His quarterback, Jason Bradley was barking out play suggestions in hopes of improving Naugatuck’s chances. “They should run at that side,” he said. “Look how that kid’s covering.”
Nobody was listening though. Nor would they. Not now. Not ever.
Bruno and Bradley were mere spectators on this night. They’d already wiped the Municipal Stadium turf with Holy Cross to dramatically improve their standing in the Class L playoff picture.
No, Friday was time for some live scoreboard watching. So they were here at Vanacore Field in North Haven, rooting for Foran to drop the Indians down the Class L playoff standings (and for Bruno’s nephew, Foran star receiver Nick Weissauer).
The information in Bruno’s hand? His brand new iPhone. Scores from other games of interest to Naugy’s playoff prospects were being fed to him. West Haven beating Hand? Check. Woah, Middletown got upset? “Doesn’t matter,” Bruno said. “They’re already in (Class L).”
It was that Xavier-Shelton game that concerned him. Shelton was ahead 12-7 with 2 minutes remaining. Naugatuck wanted Shelton to lose since every Gaels win helped Hand in the Class L playoff race. And anybody who’s been around knows every point counts.
A scan of our phones said Xavier needed to go 98 yards to win the game. The adults gathered put Shelton in the win column.
“They can do it,” Bradley chimed in, referring to Xavier. “I’ve seen them. Those are some tough kids and that quarterback knows how to move the ball.”
His youthful optimism elicited a few eye rolls from the rest of us adults.
“Yeah, but when you haven’t scored all game and you need a 98-yard drive, it’s not looking good,” Bruno said.
Then, in a combination of the chilly air and gross overuse from scoreboard watching, everybody’s phone died simultaneously. Finally, someone with a charge came through: “Xavier won.”
That cry was heard all over the internets as crazy disseminated across phones and computers all over the state.
The defending Class LL champions were still breathing.
“Welcome to November football,” was the prevailing sentiment among football aficionados. Forget everything you know and everything you think. After nine weeks, with injuries and fatigue touching every football team, it didn’t matter if you were one of the top teams in the state or little ol’ nobody with no shot at all.
And sweet dreams were in pieces on the ground.
Start with Xavier’s vanquished foe, Shelton. The Gaels held Xavier scoreless for three quarters — AT Palmer Field — but couldn’t stop Joe Carbone from working magic on the final drive.
Carbone took Xavier 98 yards in 2 minutes, with NO time outs(!!!) culminating in his season-saving touchdown run with nine seconds remaining.
Xavier, which looked like a corpse for much of the Shelton game, gets to live and fight another day (it wraps up its 10-game season with Fairfield Prep before a Thanksgiving eve scrimmage with St. Paul).
Meanwhile, Shelton 2013 died a little death.
Shelton not only lost and dropped far down the Class LL playoff rankings, almost too far, it also lost top running back/linebacker Jason Thompson for the season. With two games remaining, the Gales look cooked.
Elsewhere, No. 3 Middletown was cruising right along in its fight with New London.
Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.
New London rallied to get within 21-20 and, just after his extra point was blocked, freshman Garrett Burdick got another shot and drilled the winning field goal from the left hashmark to hand the Blue Dragons their first loss of the season, 23-21. Middletown should still qualify for the postseason easily, but the luster’s faded somewhat.
Those were the two biggest results on Friday.
Yet they weren’t the only ones. Carnage reigned everywhere, and it wasn’t just Friday night.
- Ansonia 21, Seymour 20: It actually started Thursday when Seymour took a 14-7 lead over No. 2 Ansonia at halftime, sending an exodus of media from Municipal Stadium in Waterbury (where Naugy was leading Holy Cross 36-7). Joey Salemme was electric, accounting for three touchdowns as the Cats recovered three onside kicks to keep back Arkeel Newsome off the field. But Newsome got on the board twice in the second half and Ansonia hung on thanks to a stopped 2-point conversion and a missed field goal.
