In past years, Thanksgiving week football has meant battles for playoff berths.
Wolcott is the lone area team with a shot at making the playoffs. The Eagles are 5-4, but that's good enough for ninth in a down Class M. Joel Barlow and Weston are seventh and eighth, but they play each other, so the loser is likely eliminated. Wolcott is one of four 5-4 teams in contention.
Wolcott hosts fellow 5-4 Holy Cross on Thanksgiving morning at 10 a.m. at Joe Monroe Field. Playoff bids have been on the line in the past in this rivalry, and games have come down to the final play. The Eagles need this game, and the Crusaders want to finish the season on a high note.
Here's a quick look at the matchups, starting with Tuesday:
Gilbert/Northwestern (4-5) at Waterbury Career Academy (3-6), 6, Ray Snyder Sr. Field (Municipal Stadium): The Spartans are looking for a positive end to a tough season, and the GN co-op should provide a physical matchup. GN wants to run the ball first and run often, so WCA needs to be solid on run defense. GN has been susceptible to the big play, and that's something the Spartans can exploit.
Last year: Gilbert/Northwestern 29, Waterbury Career Academy 6
Oxford (3-6) at St. Paul (6-3), 6, McPhee Field: The Falcons will not make the playoffs, but they can end the season with the most wins since the Class MM playoff qualifying team in 2009 (8-3). St. Paul wants to run, run, run out of the wishbone formation, so solid play on the line and blocking are big keys. The Wolverines are under .500, but they are capable of generating big plays on offense. The Falcons need to limit those big plays and make their opponent go on longer drives. On offense, St. Paul needs to make sure its in manageable third down situations.
Last year: Oxford 35, St. Paul 22
Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech (0-9) at Wilby (0-9), 6, Snyder Field: Someone will finish this matchup with its first and only win of the season. It's been a major struggle for the SH/KT co-op and the Wildcats, but now they get a chance to play a competitive game. Both teams would love to get a win and carry momentum into next season.
Last year: Sacred Heart/Kaynor Tech 68, Wilby 14
Holy Cross (5-4) at Wolcott (5-4), 10, Joe Monroe Field: There could be a ton of points scored in this matchup. Both teams like to go no-huddle and toss the ball around. This could be a game where the team with the ball last will win. Both offenses are led by solid quarterbacks, the Eagles by star senior Mike Polzella and the Crusaders by solid junior Corey Fappiano.
Last year: Wolcott 47, Holy Cross 28
Crosby (5-4) at Kennedy (3-6), 10, Snyder Field: The Eagles can win a second straight NVL Brass Division title by beating the rival Bulldogs. If Crosby wins, it spoils the party and gives Holy Cross the Brass Division. The Bulldogs are led by senior quarterback Alberim Klenja and run a spread offense. Isaac Burgos is the top target for Klenja. Kennedy looks to play a physical, run-first game. The team that imposes their will has a better chance of winning this game.
Last year: Crosby 61, Kennedy 42
Bristol Central (6-3) at Bristol Eastern (2-7), 10:30, Muzzy Field: The Rams will not make the Class L playoffs, but they can clinch their third 7-3 season in the last four years with a victory over the rival Lancers. To do so, Central needs to shut down the strong passing combination of Justin Marshall and Jaden Laprise. The Rams also need to avoid the mistakes that have hurt them in losses this season. For Eastern, it needs to limit the big-play ability of Dathan Hickey. Hickey has had a whole bunch of big gains on offense, special teams and even defense. The Lancers are in big trouble if Hickey gets loose too often.
Last year: Bristol Central 30, Bristol Eastern 12