Jim Bransfield’s Monday Musings: Middletown, Xavier football eye postseason play

We’re four weeks into the high school football season, so it’s time to take a look at the CIAC football playoff ratings.

A word of caution. The polls you see every week are opinions that essentially say what sportswriters or coaches think are the best teams in the state. There is no relationship between the polls and power ratings. Case in point? Ansonia.

Ansonia is ranked No. 1 or 2 in the polls. Yet in the CIAC Class S playoff ratings, the Chargers are No. 4 in Class S. The playoff rating is a cold, analytical, objective rating system in each class (which is based on the school’s enrollment) and is based on your wins and the wins defeated opponents have.

A team gets 100 points for beating an out-of-league team in its own class, 110 for beating a team one class higher, 120 for a team two classes higher. Conversely a team gets 90 points for beating a team team one class loser, 80 points for two classes lower, Also, a team gets 10 points for each win a defeated opponent has. A league opponent is worth 100 points, regardless of class.

Ansonia, while widely regarded as a terrific team, has wins over four not very good teams with very few wins, so it has very few bonus points. Hence, it doesn’t have enough points to be rated higher than fourth.

Middletown, a Class L team, beat East Lyme opening week. East Lyme — an out of league opponent — is also Class L, so the Blue Dragons got 100 points. East Lyme has ripped off three wins in a row since, so MHS has picked up — so far — 30 bonus points from East Lyme, which looks to be the gift that keeps on giving.

If East Lyme were to run the table and finish 10-1, Middletown would get 100 (10×10) bonus points from that win.

There will be a quiz.

Having explained the math and with a whole lot of football still to be played, here’s what the playoff picture looks like right now for the four teams in the area — Middletown (4-0), Xavier (3-1), Valley Regional (3-0) and Cromwell (3-1) — that have legitimate shots at making the postseason.

Middletown is No. 3 in Class L, a few points behind leader Windsor (4-0) and tied with New Canaan in points, although New Canaan holds some obscure tiebreaker. Middletown has three power-point laden games down the road, namely Hartford Public this Friday (with 120 points) and Farmington and Windsor, both undefeated at 4-0. Of course, all those schools are looking at 4-0 Middletown as opportunities to enhance their playoff positions.

Class L is loaded, what with Masuk, North Haven, New Canaan, Windsor, Hand and Platt along with Middletown.

Xavier is No. 5 in Class LL. There are ton of point-laden teams on the schedule which is, to be kind, brutal. Shelton, the No. 1 ranked team in LL is 4-0, Amity, due in this Friday at Palmer is 3-1, West Haven is 3-1, Hand is 3-1 and Fairfield Prep is 3-1. The Falcons win all of those, they’re a lock for a playoff home game.

Of course, all those teams are looking at Xavier as a way to improve their playoff pictures.

Valley Regional is No. 2 in Class M behind powerhouse St. Joseph of Trumbull (4-0). Valley, like Middletown and Xavier, has its destiny in its own hands. With North Branford (4-0), Morgan (4-0), Cromwell (3-1) and Gilbert/Northwestern (3-1) on the schedule, it’s easy: win and you’re in.

Cromwell looks to have the toughest road to The Promised Land. The first eight teams in Class S are all undefeated. At No. 11, the Panthers need to win every week and especially beat either Valley or North Branford — assuming the Panthers don’t stub their toe elsewhere — to get in.

Eight teams in each class qualify, with the top four teams getting home games on Tuesday, Dec. 3. It will be here before you know it.

MEOLI, HIGHSMITH

Xavier’s Andrew Meoli and Middletown High’s Dario Highsmith continue to impress. Meoli ran for 189 yards on 32 carries Friday night against Hillhouse. Highsmith, who played only the first half, ran for 186 yards on eight carries and threw a touchdown pass for 76 yards against Fermi the same night.

Both have pretty good opponents coming to town Friday night. Middletown will host 2-2 Hartford Public, which gave undefeated Windsor a scare before losing 21-14 Friday night. It’s Middletown High’s annual Homecoming game.

Xavier will host Amity (3-1) Friday night — the only night of the regular season in which both Xavier and Middletown are home — and it’s Xavier annual Homecoming game, too.

