Class LL’s No. 8 seed and play either Southington or Staples.

Oddly, it is two-loss Ridgefield which needs the most help to reach the tournament. The Tigers would Prep to beat West Haven, then need all of their bonuses– Stamford over Westhill, Norwalk over McMahon and Wilton over Trinity– to come through, and then hope Southington beats Cheshire and Derby beats Shelton.

Or else 7-3 Prep gets in ahead of 8-2 Ridgefield.

I’m sure that’ll frost FCIAC apologists everywhere.

Granted, Prep’s victory over West Haven is not a lock. The Blue Devils’ lone two losses are to Hand and Xavier. West Haven hasn’t kept another opponent within three touchdowns of it.

Still, the notion of the Jesuits having a win-and-get-in Thanksgiving game is a good sign. I’d pick the Blue Devils.

Oddly enough, Prep vs. West Haven is the only Thanksgiving game featuring a Fairfield team I won’t be attending.

I’ll be at Notre Dame vs. Immaculate on Wednesday night at Western Connecticut St. The Lancers haven’t lost to the Mustangs since 2009, but both teams enter winless. ND hasn’t even played in a close game this year– the Lancers have lost by at least 23 points in every game.

Immaculate, on the other hand, has been shut out five times and hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any game.

This has the potential to be one of the most intriguing Ludlowe/Warde Thanksgiving games I’ve covered.

Two years ago was good. The best, to date, was 2008. You might recall that one, Ludlowe’s last-second field goal stunned the Mustangs 10-8.

Last year’s was a snoozer, Warde won 52-13. The Mustangs — despite having beaten their crosstown rivals two straight years– enter as the underdog. Warde is 1-8, and is coming off a dreadful 14-0 loss to Wilton, in which the Mustangs turned the ball over four times.

If Warde starts sophomore Brandon Bisack– head coach Duncan DellaVolpe suggested that he will– that adds the intriguing wrinkle. I watched the game at Wilton and he looked poised and comfortable in the pocket and throws a stellar ball.

It’s almost too good a ball, considering he was bitten by five or so drops.

The Mustangs’ offense has been lousy all year, but if Bisack gets the chance to start, that could all change. I think Ludlowe’s better than Warde, but the Falcons aren’t that much better. This kid could steal the show.

I’d expect Ludlowe to come out sky high, fresh off its second one-point win in three weeks. But if Bisack and the Mustangs start hot, that could change everything.

I still would take Ludlowe.

Finally, the last Fall, non-football game will be played Friday.

Will Steiner makes one of his best saves in Friday's state semifinal win over Greenwich.

Prep’s Class LL odyssey will end in the state championship match on Friday against top-seeded Norwalk at 10:30 a.m. in New Canaan. It’s Prep’s first trip to the state finals in school history.

If the Jesuits earn a draw, they’ll share the state title. Norwalk is fierce, however. The Bears have only lost once– a curious 4-1 defeat to Wilton on Oct. 3. Norwalk also played a nil-nil draw against Darien.

If Norwalk has a weakness, it’s in the back. Although, the FCIAC’s co-champion has only conceded three goals in four state tournament games.

Prep, meanwhile, needed penalties to reach the final.

Needless to say, it should be a good one.

Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper organization. Follow him on Twitter here.

Categories: General

One Response

  1. FCIAC Soccer says:

    Prep has only 2 losses this year…1-0 to Hand on an own goal and their own curious 2-1 loss to West Haven who they had already beaten 5-0 earlier in the year. They have 17 shutouts in 23 games and have only conceded 7 goals this season incl. regular season, conf. and state tournaments.

    Will be interesting to see how Prep’s solid defense/goalkeeping does against Norwalk’s vaunted attack.