- New Canaan 35, Wilton 7: In its first game as No. 1, New Canaan lost linebacker Michael Root to a hip pointer and quarterback Nick Cascione to a concussion. Brett Phillips and Wilton had the Rams sweating in the cold at Fujitani Field. It was 7-7 at halftime eliciting some chuckles from the Ansonia faithful on Twitter. But the Rams turned to Frank Cognetta, who ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as New Canaan pulled away. Dave Ruden of his eponymous site reported Root will be fine but Cascione will be evaluated. Given the nature of concussions, we doubt he’ll play vs. Trinity Catholic this week.
- Ridgefield 44, McMahon 7: Everyone wanted to know just how real McMahon was. Yea, the Senators are having their best season in nearly two decades and they came rolling into Tiger Hollow in Ridgefield with a 7-0 record. But Will Bonaparte and the Tigers showed McMahon the door with a 44-7 rout. The final spot in the FCIAC championship comes down to St. Joseph and Staples with bonuses in the Hogs’ favor. McMahon plays St. Joseph on Friday in a game that’s now crucial to their Class LL playoff hopes.
- Stonington 28, Ledyard 21: Stonington looked like anything but a legit state contender in Class M after losing to Fitch and getting run over by Jeremiah Crowley and Montville for a state-record 526 yards in the season’s early weeks. The Bears led fellow playoff contender Ledyard for most of the game. Though Ledyard rallied to take a 21-20 lead, Stonington stripped Jo Jo Shumaker of the ball in its own territory and marched down the field for the winning score, a short run by quarterback Divante White with 55 seconds left. Ledyard wouldn’t go quietly. Khary Childs caught three big passes from Ty Ebdon and the Colonels were at the 6-yard line with second left. Matt Mitchell knocked the ball out of Childs hands in the end zone and then Ebdon was dropped by a pair of Bears (see play at left) to preserve the huge victory. The win simultaneously kept Stonington from being knocked out of the Class M playoff race and put Ledyard on the edge.
- Newtown 35, Stratford 0: The Hawks’ offense struggled vs. Stratford. They only led 13-0 at halftime and then back Cooper Gold left the game with an injury. That’s when Jaret Devellis (yes, another DeVellis) stepped in with a pair of touchdowns. He also had a fumble recovery and a quarterback sack. The Nighthawks clinched a spot in the Class LL playoff field, the first to do so, and will face the winner of next week’s Barlow-Brookfield game in the SWC championship in Brookfield, Nov. 21.
- Other games of note: New Fairfield trailed Bunnell 20-0 after a quarter. But the Rebels, in a comeback reminiscent of Week 2’s game vs. Oxford, rallied with 21 points in the fourth quarter to win 28-26. The Rebels are still kicking in Class M. …North Haven held Foran to just 15 yards on 15 plays in the second half and picked off quarterback Jake Kasuba twice in their huge 28-14 victory. Ethan Suraci ran for four touchdowns. The Indians face Darien in the final game of the SCC-FCIAC challenge on Friday. More importantly it’s a massive swing game in the Class L playoff race. The winner is likely in, the loser is in big trouble. …Naugatuck’s dominant 50-20 win over Holy Cross denied the Crusaders a spot in the NVL title game. The Hawks, who routed Torrington 46-14 will clinch the Copper division title with a victory over Derby. …West Haven remained unbeaten in the SCC with a dominant, 46-35 effort vs. Hand. Ervin Philips scored five touchdowns, putting the defending Class L champs on life support in the Class L race. West Haven, which faces Shelton and Prep in the coming weeks, are in great shape in Class LL. …Central’s Mykel Morris put a fright into Staples‘ playoff hopes. He threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. But the Wreckers pulled way for a 42-26 victory thanks to Jack Greenwald’s 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. …Brookfield’s rout of New Milford and Barlow’s rout of Notre Dame-Fairfield has created a winner-take all Friday night game for a spot in the SWC championship alongside Newtown. Brookfield is looking for its first bid since 2008. Barlow’s looking for its first-ever SWC title game appearance and only its second league playoff in history. …Windham’s 39-8 victory over Prince Tech helped matters for a few Class S hopefuls since Prince is scheduled to play Capital Prep at the end of the year and could drop further in the rankings, opening the door for someone else.
New Canaan is in. St. Joseph has the inside track to face the Rams again in the FCIAC title game Nov. 22 at McDougall Stadium. Staples needs either a St. Joseph loss to McMahon or enough bonuses to swing its way to climb over the Hogs and defend its title. Read more here.
