Breakdown: High school football state playoff picture

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You’ve heard the talk about this week’s Thanksgiving games — you know, how important these games are, especially in terms of the state playoffs. Well, now it’s time to transform all the talk you’ve heard and read into something you might be able to understand (or confuse you beyond belief).

In case you’re not familiar with the playoff point system the CIAC uses to determine its playoff teams, here’s a short summary: There are four classes, based on the male enrollment in each school, ranging from Class LL (the largest) to Class S (the smallest).

Here’s how the point system works: You get points for each win (100 for a win in the same class or a conference win in classes below, 110 for a win in a class above, 120 for a win in two classes above, and 80 or 90 points for nonconference wins in classes below) and bonus points for every win a defeated opponent has (10 points each). That gives the raw point total, which is then divided by the number of games a team has played for the point average. The top eight teams in each class qualify for the playoffs.

Still following? Good.

Now, I track this stuff loosely all season, but in the final three or four weeks, I really get involved with these points and try to figure out which teams have the inside tracks and which teams will need some help. I’ve been posting these thoughts all season long on the Republican-American’s Red Zone blog, if you’re interested in the full breakdown of every class.

Anyway, I try to figure out how the standings will look come the end of the season. Basically, I’ve projected what each team’s point total will be at the end of the regular season by predicting the winner of just about every game left to be played in the state over the last few weeks. I calculated probable base points and bonus points to give as accurate a projection as I could.

And you know how that goes—predictions always go wrong. So have mine.
But here we are now, with just a week’s worth of games left to play, so there’s a very clear picture of what Naugatuck and Woodland need to do to qualify for the playoffs and where each team will land if they do make it.

For both teams, it’s simple: Win and you’re in. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than that.

The Greyhounds currently sit in fifth place in the Class L standings with a 116.67 average. They are behind Wethersfield, which holds a 123.33 average in fourth place.
Now, we start comparing points. Since Ansonia is 9-0, a Naugy win over the Chargers is worth 190 points. Add to that 80 potential bonus points for teams the Hounds have beaten picking up extra wins, and Naugy is looking at creeping inside the top four. That would be enough to host a quarterfinal game Nov. 30.

It’s highly unlikely that the Hounds get all 80 bonus points, but some key teams Naugy will be rooting for include Holy Cross (vs. Wolcott), Sacred Heart (vs. Wilby), Torrington (vs. Watertown), Kennedy (vs. Crosby), Derby (vs. Shelton), and St. Paul (vs. Rocky Hill).

If Naugy gets even a couple of those bonus points and Wethersfield (which I think will beat winless Newington) doesn’t gain all of its potential points, the Hounds will be the No. 4 seed in Class L and host Wethersfield in the quarterfinals.

But none of it matters unless Naugatuck beats Ansonia on Thanksgiving. If the Hounds lose, they’ll be on the outside looking in.

Taking a look at Woodland, the scenario is similar. If the Hawks beat Seymour, they’ll be back in the Class S playoffs. A string of upsets last week, including North Branford over Coginchaug and Haddam-Killingworth over Cromwell put Woodland’s destiny back in its own hands after it was upset by Sacred Heart.

The Hawks are still alive to host a quarterfinal, too, if St. Joseph loses to Trumbull, Hyde loses to North Branford, and the bonus points shake out the right way. Woodland will be rooting for Holy Cross, Naugatuck, Kennedy, and St. Paul  (and Watertown, to prevent fellow contender Sacred Heart from gaining extra points).

If Woodland is somehow upset by Seymour, the Hawks can still qualify if Coginchaug beats Cromwell on Thanksgiving eve and they get at least 10 bonus points.

So, what do I think will happen? Well, Woodland will be in. Naugatuck will have to pull the upset, which is about a 50-50 chance as far as I see it. But for whichever teams make the state playoffs, Citizen’s News will have full coverage of their playoff runs here and on mycitizensnews.com.