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Doug Delivers: Football teams look to get back to their old ways after long wait

Updated 2:52 pm, Wednesday, November 7, 2012
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Staples (6-0) at Fairfield Warde (1-6), Saturday, 11 a.m.

By the time Staples hits the field against a struggling Fairfield Warde squad, it will mark the Wreckers' first game in 14 days. That can be a long wait for any team--especially one that's been clicking on all cylinders in past weeks--but the Wreckers are likely to have a busy road ahead.

No matter how you chalk up the postseason schedule, even without a pre-Thanksgiving FCIAC title game, Staples is going to have to shoulder a condensed slate of games against some pretty good teams. There will be no rest for the weary.

To date, Staples' penchant for putting games away early--in some cases, two or three plays into the first quarter--has worked to its advantage. Outside of wins over St. Joseph, 49-28 on Sept. 14, and Darien, 63-28 on Oct. 27, the Wreckers' impact players haven't needed to touch the field in the fourth quarter.

With what should be comfortable wins ahead in the next week against the one-win Mustangs and Westhill (4-3) on Thursday, the Wreckers will likely take every additional chance they can get to rest. By the time they take on Greenwich on Turkey Day, in what very likely will be the conference championship, they will have played three games in 12 days. That's not as daunting a stretch as the four games in 14 days scenario that was discussed prior to the Nor'easter, but it's still a tough road to trek.

Is it enough to slow down Staples?

Through six games, the Wreckers have been as explosive as any team in the state, turning most of their contests into arcade-style football. They're averaging 54 points a game and have scored no fewer than 49 at any point this year.

Although the defense hasn't received the same attention at times, due in part to the fact it's played ahead in just about every game, its sheer size, strength and speed can overwhelm any team. Is there a real weakness on this team? At this point, there doesn't appear to be one, but a crowded schedule can create one.

At least for this week, there shouldn't be any worries. Warde has struggled mightily this year to get any traction, despite optimism in the preseason. Outside of a 29-28 win over Bassick on Oct. 5, in which it needed a last-second field goal to go ahead, it has been outscored 81-223. In other words, the Mustangs don't pose much of a threat.

Perhaps Staples might come out a bit rusty after some time off, but that still won't make much of a difference. Pick: Staples 52, Warde 13

Weston (6-1) vs Bethel (2-5), Saturday, 1 p.m.

What a comeback, Weston.

Trailing Stratford by a point with less than a minute left on Oct. 27, the Trojans used one final strike through the air to preserve the game, and their state playoff hopes. Quarterback Tyler Hassett, who was hobbling after sitting out most of the first half with an injury, connected from 46 yards out with Justin Schaffer to lift the Trojans to a dramatic 20-15 win.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: when you start to count the Trojans out, they come right back to prove you wrong. The fourth quarter comebacks against Pomperaug, Bunnell and the Red Devils have been surprising, if not admirable.

With the postponements due to Hurricane Sandy, Weston will avoid unbeaten Masuk for another five days (game moved to Masuk on Nov. 15) and will take on a struggling Bethel squad.

The Wildcats have played better of late, winning two of their last three games, but have given up points in bunches this year. They've allowed no fewer than 32 points in any of their seven games.

That sounds pretty tempting for a Weston team that's had 14 days to rest up. Pick: Weston 37, Bethel 27

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