A look at the best matchups for Week 10, the final full week of games before the grand finale on Thanksgiving.
Barlow plays Brookfield for the right to play in the SWC title game. St. Joseph plays McMahon is an FCIAC championship swing game. Xavier and Prep fight for their playoff lives in a Saturday night fight.
St. Joseph (8-1) at McMahon (7-1)
WHEN — Friday, 7
WHERE — Casagrande Field, Norwalk
AT STAKE — A berth in the FCIAC championship for St. Joseph. For McMahon, a greater shot at qualifying for first state playoff game in 20 years.
PLAYERS TO WATCH — McMahon: Jr. RB Timmy Hinton (679 yards, 8 TD rushing); Sr. RB/LB Kenny Keen; Sr. DT Matt Hargrove; Sr. TE/LB Allan Lenard (6 sacks); St. Joseph: Sr. QB Jordan Vazzano (2,046 yards, 26 TDs); Jr. WR/KR Lars Pedersen (745 yards, 11 TDs); Sr. WR/DB Shane Miller (670 yards, 8 TDs); Sr. OL/DL Steve Hashemi; Sr. DE Mike Schuchmann; Jr. RB/S Mufasha Abdul-Basir (1,245 yards, 15 TDs);
OUTLOOK — It its first major test of the season, McMahon was humbled by Ridgefield, 44-7, which all but knocked the Senators out of FCIAC playoff contention and put the Hogs in position to reach their first final. Now they must start thinking about keeping their playoff dreams intact. Another loss might cripple McMahon for good in the Class LL picture. McMahon’s defense, which saw its season average (11 ppt) quadrupled by Ridgefield, must figure a way to stop St. Joseph’s myriad of offensive weapons. Or, failing that, get turnovers and score enough to win a shootout. In other words, the Senators must play their best game of the season to upend the mighty Hogs. Tall order.
Brookfield (8-1) at Barlow (8-1)
WHEN — Friday, 7
WHERE — Westside Athletic Complex, Western Connecticut State, Danbury
AT STAKE — A spot in the SWC championship game next week at Brookfield. Barlow’s first appearance, Brookfield’s first appearance since 2008. Also: Has major implications in Class M, though both teams can afford one more loss. Winner likely clinches a spot.
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Brookfield: Sr. QB Brad Westmark (1,054 yards, 9 TDs passing); Soph. RB Bobby Drysdale (1,518 yards, 22 TDs rushing); Soph. LB Austin Riech (6.6 tackles/gm); Soph. TE/DE Nick Seis; Sr. WR/DB Liam Clancy; Sr. OL/DL Louie Rodrigues (6-4, 296); Barlow: Sr. QB Jack Shaban (1,500 yards, 28 TDs rushing); Jr. RB Harry Wilson (723 yards, 8 TD rushing); Sr. RB Steve Miller (474 yards, 3 TD rushing); Sr. OL/DL Alex Gallaer (6-1, 210); Sr. LB Scott Colby.
OUTLOOK — It’s been quiet in the SWC since the first weeks of the season. Now, at last, a mega showdown for the right to get a rematch with Newtown at WestConn. On one side, Brookfield, led by QB Westmark and a fast-emerging star sophomore class. On the other, the electric Jack Shaban and the Barlow option. Both teams can score, and use their offenses to effectively take opponents out of games. Brookfield’s explosive and more versatile, but nobody’s been able to stop Barlow’s option yet (even Newtown). So whaddya got defenses? Winner not only qualifies for the SWC, it qualifies for Class M, as well. Barlow’s never played in the state playoffs.
Xavier (7-2) at Fairfield Prep (7-2)
WHEN — Saturday, 7
WHERE — Alumni Field, Fairfield
AT STAKE — It’s basically win or go home in the Class LL playoff race. Three losses would all but knock the loser out, especially Xavier since this is the Falcons’ final regular season game (they play just 10 games).
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Xavier: Sr. QB Joe Carbone (1,033 total offense, 18 TDs); Sr. RB/DB Andrew Meoli (1,246 yards, 16 TD rushing); Sr. OL/LB Will Garrity; Sr. WR/DB Nate Gonzalez (63 tackles); Jr. OL/DL Chidi Broderick; Fairfield Prep: Sr. FB/LB Nick Crowle (429 yards, 8 TD rushing); Sr. OL/DL Tony Fox; Jr. QB Colton Smith (1,788 total offense, 22 TDs); Jr. WR/DB John DelliSanti (419 yards, 5 TD receiving); Sr. FB/LB Maxwell Trudeau (6 sacks, 15 tackles/gm); Sr. SE/DB Stephen Walsh (6 INTs)
OUTLOOK — It’s deja vu all over again for Xavier, which has been scratching and clawing, desperately trying to get back to the state playoffs and extend its run to four state titles in a row. The Falcons show tremendous heart and determination to beat Shelton last week. Now they’ll need to do it again against a big and strong Prep squad that’s desperate to go dancing for the first time in seven years. Both teams are similar. They feature QBs who love to run and aren’t afraid to lower their shoulders and talented defenders. Prep, for once, beats Xavier on size and talent up front. But Xavier has the edge at tailback. Prep has used a myriad of players to run. We’re looking for intangibles to win this one. Xavier’s experience might be it.
Darien (8-1) at North Haven (8-1)
WHEN — Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE — Vanacore Field, North Haven
ON THE AIR — WAVZ 1300-AM (ESPNRadio)
AT STAKE — Huge playoff points in Class L for the winner, who would be close to clinching a spot. The loser will drop down in standing needing a win to get in on Thanksgiving Day.
