Oct
14

Some Almost-Midseason Football Thoughts

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St. Joseph’s Lars Pedersen makes a catch Friday night against Wilton. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

 By Dave Ruden

The high school football season, with the extra week, reaches the midway point at halftime of games Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Right now the major storyline is the collision course the New Canaan and St. Joseph football teams appear to be on for their Nov. 1 showdown. Barring an upset by Staples against the Rams the week before, both teams should be undefeated.

Here are a hail of bullet points based on this past weekend’s games and what has happened over the first five weeks.

— New Canaan is very good. Is it too good? This question was posed to the Rams’ players and coaches following Saturday’s 49-7 win over Danbury.

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Noting that the Rams are a team with a great chance to win league and state titles is like commenting on the current dysfunction of the government: it is stating the obvious.

But will New Canaan be hurt by a backloaded schedule after winning its first five games by an average of 32.6 points? The team’s players and coaches were unanimous with their responses.

“We’re going to be ready for what anybody throws at us,” defensive lineman Connor Buck said. “We want to get out there and play the big teams.”

— St. Joseph is good. Very good. The Cadets are also a team without flaws, save for their penchant for some slow starts. It has hardly mattered.

They were holding a 16-14 lead early in the second quarter Friday night after host Wilton scored on the first possession of the second half. In a blur — just under 10 minutes to be exact — the Cadets put up four straight touchdowns.

We have a little time before getting into a deep analysis of the game with New Canaan, but how the Cadets’ offensive line handles perhaps the state’s best defense will be one of the biggest storylines.

— Just how good is Brien McMahon? There was some debate amongst writers over the weekend about whether the Senators deserve to be ranked in the state poll.

McMahon was considered a sleeper team at the beginning of the season, due to a combination of talent and an accommodating schedule.

The Senators are 5-0. Skeptics will say the reason is playing teams with a combined 8-17 record. The only opponent currently above .500 is Wilbur Cross (3-2).

The contrarian point is that McMahon can only play the teams on its schedule, and except for a sluggish effort against Westhill it has played well.

What is the real answer? Too early to tell. The Senators have winless Stamford this weekend, then progressively step up in class, with Fairfield Ludlowe, Ridgefield and St. Joseph to follow.

The Senators will be able to state their case on the field and not have to worry about a public-opinion debate.

— It is a tough year for Stamford football. Stamford High, Westhill and Trinity Catholic are currently a combined 1-14. The lone win was Westhill’s over Trinity.

This does not come totally unexpected. The Crusaders were hit very hard by graduation losses after qualifying for the state playoffs a year ago. Word is there is good young talent that will eventually make its way up the pipeline.

Westhill was also hit hard by the departure of the nucleus from a team that would have been 6-4 if not for the forfeiture of four games due to the use of an illegal player.

Stamford is probably the biggest surprise. The Black Knights have speed on offense that poses a threat when they have been able to get players in space.

The problem has been an offensive line decimated by injuries and a defense that has yielded over 40 points in each of the last three games.

Right now there is absolutely no reason to believe this is nothing more than an aberrant year and not the beginning of a trend.

— Wilton a victim of the numbers game. Having seen them play twice, there is no team that gives greater effort than the Warriors. They stayed with St. Joseph for just over two quarters and came close to beating Staples.

However, when you only dress 27 players, as Wilton did against St. Joseph, you are going to get worn down, which is exactly what happened.

It remains to be seen how much this will affect the Warriors over the second half of the season, but with a good starting lineup coach Bruce Cunningham, who has made no excuses, secretly has to be wondering “What if?”

In the most ridiculous scene from the weekend, an adult spent much of the fourth quarter Friday night yelling at Cunningham, as St. Joseph pulled away, about his players quitting on him. He was loud enough that the Wilton players had to have heard him.

Get that man a seeing-eye dog.

Game Of The Week

Greenwich at Trumbull, Friday 7 p.m. Can the Eagles remain unbeaten in conference play? Have the Cardinals righted the ship with two straight wins following two successive losses? Stay tuned.

The Fab 5

New Canaan (5-0): Chicopee (Mass.), the Rams’ opponent this week, is 2-3. Another half-day for the starters?

St. Joseph (5-0): With a game at Bassick, the Cadets finally get a break in the schedule.

Darien (4-1): The Blue Wave have several tests ahead to earn a postseason berth.

Staples (4-1): The Wreckers have another week to get ready for New Canaan.

Brien McMahon (5-0): Who cares what outsiders think, just win, baby.

THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday

St. Joseph at Bassick, 3:30

Stamford at McMahon, 7

Wilton at Fairfield Warde, 7

Danbury at Staples, 7

Greenwich at Trumbull, 7

Westhill at Central, 7

Chicopee (Mass.) at New Canaan, 7

Saturday

Trinity Catholic at Darien, 1:30

Ridgefield at Harding, 2:30

Fairfield Ludlowe at Norwalk, 3

 

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