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FOOTBALL: Firm up those Tuesday night plans; CIAC confirms playoff brackets

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MERIDEN — OK, go ahead. Log it in the digital calendar.

Or, for us old-school guys, write it down in pen.

The CIAC put the official stamp on the football playoff pairings Friday and they are exactly what we knew they’d be once the Thanksgiving games were in the books on Thursday.

For the three area teams, that means Southington and Maloney will indeed be at home for Tuesday’s quarterfinals and Cheshire will be on the road against St. Joseph.

The only issue was exactly where for Cheshire, since St. Joe’s does not have lights. The answer: Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport.

Here’s the area slate, Reader’s Digest condensed version:

■Class LL, No. 8 Trumbull (7-3) at No. 1 Southington (9-1), at Fontana Field;■Class L, No. 8 Cheshire (6-4) at No. 1 St. Joseph (9-1), at Kennedy Stadium;■Class L, No. 6 New Milford (7-3) at No. 3 Maloney (9-1), at Falcon Field.

Here are the in-between the lines details:

■Southington, through a combination of its 21-14 win over Cheshire and Greenwich’s 39-38 loss to Staples on Thursday, moved from No. 3 up to No. 1. This was fortuitous. It guarantees the Blue Knights will remain at home for next Sunday’s semifinals against the winner of No. 4 Staples and No. 5 Fairfield Prep.■Maloney, through a combination of its 44-13 win over Platt and Naugatuck’s 18-10 loss to Ansonia on Thursday, moved from No. 4 up to No. 3. This was fortuitous. Like last year, the Spartans are on the less formidable side of the Class L bracket. With a win over New Milford, they’ll face the winner of No. 2 Newtown and No. 7 Shelton in the semis. No. 1 St. Joe’s and No. 4 New Canaan are on the other side of the fence.■Cheshire, despite losing to Southington in the Apple Valley Classic, secured the No. 8 seed in Class L when Darien lost 13-10 to New Canaan on Thursday, a verdict upheld by a late goal-line stand by New Canaan. Darien, like Cheshire, finished 6-4, but the Rams had 35 more playoff points.

All 24 of Tuesday’s quarterfinal games start at 6:30 p.m.

The 12 semifinals are Sunday, Dec. 4 at the higher seeds at 12:30 p.m.

Rentschler Field in East Hartford and Arute Field on the campus of Central Connecticut State in New Britain host the six finals on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Indeed, we were back to the six enrollment divisions that were last in place between 2002-2009.

During that stretch, though, only the top four teams in each class qualified, for a total of 24. Now, after the recent run of four classes and eight teams per for 32 total, we’re at 6x8 for 48.

Will this prove more fair to all those teams who, with healthy winning records, fell short in the past? Or will it further dilute a playoff in which quarterfinal blowouts often seem the norm?

Let’s see what the next two weeks bring.

Three defending champs are in the mix: Maloney, Killingly and Cromwell/Portland. Maloney is back in Class L. Killingly, Class M champ of 2021 and runner-up of 2019, has slid up to Class MM. Cromwell-Portland has bumped from Class S to SS.

That Class MM bracket will be interesting to watch. While it features teams with robust records — three are 10-0 — two are from the Vo-Tech Conference, Northwest United and Thames River, and the third, top-seeded Sport & Medical Sciences Academy, hails from the Pequot.

Will those teams dispel the apples-and-oranges aspersions cast upon the Vo-Tech and the monkey wrench it throws into tournament brackets? Or will class favorites Killingly and North Haven prove them anew?

Let’s see what the next two weeks bring.

All eight of the state conferences are represented by multiple teams. The SCC had the most qualifiers with 10 — 10 of its 21 teams. The CCC weighs in with nine, including 10-0 Berlin, the top seed in Class M.

Also undefeated is Tom Brockett’s Ansonia Chargers, the top seed in Class S. Brockett, of Wallingford, has led Ansonia to the state playoffs every year since becoming head coach in 2007.

Brockett’s teams have reached 11 state finals, winning six. Are Nos. 12 and 7 on the December horizon?

Let’s see what the next two weeks bring.


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