Newtown is in. They have the week off since Immaculate is forfeiting the game. The winner of Friday’s Brookfield-Bethel clash at WestConn will face them in the league title game Nov. 21 at Brookfield.
NVL PLAYOFF PICTURE
As discussed, Woodland needs to beat Derby to secure all tiebreakers and win the NVL Copper Division and face Brass champion Ansonia Nov. 21 at Municipal Stadium. A loss, and Naugatuck could win the tiebreaker if it defeats Kennedy and push the title game to Thanksgiving vs. Ansonia.
THE CLINCH IS IN
Thanks to the efforts of Matt Fischer of the CIAC and the Rep-Am/NVL Blog’s Kyle Brennan, the CIAC has unveiled its annual playoff worksheet, which we affectionately call the ‘HAL9000 Playoff Computer,’ in honor of the late Shoreline Sports editor who kept the points with, quite literally, a slide rule for the first 30 years of its existence.
You can now see everything your team needs to qualify for the state playoffs in real time.
Here’s the breakdown of each division:
Newtown has unofficially clinched in Class LL. Capital Prep/Classical/Achieve and Ansonia have clinched in Class S.
Here’s a list of teams that are still alive in their respective playoff races:
The ‘TOP 8’ are teams that would qualify if the season ended today (it doesn’t). ‘ON THE BUBBLE’ means you’re still mathematically alive.
Give or take, the further your team is down the list, the more dire your playoff chances.
*Means your team has clinched.
THE TOP 8 — Newtown (9-0)*, West Haven (8-1), NFA (7-1), Glastonbury (8-1), Southington (7-1), Hall (7-1), Xavier (7-2), McMahon 7-1. | ON THE BUBBLE — Ridgefield (7-2), Staples (7-2), Trumbull (7-2), Fairfield Prep (7-2), Shelton (6-3), Greenwich (6-3), Manchester (5-4).
THE TOP 8 — New Canaan (9-0), Platt (9-0), Middletown (8-1), Farmington (8-1), Naugatuck (8-1), Darien (8-1), North Haven (8-1), New London (6-2) | ON THE BUBBLE — , Bristol Eastern (7-2), Hand (6-3), Windsor (6-2), Cheney Tech (7-2), Wethersfield (6-3), Masuk (6-3), Avon (6-3), Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby (5-3), East Lyme (5-3), Guilford (5-4).
THE TOP 8 — Valley Regional/Old Lyme (8-0), St. Joseph (8-1), Barlow (8-1), Gilbert/Northwestern (7-1), Brookfield (8-1), Bethel (7-2), Ledyard (7-2), Stonington (6-2). | ON THE BUBBLE — Quinnebaug Valley (7-2), Wolcott (6-3), Bullard-Havens (6-3), Foran (6-3), New Fairfield (6-3), Ellington/Somers (5-4), Waterford (4-4), Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (4-4), Killingly (4-5).
THE TOP 8 — Capital Prep/Classical Magnet/Achieve* (9-0), Ansonia* (9-0), Prince Tech (8-1), Rocky Hill (8-1), Woodland (8-1), Morgan (7-1), Bloomfield (7-2), Coginchaug (6-2). | ON THE BUBBLE — Northwest Catholic (7-2), North Branford (5-3), Holy Cross (6-3), Derby (5-4), Montville (5-4), Windham (5-4), St. Paul (6-3), Canton (5-3), Cromwell (4-4), Hyde (5-4), Seymour (5-4), Griswold (5-4), Enfield (4-4), Plainfield (4-4), SMSA/University (4-4), Plainville (4-4), Old Saybrook/Westbrook (4-4).
We’re still taking submissions for the GameTimeCT Plays of the Week. Submit your ‘Plays of the Week!’ Send a video link to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet at us at @SPBowley or @GameTimeCT Deadline is 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
- The Week 10 GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 Poll
- Week 10 football schedule
- Mike Pucci: Fairfield Prep embraces challenge of reaching LL playoffs
- Ray Curren’s Inside the SCC: Not everything’s a zero-sum game
- Sean Patrick Bowley: Thrill of victory/agony of defeat on Armageddon weekend
- FCIAC playoff picture
- SWC playoff picture