Pickens' Perspective: A Thanksgiving breakdown
You've got to hand it to the Fairfield public high school football teams.
Ludlowe and Warde have each enjoyed its best season since reopening their doors for football in 2005. One will actually exit the 2009 season with a winning season, whereas the other will be a .500 team.
As in most years, the Mustangs and Falcons took circuitous route to their end result. Ludlowe started the year 0-3, with losses coming to powerhouses New Canaan, Bridgeport Central and Ridgefield. Ludlowe has won five of its last six games since, with the Falcons' only other loss coming to FCIAC-champion Staples on Halloween.
Warde started the year 3-0 with a surprise win over Darien on opening night. The Mustangs have lost four of their last six and enter the Thanksgiving game at 5-4.
The teams are fairly even, so without much further ado, a breakdown of the Ludlowe and Warde game.
Ludlowe pass O vs. Warde pass D: Neither side is going to sparkle, although Ludlowe has found weapons in Devin Brault and Nate Ryan. Warde's pass defense has struggled since Craig Lowery got hurt. Edge: Ludlowe.
Ludlowe run O vs. Warde run D: I think this matchup probably could decide the game. Ludlowe has been running all over teams of late with Ryan, Kyle Finnegan and lead blocker Dan Farina finally healthy. Warde's run defense is tough with Neil Ehlers anchoring a front four that is good and Tommy McNamara playing the role of sideline-to-sideline ball hawk. But still. Edge: Ludlowe.
Warde run O vs. Ludlowe run D: Ludlowe's defense was dominant in shutting down Westhill two weeks ago. Warde's run offense is its strength with McNamara, Alex Delaney and Mike Jacobs. Warde's offensive line gets a great push, and the Mustangs running game should be fairly successful. Edge: Warde.
Warde pass O vs. Ludlowe D: The Mustangs have gotten better at throwing the ball, utilizing receivers Raj Kumar, Cameron Brown and Terrell Walden. Ludlowe's pass defense starts with Tom Lipp and Tom Nagy rushing the passer. Ryan is the Falcons' best cornerback, and does a good job. I think if Warde can protect quarterback Eric Burns, the Mustangs can throw against Ludlowe. Edge: Warde.
Special teams: There really is no clear-cut edge here. Both kickers are so-so. Ludlowe's punting game has been below average, whereas Warde's has been OK. I think they're close, but. Edge: Warde.
Coaching: Matt McCloskey has coached in this game and maintained his cool at the most important moment a year ago. Duncan DellaVolpe has not coached in this game, but I don't think he'll be losing his head like Tony Catapano did last year. Edge: Push.
Intangibles: This is the last game that the seniors at Ludlowe will play this year, and that will be a motivating factor going for the Falcons. The weather looks like it come into play with a slight chance of rain. Warde will be pining for revenge after Ludlowe's win last year. I think the Falcons have (slightly) more motivation. Edge: Ludlowe.
Outcome: I definitely think this is a close game. I think there will be a fair amount of points, but I think field position is a huge factor in the game. Warde has been playing poorly of late and Ludlowe has been playing well. I still think each team is close. I honestly believe that a missed extra point will decide the game and since Ludlowe is playing better...Pick: Ludlowe 21, Warde 20.
Have a happy Thanksgiving all. Hope your turkey comes out well!