The CIAC released its football schedules last week, with the big news coming from Berlin and Newington, where the Redcoats are moving back down to Class M after reaching the state tournament in Class L last season, and the Indians are being bumped up to Class LL after also reaching the state tournament in Class L in 2019.
But how about all eight local football teams? What will their schedules look like in terms of difficulty and familiarity? Let’s take a deeper dive into what the football season will look like, assuming the CIAC’s current plan hold its course and the season starts on time.
New Britain, in its first season under new head coach Isaiah Boddie, will have a good chance to start its season and its new era out strong, as five of its first six opponents had records of .500 or worse last season. Norwalk is the Hurricanes’ Connecticut Football Alliance game this year, and was 5-5 in 2019, while Hall was 6-4 last year. The road gets much trickier after that, as New Britain closes with Conard, Simsbury, Southington and Berlin, which all combined for a record of 35-10 last year. The Hurricanes’ new opponents from last year’s schedule include Norwalk, Enfield and East Hartford.
Bristol Central also has three new opponents in Farmington, North Haven and Middletown, all three of which were .500 or better last year. In all, the Rams will play opponents with a combined record of 57-47, with its toughest test coming at home against Maloney in Week 3. Rival Bristol Eastern has a chance to change the script from last season and get out to a stronger start in 2020, as three of the Lancers’ first four opponents won just one game last season (Hartford Public, RHAM and Bassick). Of course, the schedule gets tougher quickly with consecutive games against Maloney, Wethersfield and Windsor, which all won at least seven games last season, so Eastern will need to capitalize on the early parts of its schedule to improve upon its 2-8 record last year.
Berlin is coming off an improbable 8-3 season after being decimated by injuries, and plenty of the contributors that filled in for those injured players will be back in 2020. The schedule looks very similar to last year in terms of opponents, with just two new foes this year, including the alliance game at Hillhouse, which should be an easier task than Killingly was last year. Playing Bloomfield on the road will also be a tough order, but the rivalry game against New Britain to close the regular season will be at Sage Park, which should help Berlin, as it will earlier in the season when the Redcoats host Plainville, which gave Berlin a scare last year before the Redcoats pulled out the win in the final minutes on the road.
Plainville is coming off its best season in recent memory, and will have a similar road back to a state tournament berth this year with just one new opponent in Joel Barlow. The Blue Devils won’t have it easy to start the season, as four of their first five games are on the road, including against Berlin, Tolland and Bloomfield, but they have four straight home games after that stretch before ending the season on the road against Farmington on Thanksgiving.
Newington will look to get to the state tournament in its first season in Class LL, and dynamic quarterback Nick Pestrichello will be leading the way. One of the Indians’ best wins last year was a statement win on opening night over Windsor, but that season opener will be on the road this year, so it will be an immediate test for the Indians, who are also on the road against Maloney in Week 6. A softer stretch against Hartford Public (1-9 last year), Bristol Central (5-5) and Enfield 4-6) comes afterward before a shot for revenge at home against Wethersfield on Thanksgiving. The Eagles dominated Newington in the regular season finale last year, though the Indians got outside help to still get into the state tournament.
Southington looked like the best team in the area last year, and the Blue Knights have two very winnable games to start the season (at East Hartford and South Windsor) before coming home to take on Newtown, which went undefeated and won the Class LL state title in dramatic fashion last year. The rest of the schedule looks the same as last year in terms of opponents, and fans can only hope this Thanksgiving’s game against Cheshire brings the same excitement that last year’s installment provided, with Southington winning in overtime.
St. Paul looks to have the lightest schedule in terms of opponents’ record, as the Falcons will face a slate where their opponents went a combined 30-60 last season. Their first three games (at Kennedy and at home against Sacred Heart/Kaynor/Nonnewaug and Derby) are against opponents who didn’t eclipse two wins last season, and St. Paul doesn’t face a team that was over .500 in 2019 until its eighth game of the season when it takes on 6-4 Torrington, which the Falcons won due to a forfeit last season.