FCIAC Football Week Nine Outlook: Make or break time for playoff contenders

The calendar has flipped to November, so it’s time for the contenders to make their moves as we head into Week Nine of the FCIAC football season on Friday.

The week’s slate features some big games, led by Staples at St. Joseph and Ridgefield at Greenwich, both on Saturday afternoon. The Wilton-Darien and New Canaan-Norwalk match-ups also feature two teams with winning records.

As of Friday, four FCIAC teams are inside the state playoff bubble, with Darien and Greenwich at No. 1 and 4, respectively, in Class LL; New Canaan at No. 8 in Class L; and St. Joseph at No. 2 in Class S.

Several others are within striking distance of the top eight. In Class LL, there’s No. 11 Ridgefield, No. 12 Staples, and No. 15 Westhill; and in Class L, it’s No. 12 Wilton. All of those teams would likely need to win out and get some help in order to qualify.

Here’s a look at the week nine schedule:

Friday, Nov. 3

Wilton (4-3) at Darien (7-0), 6:30 p.m.

Darien easily handled Trumbull 48-0 last week, stretching its three-season winning streak to 32 games in the process. Now, the Wave hosts a Wilton team with a winning record and an exceptional ground game, led by senior Harvey Alexander’s four 100-yard rushing games. The Warriors’ ability to control the pace on the ground will help, but that being said, it’s Darien and no one has figured out the Wave for nearly three years.

Brien McMahon (1-6) at Warde (3-4), 7 p.m.

The Warde Mustangs have played well against a couple of perennial powers the past two weeks, but has come away with losses to Darien and Staples. They’ll get a chance to get back to .500 against the McMahon Senators, who have given up 40 or more points four times this season.

Ludlowe (0-6) at Danbury (1-6), 7 p.m.

The Danbury Hatters have been playing well of late, picking up their first victory when they beat Trumbull 39-27 two weeks ago, and then falling to Norwalk in a battle, 35-20, last Friday. QB Diante Vines is a key performer for the Hatters, who have a shot to pick up win No. 2 against a Falcons team which has allowed an average of nearly 40 points per game.

New Canaan (5-2) at Norwalk (4-3), 7 p.m.

New Canaan again had trouble with penalties last weekend, committing 15 for 132 yards, but still managed to beat Pascack Valley, N.J., 33-14. The Rams haven’t looked crisp this season, but the good news is, they’re still in the Class L playoff hunt despite having two losses. Norwalk, on the other hand, has traded wins with losses since the start of the season. The Bears have the ability to rack up points, but New Canaan will be looking to get its house in order and start looking to Darien on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, Nov. 4

Staples (5-2) at St. Joseph (6-1), Noon

The St. Joseph Cadets are in great shape in the CIAC Class S standings, checking in at No. 2 and trailing only Ansonia. Staples represents their last big challenge of the regular season, and the Wreckers’ own playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. A win here would be a boost for their chances, although they’d still need to beat Stamford and Greenwich to have a shot at qualifying.

Stamford (2-5) at Bridgeport Central (1-5), 2:30 p.m.

Neither one of these teams have been able to find any consistency this fall. This could be a pretty decent match-up, given the athletes on both teams.

Trumbull (2-5) at Westhill (5-2), 2:30 p.m.

The Westhill Vikings are one of the league’s brightest turnaround stories, and could easily finish the season with an 8-2 record. Trumbull is headed in the other direction, with three consecutive losses and a couple of tough games on the horizon. It’ll be tough to crack the Class LL playoffs with two losses, but the Vikings need to keep winning and let those chips fall where they may.

Ridgefield (5-2) at Greenwich (6-0), 4 p.m.

After the Staples-St. Joseph contest, this is the game of the week. The Greenwich Cardinals have scored at least 36 points in every game and are currently fourth in Class LL as they seek a second straight playoff trip. Ridgefield has won four of its last five, and the Tigers’ only two losses have come to teams ranked in the top five: No. 1 Darien and No. 5 St. Joseph. The Cardinals are ranked No. 2 and the Gavin Muir-led offense hasn’t been slowed yet, but Ridgefield and QB Greg Gatto have been impressive at times this fall.

Trinity Catholic (2-5) at Killingly (6-0), 4 p.m.

The Crusaders are traveling north to take on undefeated Killingly on Saturday. Killingly leads the Class M standings, with its best wins coming against East Lyme and Griswold, both 5-2. It’s been a struggle for Trinity this season, which has a roster of just 35 players, with many being young, and Killingly will be yet another tough opponent.

The New Canaan Rams wrap up a runner during last week’s Homecoming win over Pascack Valley, N.J. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

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