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Darien: Sr. HB/SS Nick Lombardo (572 yards, 10 TD receiving); Sr. QB Silas Wyper (2,189 yards, 18 TD passing); Sr. HB/s Jay Harrison (217 yards, 8 TD rushing); Soph. K Daly Hebert (5 FG); Soph. DE Mark Evanchick (74 tackles, (9 sacks); Jr. DE George Reed (3 sacks). North Haven: Sr. RB/LB Ethan Suraci (767 yards, 17 TD rushing); Sr. QB/LB Mike Halloran (614 yards, 10 TD rushing); Sr. RB/LB Patrick Mikos (93 tackles); Sr. OL/DL Mike Siwek; Sr. OL/DL Austin Mahon.
OUTLOOK — The last FCIAC-SCC challenge game is uber huge in the Class L playoff race and it (once again) features a clash of styles and philosophies. Darien comes to Vanacore field with the high-flying spread attack. North Haven counters with the good ol’-fashioned (emphasis on that last part) single wing. North Haven’s used to playing good passing teams (see: Foran last week), but the closest thing Darien’s seen to North Haven in the FCIAC is Trinity Catholic. The Blue Wave’s talented young pass rushers will have to fight through run schemes instead of pinning their ears back. The Wave will need to be physical and alert to stop Suraci and co, something they had trouble with against St. Joseph in their only loss. North Haven’s underrated defense, which held Foran QB Jake Kasuba in check, will have to duplicate the feat against Wyper and Lombardo. This should be an epic.
Platt (9-0) at Northwest Catholic (7-2)
WHEN — Saturday, 1 p.m.
WHERE — Northwest Catholic HS
AT STAKE — Platt can clinch a playoff spot and a home quarterfinal game with a victory. NWC would all but clinch a Class S playoff berth with a win. Otherwise, its hopes will be pinned on beating 8-1 Rocky Hill on Thanksgiving.
PLAYERS TO WATCH — Platt: Jr. RB/S Tyzhan Leatherwood (1,657 yards, 24 TDs rushing); Sr. QB Andrew McBride (1,018 yards, 19 TDs passing); Sr. WR/LB Jason Nelson, Sr. TE/LB Scott Dargan Sr. Erlin Colon NWC: Sr. QB Christian Flynn (1,940 yards, 19 TD, 13 INT passing); Sr. WR/OLB Tim Kuhlberg; Sr. TE/LB Owen Tyler; Jr. OT/DT Elijah Riley; Jr. RB/DB Delano Robinson; Sr. WR/DB Chris McLaughlin (555 yards, 6 TD receiving).
OUTLOOK — After all the doubts, Platt’s a virtual lock to return to the state playoffs. Consider this a decent litmus test on their playoff readiness. Two more wins will put Leatherwood and the Panthers in the coveted No. 2 spot in Class L (opposite New Canaan). For Northwest Catholic, however, this begins a brutal, year-ending stretch of games that will shape the playoff picture in Class S and show what the Indians are made of. They follow this afternoon battle with 8-1 Rocky Hill in the season finale. Flynn and his cadre of receivers has been tremendous, but prone to interceptions (13 overall) And can the defense stop a top run game like Platt’s or Rocky Hill’s? If NWC can, they’ll be in the playoffs. If not, they might be stuck at home.
Others to keep an eye on
Derby (5-4) at Woodland (8-1)
WHEN — Friday, 6:30
WHERE — Woodland High School
AT STAKE — QB Tanner Kingsley and Woodland will clinch the NVL Copper Division title and a spot alongside No. 2 Ansonia in next Week’s NVL title game (for the second consecutive year). Otherwise, a Naugy win will push the final to Thanksgiving. The Hawks haven’t played the Chargers this season. QB Mike Kreiger and Derby, which fell on hard times in October, needs this to guarantee back-to-back winning seasons.
Glastonbury (8-1) at Windsor (6-2)
WHEN — Friday, 7
WHERE — Windsor high school
AT STAKE — Glastonbury, led by QB Jalen Ollie, hasn’t lost since Week 1. It’s just vying for official qualification in Class LL and playoff positioning at this point. This is a must-win for Windsor if it wants to return to the Class L playoffs.
Ridgefield (7-2) at Wilton (3-6)
WHEN — Friday, 7
WHERE — Fujitani Field, Wilton
AT STAKE — RB Will Bonaparte and Ridgefield must win out to have a shot in Class LL. Sr. QB Brett Philips and the Warriors want to break an 18-year losing hex against their rivals (Wilton is 0-17-1). This is a crucial swing game for who gets to go to the FCIAC final. A Ridgefield win will assure it’s St. Joseph if the Hogs beat McMahon.
Stonington (6-2) at Norwich Free Academy (7-2)
WHEN — Saturday, 1
WHERE — Norwich Free Academy
AT STAKE — NFA can all but guarantee its return to the Class LL playoffs with a victory. The Bears, who toppled Ledyard last week, desperately need to pull off another upset to stay in the hunt for a Class M playoff spot.
Foran (6-3) at Guilford (5-4)
WHEN — Friday, 7
WHERE — Kavanaugh Field, Guilford
AT STAKE — Foran is teetering on the brink of playoff elimination in Class M. Three losses will get you in, but the Lions are going to need some outside help. Guilford, your SCC Division II-West champs, remain dangerous behind Joe Nault in the triple option. The Indians hammered Foran a year ago. They’d love to again, and officially end the Lions’ playoff hopes for good.