Seven CIAC football playoff berths up for grabs on Thanksgiving Day

Four teams unofficially clinched CIAC playoff spots on Wednesday night, leaving seven up for grabs as Thanksgiving Day — the final day of the 2022 high school regular season — dawns in Connecticut.

And, finally, North Branford‘s 51-18 victory over Coginchaug Co-Op in the Route 17 Bowl, coupled with Stafford Co-Op’s 20-14 victory over Windsor Locks Co-Op, gave the T-Birds the boost they needed to outpoint rival Haddam-Killingworth for the fourth and final spot in Class S.

(Yes, this development comes despite H-K knocking off North Branford 15-14 in the regular season and both finishing 6-4. North Branford’s win over Stafford gave the T-Birds the needed overall boost to their points to seal a playoff spot.)

Forty one of 48 available spots over six playoff divisions have been filled heading into Thanksgiving Day. Remember, everything is unofficial until after the CIAC football committee meets Friday morning and approves the points following the conclusion of tomorrow’s games.

So, before you head out to your games, here’s your Thanksgiving morning breakdown who needs whom to do what to get into the state playoffs today:

Class LL

The field has been set for a while, but Wednesday night means seeding has a ways to go. Greenwich (8-1) will finish first with a win over Staples (8-1).

If the Cardinals lose, Southington (8-1) can grab the top spot with a win over Cheshire. If they both lose, first of all, how wild would it be to see the top three teams going down?

But more directly, Greenwich and West Haven (9-1) would once again be first and second, with the order coming down to four games, only one of which the Cardinals would need to go their way. 

Staples controls its own destiny for a home game but has to beat Greenwich.

If it’s not the Wreckers, no one quite controls its fate, but 7-3 Fairfield Prep’s victory over West Haven has given the Jesuits a shot, at least; losses for Hamden (8-1) and Trumbull (7-2) would do it, and Fairfield Prep could compete with either of them if they win.

Class L

St. Joseph (8-1), Naugatuck (8-1), Newtown (8-2), Maloney (8-1), New Canaan (8-1) and New Milford (7-3) have qualified. 

Two spots are available between Cheshire (6-3), Darien (6-3) and Shelton, which is in the clubhouse at 6-4.

Cheshire (over Southington) and Darien (over New Canaan) will both clinch with victories. Darien is almost assuredly out with a loss. Even if Cheshire loses, it can still get in over Shelton if either Hillhouse or Notre Dame-West Haven wins. 

Shelton’s hopes on Wednesday night were bolstered significantly when Ridgefield, Hand and North Haven all won. Shelton will now clinch with a Darien loss. If that doesn’t happen, Shelton would then need Cheshire to lose and get either Hillhouse or Notre Dame-West Haven to lose to stay ahead of Cheshire.

St. Joseph will be the No. 1 seed with a victory over Trumbull. Naugatuck can claim at least the No. 2 seed by beating Ansonia. Newtown has clinched a home game and can do no worse than the No. 3 seed. It could even get the No. 1 seed if St. Joseph and Naugatuck lose. 

Maloney and New Canaan both need to win for a shot at one of the last home games. If everybody wins ahead of them, they could be 4-5 depending on how their bonus points shake out. New Milford can finish anywhere between Nos. 6 and 8. Cheshire and Darien will both surpass the Wave with wins.

Class MM

North Haven (8-2) clinched its spot with its win over Amity, leaving only one spot available in this wild division. It’s simple now: If Platt (6-3) beats Maloney, the Panthers are in. If Maloney wins, Wilton (7-3) — which hasn’t played in nearly three weeks — outwaits everyone to snag that eighth spot. 

Northwest United (10-0) clinched the second seed behind SMSA (10-0). Killingly (8-1) will be third if it wins. But if Woodstock Academy claims the upset, Thames River (10-0), which clinched a home game Wednesday night, gets third, and fourth would come down to points with Killingly, Wethersfield (8-2) and North Haven, though Killingly still has a pretty good shot at it. 

Platt is either seventh or out. Wilton is either eighth or out. Masuk (7-3) takes the other spot, whichever way Platt/Wilton goes. 

Class M

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