By Dave Ruden
RIDGEFIELD — If I am Newtown or West Haven, the teams that currently occupy, respectively, the top two positions in the Class LL point rankings, I am looking down the list of possible first-round opponents in the state playoffs and hoping to avoid Ridgefield.
The Tigers (7-2), thanks to a stream of bonus points, jumped up four spots, into ninth place, following Friday night’s 44-7 win over Brien McMahon.
Ridgefield’s losses have come to St. Joseph, the second-best team in the FCIAC, and Darien, a close 19-14 decision.
The Tigers demonstrated Friday the many characteristics that make them so dangerous. Most of their key contributors are seasoned veterans.
The offense is diversified, with Will Bonaparte one of the state’s premier runners. Junior Ryan Dunn is solid at quarterback, and there is a stable of strong receivers led by Andrew Chuma and Erik Weber.
The defense goes hard to the ball, and became the first team to contain the Senators’ ground game, one 84-yard touchdown run by Timmy Hinton from a shutout.
Right now there is a logjam of FCIAC teams looking to earn state playoff berths. McMahon is currently the last team in at the No. 8 spot, and is followed by, in order, Ridgefield, Staples and Trumbull.
The Tigers will be favored in their two remaining games, against Wilton and Danbury. They also have the potential to pick up a number of bonus points if things break right.
Ridgefield would be an underdog against possible state playoff opponents. But it would be a dangerous one at that.
A few other postgame points:
— It is refreshing, in the day of spread offenses, to still see a few teams like McMahon employ old-school running games.
As Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan noted, “To defend this animal of an offense they have. You used to see it week-in and week-out. Now you see it once a year.”
There is only one problem: it is a style that makes it very difficult to rally from large deficits, as was the case on Friday.
Then again, the idea is to use it to control time of possession and not fall behind in the first place.
It worked to perfection for the Senators in their first seven games. It did not Friday night.
— Dunn threw five touchdown passes Friday night. Two went to Chris Rossini, including hitting him in stride on a crossing pattern.
Dunn also had a little help from his friends. Bonaparte followed perfect blocking to turn a well-executed screen pass into a 68-yard touchdown. The other was a high fly into the end zone. Weber outleaped a pack of players for the score.