Of course, if both finish in the top four in their respective classes, both will be home the same night for their first playoff games on Dec. 3.

WEEKEND RECAP

Cromwell got its expected win over Stafford/East Windsor. Quarterback Mavric Pelletier — a great football name, huh? — continued to impress, throwing for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman running back Christian Sapp ran for 167 yards. The Panthers don’t play this weekend.

Valley, which allowed Avon to make things interesting late before getting a 21-18 win Friday night, is home with Enfield Friday night at 6:30. Valley’s Phil Cohen threw two touchdown passes for the Warriors in the win.

Haddam-Killingworth, which fell to 0-4, travels to New Haven to play Hyde Saturday. Vinal Tech/East Hampton (2-2), which got 127 yards rushing from Ryan Fazzino and 73 more from Ed Carafeno in its 41-7 win over Whitney Tech, is home again Saturday with Platt Tech of Milford in a noon game at Palmer Field.

Coginchaug (1-2), which has scored 97 points in three games, but has given up a staggering 161 points –including 61 and 62 in its last two losses — plays Lewis Mills at Muzzy Field in Bristol Saturday at 2 p.m.

WESLEYAN FOR REAL

No question but that Wesleyan’s football team is very good. Maybe better than very good. On Saturday, Cardinals’ quarterback Jesse Warren had an off day, but pay that no never mind. The Cardinals blasted past Colby 41-0 anyway.

Bates comes to town Saturday afternoon at 1 and it says here you should take in the game. Because Wesleyan treats football sensibly — eight games, no postseason — there are only two more chances to see the Cardinals.

After Saturday, Wesleyan plays three of its final four games on the road. The final home game will be with Williams on Nov. 2. The big games are road games with Amherst and the season finale with Trinity. Just might be both Wes and Trinity will be 7-0 going to the Trinity game on Nov. 9.

FIGHTING BREAST CANCER

It’s good to see local schools join the fight against breast cancer. All the Xavier football players wore pink shoelaces Friday night in their game with Hillhouse and tonight at Middletown High, the volleyball teams from Plainville and MHS will stage their ‘Dig Pink’ game.

Both teams have been collecting money for the cause and all proceeds from tonight’s game will go to breast cancer charities. The junior varsity game starts at 4 with the varsity game scheduled for 6.

The MHS program is improving. The record is only 2-8, but there is no question the girls team is much more competitive. They almost stole one at Conard in West Hartford Friday, losing in five games. I saw them against powerhouse Bristol Eastern and it was clear that the skill level is much improved.

HERE AND THERE

Shaun Russell, the athletic director at East Hampton High School and Lindsay Holmes, a cross-country and track star at the high school and at Quinnipiac University, have been voted into the East Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame … they will be inducted at a dinner held at the Blackledge Country Club in Hebron on Nov. 1 … for tickets, call Mike Vasquenza at 860-267-7405.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth was in the stands for the Cards’ game with Colby Saturday … and he looked like he should look on a warm fall day … shorts and a polo shirt …; it was great to see him stand and yell at the officials — who did not have the best of days — for what he thought was late hit on a Wesleyan player.

It’s always good to see administrators at their schools’ games … Colleen Weiner, the Middletown High principal, is a fixture at the Blue Dragons’ football games and the Xavier and Mercy administrators are always at their games … good for them.

Middletown High football coach Sal Morello was relieved Friday night … he knew that Fermi was no match for his team, but was concerned that his kids would take the game lightly … didn’t happen … “I was happy with the overall effort and the focus of our kids,” he said … Morello reportedly was searching the stands for volunteers to play in the second half as he sought to stay below the Win By 50 Points And You’re Dead Rule … MHS had nine different running backs carry the ball.

Xavier’s soccer team remained undefeated with a 2-0 win over Guilford Saturday night … the Falcons are 6-0-3 … Guilford is 5-2-2 … the MHS girls soccer team saw its seven game winning streak snapped by RHAM 3-2 Friday … RHAM is 8-1, MHS is 7-2 … the MHS boys soccer team has climbed back to sea level at 4-4-1 … congrats to Chris Serra on his appointment as boys hoop coach at Portland High … the Highlanders have been wandering in the basketball wilderness for a while … maybe Serra can help restore the proud tradition of Portland High boys basketball.

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