We are at about the midway point of the high school football schedule and currently the area is full of teams just on the outside looking in at the playoffs in three of the four state classes.
Torrington has recovered from a slow start and is on a roll. The Raiders also have the area's best player in Brenden Lytton, but will it be enough.
Gilbert/Northwestern is also playing better football after a slow start and is coming off a double-digit home win over Avon. Last season the Yellowjackets used a victory over the Falcons as a springboard to the playoffs. Coach Scott Salius' crew seems to be in good shape to do the same this season and should be 7-2 entering Thanksgiving Day against Housatonic/Wamogo.
Speaking of the Mountaineers, it's really crunch time for them now. A 4-0 start was derailed a bit Friday by a 27-20 loss at Enfield. A win this week over Avon would get the playoff express right back on track but it won't be an easy task.
Here's a look at the State classes and how some local teams are stacking up.
In right now: Windsor, Daniel Hand, Bunnell, New Canaan, New London, Darien, Farmington, Coventry/Windham Tech
Torrington should finish 8-2 but will it be enough?
There are currently 9 unbeaten teams in Class L, led by Windsor, and if the playoffs started today, Masuk (6-0) would be on the outside looking in despite being ranked as high as No. 2 in some state HS football polls.
The Raiders will need some help and they will have to take care of their own business and hope teams on their schedule can pick up some wins as well. Torrington may look back and really regret the second half at Holy Cross if they miss out on the playoffs.
There could be a shakeup after this weekend as Windsor travels to Farmington in a meeting of unbeaten teams. New Canaan and Darien have an FCIAC grudge-match scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.
In right now: Ansonia, Ellington/Somers, Wolcott, Cheney Tech, Berlin, Waterford, Ledyard and Enfield.
Gilbert/Northwestern has to win out just to have a chance. Even if the Yellowjackets do that it might not be enough.
Ansonia and Ellington/Somers are the only two unbeaten teams in the class. GN is 3-2 and ranked 13th in Class M. There is a long way to go and the Yellowjackets did hand Enfield its only loss of the season thus far. Ansonis meets Wolcott next month. The next four teams on GN's schedule have combined for just three wins so the Yellowjackets should enter the Housatonic Bowl against Housatonic/Wamogo at 7-2.
What a game that would be Thanksgiving morning in Winsted if the Yellowjackets and Mountaineers were still alive for playoff berths. GN travels to Canton Saturday to take on the winless Warriors.
In right now: Classical Prep/Classical Magnet, Coginchaug, Cromwell, Holy Cross, Valley Regional/Old Lyme, Northwest Catholic, North Branford and Bloomfield.
Housy fell to ninth with a 27-20 loss to Enfield (No. 8 Class M). The Mountaineers are 4-1 and have a tough road ahead of them but would just about be a lock should they win out. They host Avon on Saturday and travel to Coventry/Windham Tech (No. 8 Class L) the following week. Winless SMSA/Univertisy and Ellington/Somers (6-0) loom before a showdown with the Yellowjackets.
In case you are wondering there are four undefeated teams in Class LL with Xavier No. 1 and Conard of West Hartford No. 2.
For what it's worth I have seen the following teams play at least one game this season: Conard, Hall, Middletown, Southington, Cromwell, Lewis Mills, Canton, Housatonic Wamogo, Stafford/East Windsor, Granby, Northwest Catholic, Weaver, Plainville, Torrington, Naugatuck, Farmington and Bristol Central.
Conard (6-0) just broke into the Hartford Courant state top-10 poll but it's hard for me to imagine there are nine other teams in the state better than the Chieftains. Northwest Catholic is going to be a very tough out in Class S and I believe the Indians will make the tournament. Cromwell threw the ball at will against Lewis Mills and in unbeaten.
Torrington/Naugatuck was the best and most exciting game I have seen this season, while a number of the games have been romps. One Saturday in September I went to three games and the combined score of the first two was 103-14.