Archive for December, 2006

Championship Saturday
December 1, 2006

12 Teams. 1 Dream.

That’s it in a nutshell for Saturday. Hundreds of football players and dozens of coaches go to bed tonight dreaming about 1 thing: A State Championship in High School Football.

Only 6 will realize that dream, 6 will fall just short. Channel 3 cameras will be there to capture the excitement and the disappointment. Join us Saturday night for a 15-minute Championship Special following Eyewitness News.

The show is scheduled for 11:15 p.m., but may start a bit later due to the CBS broadcast of the SEC Championship game between Florida and Arkansas that is likely to push back the network programming that follows, and consequently, the start of our 11 p.m. news.

Green Bay Has Nothing On Stratford

What a week it’s been in Stratford and what a Saturday it could be for the town at Ken Strong Stadium. Both of Stratford’s High Schools — The Bunnell Bulldogs and the Stratford Red Devils — play for state titles on the West Haven turf on Saturday. It’s never happened before. Stratford plays in Class SS at 2 p.m. vs. Holy Cross of Waterbury; Bunnell plays at 7 p.m. versus two-time reigning Class L Champion Staples of Westport.

On the flip side of the Stratford story is that of West Hartford. No teams from West Hartford qualified for the CIAC postseason, but (9-1) Hall missed out qualifying in Class L by a point-and-a-half to Bunnell. And, West Hartford’s (9-1) Northwest Catholic missed qualifying by just half a point to North Branford in Class S. There’s some controversy to the Northwest bid as well. The Day’s Mike DiMauro lays it out in well in a column from Thursday: Link

12 Teams. 1 Room.

Doesn’t have the same ring as “12 Teams. 1 Dream.” — but it does accurately sum up the CIAC State Championship luncheon held Wednesday in Cheshire.

An annual tradition, captains and head coaches from all 12 teams (fresh off their semifinal wins the night before) showed up in Cheshire to be interviewed for print, radio, Internet and television stories.

Here are a few things I noted:

  • Windham Coach Brian Crudden is a New England original, right out a book. What a likable personality! Crudden is a music lover, and as we saw Tuesday night in our Playoff Special, he’s not too afraid to sing with his kids in front of a camera. Tuesday, by the way, was the Whips’ first-ever playoff win.
  • The CIAC considers year 1 of the 50-Point Rule a big success. In fact, they went as far as to hand out a one-sheet to the media with statistics to back up their claim. Just two games in 2006 saw margins of greater than 50 points, compared to 22 such games in 2005 and 29 in 2004.
  • “Best Line of the Luncheon” award goes to Maloney Coach Bob Zito. The Meriden school will make the short trip to CCSU in New Britain for their Class MM title game with New Canaan. New Canaan is nowhere as close to New Britain as Meriden. Zito said jokingly to the New Canaan table at the luncheon about their team having to travel so much further than the Spartans, “You’ll be fine, I hear you have connections in the airline industry.” It’s true. Jet Blue CEO David Neeleman is the father of Rams standout running back Dan Neeleman.
  • Us against the World? That could be Bloomfield Coach Roy Roberts’ rallying cry after the Warhawks Class S game with Ansonia got scheduled for 2 p.m. in New Haven at Southern Connecticut State’s Jess Dow Field. You see, that’s almost like the CIAC giving Ansonia a home game. Plus, at least five Bloomfield players will be squeezing in the SATs Saturday morning before being able to shift their focus to the title game.
  • Ned vs. The Intern

    A few days ago in this very BLOG, one of our All-Star interns this semester, Quinnipiac’s Drew Davis, presented his playoff picks. For the record, Drew went 10-2 in the semifinals, missing both Class L games with predictions of West Haven and Masuk.

    On our Friday show after Thanksgiving, The Day of New London High School Football guru Ned Griffen made his picks. Ned went 11-1. Drew, you’ve got a long way to go be as good as the Guru!

    Here are their picks for Saturday (winner in bold):

    Ned

    • Greenwich vs. Southington
    • Staples vs. Bunnell
    • New Canaan vs. Maloney
    • Hillhouse vs. Windham
    • Holy Cross vs. Stratford
    • Ansonia vs. Bloomfield

    Drew

    • Greenwich vs. Southington
    • Staples vs. Bunnell (West Haven – N/A)
    • New Canaan vs. Maloney
    • Hillhouse vs. Windham
    • Holy Cross vs. Stratford
    • Ansonia vs. Bloomfield

    Some Quick Championship Saturday Thoughts:

    To me, the most promising matchups for Saturday are the Class LL games between Greenwich and Southington and the Class S game between Ansonia and Bloomfield. All four programs have proud histories and I suspect none of them will be blown out. Also, look for a tight game between Maloney and New Canaan. The Maloney Spartans haven’t cracked The Day of New London Top Ten all season. A win Saturday for this underrated group will certainly change that.

    We have a few Property of FNF T-Shirts still hanging around the office. If you’d like one, drop me an email (john.holt@wfsb.com) explaining in 50 words or less how dedicated a viewer of Friday Night Football you’ve been this season.

    In Tuesday night’s semifinals, no game spread was closer than 17 points. Hope things are more competitive Saturday.

    Check the WFSB.COM High School Football page next week as we conduct our Coach of The Year Poll. As usual, an FNF T-Shirt to the winner.

    Completely Unrelated Thought of The Week:

    What is it with human beings and free stuff? I’m reminded of this regularly watching crowd behavior at Gampel and the Civic Center when they shoot those free T-shirts into the crowd. Imagine the mob scene if something good and valuable was actually being given away.

    See You Saturday Night at 11:42 (my best guess – maybe earlier, maybe later for the FNF Championship Special)