Published November 10. 2012 4:00AM Updated November 11. 2012 4:08PM
Ledyard - Production trucks rolled into Ledyard High School early Friday afternoon, complete with all the gadgetry that will contribute to the uniqueness of the Saturday Morning Showdown, the latest rendition of the Ledyard-New London rivalry today at Mignault Field.
This is The Day's foray into live video coverage on theday.com that will have the look, sound and feel of a network broadcast, complete with a pregame show that begins at 10:15 a.m.
The producers and directors, who will manage several cameras and graphics packages, are the same crew that will do the same Sunday at Gillette Stadium for Bills-Patriots.
And now for the better part: The game's storyline is even juicier. Forget the rivalry that dates more than 30 years. This is, essentially, a state Class M playoff knockout game.
Both the Whalers (6-2) and the Colonels (6-2) must win to keep their aspirations of another playoff trip alive.
"I think we all know what's at stake," Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore said earlier this week.
New London occupies the eighth and final playoff spot in Class M today. (The top eight schools in the state's four divisions qualify). The Whalers, who lost last week at home to Fitch, also have a difficult assignment on Thanksgiving against undefeated Norwich Free Academy.
Ledyard, meanwhile, has been playing its best football following some early-season distress. The Colonels have won four straight since consecutive losses to Windham and NFA. They are 10th in Class M at the moment.
But victories over New London and Fitch on Thanksgiving would allow Ledyard a chance to return to the postseason. Ledyard would benefit from the state's "bonus point" component, which allows a school 10 bonus points for each win earned by a team it has defeated. Fitch and New London have combined for 12 wins thus far.
Also in the mix in Class M: Montville. The Indians, ranked ninth, have the easiest path with games against East Lyme and St. Bernard/Norwich Tech. But Montville could be victimized by a lack of bonus points.
Ledyard has used its veteran offensive line to protect quarterback John Rainey, who has been throwing the ball quite well, and to maintain a solid running game.
Several of New London's players, meanwhile, are as fast as the team's no-huddle scheme. Quarterback Ackee Barber, who played at Ledyard last year, has thrown successfully to receivers Sam Miranda, Nico Ramos, Jose Garcia and Caleb Camacho all season. It is unclear if Ramos (concussion) will play today.