1. It seems to me…In a year when there will not be an FCIAC championship football game for the first time in a half century, based on the regular season so far the league should have tremendous playoffs in all other sports. It is hard to remember the last time there were so many contenders across the board. Boys soccer? Greenwich was voted in a preseason poll of coaches as the team to beat, and sits atop the standings with 26 points. But the Cardinals are tied with Danbury, last year’s regular season champion, while Trumbull is a point behind, followed closely by Staples and Stamford. Greenwich played scoreless draws with the Eagles and Wreckers, who have come on strong after a slow start. The tournament should be equally wide open.
Girls soccer? Defending champion and preseason favorite Ridgefield is the only remaining team that has not lost or tied, and has a game at hand to St. Joseph, which with 28 points is one ahead of the Tigers. Westhill is also without a loss, while Darien has just one and Wilton and Staples two each. The regular season is living up to the hype. Volleyball? Greenwich is the only unbeaten team, but Ridgefield and Brien McMahon have just one loss each, with Stamford and St. Joseph right behind. Another wide open race. Field hockey? Darien, with one loss, and Wilton, with just a tie, are in their customary perches, but they have company. Staples also has just one tie — against Wilton. Norwalk and Trumbull are not far behind. I can’t remember so many legitimate contenders in so many sports in one year. The lone problem for the general fan (and those of us in the media): The boys soccer, girls soccer and field hockey semifinals and finals are all on the same days, though the soccer finals are at the same site back to back.
2. It seems to me…St. Joseph will be the location of two games this week that should provide greater clarity for the seedings race in girls soccer. The Cadets host the other two unbeaten teams: Westhill on Tuesday and Ridgefield on Friday. The Vikings were considered a sleeper a month ago, a team with four potential All-FCIAC players surrounded by unknowns. So far everything has clicked. Both the Tigers and Cadets were the favorites to return to the final, and they have played up to expectations and benefited from some close games provided by a deeper number of good teams. That will serve them well once the postseason arrives.
3. It seems to me… we could be looking at the Turkey Bowl serving this year as the unofficial FCIAC championship football game. Darien and New Canaan have been the most impressive teams so far and play in different divisions (with no benefit for winning division titles, they have long been meaningless in other sports). Staples has been the wildcard and remains unbeaten in conference play, but Saturday’s 33-14 loss at Norwich Free Academy exposed one of the Wreckers’ greatest flaws: a lack of depth. The absence of quarterback Andrew Speed and left tackle Nick Roehm to injuries were especially costly, and there are few teams that could overcome using replacements at those two positions. More surprising was the play of Staples’ defense, which had been its biggest strength. The Wreckers’ most difficult games are their final four, all against schools with state playoff aspirations. It will be interesting to see how they rebound.
4. It seems to me…There may not be an FCIAC football title game, but the race for state tournament spots is going to be intriguing, both because there are so many teams still in the hunt and they will be facing off against each other the rest of the way. New Canaan, Ridgefield, Trumbull and Greenwich are in the same division and, outside of Ridgefield playing New Canaan and Trumbull, none of the other schools have met. Trumbull travels to Greenwich on Saturday. I voted all four schools in my recent state poll ballot (no, I’m not a homer, I just think the FCIAC is that strong this year) and because of cannibalization just two of the four may be playing after Thanksgiving.
5. It seems to me…You can count me — along with almost everyone else — as one against the midseason football bye weeks mandated by the CIAC. And my thoughts have nothing to do with coming off a dry weekend where just Staples played. I just don’t see proof that they provide any additional safety measures. I’m all in favor of doing everything reasonably possible to protect players. I don’t believe high school athletes should be playing 15 games, as was the case for state finalists two seasons ago. Contact in practices should have limitations. But the bye week doesn’t make the game any safer. It just hurts the flow of the season.