STONINGTON — Stonington High’s football team is on a roll and if the Bears can keep it up they should stay in the thick of the playoff hunt. It won’t be easy, though.
The Bears’ current win streak reached five with a win against Bacon Academy last week and they will face their most difficult opponent to date this week.
Stonington (5-2 overall, 2-1 ECC-Medium) hosts Ledyard (7-1, 3-0) at Palmer Field at 6:30 p.m. in a key game in the ECC Medium standings as well as the Class M playoff picture.
Stonington coach A.J. Massengale doesn’t pull any punches when he gives an assessment of Ledyard.
“Without a question they are the best team we’ve played all year. Across the board they are a very complete team,” Massengale said.
Stonington comes into the game at No. 9 in the Class M power point rankings with a point average of 91.43. Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech moved ahead of the Bears this week into eighth place with an average of 92.50. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Ledyard is No. 6 in Class M with a 116.25 average. The Colonels lone loss is a 32-14 setback to Class LL Norwich Free Academy. Last week they handled Montville 55-14. Stonington lost to Montville 49-37 on Sept. 27, but has run off five straight wins since.
Massengale said Ledyard has some very good skill position players, can run the ball with power and boasts a strong defense.
“All of their skill position players are so complete. They have a variety of formations, they can spread it out and at the same time run a power running game,” Massengale said.
For the Bears, running back Harry Calmar is coming on strong. The senior has accumulated 346 yards rushing in the last two games and scored four touchdowns in last week’s win over Bacon Academy.
Having Calmar emerge has given Stonington a nice compliment to senior running back Zach Poirier who is closing in on a 1,000-yard season. Poirier has gained 919 yards this season, scoring a team-high 12 touchdowns.
Getting a good running game going and controlling the time of possession may be Stonington’s best bet this week. Ledyard has scored points at an amazing clip this season, averaging nearly 46 points per game in the seven wins. The Colonels have scored 55 points on two separate occasions.
“I don’t know many teams that have had success getting in a shootout with Ledyard, their defense is too good. We’re going to have to ask a lot from our defense and the offense will have to put some points on the board. We may need to score in a variety of ways,” Massengale said. “This is a great test for us, it’s what high school sports are all about. It’s fun to play against a good team and see where you’re at.”
Westerly at Johnston
Friday, 7 p.m.
JOHNSTON — One week after knocking off Coventry Westerly is looking for another big Division II-A win.
The Bulldogs (3-5 overall, 3-3 D-II-A) go into Friday’s game at Johnston (7-1, 5-1) tied with the Oakers (3-3) and Mt. Hope (3-3) for the fourth and final league playoff position. A win Friday wouldn’t clinch a playoff spot, and a loss wouldn’t absolutely knock Westerly out, but beating Johnston would make things a lot easier for the Bulldogs.
“There are so many scenarios it’s hard to even think about what’s going to happen, If we win I would say we have a 70-85 percent chance of getting in,” Westerly coach Chris Wriedt said.
Coventry hosts Woonsocket on Friday at 7 p.m. Mt. Hope plays at home against Warwick Vets on Friday at 7 p.m.
Westerly holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Oakers, but not Mt. Hope, so the easiest path to the playoffs is a win over Johnston coupled with a Vets win over the Huskies. A three-way tie would not be the most ideal situation for the Bulldogs, as defensive points allowed against the deadlocked teams would break the tie. Westerly allowed 28 to Mt. Hope and 22 to the Oakers.
Westerly will be facing a Johnston team that has scored 177 points in six league games, which leads the division. Wriedt said Johnston will play two quarterbacks and both have different skill-sets.
“They are a very good offensive team. They have a good philosophy and they execute it well. They’ll throw 15-20 times a game, which in our division is a lot. We’re going to have to stay home and read our keys,” Wriedt said.
Offensively, Westerly is coming off its best output of the season. The Bulldogs rushed for 278 yards and threw for a season-high 73 last week.
One area of concern in last week’s win against Coventry was 16 penalties for more than 100 yards.
“We can’t hurt ourselves with penalties like we did last week. If we do we’re going to be on the short end of the stick,” Wriedt said.
Chariho at Toll Gate,
Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
WARWICK — There aren’t any playoff implications on the line for Chariho or Toll Gate this week, just pride.
The Chargers play at Toll Gate on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in a Division II-A game. Both teams come into the game with an 0-6 league records. Chariho is 1-8 overall and Toll Gate is 0-8.
Chariho coach Mike Kelly believes his team made some progress in last week’s loss to Woonsocket.
“We did some good things last week, the final score didn’t reflect it but we’re hoping to build on it and get over the hurdle and win one,” Kelly said.
Both teams have struggled to score t with the Chargers managing just 36 points in Division II play and the Titans just slightly better at 42 points.
Chariho junior quarterback Jacob Rousseau left last week’s game with an injury, but Kelly said he’s preparing as if he’ll have his starting signal caller this week.
A win would help the Chargers avoid their first winless league campaign since going 0-9 in Division IV in 1999. Chariho finished 1-6 in Division II in both 2009 and 2008.
Chariho will also have a nonleague game against a Division II-B team next week and the Thanksgiving Day game with Exeter-West Greenwich remaining on the schedule.
“I think finishing the season strong would go a long way for a young team. It would be nice to finish the season strong, it would be a nice catapult, they don’t want to go through the league season without a win.” Kelly said.