Football: So, get this, Greenwich never has finished No. 1 (really!)

Greenwich’s 2007 team takes a selfie during a Oct. 14 homecoming halftime tribute on the 10th anniversary of their second-consecutive Class LL championship. Despite being widely considered as the best Greenwich team of all time, the group still finished No. 2 in the state rankings to 12-0 Ansonia (Photo Sean Patrick Bowley)

Ned Griffen, famously known as Your Friendly Neighborhood Polecat columnist at The Day of New London, and I joined the CIAC’s Joel Cookson for a breakdown of Saturday’s four state championship games.

As we neared the end of our breakdowns, Cookson asked what we thought would be the big storyline to come out of the championship weekend.

CIAC State Championship Podcast with SPB and Ned Griffen

In my rush to figure something out, it hit me: I recalled someone on this space writing that Greenwich had never been ranked No. 1 in its long and illustrious history.

“I don’t think Greenwich has ever been No. 1,” I said, incredulously (at the 36:30 mark of the interview, above).

While still on the call, Ned and I both furiously searched through the rankings. Sure enough, it had never happened. Not in the New Haven Register’s final Top 10 poll, which began in 1961. Not  in any of the preceding Associated Press polls (1950-1954) and not in any other poll incarnations — coaches or otherwise.

Everybody remembers 2007, when Greenwich — fielding, perhaps, the best team in school history — went 11-1 (losing only to Florida powerhouse Naples 31-12) and won a second-consecutive Class LL championship, 28-14 over Shelton.

The 2017 CIAC State Championship Weekend Schedule

Yet Jonathan Myers and the Cards finished second behind Alex Thomas and 12-0 Ansonia, which defeated future Washington Redskin Jordan Reed and Jack Cochran’s New London squad 35-0.

Greenwich received just two of 20 first-place votes that season, and was a distant second with 560 votes to Ansonia’s 596.

It’s a decision that remains controversial, even 10 years later.

The year before, Greenwich went 12-1, losing only to Staples on Thanksgiving, 20-0. They finished No. 2 behind 13-0 Ansonia that year, too. Greenwich earned one first-place vote to Ansonia 20.

Greenwich also finished No. 2 in 2002 — it lost to No. 1 West Haven in the Class LL championship.

In other years during which Greenwich actually won the state title, they never finished higher than No. 2.

In 1999, Greenwich won the Class LL title and finished 12-1, but finished No. 3 behind unbeaten Bloomfield and Fitch.

In 1991, the Cardinals went 12-1 and won the Class LL title, but finished third behind S champion New London and L champion Notre Dame-West Haven.

Greenwich went 9-1-1 and won the 1990 Class LL championship, but also was No. 3 behind Class S champion and unbeaten No. 1 Derby and 10-1 Class M champion St. Joseph.

The 1983 Cardinals won the Class LL championship and was 12-0. But they were voted a mere No. 3 behind unbeaten 11-0 Class S champion Ansonia and No. 2 unbeten 11-0 Class SS champion St. Joseph.

Ned created a handy graphic of Greenwich’s recent poll history, noting that the 1983 was the only time it finished unbeaten and won a state title. And that team still couldn’t earn the top spot in the rankings.

In 1981, 10-1 Class LL champion Greenwich finished second behind unbeaten Class L champion and No. 1 Naugatuck.

Prior to the CIAC championship era, Greenwich finished No. 2 behind 11-0 Xavier in the 1974 final New Haven Register poll and No. 2 behind 8-0 Notre Dame-West Haven in the final 1962 New Haven Register poll.

So, there you are. Greenwich, despite being one of the state’s most storied programs, one with more Class LL trophies than any other school, has indeed never been No. 1.

“There’s a storyline!” Ned exclaimed.

Indeed. If if this team, which takes its first No. 1 ranking since 2006 into Saturday’s Class LL final, beats Darien, which is the two-time reigning Class LL champ and No. 1-ranked team in the state, these Cardinals just might be the school’s first to finish No. 1.

You can sure bet they’ll be rooting hard for St. Joseph to smoke unbeaten Ansonia if that happens, just to make it a formality, this time.

Source: The 2017 Connecticut High School Football Record Book

The 2017 CIAC Football Championship Schedule / Scoreboard