STONINGTON — A week after posting its best win of the season the Stonington High football team is set to face what may be its toughest game of the year.
Fresh off a 28-21 victory over Ledyard the Bears will travel to take on ECC Large Division power Norwich Free Academy on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are 7-1 and 2-0 in the ECC-Large. They are currently third in the Class LL power points and have been dominating most teams on their schedule; the lone loss was a 6-0 setback to Glastonbury (8-1).
Stonington (6-2, 3-1 ECC-Medium) is riding a six-game win ning streak and moved back into the eighth spot in the Class M power points rankings after last week’s win over Ledyard (7-2, 3-1 ECC-Medium). The top eight teams qualify for the posteason.
“It’s not exactly a letdown week or what you would call a trap game, we’re playing against one of the best teams in the state,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said.
NFA beat Ledyard 32-14 earlier this year and also cruised past both Fitch and Montville, two teams that beat Stonington.
Massengale doesn’t mince his words when talking about NFA.
“They are an incredible football team and I’m not exaggerating at all. They are very physical, they are a very, very good team,” Massengale said.
Marcus Outlaw leads a physical Wildcat running game. Khaleed Exum-Strong is the second leading rusher and a “ridiculously good football player” according to Massengale. He also leds the defense.
Stonington saw NFA quarterback Alex Beaudreault a year ago when he was playing for Windham. He threw for a pair of touchdowns in a loss to the Bears.
“We’re going to have to contain their offense and prevent the big play. They’ve decimated people with the big play. We’ll have to be great tacklers this week and swarm to the football,” Massengale said.
Massengale said it’s been a good week of practice with no letdown after knocking off Ledyard. He said the scout team was out competing in cold, nasty weather on Tuesday like it was a big game with a lot on the line.
“On offense we’re going to have to establish whatever we can establish and find something that we can be successful with and go with that,” said Massengale.
The last time Stonington and NFA played was 2011 and the Bears won that game by a point.
The Bears stand in front of Putnam/Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech, which has a big game against Bullard Havens Tech this week, in the Class M standings.
Ledyard is in seventh in the same rankings. Games with Killingly and Westerly in the next couple of weeks will be very big for the Bears.
“Looking at playoff stuff is a futile effort, it doesn’t help us at all. All you can do is play the next game on your schedule and it will all sort itself out,” Massengale said.
Westerly at Shea,
Friday 7 p.m.
WESTERLY — Don’t tell Westerly High’s football team nothing is on the line this week.
The Bulldogs (3-6, 3-4) aren’t playing in the Division II playoff for the first time since 2007, but Westerly coach Chris Wriedt thinks there is plenty to play for in Friday’s crossover game at Shea (5-5, 2-5).
The game is between the sixth place teams in Division II-A and B.
“It’s another game for us, another chance to get a win, get a little momentum and get ready to play Stonington,” Wriedt said.
The Bulldogs had been playing in must-win situations for several weeks until a 40-0 loss at Johnston last week eliminated Westerly from the playoffs.
“Last week was just a breakdown by everybody. The kids have pride in what we do. We didn’t play well and the kids want to get back out there,” Wriedt said.
In Shea the Bulldogs will face a team long on speed, but not quite as big as some of the teams they’ve already seen this year.
The Raiders will play with some physicality but rely more on quickness than size.
Ty’Shon Ashe is Shea’s quarterback and Wriedt said he’s a running threat, maybe their biggest runner size-wise.
The Raiders will show a lot of different formations and spread Westerly out. Having everyone in the correct position will be a key to defending the different looks Shea will show.
When Westerly has the ball Wriedt says he’ll be looking for a good game from fullback Tom McGuire. The senior has run for 465 yards and five touchdowns this season.
“We’re going to have to use our size up front against their speed and see if we can control the football,” Wriedt said.
Chariho at Central
Friday, 6 p.m.
WOOD RIVER JCT. — The last time Chariho and Central met in a football game there was a lot on the line.
This Friday the Chargers and Knights will be playing for pride and a chance to finish the season with a little bit of momentum.
Chariho (2-6, 1-7) travels to Conley Stadium to play Central (3-6, 1-6) on Friday in a crossover game between Division II seventh place teams. The last time the teams played each other was the 2011 Division II Super Bowl, which the Chargers won.
“I think everyone wants to play in a playoff game and not a crossover game, but I think a lot of our guys remember when we played Central two years ago so there’s some recognition there,” Chariho coach Mike Kelly said.
Getting familiar with the current Knights will be Kelly’s key challenge.
As of Tuesday he hadn’t seen film, although he was still hoping he could acquire some tape of Central to scout at some point this week.
“I know a team like Central will have athletes and it’s hard to prepare for that. At this point we will focus on what we do well and we’ll have to prepare to make in-game adjustments,” Kelly said.
Chariho is coming off a 36-point effort against last place Toll Gate, which was by far the best offensive game of the season.
Junior running back Sal DeSantis rushed for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“We’re hoping that was a breakout game for him,” Kelly said.
After Central the Chargers will wrap up their season with Exeter-West Greenwich on Thanksgiving.
“These guys have been good about working hard and being resilient. At the same time you like to know you’re getting better and the scoreboard will tell you that. Hopefully, the momentum from the (Toll Gate) win will carry over,” Kelly said.