Who: West Haven (9-1) at Fairfield Prep (8-2)
What: Thanksgiving Day football
Where: Alumni Field, Fairfield University
When: Thanksgiving, 10 a.m.
Where to watch: LIVE on MSGVarsity.com
Where to interact on Twitter: @MSGV_JGriffith
History: West Haven has won five games in a row and leads the series 14-3 overall. The Westies won last season’s Thanksgiving Day game, 24-7.
What it means in 2013: Fairfield Prep is trying to make the playoffs after a mini-collapse a season ago. This year’s playoffs started last week for the Jesuits with a victory over three-time defending state champions, Xavier. Now, the Jesuits need to beat another playoff team in West Haven. The Westies are in and looking for a home quarterfinal. Prep isn’t 100% in with a win, but might as well be.
Key matchup: Fairfield Prep O-Line vs. West Haven defense. Nobody has come close to slowing down the Jesuit offense lately. Colton Smith and Nick Crowle have been dominant on the ground. If West Haven can’t fill holes, it could be a long day.
Fairfield Prep: Nick Crowle. The senior running back/linebacker has taken over the offensive duties in the last month and is going both ways a lot. Defensively, Crowle and company will need to step it up a notch against Ervin Phillips and crew. Whoever’s defense shows up more, wins the game.
West Haven: Duane Gary. With Fairfield Prep’s size up front on defense, it could be tough sledding for the potent ground attack of the Westies. To soften up the defense, Gary will need to be accurate and efficient through the air to get things going.
How Fairfield Prep can win: Continue to be explosive. Prep was targeted as a defensive team this season, but it’s been the offense that’s winning games. Colton Smith has become one of the best dual threats in the area and is running wild.
How West Haven can win: Get Ervin Phillips the football. The star running back is making a case for best player in the state this year and he’s doing it in big games. Five touchdowns against Hand, a great defensive play against Xavier, and the list goes on. The Westies don’t need this game, a 10-game winning streak sounds much better on a state championship run than a one-game losing streak.
Malone’s Prediction: Fairfield Prep 34, West Haven 31