Weekend Game Plan: Three Games With Six Contenders Will Shake Up League

The New Canaan football team is counting on big plays from Quintin O’Connell against Greenwich. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

Despite a pretty balanced schedule, this so far has been a disappointing season because so few of the big games have lived up to expectations. This is the best week of the regular season, with four state playoff teams from a year ago going head to head and a fifth playing another contender.

It would be a major letdown if we didn’t get a couple of great finishes this weekend.

Game Of The Week

New Canaan (3-1) at Greenwich (3-0), Saturday, 4 p.m. The major implications of this game has nothing to do with the coaches. The Rams’ loss to St. Joseph has taken away their comfort margin: a loss here and they could play a Darien team that has dominated recent Turkey Bowls with a state playoff berth hanging on the outcome.

“If we go down and play the way we did against St. Joe’s and have a lot of penalties and a lot of turnovers, Greenwich will beat us,” Rams coach Lou Marinelli said. “It’s as simple as that. If we don’t play well Greenwich will beat us. Because they’re at that point now where Greenwich is good enough to knock you off it you don’t play your best. Just exactly the same as St. Joe’s did. You have a close game, you get a couple of breaks, things go your way and next thing you know it’s a dogfight and it comes down to the very end, and who knows what happens.”

New Canaan has scored the most points in the league but has played one more game than Greenwich, which is averaging the most points. This may come down to which defense is able to make the most stops.

Commentary: For This Year’s ‘Marinelli Bowl,’ The Focus Is On The Teams

Are the Cardinals ready to make that last step and reach the top rung of the conference ladder? That is the other big angle here. Greenwich, with two byes around a win against Norwalk, will have played just once in 28 days.

“I think the bye week helped,” Cardinals coach John Marinelli said. “The bye week allowed us to just focus on us and not anybody else. We had very fundamental practices, just getting back to the basics of football and not worrying about opponents. The coaches were able to watch film and now we’re trying to implement a gameplan. The emotion of who you are coaching against, that got out last week. Now we’re battling the kids’ emotions of playing a team like New Canaan.”

Friday

Fairfield Ludlowe (0-4) at Trinity Catholic (1-3), 6 p.m. Here are two teams that have struggled this season, in part because of offensive problems. Can the Falcons end their slide against a Trinity team that has some playmakers?

Quarterback Greg Gatto and Ridgefield face a big test Saturday at St. Joseph. (Photo: Matt Dewkett)

Darien (4-0) at Staples (3-1), 7 p.m. What would be the Game of the Week most times might be No. 3 on the charts of others. It comes down to whether you believe the Wreckers are capable of ending the Blue Wave’s 29-game winning streak. Darien has established itself again as the league’s best team until proven otherwise. The Wreckers’ stock may have risen in last week’s loss to Ridgefield in one of the best games in what so far has been a lean year. But Darien had its way with the Tigers on opening night.

Norwalk (1-2) at Trumbull (2-2), 7 p.m. Both schools entered the year with hopes of a solid winning season, and one will see them diminished here. Expect a lot of points to be scored. Last team with the ball wins?

Stamford (1-3) at Brien McMahon (1-3), 7 p.m. The Senators will try to make it two wins in a row after ending a 14-game losing streak. How will the running game fare against the Black Knights, who have had a difficult time putting up points?

Saturday

Danbury (0-3) at Fairfield Warde (2-2), 11 a.m. The Hatters’ preseason optimism hasn’t panned out so far, and they are in need of a positive outing. But the Mustangs by early afternoon could find themselves with a winning record heading into their most difficult stretch, with Darien, Staples and Ridgefield looming the next four weeks.

Wilton (2-2) at Bridgeport Central (0-3), Noon. The Warriors played St. Joseph tough for a half prior to their bye week. Their running attack — tough to simulate — will cause many problems for the Hilltoppers.

Ridgefield (3-1) at St. Joseph (3-1), 2:00 p.m. It is too bad The Marinelli Bowl has taken away some of the spotlight here because this is a tremendous game, and one state playoff contender is going to end the afternoon with two losses. The Tigers would have been in desperation mode had they not pulled out a dramatic win against Staples. Receiver Jackson Mitchell was almost impossible to drag down for a Wrecker secondary that played well. The Cadets’ offense has been dynamic save for the loss to Darien, and with their upcoming schedule they will be in solid shape for a postseason spot with a win.

 

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